HISTORY

OF

16th BOMBARDMENT GROUP, VH
(17th BOMBARDMENT OPERATIONAL TRAINING WING, VH)
(SECOND AIR FORCE)

FOR

OCTOBER 1944






FAIRMONT ARMY AIR FIELD
GENEVA, NEBRASKA


I. Organization and Administration 3
II. Personnel 4
III. Supply and Equipment 6
IV. Training 7
V. Maintenance 9
VI. Facilities 11
VII. Morale 11
VIII. Pictures 13


THE HISTORY

ORGANIZATION and ADMINISTRATION

     Personnel Utilization

      The 16th Bombardment Group was able to solve numerous organizational
problems during the month of November. But its most conspicuous success was
in the field of personnel utilization.

     The group handled this problem so well that on the 27th of October,
Colonel Gurney informed the organization, through a letter posted on all
bulletin boards, that it had been commended in a Second Air Force report.1

      "The Commanding Officer desires to commend officers and enlisted men of
the group who are responsible for this gratifying opinion and further desires
to express his hope that improvements in all phases of the work of the Group
will be such as to merit continual commendation of higher headquarters,"
Colonel Gurney wrote.

     Administrative facilities

      Administrative work was still hampered by the presence of the 504th
Bomb Group (VH) which continued to use most of the space and facilities
available on Fairmont Army Air Field. Buth this handicap gradually lessened
as the 504th ground echelon slackened its intensive training to prepare
for shipment.

      It became apparent that the presence of the 504th was probably a
"blessing in disguise" as it enable the 16th to become familiar with future

                            
1/ Ltr., Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmonth AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, file 201.22, Subject:
Commendation, To: CO, 15th Bomb Sq, CO, 16th Bomb Sq, CO, 17th Bomb Sq, 27 Oct 1944.

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problems before plunging into OTU (overseas training unit) training. Fur-
thermore, the latter organization was given the opportunity to draw upon
the practical experience of its predecessor.

     Air Inspectors Section

      An important addition to the organizational setup of the group was the
Air Inspectors section. The 16th was notified that such a section was author-
ized by a TWX from the Second Air Force on 21 October.2

PERSONNEL

     Strength table

      The strength table at the end of the month was as follows:3

             Actual Strength           Authorized Strength
                1,371                          2,076

      It is noted that this represented an increase in both author-
ized and actual strength over the previous month. The change in authorized
strength was due to a number of minor changes in the TO (table of organization),
such as the addition of the Air Inspectors Office noted above.

      At a staff meeting, Lieutenant Colonel Springer informed officers
that air crews might join the group by the first of December, thus
bringing the actual strength close to the authorized mark.

                            
2/ TWX 2AF DP5200, CG, 2nd AF, to CO, 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, 21 Oct 1944.
3/ WD, AAF Form 127, Hq 16th Bomb Gp (VH), Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska
   31 Oct. 1944.

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      The ground echelon was fairly close to authorized stength and, in
a few instances, a surplusage in MOS (military occupational specialty)
existed. Action was underway to correct those few cases by training men in
other duties and every surplus was balanced by a shortage in another depart-
ment.

    Key Personnel

      The newly created Air Inspectors Office was placed in the hands of
Major Richard W. Klein. He joined the group from Colorado Springs, Colorado,
on 30 October.4

      Under the same authority and on the same date, Major Robert L. Jones
was assigned to the organization as Group Flight Test Engineer.5 This position
was part of the Air Inspectors Office.

      On 21 October, Captain Kenneth D. La Rowe was assigned as Intelligence
Officer of the 17th Squadron.6 He replaced First Lieutenant Willard P. Van
Voorhees, who was transferred to another station.

      Major John S. Gillespie joined the group as assistant Plans and Train-
ing Officer on the dame date.7

      Another important change in group personnel was the addition of Captain
Paul W. Hymanson, who assumed the duties of Special Service Officer on 25
October.8 First Lieutenant Howard E. Thompson, who formerly held that position,
was transferred to another organization.

                            
4/ Par.1, S.O. #107,Hq,16th Bomb Gp,Fairmont AAF,Geneva, Nebraska,31 Oct 1944.
5/ Par.3, S.O. #107,Hq,16th Bomb Gp,Fairmont AAF,Geneva, Nebraska,31 Oct 1944.
6/ Par.2, S.O. #99,Hq,16th Bomb Gp,Fairmont AAF,Geneva, Nebraska,21 Oct 1944.
7/ Par.1, S.O. #99,Hq,16th Bomb Gp,Fairmont AAF,Geneva, Nebraska,21 Oct 1944.
8/ Par.5, S.O. #103,Hq,16th Bomb Gp,Fairmont AAF,Geneva, Nebraska,25 Oct 1944.

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    Deaths

      On Oct. 11, the group was informed of the death of Captain Edward M.
Woddrop, assistant Operations Officer of the 17th Squaron. Captain Woddrop
passed away at Fort Worth, Texas, as the result of an airplane accident.

      He had landed at Fort Worth during a routine flight and, leaving his
plane through the escape hatch, he fell into the propellor.

SUPPLY and EQUIPMENT

     General Situation

      The supply situation was considerably eased during the month due to
better organization and increased experience. Methods of procurement were
regularized and standard forms for work orders were adopted.

     Line Equipment

      Supplies for maintenance were increased to meet the growing group
responsibilities on the line. First Lieutenant Francis L. McLaughlin asser-
ed that "to date, no aircraft has been grounded for lack of equipment."

     Office Equipment

      A certain amount of office equipment was released for the 16th Group
during October and the results were noted in speedier work. At the same time,
experience in organization demonstrated that needs were not quite as great
as first assumed.

     Shortages

      The two most critical shortages were in fatigue clothing and soap. The
latter item was particularly needed for washing dishes in the mess hall.

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      Lieutenant McLaughlin explained at a staff meeting that supplies of
fatigues were short on a national scale, and that it would be difficult to
remedy the situation. He requested squadron commanders to urge upon their
men the necessity of careful clothing care.

TRAINING

     Ground Training

      The group continued its drive to complete ground training, before the
arrival of the air echelon. In the field of basic training, it was 100 per
cent successful, but there were large numbers of men who did not have the
necesssary weapons qualification.

      A tablution, prepared by Major Lavin gave the following status report
for the entire group as of 28 October:9

  Weapons
Qual
   CSW   Intell   Bomb
Rec&
Disp
  Biv
Tng
 O.EM  O.EM O. EM  O. EM O. EM
               
Hq Det 30% 27%  58% 99%  90% 88%  o 45%  15% 95%
               
15 Sq 72 70  72 92  100 90  4 80  44 91
               
16 Sq 48 89  69 93  7871  20 66  54 59
               
17 Sq 44 74  88 97  52 74  10 43  19 40
               
23rd Photo 100 88  100 100  100100  o 75 100100

                            
9/ Ltr.,Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Office of the Operations Officer,Fairmont AAF,
   Geneva, Nebraska, no file number, Subject: Report of Training Status as
   of the 28 October 1944, To:Director of Ground Training,241st AAF Base
   Unit, Fairmont AAF, Geneva,Nebraska,31 Oct 1944.

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     Special training

        In addition to the regular training, Lieutenant Colonel Springer
scheduled a series of classes for officers on the preparation of combat orders.
These classes included homework in the preparation of field orders for model
missions.

     Orientation training

        Orientation classes were placed on a regular weekly basis under the
jurisdiction of Squadron S-2 officers. The subjects included discussions of
the Japanese military machine, the "G.I. bill of rights" and post-war plans.

     Training problems

        The stumbling block of training continued to be the difficulty of
finding space. Occasionally, classes had to be postponed for lack of
facilities and once--during warm weather--an orientation class was held
outdoors.

     Physical training

        Physical fitness tests were given to all men present in the group
and ample opportunity was afforded for exercise in the base gymnasium. For
a short period, the officers were permitted to exercise only from 0900 to
1000 each day but it was soon found that this arrangement interfered with
work schedules. Thereafter, several alternative hours were offered.

        A hike was scheduled and held every Thursday evening during the month
and it was supplemented by close order drill.

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MAINTENANCE

     New responsibilities

      On 24 October, the 16th Bombardment Group assumed responsibilty for
the maintenance of all B-29 aircraft on the field under Fairmont AAF
memorandum.10 Previously, the group had assumed responsiblitiy for all
hangar property, tools and equipment under the same authority.11

      The memorandum placed responsiblity for maintenance of all aircraft
upon Major Carl E. Soderstrom of Fairmont AAF, and direct supervison of
maintenance was delegated to Captain S. N. Funk, of Fairmont AAF.12 Personnel
of the 504th Group were instructed to assist members of the 16th with advice
drawn from their experience.13

      "The one thing necessary to make the plan work is the support of all
personnel involved," the memorandum stated. "It is very necessary that the
more experienced personnel of the 504th Group pass on their knowledge and
training. If cooperation is not effected 100% all the way through, it will
reflect in loss of training for the air crews of the 504th Group and ground
personnel of the 16th Group."

      It was explained that, "due to the fact that the Ground Echelon of the
504th Group may leave this station at any time, a workable changeover plan
must of a necessity, be available in the near future."

                            
10/ Maintenance Memorandum #4,Supply & Maintenance Department,Fairmont AAF,
     Geneva, Nebraska,19 Oct 1944.
11/ Ibid. Par. 3c.
12/ Ibid. Par. 2 and Par. 3d (1).
13/ Ibid. Par. 3d.

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      The plan, in effect, gave the 16th Group 12 airplanes for maintenance
and assigned hangars to the various squadrons.14 The changeover was
effected smoothly, and without an interruption in the training schedule.

     Motor Maintenance

      But in another phase of maintenance--Motor Transportation-- the tran-
sition of responsiblity did not take place so smoothly. There was a certain
amount of friction due to misunderstanding of responsibility.

      During the month, vehicles had gradually been transferred from the
504th to the 16th under an arrangement whereby the latter group loaned
transportation to its predecesor. On such occasions, the 504th furnished
its own drivers.

      At a staff meeting on 27 October, Second Lieutenant Hendricks H.
Whitman, Jr. complained that 504th drivers were refusing to clean vehicles
which they had borrowed from his section. He was istructed by Colonel
Gurney to insist that the drivers perform such maintenance.

      The question was settled later in the day by an informal conference
between Lieutenant Whitman and a representative of the 504th. It was
agreed that drivers would be held responsible for the condition of any
vehicles which they used.

FACILITIES

      As indications mounted that the 504th would leave Fairmont AAF in
the near future, facilities on the field became more easily available. It
was possible to schedule a greater number of ground school classes in the
Base War Room and in Post Theatre No. 2.

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      But the pinch was still evident at the end of the month and frequently
instructors did not know until late in the afternoon where they would teach
a class at night. But only a few classes had to be cancelled altogether and
they were all made up at a later date.

MORALE

     Off-duty activities

      Captain Hymanis continued the morale building program which had been
inaugurated by Lieutenant Thompson. One of the primary activities was the
formation of a group band.

      At the end of the month, several men had volunteered for the band, but
musical instruments were unavailable. Captain Hymanis planned a trip to
Second Air Force Headquarters at Colorado Springs, Colorado, to remedy this
shortage.

[ED Note: I believe the two references to Captain Hymanis should read Captain Hymanson. The spelling used above is what appeared in the official history.]

      Another group activity was the variety show which was also organized
by Special Services. It was originally planned to give the first performance
in October but several members of the cast were sent to schools and it had
to be postponed.

     Orientation

      Considerable interest was shown in the orientation program and more
than 1,200 officers and enlisted men participated in the discussion and the
classes during the month.15 Members of the group were very concious of the
problems facing soldiers in the post war world and displayed an intense
curiosity concerning the Japanese.

     Informal activities

      Informally, there were numerous activities to occupy the men during

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their spare time. The weather was ideal and several pheasant hunting parties
were organized.

      On Halloween, there were parties for the Officers at the Fairmont AAF
Officers' Club and for the enlisted men at the Service Club. A large USO
center in York, Nebraska, also offered entertainment.

      On 7 October, all officers and enlisted men who could be spared from
their duties were granted time and transportation to attend the football
game between the Second Air Force "Superbombers" and the Iowa Naval preflight
school. The game was held at Lincoln, Nebraska.

                 For the Commanding Officer:




                                         GEORGE E. REEDY,JR
                                         1st Lt., Air Corps
                                         Group Historian



                            
15/ Report, Hq 16th Bomb Gp,to Base Orientation Officer,Fairmont AAF,
    Geneva, Nebraska, 31 Oct 1944

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Editorial Notes:

Several photos are included in the history, but have not yet been reproduced for inclusion on this web page.

There also exists several pages of substantiating data, that have yet to be transcribed. This data consists of special orders, memorandum, report forms and copies of TWX messages. This will take a long time to transcibe and I wanted to focus on transcription of the unit history first. Hopefully, my fingers will be able to stand this.


Content 2005, Larry Miller
September 20, 2005