Grand Island, Nebraska

I. Organization and Administration 1
II. Operations 8
III. Training 17
IV. Training Accidents 30
V. Facilities 42
VI. Maintenance 45
VII. Personnel 47
VIII. Supply 60
IX. Medical 62



     The month of January had outstanding significance for
the 502nd Bombardment Group (VH) in that by the first it had at
long last reached the desired position of an integrated, full
fledged organization. With the departure of the last remaining
elements of the 6th Bombardment Group (VH), the 502d, figuratively
speaking was in the position of an adolescent, grown to manhood,
no longer under the parental supervision, accepting the full
responsiblity of being on its own.

     The 502d Bombardment Group (VH) was in effect well prepared
to operate on its own. The great advantage of easing gradually
into the saddle, with the aid and counsel of the experienced
6th Bombardment Group (VH), paid its largest dividend during
these early days when the organization first assumed complete

     The month of January was primarily a month of training,
hard intensive training for both Ground and Air Echelons.
This was in contrast to previous months when procurement of
personnel and setting up an organization had been prime objectives.
For the Air Echelon training activity in succeeding months, was
to continue on the same lines. But the Ground Echelon was
already looking forward to an early readiness date. POM


inspections for this part of the Group was set for early February,1
and training time had almost run out by January 31. Movement
orders themselves, published at Headquarters Second Air Force,
on 29th January 1945, ordered the Base Commander to "take without
delay the necessary action and/or issue the necessary orders
to prepare (the 502d Bomb Group, Ground Echelon) for foreign
service and to move (it) at the proper time..."2

     While these facts were important in the minds of all men in
the Group, another event was perhaps of outstanding significance
to all personnel. This was the decision to modify the B-29
airplane used by this Group in accordance with tactical
requirements of the 315th Wing. This modification and its
repercussions first announced early in January, are discussed
in detail later in this history.

     As for the general functioning of the Group itself, it was
marred in January by two important developments. First of all,
four training accidents occurred during the month with resulting
detrimental effect on the morale of all, especially the flying

1/ Confidential Ltr., Hdqtrs, Army Air Forces, Colorado Springs,
Colo., subject: POM Inspection, To: CO, 502d Bomb Group (VH)
dated 31 January 1945.

2/ Par 1 and 2, Confidential Ltr., Hdqtrs, Second Air Force,
Office of the Commanding Officer, Colorado Springs, Colo.,
Subject; Movement Orders, Shipment 5541, To: CO, GIAAFld,
Grand Island, Nebraska; CO, McCook AAFld, McCook, Nebraska,
dated 29 January 1945



     Secondly the Gypsy Task Force, described in the December
edition of this history, continued in operation as a training
base. An average of 200 men of the Group were kept there on
temporary duty. The great majority were maintenance personnel,
engaged in servicing the aircraft used in training, while the
rest performed the functions of Operations, Intelligence, and
other miscellaneous duties. All administrative work was carried
on at the home base. In all possible cases, personnel was
rotated on a monthly basis for training and morale purposes.

     But operation at the Advance Base continued to dislocate
administrative procedure of the Group. It was still much like
setting up a new organization.

     For example during the first month the Gypsy Task Force
was in operation (December 1944) considerable confusion and lack
of coordination existed with reference to the transfer of
personnel to and from the Advance Base. In some cases men were
ordered into planes and flown down on very short notice without
full notification to their respective Squadron Headquarters.
Thus the organization remained ignorant of the whereabouts of
some of their members until their names appeared on shipment
lists in Base Orders five to seven days later. The necessity
for a responsible controlling agency became very apparent, and
a policy was established3 whereby requests for personnel

3/ Opr Ltr., Hq 502d Bombardment Group (VH), Subject: Policy
of Flight Control to Advance Base, To: All Concerned, dated
1 January 1945


shipment are routed through certain channels for approval and
then forwarded to an appointed Group Transportation Control Officer
who makes the necessary arrangements for proper transportation
and handles the alerting of personnel to be shipped.

     Those at the Advance Base were constantly requesting
equipment and service, striving to reach a point where good
housekeeping and mission planning could be accomplished smoothly.
For example, Major Rudolph Seymour, on 19 January requested
transfer of a Weather Officer to the Advanced Base, since none
was available for briefings.4 A full discussion of facilities
available at the Advance Base is included in the chapter on

     One of the principal headaches arose from the decision to
do Ground Training here and Flying Training at the Advance Base.
Toward the end of January, for example, ground training schedules
of the 411th Bombardment Squadron were moved back twice because
crews of the organization were delayed returning to home base by bad
weather and other causes. These instances are characteristic
of difficulties arising from the split set up and the manner in
which these difficulties were solved.

Grand Island, Nebraska, dated 19 January 1945 Memorandum Unnumbered,
HQ 16th Bomb Gp (VH), 20 Jan 1945



     Practically all activities of the Group were scrutinized
not once, but twice by the Air Inspector.5 In summarizing his
observations for January, Major Robert W. Miller, the Air
Inspector, stated:

     "A great improvement was noted in all activities inspected
and the overall rating for the Group is excellent, (Ground

     Following is a complete list of Group Activities inspected
twice along with personnel making inspection:

      "Administrative - Captain Johnston and Assistant.
      (1) All Squadron Administrative Records.
      (2) S-1 (Central File, Special Orders).
      (3) Personnel.
      (4) Distribution Center.
      (5) Special Service and Personal Affairs.
      (6) All S-2 Offices.
      (7) Area and Barracks (All Squadrons).
      (8) Mail Rooms.
      (9) Chaplains Office.

      "Medical - Major Welsh.
      (1) Sanitation throughout Group.
      (2) Mess.
      (3) Dispensary and Medical Records.

5/ History Liaison Report, Office of the Air Inspector, January


      "Tactical - Major Miller and Assistant.
      (1) All Operations Offices.
      (2) Personal Equipment Sections.
      (3) Navigation Section.
      (4) Bombardiering Section.
      (5) Combat Intelligence.

      Technical - Captain Johnston and Assistants.
      (1) Weight and Balance
      (2) Special Purpose Vehicles.
      (3) Hangar and Hangar Equipment.
      (4) Ordnance Area.
      (5) Armament and Bombsight.
      (6) Communications.
      (7) Radar.
      (8) Photographic Section.
      (9) Motor Maintenance and Motor Pool.
      (10) All Engineering and Supply Offices.

     Each airplane had a shakedown inspection at completion of
100 hour inspection and discrepancies found were corrected
prior to departure to Advance Base.


     At the end of January the plans for setting up an Enlisted
Men's Club Overseas were first made public.6 All Enlisted Men
were requested to make payments totaling approximately four per
cent of their pay to the 502d Bombardment Group Enlisted Men's

6/ Par 7, Daily Bulletin,502d Bomb Group, dated 30 January 1945


Mess Association early in February. Similarly Officers were
requested to pay approximately ten percent of base pay into an
Officer's Mess Association. Meanwhile Special Service and other
Officers of the Group were planning an extensive procurement
trip so that equipment could be taken over on the boat.
Activities of the 6th Bombardment Group (VH) in this matter
again provided a useful guide. Thus, it seemed that the 502d
Bombardment Group (VH) personnel were going to have some, if
not all of the comforts of home while overseas.




     The entire thinking, and to a lesser extent, the
activities of the Group along operational lines, was
dominated during January by a single event: the report-
ed change in tactics which the 315th Wing was to employ
in Combat. The change also had repercussions in other
phases of squadron activity.

     For example, one immediate result was a series of
changes of varying importance in the training program.
Another result was the order to transfer all Remote
Control Turret Mechanics (MOS 960) except fifteen, and
to move all Remote Control Gunners (MOS 580) from crews
to the Combat Crew Pool as surplus. Both of these
events are discussed more in detail elsewhere in this

     The TWX ordering that B-29's be modified was
received on the 17 December 1944.7 The gist of the
message was that the following armament equipment would
be removed to facilitate training of the Group in

7/ Confidential TWX from WILLIAM CG 2AF to COAF,
   Grand Island, Nebraska dated 17 December 1944


accordance with revised tactical requirements of the
315th Wing:

           Upper rear, upper forward,
           lower forward, and lower
           rear turrets together with
           related fire control and
           crew equipment.

           Twenty millimeter cannon and
           accessory equipment from
           tail turret.

           Armor excepting glass forward
           of the pilots and glass to rear
           of tail gunner.

           Smooth closures were to be installed at all turret and
           sight positions. General equipment to be removed from
           the aircraft included the following:

           One oxygen regulator tail
           gunner's position; bunks
           and belts, auxiliary crew
           stations, table, bombardier;
           drift sight, B-5; engine
           covers; storage boxes,
           wiring diagram, installation
           oblique camera, deicer boots.

Deicer boot installations were to be retained, however.
In addition, certain radio and electric equipment was ordered

     The TWX further provided that supervisory personnel
would be furnished by Air Technical Service Command for
the job. It ordered the assembling of most experienced
and competent maintenance personnel, both military and
civilian, into teams for accomplishing the task. Only


enough aircraft to provide rapid and economical completion
were to be withdrawn from flying, while others were to continue
active in the training program. McCook and Grand Island Army
Air Field's were ordered to dispatch personnel to Fairmont and
Harvard for instruction and indoctrination.

     This message was followed two days later by a second TWX
emphasizing the need to classify all communications regarding
this matter as confidential.8

     At a morning orientation meeting 07:45 hours, 1 January 1945,
Colonel Kenneth O. Sanborn, Group Commander, gave a short talk
to the crews. He touched on the impending changes, the reasons
therefore, and stressed the importance of security. At the same
time the top members of the Group Staff were introduced for the
first time.


     Thus with mixed sentiments the 502d Bombardment Group (VH)
took over from the 6th Bombardment Group (VH) operation of all
activities at Grand Island and threw its flight echelon whole-
heartedly into the flight and technical training programs.

8/ Confidential TWX from WILLIAMS CG 2AF TO: CG 315th Wing,
   Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado., Info: COAF
   Grand Island, Nebraska, dated 19 December 1944.


The awareness of a new and challenging mission was a tonic
to morale and a stimulant to espirit-de-corps. But the breaking
apart of the outfit by the flying program at the Advanced Comm-
and Post, the lack of continuity caused by repeated shifts of
crews and administrative personnel back and forth, and the inabil-
ity to use the excellent facilities left by the 6th Bombardment
Group (VH) at Grand Island disrupted and dislocated Group Oper-
ations from the beginning.

     The detailed functions of the Group Operations Section,
which was to have full charge of flight and technical training
for the crews, were outlined in Group Memorandum No. 55-2,
dated 7 January 1945.9 This Memorandum provided that the
Group Operations Staff Officer would function within his
sphere of activity, as follows:

               Standardize methods instruction
               and record keeping.

               Insure that records reflect accur-
               ately the ability and the worth of each
               crew, make special report on deficiencies
               and also on excellence in training and

               Issue informal written orders in
               name of the Commanding Officer
               when sure that these are in accord
               with his written or stated policies,
               or of the Group Operations Officer.

9/ Group Memorandum No. 55-3, Subject: Duties of the Group
   Staff Personnel Officer dated 7 January 1945.


               Incorporate into Group Memorandum
               training or operations data of a
               permanent nature are to be
               incorporated into Operations

               Make Pertinent suggestions for
               changes in Operations Standard
               Operating Procedure.

               Constantly check Squadron Staff
               Operations Officers.


     Much of the day-by-day activity of the Operations
section was formalized in the Operations Letters mentioned
in Group Memorandum No. 55-3 summarized above.

     While the plan to publish these Operations Letters
was not officially announced until 7 January 1945, it
had actually been functioning for some time. Thus, six
letters had already been published by 31 December 1944.
Fifteen more were issued in January, the subjects of
which are given below:


Letter No.    Subject  Date
55-7    Procedure for Handling Radio
    Operator's Kits (T.O. 00-30-65)
  1 Jan 1945
55-8    Facility Charts for Operations
  1 Jan 1945
55-10    Bombing Reference Folders  1 Jan 1945
55-12    Policy of Flight Control to
    Advance Base
  1 Jan 1945
55-13    Handling of Second Air Force
    Forms 334 and 334A
  18 Feb 1946*


Letter No.    Subject  Date
55-14    Bombing Form Policy  4 Jan 1945
55-16    Ground Training  16 Jan 1945
55-17    Operation of An/APQ-13 Radar Set  19 Jan 1945
55-18    Three Thousand (3,000) Mile
  21 Jan 1945
55-19    Weekly Navigation and Bombing
  21 Jan 1945
55-20    Communications Information to
    be Included at Briefing
  21 Jan 1945
55-21    Procedure for Interrogation of
    Radio Operators
  29 Jan 1945
*    These letters issued in February supersede letters
    first issued in January.

     Contents of a typical Operations Letter, No. 55-18
dealing with Three Thousand (3,000) mile missions, are
discussed in more detail below in the section on
operations between Grand Island and the Advanced Base.
Letter No. 55-12 regarding Flight Control to the Advance
Base was discussed in Chapter I. These letters are
included in the supporting documents, document numbers
3 and 10.


     Soon after the decision was taken to perform train-
ing at the Advanced Command Post, Group Operations took
steps to use the long transit flight for training purposes.


Group S-210 prepared three detailed mission folders
which set forth the routes to be flown. Camera attacks
were included in these mission so that such training
missions as number 3-1 and 3-2 could be accomplished.
One route provided for actual over-water bombing on the
range near Cedar Keys, Florida. Full information on
actual flying accomplished on these flights and those
for the Advanced Command Post are included in the
Chapter on Training.


     Looking toward Intelligence Operations in combat as
well as in training Lieutenant Colonel Sydney S. Bartlet,
315th Wing A-2, called a conference of all Group S-2's
in the Wing on January 10th, 1945 at Peterson Field,
Colorado Springs, Colorado. A photo of the group
attending the meeting is appended. Major Abbot H. Green-
leaf was the representative of the 502nd Bombardment Group.11

     The purpose of the conference was to familiarize the
Group Intelligence Officers with the projected theater

10/ Operational Letter No. 55-18, subject: Three Thousand
    (3,000) Mile Missions, To: All Concerned, dtd 21 Jan 45.

11/ SO 8, Par 16, GIAAFld, Grand Island, Nebraska dated
    8 January 1945.


requirements in Intelligence matters, while presenting
an opportunity for those officers to meet the men who
are responsible for the detail preparation of the future

     Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong, the Commanding
General of the Wing, keynoted the meeting in a talk in
which the work "Teamwork" was given as the watchword of
the Wing. In development of that thought, he defined
"Intelligence" as the "Eyes and Ears of Operations."

     Following the General's remarks, each specialist
member of the staff was introduced to explain the work-
ings of his particular phase. In these explanations
full use was made of drawings, sketches, pictures and
other training aids.

     In the afternoon session a general discussion of the
individual problems of the four groups was held.

     The full program and participants is omitted from
this history because it will be included in the reports
of higher headquarters but a brief summation of the
topics discussed is given below:

             (a) Procedure for disseminating classified
                 material among group personnel.

             (b) Uniform filing systems.

12/ History Liaison Report, Office of the Intelligence
    Officer, dated January.


             (c) Uniform planning and situation maps
                 and panel displays.

             (d) Responsibility Charts.

             (e) Ordering of information shortages.

             (f) Priority targets.

             (g) Overseas supplies.

             (h) Advance planning.

             (i) Development of reporting guides, check
                 sheets, public relations forms, and
                 other SOP's.

             (j) Outline of training problems.

             (k) Security measures




     We have previously pointed out that by the end of
December the Group was up to its elbows in the basic and
technical training program for the Ground Echelon. In
January, combat crew training also, both flight and tech-
nical, went ahead full steam. Machinery had, of course,
been set up and policies laid down for this program.

     On 15th January, however, Group Memorandum No. 50-1
formally confirmed and made a matter of record the deci-
sions which had been taken. It divided training into the
following categories and specified direction and stand-
ards governing each category:

             (1) Flight training for Combat Crews.

             (2) Technical training for Combat Crews.

             (3) Basic training for the Ground Echelon.

             (4) Technical training for the Ground

The Station Director of Ground Training was designated
Group Schools Officer.

     Group S-3 was ordered to work with the Director of

13/ Group Memorandum No. 50-1, Subject: Training, General,
    dated 15 January 1945


Ground Training and to supervise maintenance of records
with regard to all combat crew and basic training. Group
S-4 was assigned similar responsibilities with regard to
technical training for the Ground Echelon.

     Finally, the Group Statistical Officer was ordered to
maintain current summaries of all training in the Group
Conference Room.


     Revised tactical requirements of the 315th Wing had
an important effect on the Group training program as out-
lined above. Especially the combat crew training was

     Late in the month the Operations and Training section
of Headquarters, Second Air Force, transmitted a new
flight training directive entitled "B-29 Flight Training
Directive (Special)" and dated 1 January 1945. Set up in
typewritten form, the directive was rushed out to avoid a
further delay while printed copies were being run off.14

     The letter, addressed to attention of Major MacDonald
as Director of Training at Grand Island, ordered him to
disseminate the new information immediately to Group
Personnel, including those in the Caribbean Area.

14/ Ltr: Hq, Second Air Force, file 353.01 ET, subject:
    Transmittal of Flight Training Directives, To:
    Commanding Officer GIAAFld, Grand Island, Nebraska,
    dated 27 January 1945.


     A comparison of the new directive 2AF Manual 50-67
with the old one No. 50-49, revealed, for example, that
all of the formation flying had been removed from the
training program and additional long-range missions

     A second vital change in the training program occurred
in the gunnery section. The CFC gunner was removed from
the crew and the revised crew called for one armorer-
gunner (MOS 612), one career gunner (MOS 611),15 and one
electrical specialist (MOS 1685).

     The training time scheduled for the tail gunner was
boosted to seventy-two hours, from the previous total of
forty. The Armorer gunner (MOS 612) was to be in the
tail position since all of the servicing was to be in
this position. Rather than procure armorer gunners for
this job, additional hours were set aside for maintenance
training during which tail gunners would get on-the-job
training as armorers. The remaining additional hours were
to be spent on the AN/APQ-15 radar search equipment
associated with the tail turrets.

     The right and left gunners who replaced the original
RCT gunners, were to get only a familiarization course of

    Island, Nebraska, dated 5 January 1945


10 hours of RCT training instead of 40 hours. Vital cogs
on the crew team, these men were also to be fully trained
in crew coordination, external observation, etc. The elect-
trical specialist (MOS 1685) on each crew was to be obtained
through on-the-job-training of present crew members.16

     Other training changes occurred in communications train-
ing, were familiarization courses on sets stripped from the
airplane,17 and in recognition training, where extensive recog-
nition for Navigators and Bombardiers and other men not fir-
ing guns was shortened.18


     Under these new plans training went steadily ahead during
the month of January. Basic Training progressed very satis-
factorially. Lectures were scheduled by the Director of Ground
Training19 and attendance was good. Make-up classes were
scheduled in the various subjects in order to insure event-
ually a one hundred percent completion of overseas training

16/ History Liaison Report, Gunnery Section, January.

17/ History Liaison Report, Communications Section, January.

18/ History Liaison Report, Intelligence Section, January.

19/ Ground Echelon Training Schedule, Office of the Director
    of Training, GIAAFld, Grand Island, Nebraska. dated 5
    January 1945.


     The following percentages per man assigned indicate
the degree of completion in each subject.20

              Army Orientation     83%
              Chemical Warfare     96%
              Camouflage     83%
              Gunnery     91%
              Intelligence     93%
              Medical     92%
              Articles of War     100%
              Bomb Reconnaissance and
              Processing     0%
              Physical Training     76%
              Unit Bivouac     57%

     An average per man showed 79.6% of the requirements
completed as of the end of January.


     Weapons firing by Officers and Enlisted Personnel
in the organization was stepped up during January to a
considerable extent in order to assure a high percentage
of qualifications before the Group's training period is

20/ Weekly POM Progress Report, 502D Bombardment Group (VH)
    dated 2 February 1945.


     The following figures show the number and percent
as of the end of January, of personnel completing the
required marksmanship course and also a percentage of
those firing who are actully qualified; 21


             Total number who have fired       306
             Percent                           96%
             Percent of Officers firing who
             qualified                         97%

        Enlisted Men:

             Total number who have fired      1349
             Percent                           87%
             Percent of Enlisted Men firing
             who qualified                     92%


     The Technical Training Program also showed remark-
able progress. The following percentages and subjects
were covered per man assigned. 22

             Basic Training        100%
             Ordnance                67%
             Armament               74%
             Communications         92%
             Administration         90%

21/ Weekly POM Progress Report, 502d Bombardment Group
    (VH) dated 2 February 1945

22/ Ground Training Status, Statistical Control Section,
    dated 31 January 1945.


             Radar                   No personnel assigned
             Radar Countermeasures   100%
             Engineering              91%
             Photography              54%


     The month of January brought about the formal launch-
ing of the Technical Training Program for Combat Crews.

     The fact that Flying Training was conducted at the
Gypsy Task Force was a major impediment to scheduling
classes and carrying out the crew ground training with
maximum efficiency. Schedules were put out as usual 23
but as already pointed out, these often had to be moved
back. In spite of these difficulties the progress of
this program was satisfactory.24 Almost two-thirds of
first phase training was completed, a total 62.8%,
and a reasonably good start on second phase training also
was made. A photographic copy of the Crew Progress Chart
for Technical Training (VH), showing the amount of train-
ing accomplished by each crew member, is enclosed in the
supporting documents section of this history.25

23/ Combat Crew Ground Schedule, Office of the Director
    of training, GIAAFld, dated 12 January 1945.

24/ Interview with Director of Ground Training, 242d Base
    Unit, GIAAFld, Grand Island, Nebraska dtd 11 Feb 45.

25/ 2AF Crew Progress Chart - Technical Training (VH),
    GIAAFld, Grand Island, Nebraska dated 1 February 45.



     In addition to formal ground school training, Intel-
ligence sections of the Squadrons have built War Rooms and
have demonstrated to crews the value of reading Intel-
ligence publications in their spare time. Although the
6th Bombardment Group (VH) left War Rooms with some
displays on the walls the 402d and 411th Squadrons elected
to remodel their rooms. Pictures of these two rooms are
included in the appendix.

     In the 411th War Room displays on the wall feature
information relating to target identification, recognition
and capabilities of Japanese aircraft Vs American air-
craft, effectiveness of Jap flak and recent 20th Air Force
Missions. Situation maps on all theaters are also kept up
to date. Intelligence publications are placed on shelves
for the crews. Chairs and tables are available.

     A favorite with the crews, this large colorful room
has been used by Squadrons, Group and Base Personnel for
special meetings.

     The 402d War Room has displays featuring information
relating to recognition, flak evasion, and has situation
maps covering all theaters. It is set up in connection
with the crew alert room, and its tables are covered with
Intelligence poop. Characterized by an informal, comfor-
table atmosphere, this room is a popular lounging place


with crews of the Squadron.


     This phase of the training program pushed forward with
outstanding speed and efficiency during January. Without
any doubt, the most significant factor aiding the rapid
accumulation of flying time by our crews was the ideal wea-
ther conditions of the Gypsy Task Force. Counteracting the
administrative difficulties of the split set-up, this factor
contributed not only to the actual flying aspects, but what
may be considered even more important, to the maintenance
and servicing of the aircraft, without which little could
be accomplished.

     The following figures indicated the degree of accomp-
lishment in the Flying Training Program.26

  B-29 A/C   B-17 A/C
Hours flown to date 1841.00     2459.61
Hours required to date 1575.00      649.90
% of required hours flown to date    117%         45%
% of total required hours completed     29%         11%
Missions completed to date   775.00       18.00
Missions required to date   600.00      124.80
% of req'd missions comp. to date     129%         14%
% of total req'd missions completed      32%        3.8%

     Broken down into the categories set up under AAF Train-
in standards, accomplishment was as follows on 1 Feb 45.27

26/ Daily statistical Report, 502d Bomb Group dtd 31 Jan 45.

27/ Crew Progress Chart, AAF Training Standards, Flying
    Training (VH), 502d Bomb Group (VH) dtd 11 Feb 45.


             Instrument Check              76%
             Pilot Landings                74
             Instrument Hours, Pilot       64
             Let-Downs, Pilot              41
             3000-Mile Navigation           2
             High Altitude Bombs            1

In other categories no training had yet been accomplished.


     A total of 83 Officers were in an on-the-job training
status at the end of January. As shown in the history for
the month of December, this high figure consists mostly of
B-17 and B-24 Pilots training to qualify as B-29 Pilots
(MOS 1093).

     On the other hand, last month's figure of 69 Enlisted
Men on-the-job training was reduced to 26, as of the 31st
of January.

     Broken down by Military Occupational Specialties,
Officer and enlisted Personnel on-the-job training is as
follows: 28

MOS         NUMBER
1093   Pilot VH Bomber   79
2110   Adjutant   1

28/ Crew Progress Chart, AAF Training Standards, Flying
    Training (VH), 502d Bomb Group (VH) dtd 11 Feb 45.


2120   Administrative Officer   1
2161   Operations Officer, AAF   1
Enlisted Personnel
055   Clerk Non-Typist   1
070   Draftsman   1
345   Auto-Equipment Opr   2
405   Clerk Typist   3
505   Ammunition Supply Techn   2
650   Tel Switchboard Opr   2
747   AP Engine Mechanic   1
901   Munitions Worker   11
941   Camera Techn   1
2756   AAF Radio Opr Mech   2


     During January, Captain John M. Dunn, Intelligence
Officer in the 430th Squadron, was designed by Group S-2
flak analyst for the 502d Bombardment Group. In order to
acquire some practical training and up to date information
on the subject of flak, Captain Dunn was sent to Ft. Bliss,
Texas, to attend an Air Officers' Course in Antiaircraft.29

     The Group Intelligence Section also continued its
efforts to qualify as many men as possible in radar Intel-
ligence. During January, Lt Gerald J. Sophar, assistant

28/ Par 2, SO #25, Hq, Grand Island AAFld, dated 25 Jan 45


S-2 officer in the 402d Bomb Squadron, attended the four
week radar Intelligence course at Langley Field, Virginia.30

     Getting a bird's eye view of Ordnance activity in a
Group, fourteen men of the 411th Squadron took the Aviation
Ordnance course at Savannah Ordnance Depot. The course
covered types and use of explosives, small arms, ammunition,
bombs, pyrotechnics, demolition, explosives, booby traps
(friendly and enemy), as well as transport and storage of
Ordnance material. 30

     The Group also sent one man to take the course in
maintenance of superchargers, given by Minneapolis Honey-

     29TH PHOTO LAB31

     The photographic training program being given to the
enlisted men of this organization was nearing completion at
the end of January. Several men were on TDY with the Gypsy
Task Force to help facilitate photographic operations at
the Advance Base and to receive training under a Tactical
Aerial Photo Lab set-up. From last reports they were
engaged mainly in making camera installations and aerial
film processing.

     In addition to the above training, a complement of

30/ History Liaison Report, Group Personnel, January.

31/ History Liaison Report, 29th Photo Lab, January.


nine enlisted men departed for a specialized course initiated
at Army Air Forces Technical Training Command, Lowry Field,
Denver Colorado. The course, in a space of two weeks gave a
very clear comprehensive condensation of the various advance-
ments made in Camera Repair, Night Photography and related
photographic subjects. A three day course, specializing in
night photography, was also completed by Lt. Melvin C. DeKorne,
Group Photo Officer.




     Four training accidents occurred during the month of
January, two of them resulting in fatalities. A descrip-
tion of each of these accidents and the mistakes made is
given below. The material is taken from official accident
reports themselves and from analysis made by Captain Henry
G. Dillingham, assistant Group Operations Officer at the time
of writing.

     This analysis covers three of the four accidents discus-
sed, and a fourth which occurred in January. To stress the
lessons learned from the accidents, it was mimeographed and
distributed throughout the Group for the information and
instruction of all concerned. Copies are included in the
supporting documents. 32


         On 13 January 1945, B-29 Aircraft #42-63410, flown
by Crew #1104 of the 411th Bombardment Squadron (VH), took-
off from the Advanced Base on a routine training flight.
2nd Lt. Gordon P. Veium was the Aircraft Commander and 1st
Lt. Clifford E. Kampeh was aboard as Instructor Pilot.
Later they were directed by the tower

32/ Analysis of Airplane Accidents entitled "To Be Or Not
    To Be" prepared by Assistant Operations Officer,
    502d Bombardment Group (VH) undated but published in
    January 1945.


to fly out along the bearing of a reported distress signal.

     At about 1700, when they were off the coast of Haiti,
scanners reported light smoke from the #2 engine. They
were told by the instructor pilot, who was flying the ship
from the co-pilots seat, to keep watching it. Thirty
minutes later, the smoke from #2 turned black and flames
started appearing. The #2 engine then burst into flames.
The plane at this time was at about 1,500 feet and the
instructor pilot told the crew in the front compartment
to prepare for ditching. A call was given in the rear of
the plane, but only two (2) crew members were on inter-
phone and heard the co-pilot who was flying in the pilots

     The instructor pilot landed the plane across the
swell without flaps at about 130 to 140 miles per hour.
The plane broke into two or more pieces and continued to
burn after crashing.

     The crash occured at 1745 and the wreckage was sighted
by a C-47 but, on account of darkness, the survivors were not pick-
ed up until the next day. Five (5) men were never picked
up. The missing men are:

First Lieutenant Clifford E Kamph O-746363
Second Lieutenant Norman J. Thompson O-779014
Second Lieutenant Joe Morris O-743631
Second Lieutenant Steven Parella O-867578


Corporal John E. Henry 17125270

     In its recommendations, the investigating board stated:
"The alarm bell could have been rung. Plane was going too
fast when it struck the water, and no flaps were used. Crews
should be better briefed in how to land in water and in
proper ditching procedure. More escape hatches should be
incorporated in rear of the aircraft in the radar room, if

     The 502d Group analysis further pointed out the follow-
ing mistakes:

     a. Poor crew coordination was demonstrated by not
sounding the alarm bell immediately, announcing over the
call position of the interphone that the plane was going to
be ditched, and asking for an acknowledgement from each crew

     b. No apparent effort was made before ditching to
extinguish the fire by feathering the engine and using the
fire extinguisher.

     c. Poor pilot techniques was used when he tried to
land across the swell instead of along the swell.


     At 0530 on 26 January 1945, a B-29 with a crew of
nine (9) and six (6) passengers took off from the Advance
Base to fly a simulated 3,000 mile mission to home base in


Grand Island. The ship carried along with the crew and
passengers, ten (10) 100 lb bombs, 1,200 lbs of baggage, and
6,680 gallons of gasoline. It weighed on take-off
124,000 pounds. Captain George P. Erwin was Airplane Com-
mander, and the crew number was 1107 of the 411th Bombard-
ment Squadron.

     From the Advance Base their route was to a point twenty
(20) miles north of Jamaica - then to the bombing range of
Cayos Travieso where they made two (2) runs at 9,000 feet.
They then climbed to 20,000 feet by the time they reached
Batista, remaining at this altitude while camera bombing
Havana, Key West, Miami, and Morrison - soon after leaving
Morrison the airplane commander foresaw the approach of a
front, so while en route to Jacksonville, climbed from 20,000
feet to 26,000 feet. It was here also that he encountered
severe head winds. By the time they reoriented themselves
at Birmingham there were at 19,000 feet. They then dropped
down to 8,000 feet and were about 50 to 60 degrees North
West of Kansas City when the co-pilot asked to see the
readings on the fuel gauge. The fuel appeared alarmingly
low. This was at 1815 to 1830 (EWT) Eastern War Time.
About ten (10) minutes later, one (1) and four (4) went out
so power was increased on two (2) and three (3).

     As they were flying over the undercast, the pilot asked



the co-pilot to tune in the Ft. Riley range. Homing on Ft.
Riley necessitated taking up a heading of 180 degrees.

     The pilot dropped from 8,000 feet to 2,000 feet - at
3,000 feet they broke through the undercast.

     At 1925 (EWT) Eastern War Time they spotted the range
station and immediately there after Number two (2) cut out.
Full boost was given to Number three (3) but it would not
support the plane. They attempted to put down flaps, when
a crash was inevitable, but the flaps did not appear to work.

     The crew had been notified by the co-pilot twenty (20)
minutes prior to the crash to take up crash positions so
they were in their proper places when the crash occurred at
1930 (EWT) Eastern War Time. The airspeed on impact was
estimated at 100 miles per hour.

     The crash cost six (6) lives. The men lost were:
Captain George P. Erwin O-347627
Second Lieutenant Edwin E. Courter O-2063370
Second Lieutenant Donald C. Tarr O-788862
Staff Sergeant Francis J. Merdan 17036003
Staff Sergeant Anthony P. Tomaini 12911860
Corporal Joe F. Horn 371462231

     The finding of the Investigating Board attributed the
accident to "a) pilot error and b) error on part of super-
visory personnel planning mission, notably that


insufficient fuel reserve was provided. It also listed
the following contributory factors: a) Lack of proper crew
coordination b) Possibility of gasoline trapped in lower
bomb bay tank c) Possibility of fuel consumption figured
without consideration of winds aloft d) Weather forecasts
of winds aloft and height of front inaccurate.

     In addition, the 502d Bombardment Group analysis
pointed out the following mistakes:

     a. The Airplane Commander never consulted the navi-
gator to find out where he was when he discovered he was
dangerously low on fuel.

     b. When Aircraft lost one (1) and four (4) engines
he didn't ask the navigator the heading to the nearest air-
port, but arbitrarily picked Fort Riley.

     c. Although the Airplane Commander lost two (2)
engines and was flying over an undercast, it didn't seem
to occur to him to bail out all crew members not essential
in landing the plane.

     d. The crew was warned in ample time to take crash
positions, but all loose equipment was not tied down.


         Having completed the Borinquen-Morrison Field leg
of a trip from the Advance Base to Grand Island, First
Lieutenant Reuben W. Carlton on 26 January 1945, filed IFR
clearance for B-17F number 42-5330 direct to Grand Island


at 8,000 feet. Aboard were eight other members of Lieutenant
Carlton's crew, number 1115 of the 411th Bombardment Squadron
and ten (10) passengers.

     The official narrative report of the accident states:
"After leaving Morrison Field, the flight enroute was
normal and on course as far as Springfield, Missouri, where
the pilot noticed he was running short of fuel. He was then
flying (CFR) Contact Flying Regulations and states he could see
Springfield, Missouri Airport and the city of Springfield very
well. Because of shortage of fuel, he inquired of Springfield
radio what facilities were on hand as well as length of runways
and condition of field contemplating a landing at this airport,
but pilot states he again checked his fuel and felt he could
make Kansas City easily. At this time while over Springfield,
pilot asked Navigator for a course to Kansas City and was given
a reply of 325 degrees M. by Navigator. Pilot misunderstood 325
degrees for 335 degrees and flew this heading from Springfield,
Missouri toward Kansas City. This error in compass heading of
10 degrees plus a wind shift and the fact that pilot at various
times, from statements made, was flying a heading of 315 degrees
and very poor visibility, aggravated and caused pilot and aircraft
to go off course 50 miles east of Kansas City at the time their
ETA (Expected Time Arrival) was up, and to be temporarily lost.


     At this time, navigator discovered they were over the
Missouri River and knew they were East of Kansas City but
did not know how far. Later investigation showed this
distance to be approximately 50 miles. He noticed through
the haze below them lights that were believed to be runway
lights on an airport and it was decided it must have been
Kansas City. At the same time one engine had quit running
because of lack of fuel. They descended to 4,000 feet and
again checked so-called runway lights and were sure it was
a runway but not Kansas City. Pilot decided to land and
states he entered a traffic pattern, lowered his wheels,
started on final approach, dropped his flaps and went ap-
proximately 150 feet above end of runway. When ready to
land, observed that what they thought to be runway lights
were street lights with rows of houses on either side of
street in a small town. He immediately applied power and
proceeded to climb at the same time losing another engine
from lack of fuel. He continued on a short distance and
states he knew he was going to run out of fuel on the
remaining two engines at any minute. He observed what he
thought to be a corn field in front of him, crash landed
the aircraft, wheels up, in what later proved to be the
willow marshes running parallel to the Missouri River,
approximately three miles northeast of Lexington, Missouri."


There were no casualties in this accident.

     In summarizing its findings the Investigating Board
stated: "This Board finds this airplane commander one hund-
red percent (100%) responsible for this accident and loss
of aircraft due to poor flight planning and judgment."
It further censured the pilot for:

     a) Calculating fuel consumption improperly.

     b) Attempting to make Kansas City instead of landing
at Springfield, or at Sedalia Army Air Field, which
was on the route and whose beacon should have been visible from the air.
It also laid part of the responsibility on the Morrison
Field Base Operations Officer. Its recommendation stated:
"This accident board recommends that this airplane commander
and all pilots be given more thorough instruction on cruise
control data. That this pilot responsible for this crash
attend a flight planning course and be reduced from first
pilot status until more experience and responsibility as
airplane commander be accomplished and that clearing
authority for this flight be reprimanded and made to rea-
lize its responsibilities on clearing long range flight by
closer observation of Form twenty three's for in this case
the accident and total wreck of this B-17 could have been
averted in the Operations Office."



         On 27 January 1945, crew number 0203 of the 402d
Bombardment Squadron, with Captain Arthur W. Dippel as
Airplane Commander, took off in B-29 number 42-63384 from
the Advance Base to drop some bombs as 25,000 feet. Upon
reaching 24,000 feet, oil was noted flowing out of Number
1 engine. So Number 1 was feathered, the other three (3)
engines were throttled back to 28 inches 1800 Revolution
Per Minute (RPM), and a descent was started. Soon after
Number 1 was feathered, puffs of white smoke were seen to
come out of the intercooler of Number 2. It was decided
to unfeather Number 1 and feather Number 2. They had
Number 1 at 1200 Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) when Number
2 was feathered. It was then decided to raise the Revolu-
tions Per Minute (RPM) on Number 1, but the manipulation of
the toggle switch or the operation of the prop reset button
was all to no avail. The other Revolution Per Minute (RPM)
switches were tried, but they too failed to operate.

     At 8,000 feet they decided to see what extent their
electrical failure went, so tried to lower the landing gear.
It failed to operate on the normal system.

     With the excellent presence of mind the airplane commander
took out his 2AF Manual 50-27 and went over the section on
Emergency operations of the landing gear, step by step.


Nothing was overlooked as far as the Manual was concerned
on what one does when the wheels fail to extend.

     At approximately 4,000 feet over the water, the bombs
were salvoed with the bombardiers mechanical salvo, as the
pilots failed to operate.

     On the next turn over-land the airplane commander rang
the alarm to bail out his crew (those not included in the
actual landing operation). Four (4) men in the front press-
urized compartment bailed out. Those in the rear did not,
as the alarm bell was inoperative. When the airplane com-
mander discovered the men in the rear did not hear the bell,
the ship was over water again. The next time over-land he
was too low, so he instructed them to prepare for a crash

     The instructor pilot was in the co-pilot's seat and
was flying the airplane. When he turned into his final
approach at excessive airspeed, the airplane commander
despite only fourteen (14) hours in this type of aircraft,
took over the controls and made a perfect no-flap, no-wheel,

     Sparks caused the ship to catch fire and inside of the
aircraft got very hot. Before the ship slid to a stop the
engineer jumped out of his window and received severe abras-
ions. The rest of the crew jumped when the ship stopped without


further casualty.

     The Investigating Board's Recommendation was as
follows: "It is recommended that crews be better instructed
in the use of emergency systems. Also that a better way of
locating the switches for the main gear be developed so a
crew member can have his headset and microphone for better
coordination while using the emergency system and that a
manual type release be installed for emergency lowering of
the gear."

     The 502d Bombardment Group analysis made the follow-
ing comment: "Although most of our accidents seem to be
attributable to poor pilot technique and poor crew coord-
ination. We have had an accident in our Group that shows
superb pilot technique and excellent crew coordination."
The only two mistakes it pointed out were:

     a) The inter-phone should have been used in conjunc-
tion with the alarm bell to bail out the crew as that did
not go out until later.

     b) The crew put no protective clothing on their
hands and face to guard against flash burns.





     With the departure of the Air Echelon of the 6th
Bombardment Group, there was a noticeable improvement in
the space available to house the Enlisted men. Whereas
previously there were as many as sixty men occupying bar-
racks designed to shelter forty-two, the overall average
is now reduced to about forty-seven men.

     A lack of mess personnel (cooks and KP's) brought ab-
out the consolidation, on 15th January 1945, of the three
Squadron mess halls into one Group Mess, serving personnel
for the entire Group. Second Lieutenant William J. Thuer-
wachter received the appointment of Group Mess Officer,
while Second Lieutenant Harry C. Beam was appointed Assist-
ant Group Mess Officer.33

     The month of January saw the completion of some very
valuable training facilities for our gunners.34 The base
built and outfitted four 20 X 20 foot hutments to be used
as gunnery mock-ups. In each of three of these mock-ups
six 50 caliber machine guns were set up to fire from the
windows. The guns are equipped with ring type sights and

33/ Par 8 and 9, SO 14, Hq 502d Bomb Group, dtd 15 Jan45.
34/ History Liaison Report, Gunnery Section, January 1945.


use blank ammunition. Excellent firing practice was ob-
tained with the use of an L-5 aircraft diving on the hut-
ments, affording a reasonable substitution of a fast mov-
ing enemy target.

     The fourth hutment was equipped with optical sights
only, placed in positions simulating those on the B-29.
Again the L-5 is used in this connection for tracking and
framing practice.


     Since Borinquen Field is actually a
peace time installation most of its buildings are perman-
ent solid structures, made of concrete and thus ideally
suited to the needs of our training operations.

     Excellent office and barracks buildings were made
available to the 502d Group, but since other Groups were
also in training at the same base, there was not enough
space to go around thus causing considerable over-crowding.

     An Intelligence briefing room was set up in a garage
close to the ramp. Since the building was entirely open
on one side, the noise from the nearby planes made necess-
ary the installation of a loud speaker system, which proved
a very effective solution. Intelligence activities were

35/ Interview with Lt. Austin Higgins, S-2 Officer at the
    Advance Base for two months, 5 March 1945


hampered in the beginning by a lack of maps and target
information of the Antilles area. The Intelligence
Section of the Antilles Air Command helped by supplying the
necessary maps and survey reports with information on
target areas.

     There were no problems with reference to Engineering
facilities. The mild weather allowed maintenance to be
carried on in the open air with comfort and efficiency.
With the aid of flood lights, work could be continued on
a plane during the entire night, which was done in many
cases. The only thing hampering maintenance activities
was the initial shortage of certain tools and aircraft
parts. However this situation was soon cleared up and
work progressed smoothly and efficiently.

     From the standpoint of entertainment, facilities were
practically unlimited. Personnel have available for their
use an Officers Club, Non-Commissioned Officer Club,
Service Club, well stocked Post Exchange, Post Exchange
restaurant, two theaters, a golf course, two swimming pools,
a gymnasium and an athletic field and soft-ball diamond.



     Maintenance activities were mainly routine during the
month of January, except for the split set-up necessitated
by the Gypsy Task Force.36 A total of eleven (11) 100 hour
inspections and three (3) 500 hour inspections were comp-
leted during the month at this base.

     The most serious problem during the month, as reported
by the Materiel Officer, was the existence of oil leaks in
push rod housing and also in rocker box covers. It was
found that deterioration of the rubber gasket on the upper
push rod was causing the trouble with the push rod housings.
Improper torque on rocker box cover nuts and absence of
rocker box cover gaskets was the source of the difficulty
caused by the rocker box covers.

     Steps were taken to eliminate both of these malfunc-
tions by checking these items daily, and also during routine
inspections. The Material Officer anticipates that no
further trouble will occur.

     Modification of B-29 training airplanes in use at this
base to TB-29's, as directed by higher headquarters was also
begun in January. Description of this modification is in-
cluded in the chapter on Operations. Group personnel working in

36/ History Liaison Report, Materiel Officer, January.


coordination with maintenance people from the base, both
military and civilian, completed six modifications in

     A final event worth of mention was the "surveying"
of two B-29 airplanes wrecked in training accidents.
These were planes number 42-93842 and number 42-93384.

37/ History Liaison Report, Maintenance Control Section,
    Grand Island Army Air Field, January.





     At the end of January, rosters of the 502d Group were
nine-tenths complete. Gain in personnel during the month
was 3.4% of total strength. On 1 January 1945 the total
personnel strength stood as follows:38

Officers, Warrant Officers, Flight Officers:

         Authorized - 372    100%
         Assigned   - 306    82.5%

Enlisted Men:

         Authorized - 1706    100%
         Assigned   - 1501    87.9%

Total of all Personnel:

         Authorized - 2076    100%
         Assigned   - 1807    86.9%

     Thus, at the beginning of the reporting month, 82.5
percent of authorized officer strength was actually as-
signed to the unit; while 87.9 percent of authorized enlisted
strength was assigned.

     A grand total of Officers and Enlisted Men authorized
the entire Group showed 86.9 percent of the personnel as
signed at the first of the month.

38/ Daily Strength Report, Statistical Control Office, Hq
    502d Bomb Group (VH), dated 1 January 1945.


     The end of the reporting month, 31 January 1945, found
the personnel strength as follows:39

Officers, Warrant Officers, Flight Officers:

         Authorized - 372    100%
         Assigned   - 318    83%

Enlisted Men:

         Authorized - 1706    100%
         Assigned   - 1558    91.3%

Total of all Personnel:

         Authorized - 2076    100%
         Assigned   - 1877    90.3%

     On the 31st of January, therefore, 83 percent of the
authorized officers and 91.3 percent of authorized enlisted
men were assigned.

     The grand total of personnel, both Officers and enlisted
men, indicated 90.3 percent already assigned at the end of
January 1945.

     Additional flying personnel joined the unit during the
reporting month. following is a breakdown of crew member

Authorized Assigned
Aircraft Commander 50 48
Pilot 50 50

39/ AAF Form 127, "Report of AAF Personnel", Part I,
    502d Bomb Group, dated 31 January 1945.

40/ Daily Flying Personnel Report, Statistical Control
    section dated 31 January 1945.


Navigator Radar 50      50
Bombardier Navigator 50      50
Flight Engineer 50      48
Radio Operator Mechanic 50 49
Radar Operator 50      50
Mechanic 50      49
Tail Gunner 50      49


     As of 31 January the key personnel of the Group inclu-

Group Headquarters:
Commanding Officer Colonel Kenneth O. Sanborn O20819
Deputy Commanding Officer Lt. Col Frank R. Pancake O22861
Executive Officer Lt. Col Thomas H. Joyce O900677
Operations Officer Lt. Col Frank W. Iseman Jr. O21889
Adjutant Major Frank T. McCormick O903708
Group Flight Surgeon Major John J. Welsh O390818
Group Intelligence Officer Major Abbot H. Greenleaf O902152
Air Inspector Major Robert W. Miller O385863
Bombardiering Officer Captain Charles M. Cary O440347
Engineering Officer Captain Francis W. Campbell O426950
Communications Officer Captain David H. Konin O431695
Statistical Control Officer Captain Harold A. Cohen O567697

41/ Roster of Officers, 502d Bomb Group (VH), 31 Jan 1945


Ordnance Officer Captain Bartholomew M. Stevens O1549117
Chaplain Captain Charles A. Goss O540376
Special Service (Asst)       1st. Lt. John H. Gonter O583802

402d Bombardment Squadron (VH)
Commanding Officer Major William H. Cummings O375025
Executive Officer Major Edwin S. Cram O914183
Operations Officer Captain Henry G. Dillingham O389195
Adjutant Captain Clark Owen O563972
411th Bombardment Squadron (VH)
Commanding Officer Major Rudolph R. Seymour O381219
Executive Officer Captain John F. Kleinz O572289
Operations Officer Captain Frank E. Boyd O25542
Adjutant 1st. Lt. Floyd D. Gleckler O577694
430th Bombardment Squadron (VH)
Commanding Officer Major Charles R. Walter Jr. O374607
Executive Officer Major Albert D. Cummings O356017
Operations Officer Captain Ned L. Jacoby O420388
Adjutant Captain James D. Miner O572684
29th Photographic Laboratory Bomb Group (VH)
Commanding Officer Major Charles R. Walter Jr. O861610


     Two changes in Headquarters key personnel occurred, the
first on 8 January 1945 when 1st Lt. Ben F. Olson, Special


Services Officer, was transferred from the Group.42 His
vacated position was filled temporarily by 1st Lt. John H.
Gonter, Ass't Special Services Officer. On 30 January
Captain Charles M. Cary was appointed Group Bombardier in
a swap with Captain Harold Boyett, who went to the 430th
Bombardment Squadron as Squadron Bombardier.43 One other
important assignment was made on 31 January, when Major
Robert W. Miller, the Group Air Inspector, was designated
Ground Safety Officer, additional duty.44


     An acute shortage of Radar Mechanics (MOS 867) still
exists. This situation will be remedied when personnel
in training at technical schools are assigned to this organ-

42/ Par 11, SO #8, Hq GIAAFld, Grand Island, Nebraska
    dated 8 January 1945

43/ Par 3, SO #24, Hq 502d Bomb Group, dated 26 January 45.

44/ Par 3, SO #28, 502d Bomb Group, 31 January 1945.



     Lieutenant Colonel Frank Robbins Pancake brings high qualifications
in command and supervision of B-29 flying to his job as Deputy Group
Commander. He is still in his twenties, having been born in Staunton
Virginia, 12 August 1916. He attended elementary and high school in
Staunton. In 1933 Robert E. Lee High School of that city handed him a
diploma and launched him on what proved to be a career in military

     In 1935, following a year at Staunton Military Academy, he was
at V.M.I. where he pursued an academic course and took his military
training in Field Artillery. When an AAF traveling examining board
came through in 1938, his senior year, he quickly volunteered for
flying and after graduating from V.M.I. in the summer of that year
went directly in Cadet Training.

     Primary and Advanced flying at Randolph Field were followed by
graduation from Kelly Field in May 1939, when the Air Force pinned
gold bars on his shoulders and awarded him a commission in the res-
erve. Almost immediately he was sent to the 27th Reconnaissance
Squadron at Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico in the fall of 1939.

     Assigned to this Squadron for his entire tour of duty in the
Caribbean area, Colonel Pancake advanced steadily in responsibility
and authority. He served successively as Tech Supply Officer and as
Operations Officer. When the outfit was transformed to the 395th
Bombardment Squadron beginning the fall of 1941 and was used for
anti-submarine work, he became Squadron Material Officer and took
command in June 1942. During his last months of service with this
organization, it was moved to Rio Hato, Panama.


     Meanwhile having been transferred to Regular Army in 1940,
he received a silver bar in October 1941, and a pair of Capt-
ains bars during the spring of 1942. He was soon to be rotat-
ed to the States, for in the fall he was put on the "5%" list
and was moved to Ecuador to fly patrol from Salinas, Ecuador
to the Galapagos Islands and later from Guatemala City to the
Galapagos until orders returning him to this country came through.

     On his return to the states he was reassigned to Davis
Monthan Field, Tuscon, Arizona, as Commanding Officer of the
39th Bomb Group but he was almost immediately shifted to A-3
of the 16th Operational Training Wing. In this job he received
a silver Lt. Colonel's leaf in September 1943, and about six
weeks later he assumed the position of director of training of
the 233rd Base Unit at that station, then flying B-24's.

     On June 12, 1944 he moved to 247th Base Unit at Salina,
Kansas in the same capacity. An OTU for B-29's the Salina tour
of duty brought Col. Pancake in direct contact with the B-29
project and provided him with invaluable experience and train-
ing for his present assignment. He assumed the post of Deputy
Commander, 502d Bomb Group in December 1944.

     Colonel Pancake is checked out on the P-36, P-40, B-17,
B-18A, B-24, B-25, B-29, C-47, C-78, C-45F, O-25, O-38, and
O-47. He enjoys flying Dive Bombers and is checked out on the
A-17, A-24, and A-25.


     A tall, lean officer, Colonel Pancake stands six foot
three inches and weighs 170 pounds. He was a member of
both basketball and baseball teams in college, and participates
in tennis, volley ball, and equitation as well as these sports.

     On May 1942, he married Grace-George Koehler, herself
associated with Army life since childhood. Her father being
a retired Colonel, Infantry. The couple have one child, William
Robbins Pancake, a strapping boy of twenty months.

     Coincidence has tied up Colonel Pancakes fate with that of
the 39th Bomb Group and the 402nd Bomb Squadron. On reporting
to the states in 1942, he held command of the 39th Bomb Group (H)
at Davis-Monthan Field for a short time. The Group included the
60th, 61st, 62nd and 402nd squadrons. Later when he moved to
Salina as Director of Training, the 39th Group, minus the 402nd
Squadron dropped when VH Groups were cut from four to three Squad-
rons, was in operational training. Finally, he caught up with the
402nd Squadron when he assumed his latest assignment with the
502nd Group.




     As already pointed out, the announced decision to modify
the B-29 caused major changes in crew personnel. These changes
were reflected in modified tables of organization and
the Second Air Force Reporting Guide.

     All RCT Mechanic Gunners (MOS 580) were ordered to be
removed from crews immediately and reported as surplus per-
sonnel in the Combat Crew Pool. All RCT Mechanics (MOS 060),
except 15, were transferred out of the organization and were
to be replaced by Airplane Mechanics (MOS 747) or Basics
(MOS 521) appropriately qualified for job training.45



     On the 27th of January 2d Lt. Gerald E. Jackson, Group
Assistant Statistical Officer was promoted to 1st Lt.46
1st Lt. Charles A. Goss, Group Chaplain, received his Cap-
taincy on the 24th of January.47

     Enlisted Men

     Total figures for enlisted promotions show sixty men
raised from Private to Private First Class, Fifty-four men
from Private First Class to Corporal, twenty-two from Cor-
poral to Sergeant and seven from Sergeant to Staff Sergeant.48

45/ TWX WILLIAMS CG 2AF TO COAB Grand Island, Nebr dd 27 Jan 45
46/ War Department, SO #24, par 15, dated 27 January 45.
47/ War Department, SO #21, par 16, 24 January 1945.
48/ Par 3, SO #147, Hq 502d Bomb Group dated 31 Dec 1944.
48/ Par 5, SO #14, 502d Bomb Group dated 15 Jan 1945.



     A total of seven (7) Officers and fifty-three (53)
enlisted men were reclassified to the following Military
Occupational Specialties (MOS).49

1093   Pilot (VH) Bomber 4
2110   Adjutant 1
2120   Administrative Officer 1
4821   Flight Test Maintenance Officer 1
014   Auto Equipment Mechanic 4
055   Clerk Non-Typist 3
060   Cook 2
345   Auto Equipment Operator 2
405   Clerk Typist 3
502   Administrative Specialist 1
505   Ammunition Supply Technician 3
511   Armorer 2
542   Communication Technician 1
590   Duty Soldier 3
611   Aerial Gunner 1
650   Telephone Switchboard Operator 3
684   Airplane Power Plant Mechanic 2
685   Airplane Electrical Mechanic 2

45/ History Liaison Report, Personnel Section, January.


747   Airplane Engine Mechanic 4
750   Airplane Maintenance Technician 1
754   Army Air Force Radio Mechanic 1
809   Decontamination Equip Operator 1
901   Munitions Worker 8
911   Airplane Armorer 1
932   Special Vehicle Operator 1
964   Airplane Supercharger Repairman 1


     Morale showed a definite upturn at the beginning of
January when the 6th Group moved out and the 502d Group
took over. Assumption of individual responsibility under
their own officers acted as a tonic to personnel through-
out the Group.

     A second factor which boosted morale was the effort
to give leaves and furloughs to all men having them due.

     The 402d Squadron staged a major affair during the
month which was attended by both officers and enlisted men.

     The principal factor depressing morale was the fre-
quency of airplane accidents during the month. Despite
these setbacks air crews kept 'em flying in the assurance
that the rate would drop sharply as fliers became more



     With an eye toward morale overseas, the Personnel
Services section (formerly known as Special Services), like
many other Group Sections, devoted its efforts to planning
overseas activities.

     High point of the month was a Wing Conference of Group
Special Service Officers at Harvard Army Air Field, Nebraska.
At this time the overall program for overseas was outlined
and each Group Officer was assigned a specialty. Lt. God-
sall, of this Group, was given the responsibility for
soldier bands, shows, glee clubs, and serious music.

     At the conference possibility of a rest area or conval-
escent program, for the Wing was discussed.

     An extensive procurement project for one hundred (100)
tons of recreational and athletic equipment, under the su-
pervision of Lieutenant Colonel Rudolph E. Hegdahl, Second
Air Force Personnel Service Officer, was set up. Equipment
to be procured included such items as musical instruments,
radios, recorders, public address systems, textbooks, fish-
ing tackle, and recreational games.

     The Group Memorandum defining function of Personnel
Services was published 18 January 1945 and is included in
supporting documents.51

50/ History Liaison Report, Personnel Services, Jan.

51/ Group Memo No 20-5, Organization Personnel Services,
    18 January 1945



     The month of January showed extended progress of our
Group for preparation for overseas movement, and men were
becoming quite eager to get going.

     The morale of the Group was, as a whole, a little
above normal, for they were being kept busy. The activi-
ties of the city were helpful and the weather had a definite
place in it, being exceptionally good.

     The plane accident of the 411th Squadron, of course,
brought much sorrow to all of the Group, but the men seem-
ingly accepted this and kept on doing their jobs without
too much let-down. The Chaplain has written letters to the
parents and families of those who are deceased and also
assisted in the military funeral of one of the Officers.

     Chapel services have been conducted every Sunday with
just fair attendance.

     A Group suggestion committee has been formed and is
meeting every Monday with the Chaplain to make any neces-
sary suggestions for the benefit of the Group. Small matters
have been brought up and suggestions have been made to meet
these problems of the Squadrons and of the Group.

52/ Chaplains History Liaison Report, January.




     The supply staff spent most of the month of January
planning and preparing for overseas movement. One of the
principal accomplishments was compilation of the complete
Initial Shortage List, which was sent forward to the chiefs
of the various services. With this accomplished, Supply
looked forward to a steady inflow of organizational equip-


     One outstanding problem in technical supply arose
during the early part of January. An acute shortage exis-
ted at the Advance Post with reference to Class O4C - 56
Smooth Contour Casings, Stock Number 3900 - 344500. This
situation occurred because the source of supply for the
Gypsy Task Force, the Miami Air Depot, was not completely
established and was unable to supply this critical item.
The situation was relieved by shipping casings to the
Advance Post from this station. By the end of January casings
were available in sufficient quantities and all requisitions
for supplies were being processed through the Miami Air Depot,
the regular source of supply.54

53/ History Liaison Report, Supply Officer, January.

54/ History Liaison Report, Material Officer, January.



     A simple device was adopted for making the individual
officers and soldier responsible for obtaining for overseas
use the everyday necessities and comforts which the average
person expects to find in the Post Exchange. Under Special
Service supervision, a list of non-issue items, published by
Headquarters, 315th Bombardment Wing (VH), was given to each
enlisted man and officer in January. It was suggested that
these items "Be carefully considered by each individual in
terms of his comfort and convenience while on foreign serv-

     A highly practical list, the items suggested included
tools, extra toilet supplies, radio, camera, special types of
clothing, and electrical fixtures. A copy of the list sug-
gested for officers, which is somewhat fuller than that for
enlisted men, is included among the supporting documents.

     Thus, as January wore on many of the members of the
502d Group were solving some of their knottiest overseas

55/ Ltr Hq, 315th Bomb Wing (VH), Subj: Suggestion for
    Personnel Requirements at Overseas Bases, To: All
    Officers, 315th Bomb Wing (VH)





     Key personnel assigned to the medical Department of the
502d Group included:

Senior Medical Officer      Major John J. Welsh
Administrative Officer      WOJG Donald H. Motzko
Dental Service      Captain Edwin H. Horowitz

Squadron Medical Service:

402d Bombardment Squadron      Captain Joseph H. Noerling
411th Bombardment Squadron      Captain Isadore Dyer
430th Bombardment Squadron      Captain David P. Winkler


     During the month eighty-four (84) physical examinations
for flying personnel and one hundred eleven (111) physical
examinations were completed. Five (5) enlisted men were
permanently disqualified for overseas duty and were trans-
ferred from the organization. Seven (7) enlisted men were
temporarily disqualified by physical defects and are under-
going corrective treatment. Three (3) enlisted men were

56/ History Liaison Report, Group Medical Section, January


grounded and removed from crews, two (2) because of air sickness
severe and one (1) for hernia.

     Three hundred ninety three (393) patients reported for sick
call during the month for a total of 786 treatments.57

     The general physical condition of the Group is very good.


     There was one case of gonorrhea this month. A total of
two days were lost due to venereal disease during the month.


     The environmental sanitation for the Group was satisfactory.
[On account of] the insufficient number of personnel available for assign-
ment to Kitchen Police, all the messes were consolidated. Since
their consolidation the sanitation of the mess hall has greatly
improved. Nutrition of the troops is very good. The preparation,
storage and handling of the food is satisfactory.


     Records show that 99% of all immunizations have been completed
at the end of this month. Movement orders specify that Plague will
be given to this organization. Vaccine has been requisitioned by the

57/ Report Sheet, Medical Form 51, January.

58/ Letter, Office of the Flight Surgeon, 502d Bomb Group, Subj:
    Monthly Sanitary Report, TO: CO 502d Bomb Group dated 4
    February 1945.


Base Medical Supply Officer and it is contemplated that all
personnel will have been immunized against Plague prior to
their movement to the staging area.


     Final Dental Classification placed:

     24 men in Class I
     248 men in Class II
     3 men in Class III
     1600 men in Class IV


     Medical Training or the Air Echelon was started this

     A total of six hours were given to all radio operators,
which completed the first Phase Medical Training. Subjects
covered were:

Wounds      1 hour
Burns      1 hour
Fractures      1 hour
Splints      2 hours
Bandaging      1 hour

     A total of three hours Medical Training were given to

59/ Ltr, Office of the Flight Surgeon, 502d bomb Group
    Subj: Report of Physical Fitness for Overseas Duty,
    To: Surgeon, 2AF, Colorado Springs, Colo, 4 Feb 45.

60/ Ltr, Office of the Flight Surgeon, 502d Bomb Group,
    Subj: Report of Medical Training, To: CG 2AF, Colorado
    Springs, Colorado, ATTN: Surgeon, dated 1 Feb 1945.


the Combat Crews, which completed the First Phase Medical
Training. Subjects covered were:

Frost Bite      1 hour
First Aid and Use of Kit
First Aid Aeronautic and
Kit Battle Dressing      1 hour
Shock and Hemorrage      1 hour

     A total of six (6) hours Medical Training were given
to the Ground Echelon during the month of January. Subjects
covered were:

Venereal Disease and Sex Morality      1 hour
Sanitation Personal Hygiene      1 hour
Malaria      1 hour
First Aid      3 hours

     It was necessary to give the Air Echelon lectures
separately by Squadron because of the flying being carried
out at the Advance Base.



More to come

Editorial Notes:

There 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 transcribe and I wanted to focus on transcription of the unit history first.
Several photos are included in the history, but have not yet been reproduced for inclusion on this web page.

Webpage by Larry Miller

November 9, 2006