Chronological Reminders Of The Past
Ardmore Army Air Field
Southern Oklahoma Area
(Dates in many instances for both base periods are dates of publication of the Daily Ardmoreite, Bombs-Away or Carrier Wings and may not reflect actual date of the event.)
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1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946
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Ardmore Chamber of Commerce secretary, J. R. Lane, announced May 19, 1941, that Major General G. C. Grant, commanding general of the Gulf area of the Army Air Corps, recommended this week that a field for training Army pilots be established in the Ardmore area. Lane reported that after Grant visited a number of possible locations last week, the general is in favor of the Ardmore location providing certain requirements and engineering data are met and supplied. The nature of the field was not disclosed but the government will want from 800 to 900 acres of land and expend several million dollars equipping the field. The municipality would be required to buy the land and lease it to the government. A decision from Washington is expected in three weeks to a month.
Gene Autry spends day with Leon Daube, owner of the land west of Berwyn, Oklahoma, to go over the area and discuss purchase plans for the ranch. This was his second visit to Ardmore during the month. He had already shipped some horses to the ranch in early August and had purchased 25 head of Longhorn cattle in July. Autry's Ardmore attorney, Stephen A. George, examined the land title. August 1941. Fast Forward Note: Since Berwyn practically joined the base property, it seems logical to record a bit of its history just prior to WWII and the opening of the base.
RAF Wing Commander E. M. Donaldson, Major General G. C. Grant (Commandant, 8th Corps), Major C. R. Storrie, Major W. J. Clinch and Harry Curtis, Mayor of Brady, Texas along with Ardmore representatives look at possible air corps expansion sites near Ardmore. August 16, 1941. Fast Forward Note: The Army Air Corps became the Army Air Forces June 20, 1941. Tradition, pride and longevity of the former name, Army Air Corps, made it difficult for the name change to be quickly adopted by veteran officers, troops and civilians. The United States Air Force was established September 18, 1947.
Berwyn citizens voted to change name to Gene Autry. November 4, 1941.
Berwyn name changed to Gene Autry, November 16, 1941, an estimated 35,000 people attended the event.
Berwyn had trouble keeping a name. It has been recognized as Henderson Store, Lou, Dresden, Berwyn and Gene Autry. Fast Forward Note: After the last name change, according to some "old timers," many Gene Autry citizens would have voted to go back to the former name of Berwyn. Many were disappointed that Mr. Autry took little interest in his namesake town and sold the ranch soon after the war ended.
Base bond election passed in Ardmore, 1,426 for, 33 against. May 15, 1942.
Gene Autry holds rodeo in Washington, DC. May 5, 1942.
Gene Autry in Ardmore to plan July 4-5 Rodeo at Walker Stadium. May 28, 1942.
W. H. Wolaver, J. D. Forsyth and F. V. Kershner, Tulsa, Oklahoma assigned engineering and architectural work on airfield. J. Leland Benson (1889-1975) was a contributing draftsman for the firm. May 10, 1942.
Pay for entry soldier was $42 month. 1942
Ardmore Coffee Shop menu, Hotel Ardmore: Breakfast .25; Luncheon from .55; Dinner from .65, also al carte-Mrs. George C. Butler, Manager. July 2, 1942
Fox Rig and Lumber Company awarded contract for general housing on base. First Ardmore firm to get contract. July 9, 1942.
The "Daily Ardmoreite" reported that Ardmore Army Air Field was setup for 3,650 enlisted men, 1,200 officers, 100 enlisted WACs and three WAC officers. The main field was comprised of approximately 2,500 acres, plus five bombing ranges, a small arms range, an air-to-ground firing range, a 50-caliber range, a radio range and a few smaller areas for a total of 27,000 acres. October 4, 1953 Fast Forward Note: Many other officers and enlisted men lived off base in Ardmore and other area towns. A "Daily Ardmoreite" newspaper account reported 10,000 personnel at peak use.
Work is in progress toward completing approximately $6,000,000 in contracts awarded to bidders who are in various stages of construction on the Ardmore Army Air Field near the town of Gene Autry. Excavation, grading of land and several building projects have been under way for several weeks. Several million feet of lumber have been stacked at the 2,500 acre site acquired by the city of Ardmore and leased to the US Army. Contract for the railroad spur from the Sante Fe main line west of the field was finalized and work has started on the project. Contract for water storage facilities, pumping plant and sewage disposal equipment was let July 30. 1942. Estimates are that 500 or more workmen are engaged presently in building the training school under direction of the U. S. Army Engineers, Denison, Texas.
John Moore, Ardmore Fire Chief, helped engineers set up fire department at AAAFld. July 1942.
Martin and Grace, Dallas, Texas, contract to build spur to base from Santa Fe Railroad west of AAAFld. August 2, 1942.
Tillert Brothers, Oklahoma City, awarded contract for water storage facilities, pumping plant, and sewage disposal ($100,000+). August 3, 1942.
Carl Holden, County Commissioner, District 1, strengthens Caddo Creek Bridge on the Gene Autry Road to the base. August 7, 1942.
Lt. Colonel James M. Walker arrives, August 9, 1942, from Camp San Luis Obispo, California to become the first base commander and oversee construction. He set up an office in the Wirt Franklin Building in Ardmore since quarters on the base were not available. US Army Engineers, responsible for base construction under command of Captain D. U. Gray, Denison, Texas, also worked from offices in the Franklin Building. Walker was a WWI Infantry officer with an engineering degree from Pennsylvania State University. He moved into a barrack on the field, September 15, 1942. The base was officially opened, August 3, 1942, far from being completed or staffed with officers and enlisted men.
Lt. H. P. Blevins, Adjutant to Walker, sets up office in Wirt Franklin Building, Ardmore. August 10, 1942.
Sam P. Hale starts bus line to AAAFld, (.25 each way). Victory Motor Coaches (3). August 10, 1942.
Miss Helen Horner was the first Ardmoreite to join the WAAC. August 16, 1942.
Dr. Walter Hardy starts a hospital service with an aid station at the base. August 26, 1942.
Russ Mitchell gets the base paving contract at over $1,000,000, August 29, 1942. He had an earlier contract for the dirt work.
The first ten soldiers to arrive stayed in private homes with Ardmoreites; Mrs. Elmer Byrd (Sgt. Milton Caudle, Alabama and Pvt. John Casper, Pennsylvania), Mrs. E.O. Norris ( Pvt. William Daley, New York, Pvt. L. J. Smith, Mississippi, Pvt. Fred Murray, New York, Pvt. William Rice, Kentucky), and Star Taylor (Pvt. Noel Lalumiere, Canada, Pvt. Paul Painter, South Carolina, Air Corps Charlie Sikes, Illinois, and Bill Keedie, Arkansas ). They came from Stout Field, Indianapolis, Indiana. September 18, 1942.
Civilian posts at base to be filled, three-months training at Will Rogers sub-depot, Oklahoma City. September 22, 1942. Fast Forward Note: Initially, Ardmore was to be a sub-depot for repairs, maintenance and aircraft parts. Applications were being taken from 1,000 men and women. From these, approximately 500 would be selected to train at Tinker, then return to the Ardmore sub-depot. Before the 1,000 applications were obtained, orders were changed and the Ardmore sub-depot was cancelled. When the 395th Bomb Group and the B-17s arrived, the need for the sub-depot supplied by Tinker Field was recognized and it became a reality as the 430th Sub-Depot.
Roxy Theatre, admission 10 and 25-cents (tax included). Movie showing "Devil's Harvest-Marijuna, The Smoke From Hell." "A Fifth Column Sowing Destruction in the Youth of America!" A prophetic prediction that came true in the 60s,70s, and is still blowing minds, birthing crime and destroying civilization as it was once known. Many of these "potheads" and/or their offspring became/or are elected officials in State and Federal goverment and are changing America into a third world nation.
Temporary USO opened in Ardmore in the old Sam P. Hale Motor Co. building at 1st and A Streets, SW. Lt. Colonel and Mrs. James M. Walker were special guests at the "open house." Open hours initially were 1:00 to 10:30PM, week days, Sunday, all day. The first sponsors on duty were Mrs. Paul Sutton and Mrs. Neil Smith. Many volunteers "pitched in" to clean, paint and decorate the drab building. October 7, 1942.
Contract let for 6.34 miles of road from US77 near Springer to AAAFld. October 14, 1942.
Military Police assigned for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday patrol. Camp Howze, Gainesville, Texas and other military personnel increasing in number. October 14, 1942.
Lt. Colonel Charles R. Blake replaces Lt. Colonel James M. Walker as base commander, October 15, 1942.
Ardmore Army Air Field to get post office, Earl Brown to be Postmaster. October 28, 1942. Note: Ardmore Army Air Field was also referred to as Ardmore Army Air Base. Most all documents, including accident reports, payroll records, 1944 Yearbook, construction plans, etc. reference it as Ardmore Army Air Field. However, a picture of the headquarters area in the "Daily Ardmoreite" included a sign displaying "Ardmore Army Air Base." Policy by the Army was to call stations named after individuals, Air Fields, and those named after geographic locations as Army Air Fields. Most individuals in the southern Oklahoma area referred to it as Ardmore Army Air Field or Gene Autry Air Base.
Salaries and raises frozen. October 28, 1942.
Smith Brothers, Noble, Oklahoma is low bidder for road to base, $222,659; J. J. Thompson, Oklahoma City, three bridges $22,552. October 28, 1942.
John Moore acts as AAAFld Fire Chief, Jim Ozment made Ardmore Fire Chief. November 1, 1942.
Beverly Barnett, associate, accompanying Gene Autry, visits AAAFld with others. November 12, 1942.
On November 21, 1942, the 418th Headquarters and Air Base Squadron arrived. This contingency consisted of 262 enlisted men, 13 officers assigned, plus 30 enlisted men and four officers attached. Fast Forward Note: When additional personnel and the glider pilots arrived, the 418th Glider Squadron published a mimeograph weekly newsletter beginning in mid-December, 1942. Digital copies of the February 25, 1943, eight page issue of “The Cockpit” was supplied by Michael Larkin, son of Flight Officer James Larkin, glider pilot stationed at Ardmore, February and March, 1943. FO Larkin served with the 84th Squadron, 437th Troop Carrier Group, participating in the D-Day, Southern France, Holland invasions and the over-the-Rhine invasion at Wesel. Michael and two brothers were present at the Glider Pilots Association Reunion, Oklahoma City, September 29-October 2, 2011. Age is the enemy of this unique group of “one of a kind” pilots. Their sons, daughters and grandchildren are beginning to fill the association chairs once occupied by their parents/grandparents in an effort to continue the tradition and preserve the memories and history of the Glider Men. Flight Officer Larkin made his final flight in May 2009.
The Glider Room, a popular nightclub operated by Dutch Wilson, opened in Hotel Ardmore. The name reflects the recent arrival of the 418th Air Base Glider Squadron from Stout Field, Indiana. November 23, 1942.
Pvt. Howard P. Fonville, military aerial photographer from Ardmore, Oklahoma, was one of four Army flyers killed Wednesday, November 25, when a medium bomber crashed in Lake Murray, near Columbia, South Carolina. Fonville is survived by his wife, Margaret, of Cushing, Oklahoma and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Fonville of Ardmore, Oklahoma. Pvt. Fonville graduated from Ardmore High School and Oklahoma A and M College. The body was returned to Oklahoma for burial. November 26, 1942. Fast Forward Note: Pvt. Fonville's father and a brother, Pete Fonville, owned a professional photo shop in Ardmore for many years. Most, if not all, of the crew pictures at Ardmore were taken by Fonville Studios and identified as such on the back. Pvt. Fonville was killed prior to the arrival of the B-26 and B-17s at Ardmore. Taking pictures of the B-17 crews at Ardmore must have brought sad memories of the Fonville family's loss each time the shutter clicked.
Coffee rationing to begin. December 1, 1942.
Chaplain, Lt. John L Cannon, Jr. (Methodist) arrives at post, chapel near completion. December 4, 1942.
First article about base social activities appears in the "Daily Ardmoreite." December 6, 1942.
New Civic Auditorium in Ardmore nearing completion. January 1, 1943.
Army heavy bomber, Consolidated B-24D, 41-24202, piloted by Lt. Russell G. Bishop, crashes and burns approximately 8:30PM, January 6, 1943 near Lebanon, Oklahoma (18 miles SE of Ardmore on the Truman Cobb farm), killing all aboard. The aircraft was from the 504th Bomb Squadron, 346th Bomb Group stationed at Smoky Hill Army Air Base, Salina, Kansas. The crew had been on a cross-country training flight to Galveston, Texas and was last cleared for Salina, Kansas from Orlando, Florida. The aircraft was heard flying at a high altitude over Perrin Field, Sherman, Texas, a short time prior to the crash. There was no indication of a problem at that time. The Smoky Hill public relations officer identified the dead as: Second Lieutenant Russell G. Bishop, Jr, Washington, DC, pilot; Second Lieutenant Robert Secord, Cleveland, Ohio; navigator; Second Lieutenant James H. Dyer, Grand Rapids, Michigan, bombardier; Second Lieutenant John F. Howell, Ashville, North Carolina, co-pilot; Sergeant Ray E. Balzer, Greenfield, Ohio, radio operator; Sergeant Kelsey C. Horning, Hoisington, Kansas, gunner; Sergeant Stanley J. Jaros, Chicago, Illinois, armored-gunner and Sergeant Albert L. Baima, Chicago, Illinois, aircraft engineer. Second Lieutenant S. Lipsman, Quartermaster Corps, home address not given and not a member of the crew, was aboard as a passenger. The “Madill Record,” reported that his body was not found initially but was identified later.
The present USAF Heartland of America Band, Offutt AFB, Omaha, Nebraska, had its ancestral beginning at Ardmore Army Air Base as the 402nd Army Air Forces Band designated, January 15, 1943, and activated, February 1, 1943, as part of the 1st Troop Carrier Command. It was redesignated as the 702nd Army Band, December 24, 1943, and renamed 702nd Army Air Forces Band, March 1, 1944. The band at that time had 15 members comprised of former members of the Nation's top symphonies and leading big bands. The band played for many US War Bond drives in the Southern Oklahoma area. When the base closed in 1945, the band was assigned, July 30, 1945, to Andrews Field, Maryland. Throughout its 60-year history, the band has boosted the moral of the troops, soothed the spirit of a troubled Nation in times of war, and provided entertainment for multiple thousands. Fast Forward Note: The Heartland of America Band returned to its "roots," Thursday, May 22, 2003, to celebrate its 60th anniversary. The 40-member concert band gave a Pre-Memorial Day, pre-dedication, 7:00PM evening concert at Heritage Hall (Civic Auditorium), Broadway at C Street NW, in Ardmore. The two-hour performance for the audience of 1,200 (estimate) was given in remembrance of the 60 men who lost their lives in training accidents while at Ardmore during both base activation periods. At 11:00AM on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 2003, the granite memorial was officially dedicated. The ceremony was held at the Remembrance Memorial Park inside Ardmore Industrial Airpark, (Gene Autry, Oklahoma). An estimated 250 people were in attendance including relatives of accident victims, former base personnel of both activation periods and veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm.
Lt. Colonel Boyd R. Ertwine, new base commander replaces Lt. Colonel Charles R. Blake. February 1, 1943.
Hershel Gilliam's Roxy theater in Ardmore has fire. February 3, 1943. Fast Forward Note: The theater was rebuilt and renamed Globe theater by a contestant that submitted the name of the English theater where Shakespeare performed.
Annual salary at AAAFld: male clerks ($1,620), female typists ($1,440), assistant messengers ($1,200), chauffeurs ($1,320), classified laborer ($1,000-$1,200), cook ($1,320), electrician ($2,200), foreman ($1,680-$2,000). February 3, 1943. Fast Forward Note: Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Standards reported that the average wage per hour for July 2005 was $16.03. This reflects an average income for a 40-hour week of $641.20 or $33,342.40 per year, median salary estimate, $68,550.
Texas Bitulithic Co. Dallas, Texas, gets contract for paving at AAAFld in excess of $1,000,000. March 9, 1943.
Major James C. Baker arrives as Executive Officer, AAAFld. March 10, 1943.
Captain Ray E. Hill replaces Lt. James F. Doyle as Public Relations officer. March 15, 1943.
First air crash with fatalities of AAAFld aircraft seven miles SW of base, March 14, 1943. FO/2nd Lt. Emil M. Horkavi, 30, and FO/1st Lt. Frank M. Dimond, 29, died instantly.
Trainer aircraft from Perrin AAFld crashes three miles west of Ardmore, Cadet J. C. Bufkin bails out. March 16, 1943.
Two giant boxes Post Toasties (.25), 24oz. Peanut butter (.39), 48# flour ($1.98), Pratt’s Grocery Ad. March 19, 1943.
Medical Detachment to plant six-acre garden, needs farming implements from local farmers. March 26, 1943.
Colonel Ertwine, CO, puts several Ardmore eating places off-limits to AAAFld personnel. March 28, 1943.
"Cousin Puny" Sparger opens Buckhorn Bar, 113 W. Main, Ardmore. March 29, 1943.
Perrin AAF trainer and two occupants crash in Lake Murray, rescued with minor injuries. April 4, 1943.
Camp Howze and Ardmore High School bands perform at AAAFld first open house, April 6, 1943.
Contract to Midland Construction Company, Oklahoma City, reinforcements for buildings, less than $50,000. Fox Rig and Lumber Company, Ardmore, low bid for construction of Officer's Club Building. April 11, 1943.
After being observed in the Lake Murray area, aircraft BT-13A (41-11546), 508 Basic Flying Training Squadron, Perrin Field, Texas, with one occupant, Cadet Ralph E. Gunnels, 23, Galveston, Texas, crashes and burns in thick timber 15 miles SE of Ardmore, 11PM, Saturday (4th crash in the area in a month). There were storm clouds and considerable lightning but no precipitation in the area. Visibility was unrestricted underneath the storm cloud. The aircraft spun in and exploded; the exact nature of the spin was not determined. April 10, 1943.
Trinidad Asphalt Manufacturing Co., files lawsuit against Russ Mitchell, Inc. for $140,545; loss of contract. April 29, 1943.
USO building, 220-222 West Main, Ardmore, dedicated, open house, May 7, 1943. Note:The nation's first USO was at DeRidder AFB, DeRidder, Lousiana. The United Service Organization (USO) was formed in February 1941. Ten months later, the doors of the white, wood-framed building in DeRidder, Louisiana opened to servicemen and women stationed at Camp Polk and the nearby DeRidder Army Air Base, becoming the nation's first USO. It served thousands of people during the war. The building, now known as the Beauregard Parish War Memorial Civic Center, still stands as a gathering spot for entertainment and community business. From "Kinfolks, Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Society, Inc."
Floodwaters from Caddo Creek and Washita River isolate Ardmore Army Air Field. May 11, 1943.
The Farm Security Administration will move the 28 empty buildings on government owned land which served as homes, barns and other structures to 1,500 acres of Farm Security Administration land near Pensacola in Mayes County, Oklahoma. The homes were constructed for qualifying farm families in 1941. The land where the farms were located has become part of the area being developed as the Ardmore Army Air Field. June 8, 1943 Note: Local residents referred to the area where these buildings were temporarily moved NE of the base as "Gliderville."
Perrin AAFld aircraft crashes NE of Davis, Oklahoma, June 23, 1943.
Bus service from AAAFld to Sulphur, Oklahoma was expected to begin in June 1943. Bus or buses would leave Gene Autry around 5PM and depart from Sulphur at 11PM in order to reach the base before midnight when all enlisted men had to be on base. The route would be from Gene Autry along the cut-off east of the base to Highway 18 (now 199), then north to Sulphur. May 20, 1943 Sulphur Times-Democrat
The 394th Bomb Group initiated a weekly publication entitled "Propwash" in May 1943 while at MacDill Field. The publication was available during the units training period while in the United States. It is unknown as to whether it was continued overseas but assumed it might have been.
Captain T. A. Russ, Post Engineer, offers free hay to farmers who will harvest it. July 1, 1943. Fast Forward Note: More about Captain Russ as remembered by a son in "This I Remember...."
A B-26C, (41-34770), with crew of seven on its way to Ardmore, Monday, July 12, 1943, from MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, crashed killing all aboard just north of Port Vincent, Louisiana, approximately 17 miles SE of Harding Field, Baton Rouge. Captain Sheldon M. Pierce, aircraft commander, was flying in a loose "V" formation at 2,500 feet with five other B-26s when his aircraft and another dropped out of formation at approximately 1030 CWT. The flight leader, Captain Edward B. Saxton, used visual signals due to radio silence to tell them to return to the formation and assumed they did. Making a visual check a short time later, two other of the aircraft had changed position and Saxton assumed it was them. When they landed at DeRidder AAF, it was discovered Pierce had crashed. The reason for the accident could not be determined. Captain Pierce had flown B-26s for 275:30 hours of his total piloting time of 519:50 hours. This was the first accident with fatalities since activation of the 394th Bomb Group, Monday, February 15, 1943 at MacDill Field. Others of the crew included 2nd Lt. William M. Lester, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Joseph E. Murphy, navigator; M/Sgt. Estel B. Johnson, gunner; Sgt. Austin M. Foley, passenger; Sgt. William B. Williams, radio operator and Cpl. Paul W. Banks, passenger. M/Sgt. Johnson was a veteran of WWI. They were members of the 585th Squadron of the 394th Bomb Group. The crash was assigned to Ardmore even though the aircraft had never landed here. This accident was sad news for 394th personnel as they arrived at Ardmore, their new field assignment.Fast Forward Note: Captain Saxton continued as squadron leader after the 394th went overseas. While there, he contacted polio and was relieved of his duties with the squadron.
Air cadet examining board set up at AAAFld. July 14, 1943.
Lt. Colonel Frank J. Siebenaler (See-ben-naller) became base commander, July 19, 1943, replacing Lt. Colonel Boyd R. Ertwine. Siebenaler, a Minnesota native, began his military career in 1923 as a buck private. After eight years as an enlisted man, he was commissioned a Lieutenant, receiving his pilot's wings two years later. He received his Lt. Colonel commission a year previous to coming to Ardmore. He served two years in the Philippines and is a command pilot. Fast Forward Note: An Internet accident report seems to indicate that Siebenaler was flying as early as 1934 (if this is the same person). "11 Jun 1934, Technical Sergeant Frank J. Siebenaler, 94th Pursuit Squadron, pilot, and Corporal William B. Buckley, 57th Service Squadron, crew-chief, escaped injury when C-4A airplane was completely wrecked at Camp Skeel, Michigan, after engines cut out on take-off." This could have been shortly before he was commissioned and received his wings but contradicts the previous information a bit.
Two trains with support personnel of the 394th Bombardment Group departed for Ardmore from Tampa, Florida. One left July 14, 1943, with 1st Lt. Burton R. Miller as train commander. The other departed July 15, with Captain Henry D. Settles commanding. Each arrived in Ardmore four days later.
On Friday, July 23, 1943, a B-26B (41-18243) of the 586th Squadron, 394th Bombardment Group, piloted by Lt. Elmer E. Herron on a cross-country to Oklahoma City, crashed approximately three miles northeast of Norman, Oklahoma. The aircraft struck a cable stretched across the South Canadian River disabling the left engine forcing a crash landing in a cotton field destroying the aircraft. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Lt. Herron later flew with the 394th in the European theater.
Lt. Elmer Gedeon had two tires blow-out (one then the other main) on his B-26 while landing at Great Salt Plains Air Field, Oklahoma. The plane was not damaged and Lt. Gedeon and crew were not injured. He was commended for the skill shown in controlling the aircraft. Fast Forward Note: Captain Elmer Gedeon, 394th Bomb Group, 586th Bomb Squadron, one of the most popular officers in the group, was shot down over France, April 20, 1944. He was a former outfielder for the Washingon Senators and a star athlete while attending the University of Michigan. Others of the crew were 2/Lt Jack March, S/Sgt. Joseph Kobret, Sgts. John Felker and Ira Thomas and Pvt. Charles Atkinson; 2nd Lt James Traaffe, co-pilot, the only one to exit the aircraft, was taken prisoner.
The commanding general of the 3rd Air Force, Brigadier General James E. Parker, visited the 394th Bombardment Group and toured the Ardmore base July 20, 1943. The first official ground and aerial review for the group was held July 24, 1943. No opportunity was presented by base officials for Ardmore civilians to learn of the 394th's war training activities due to its short stay at the base. Fortunately, the history of the 394th from activation to deactivation has been chronicled in Bridge Busters, a 1949 publication written by Captain J. Guy Ziegler who served with the unit. Much of the Ardmore information is from this source.
Polio outbreak, pools closed, delayed school opening considered. July 28, 1943.
Train derailment at Gene Autry. August 10, 1943
Orders issued August 14, 1943, transfered the 394th Bombartment Group to Kellogg Field, Michigan. The advance echelon left Ardmore August 17. Aircraft were dispatched August 19 and two train loads of support troops under command of Captain Henry D. Settles and Lieutenant Burton R. Miller, departed Ardmore, August 23, 1943.
Pfc. Jack Davis, 30, Camp Howze soldier, lost his left leg below the knee as a result of saving his 3-year-old son, Roy Lee, from being hit by an auto. While visiting his parents, who lived in Ardmore, he saw Roy Lee walk into the path of an oncoming vehicle driven by 17-year-old, George Coach, a farm youth. Pfc. Davis ran into the street, scooping his son into his arms. The vehicle struck him, pinning him between the auto and a tree. His son was thrown free and was not injured. Pfc. Davis was transported to the Ardmore Army Air Field hospital. County Attorney, Rutherford Brett, filed reckless driving charges on the driver. August 27, 1943
Lt. Colonel Paul T. Preuss, is A-3 of the 46th Bombardment Wing. August 1943. Fast Forward Note: Major General Pruess retired August 1, 1966 and died September 18, 1987. His son, Paul Preuss, is a successful science writer and was a little over a year old when at Ardmore.
402nd (later 702nd) Band to play at boat races at Lake Murray. October 4, 1943.
Mulkey Hotel Coffee Shop (Washington and 2nd) back in business after July 10, 1943 fire. October 1943.
Repair Depot, under Major Postlewaite, employed several hundred civilians. October 1943.
Lacy and Co., Dallas, Texas, contracts for additional aprons, widened taxiways, $500,000 plus. October 4, 1943.
B-17s to get chin turrets. October 5, 1943.
Captain Kendrick R. Bragg, inspiration for the song "Coming In On A Wing and A Prayer," arrives at Ardmore Army Air Field. A German plane struck the lead aircraft, tearing off a wing and rammed Bragg's Fortress, All American, just forward of the tail almost cutting it into two sections. The aircraft damage is shown in three pictures on The Plane That Wouldn't Quit!" under fuselage damage section. You will understand why the crew was praying! October 10, 1943. Fast Forward Note: After the War, he graduated from Duke University with a degree in Architecture, moved to and practiced in St. John, Virgin Islands. Kendrick "Sonny" R. Bragg died at the age of 81 in North Carolina according to the "Savannah Morning News" of October 17, 1999. The following exert from http://www.pink.lady.free.fr/story.html gives additional information about Kendrick's mid-air collision: "A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943 between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded or dead pilot. It crashed into the lead aircraft of the flight, ripped a wing off the Fortress, and caused it to crash. The enemy fighter then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut approximately two-thirds through, the control cables were severed, and the electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. Although the tail swayed in the breeze, one elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew-miraculously! The aircraft was brought in for an emergency landing and when the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off for not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until three men climbed aboard through the door in the fuselage, at which time the rear collapsed. The rugged old bird had done its job." Note: An in-flight formation accident, February 12, 1944, between two AAAFld B-17s, separated the tail section from one aircraft killing 10 of the crew. Read the only survivor's personal recollections of that accident.
Lt. Colonel James W. Wilson was appointed director of training of the 395th Combat Crew Training School in October 1943. Prior to assignment at Ardmore, Lt. Colonel Wilson (Major) had previously flown as commander of the 423rd Squadron of the 306th Bombardment Group out of England. While there, he was under command of Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr. who accompanied Wilson and John Regan as an observer on a bomb run on Antwerp. Their aircraft was heavily damaged with serious injuries to the navigator. Without hydraulics and oxygen, heroic effort by the cockpit crew and Armstrong saved the navigator and the aircraft that made it back to England. Armstrong received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his contribution. Wilson later became executive officer of the 306th. Although he did not have to fly missions, he flew as pilot-in-command on a raid on a German air base at Tricqueville, France to celebrate the 25th and final mission of Captain Raymond Check, pilot, who flew that day as copilot. The regular copilot, Lt. William Cassedy, flew as waist-gunner on this mission. A shell from a German fighter smashed into the cockpit, killing Check who was to be married to a nurse the next day. Wilson received wounds and burns to the hands and arms from the fire that occurred but managed to fly the ship back to Thurleigh, England. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his effort. He was transferred to Ardmore after recovering from his wounds. He served here till March 1944 when he was assigned to Army Air Forces Headquarters, Washington, DC as plans officer of the 20th Bomb Command. He returned to England in August 1944 to complete his B-17 tour as commander of the 92nd Bombardment Group. He returned to the US, October 1945. Fast Forward Note: Lieutenant General Wilson retired February 1, 1970 and died October 5, 200l. Thank you General Wilson for your many years of dedicated service to our country!
Major A. C. Perry assigned as Billeting Officer, Ardmore-Sulphur offices. October 1943
Soldiers from Camp Howze, (Gainesville, Texas) on bivouac at Lake Murray State Park, south of Ardmore, built a pontoon bridge that was soon destroyed by "enemy" bombers dropping sacks of flour. Unknown as to whether the aircraft were from Ardmore Army Air Field or elsewhere. October 27, 1943 Fast Forward Note: At least two accounts of bombs being dropped on civilian property have been reported by former B-17 crew members. One waist gunner reported that the bombardier on their aircraft "accidently" dropped a practice bomb on the cement factory near Ada, Oklahoma one morning at around 7:30AM. The gunner wrote officials of Ada a few years ago asking if they had a record of this incidence as to any damage done. Too many years and generations had passed for anyone to be interested enough to search for or provide any information. (The author has contacted the public library at Ada and has permission and a goal to search papers of that era for the news account). Another crew member of another B-17 at another time, reported that they bombed an electrical distribution station by error on one of their training missions but did not know the outcome of that incident. It is reported that the Rock House, an administration office, located on the east side of Lake Murray was also bombed by a B-17 from Ardmore. This has not been verified. A co-pilot that trained at Ardmore with one of the last crews here, communicated recently (March 2007) that their bombardier accidently released a bomb around mid-night that went through the roof of a drug store in Ada, Oklahoma. The bombs in these occurrences would have been loaded with sand and a light powder charge.
Approximately 250 families of officers from Ardmore Army Air Field have found housing in the area. Sixteen of the cabins at Lake Murray have been made available for officers and their families on a monthly basis. All cabins in the Cedarvale area near Turner Falls were also rented by officers. Local residents in the Ardmore and surrounding area are asked to share their homes with the officers. October 27, 1943
On October 28, 1943, the 402nd AAF Band inaugurated a regular schedule of retreat formations at the 75-foot flagpole in front of Base Headquarters. This ceremony is conducted each Tuesday to Friday evenings inclusive. The following EM of the band were promoted on 1 November 1943. Sgt. Beahan to Staff Sgt; Corporals Caruso, Cervantes, Sinclair and Whitney to Sgt.; Pfc's Chamberlain, Houser and J. Thompson to Corporal. On 11 November, in addition to the regularily scheduled dance, the band played for Armistice Day ceremonies in Sulphur. Three programs of entertainment are offered weekly by the organization. The 402nd AAF Dance Band plays at Sulphur on Thursday evenings, and at the Municipal Auditorium in Ardmore on Saturday nights. In connection with Special Services, Cpl. Frank Houser and Mrs. Houser appear each Thursday evening at 6:30 in a quarter-hour broadcast of music for violin and piano from Radio Station KVSO in Ardmore. The 402nd AAF Band is under the musical direction of W/O William I. Graves. The band's Commanding Officer is Capt. George Childs, Base Special Service Officer.
"Fluffy-Fuz" was the name of Wing Commander Frank A. Armstrong’s B-17. October 31, 1943. Fast Forward Note: A B-17 with the name "Fluffy-Fuz" can be seen taking off in the movie "Twelve O'Clock High". It is not known if this was the aircraft used by General Armstrong while at Ardmore or one named for use in the movie. Since General Armstrong was the person Brigadier General Frank Savage of the fictitious 916th Bomb Group was patterned after, it was probably used in honor of General Armstrong's dedicated service. The name represents nicknames he used for his wife, "Fluffy" and his son, Frank A. Armstrong, III or "Fuz". Other aircraft assigned at other bases to Armstrong also carried these names but had a II and III added. Major Frank A. Armstrong, III, was known as "Dutch" Armstrong during his military service prior to his 1967 death in Cambodia.
Colonel John P. Wheeler, Commanding Officer, Camp Howze, Gainesville, Texas, gave a $10 check to Ardmoreite, Miss Catherine Stolfa for her "Idea for Victory" suggestion to improve work-improvement and money-saving ideas. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Stolfa, Ardmore. October 31, 1943
Lt. Colonel James Rhea Luper, who started out as a buck private and later attended West Point, was Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of the 46th Bombardment Operational Training Wing under Wing Commander, Brigidier General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr. at Ardmore prior to going overseas. October 31, 1943 Fast Forward Note: Colonel Luper served with distinction throughout his military career which ended in a fatal crash several years after the war ended.
Lt. Orr A. James is Chaplain. The Chapel was across the street from Headquarters that was located about halfway between the west main entrance and the flight line. October 31, 1943.
Four crewmen were killed instantly and four were injured in the crash of a B-17F (42-3466), Thursday, November 4, 1943. The severely injured pilot, Lt. Derald C. Holland, died two weeks later in the Borden U. S. Army Hospital, Chickasha, Oklahoma. The crash and burn occurred on a hill in the Arbuckle Mountains two miles north of the base during a landing attempt at 8:12PM. On 170-degree final, the aircraft failed to clear the obstruction by approximately six feet, hitting the trees and descending down the ridge until it piled up against the next one. Fast Forward Note: The injured co-pilot, Lt. Ronald L. Call, who survived the crash, received the Soldier's Medal in December 1943 for his effort in removing crew members from the burning aircraft and providing aid to the surviving injured. After recovering from his injuries, he became aircraft commander of Crew 204, recognized as the best performing "Crew of the Week," January 13-20, 1944. His co-pilot on the crew was a cousin, Lt. Charles L. Call. Both men were from Afton, Wyoming and had worked in Charles' father's print shop prior to entering the service. "Bombs-Away," the base weekly, provided a story and picture of the crew in the January 20, 1944 edition.
Ten of thirty buffalo transferred to Lake Murray Park from Medford, Oklahoma frequently roamed to another part of the park and had to be "rounded up" and brought back to their assigned pastures. Carl Votaw, park superintendent, hired Joe Forbes and three of his ranch cowboys to drive them home. November 10, 1943 Fast Forward Note: According to recent communication with Floyd Forbes, son of Joe Forbes and one of the cowboys who rounded up the buffalo, they continued to roam! They were put in pastures surrounded with fences but would swim out into Lake Murray in the Elephant Rock area and return to shore in another area beyond the fences. The problem continued and the animals were sold, gathered and shipped to a new owner. One animal that could not be gathered with the herd, later supplied buffalo steaks courtesy of Forbes Meat Market, Ardmore, owned by Joe Forbes' brother.
Colonel James R. Luper, Chief of Staff, Ardmore Army Air Field, gave a speech to Ardmore High School classes as part of their observance of the 25th anniversary of Armistice Day. He was introduced by student, Martin Dyer. November 11, 1943
On Monday, November 15, 1943, a transient B-26 piloted by Lt. Arden E. Hixton crashed on takeoff one-half mile south of the base. The other three crew members also received injuries but escaped the burning aircraft. Lt. Hixon and crew were flying out of Love Field, Dallas, Texas.
$700,000 in contracts let: L. T. Lacy, Dallas, Texas, $200,000(additional taxiways, warmup pads, and paving), United Construction, Dallas, $200,000(additional hangers), Builder’s Construction, Oklahoma City, $300,000(additional barracks and other buildings). November 16, 1943
Four letters from an unknown soldier to a loved one, probably his wife, reflects in-depth ordnance training in California, assignment to Ardmore AAFld, then mail-call disappointment, a lack of base unit stability and a rather low opinion of Ardmore, Oklahoma. The AAAFld letterheads were probably printed by Wits End, a stationery and paper supplier in Ardmore. The first two letters from Ardmore feature the B-26 Marauder, the plane flown by the 394th Bombardment Group during their five-week stay at the base. The fourth letter, two weeks later, with the B-17 design reflects a better attitude and new stationery; still some unknowns, but life goes on. November 17, 1943.
The Base Theater has a 1PM Matinee every day and two shows at night, 8:15PM and 10:15PM. The Double Features showing Saturday, November 20 are "Find the Blackmailer" with Jerome Cowan and Faye Emerson and "Mr. Mugg Steps Out" staring the Eastside Kids.
The weekly base news publication, "Bombs Away," had its birth Novermber 20, 1943. Initially, it was a four-page, 11 1/4-inch x 17-inch, typeset paper but later changed to standard newspaper size. Printed by the Daily Ardmoreite in Ardmore, it was distributed on Saturdays. A base contest to name the publication was won by Pfc. Johannes Roodzant, Los Angeles, Veterinarian Detachment, who received a crisp five-dollar bill for his winning entry. Captain George Childs was editor; T/Sgt. Alex M. Victor, managing editor; Pfc. John W. Loges, art editor and S/Sgt. H. F. Gugler, photo editor. Loges designed a logo for the top of page one showing a B-17 flying by the control tower. An officer advisory board included: Major Harbert C. Chancellor, Public Relations Officer; Captain George Childs, Special Services and Captain Harry H. Page, Special Services. Lt. Colonel Leo J. Leeburn was base commander.
On November 20, 1943 at 1630 (CWT) hours, 1st Lieutenant Cullen A. Edwards of the 589th Squadron, 395th Bombardment Group, had the fortune, or misfortune, of being the 1,000th patient to be admitted to the Base Hospital since opening approximately a year ago.
On a bright, Sunday afternoon, November 21, 1943, Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr., Commanding Officer of the 46th Bombardment Operational Training Wing, presented ten AAAFld officers and noncommissioned officers with medals of achievement recognizing their individual bravery under combat conditions. The awards were presented with full military pomp including the alignment of squadrons, a musical salute to the General, with ruffles and flourishes, then the General's march. The squadrons stood at "present arms," while the officers of staff and individual military of the spectator's lines, stood at "salute." The commander of troops, Major Orren L. Briggs, Base S-3, conducted the men to be recognized to the staff lineup where the decorating took place. The reviewing officer was General Armstrong, accompanied by Lt. Colonel Leo J. Leeburn, Base Commanding Officer. Lieutenant Kenneth D. King was parade adjutant; WOJG William L. Graves directed the band. Receiving decorations, as nine B-17s in formation flew overhead, were: Captain Joyce J. Bamber (Purple Heart); Captain John C. Adams (Distinguished Flying Cross); Lieutenant Herbert E. Wiest (Air Medal); Sergeant Reedas G. Franklin (Distinguished Flying Cross); S/Sergeant Wayne Garey (Distinguished Flying Cross and Oak Leaf Cluster for Air Medal); Major Henry B. Earthman (Air Medal); Major Thomas C. Parkinson (Air Medal); Captain Victor J. Poncik (Air Medal); T/Sergeant Norman A Carlsen (Air Medal) and S/Sergeant Gus Economopoulus (Air Medal). General Armstrong's staff included Lieutenant Colonel Moultie P. Freeman, Lieutenant Colonel Owen F. Murphy, Captain Harry A. Blitch, Captain Stewart Byran Jr., Captain William T. Hamlin, First Lieutenant Wayne K. Bright and First Lieutenant Norman C. Warner. On Colonel Leeburn's staff were Lieutenant Colonel Richard F. Bromiley, Major John E. Alexander, Major Harbert C. Chancellor, Major William J. Foy, Captain R. G. Boyd, Captain George A. Moore, and First Lieutenant William M. Winship. On Major Briggs staff were Lieutenants Kenneth D. King, Preston O. Wilson, Augustus B. Hill, David E. Schlonsky and Clyde Williams. Fast Forward Note: Medal recepient, Major Henry B. Earthman, became Lt. Colonel Henry B. Earthman, Base Commander, May-July 1945.
Captain Alvin R. Fink, CO, 418th Air Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron, married Miss Mary Louise Landrum, commissary clerk, Quartermaster Corps, Saturday, November 20, 1943, in the base chapel. Chaplain Lee R. Spencer, officiated.
General George C. Patton apologizes for striking a 7th Army soldier. November 23, 1943.
"Effective 24 November 1943, this base is designated as: 395th Combat Crew Training School, Army Air Base, Ardmore, Oklahoma. This designation will be used on all letter heads, it was ordered in daily bulletin of 24 November." Bombs Away, November 27, 1943. Fast Forward Note: Most of the documents of later dates, 1944-45, still carried Ardmore Army Air Field as the base name.
"All officers of the base are required to be in their offices at 0800 hours, unless working on different shifts as directed by department heads, it was directed by Lieutenant Colonel Leo J. Leeburn, base commander, in daily bulletin of 24 November 1943." Bombs Away, November 27, 1943.
A search through the base locator files indicate that ten John Smiths, 18 John Browns and 17 James Greenes in addition to many other soldiers with identical names are stationed at Ardmore. Similar name duplications can be found on all Army Posts and Army Air Bases. The War Department is advising the public that all inquiries about officers and enlisted men would be accompanied by their serial number. November 27, 1943.
Army draft boards report that 40% of men are rejected as physically unfit for military service. It is estimated that 50% of inductees cannot swim well enough to save their lives, and lack the strength to jump ditches, scale walls, throw missiles and survive forced marches. Colonel Banks and 12 experienced physical training men conducted physical tests with 400 troops at Fort Knox and 11 other camps taking into consideration age, nationality, etc. The results proved that: 20-25% are in very good shape, 40% in fair shape, but not good enough for combat and 35% in miserable shape. From these findings, Colonel Banks and his board came up with 15 Calisthenic exercises that use every muscle in the body if given and taken properly. This Training Circular 87 was accepted by the government 17 November 1942. From tests given every six weeks, many men are not able to do more than one chin-up due to weak shoulder girdle muscles. Lieutenant William T. Gilkey, base Physical Fitness Officer, urged that men take advantage of base recreation opportunities such as boxing, baseball, football and basketball to increase their physical condition along with a serious Calisthenics and running program. Being in good shape could save your life whether in a B-17 at high altitude or on the ground. November 27, 1943.
Lt. Colonel Howell J. Davis was serving as Base Surgeon. December 6, 1943.
Public Relations Office established (395th), Lt. Robert B. Baird, PR officer. December 6, 1943.
The 2nd Air Force made complete reorganization of all existing units. Independent units at Ardmore were consolidated into one organization, the 395th Combat Crew Training School. Purpose---to increase overall efficiency. December 15, 1943.
The newspaper account stated a B-17F (42-5136) with the 395th Combat Crew Training School crashed one mile northeast of the base at 6AM, Wednesday, December 15, 1943. The crash was actually a quarter mile south of the base. The aircraft had taken off on the N/S runway, had apparent engine problems, made a 180-degree turn to the south at low altitude and was attempting to land from the south. It failed to clear tall trees and plunged nose down into a creek. The crew of 12 died instantly. Two of those killed were listed as passengers, classified as a pilot and a bombardier, flying with the crew as instructors. Fast Forward Note: The son of one crew member, 15-months-old at the time, was present at the Memorial Dedication, May 26, 2003.
While on a 15 ship formation training flight, December 21, 1943, aircraft piloted by 2nd Lt. Osborn E. Stone and Captain Pervis Earl Youree were damaged when Lt. Stone's plane, 42-5196, struck the tail section of 42-29519, the lead aircraft, piloted by Captain Youree. Lt. Stone was flying in the number two position on Captain Youree's right wing. While in a turn to the left, Lt. Stone fell out of position and in an attempt to regain position, hit Youree's aircraft. The accident happened approximately two miles north of Ardmore AAFld. The crew aboard 42-5196 included: 2nd Lt. Osborn E. Stone, pilot; 2nd Lt. Joseph F. Patterson, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. William L. Cullen, navigator; 2nd Lt. Paul R. Carsten, bombardier; Pfc. Francis J. O'Brien, armorer-engineer; Sgt. Earl J. Lindberg, armorer-engineer; S/Sgt. Charles E. Lane, radio operator and Sgt. George Y. Wortham, gunner. Aboard 42-29159 were Capt. Pervis Earl Youree, pilot; 2nd Lt. Charles F. Harvey, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. John W. Fisher, pilot; 1st Lt. James A. Butchart, navigator; 2nd Lt. Fred W. Wills, navigator; 2nd Lt. Andrew Krause, Jr.; bombardier; Pvt. George O. Bonitz, engineer and Sgt. Charles Raphael, gunner. The Accident Investigation Board judged the accident to be caused by "pilot error in judgment" with 100% responsibility assigned to Lt. Stone who was relieved of his combat crew.
The new Officer's Club (395th) opened on the 2nd floor the old Elk's Building, Broadway and Washington in Ardmore. Identified by a blue neon sign, the 75' x 93' room, was open 12-noon to midnight. December 24, 1943.
Colonel Donald W. Eisenhart assumes command of Ardmore Army Air Field in late December 1943, replacing Lt. Colonel Leo J. Leeburn who became Director of Station Services.
A farewell party for Colonel James L. Luper, Chief of Staff under Brigidier General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr. was held at the Glider Room, Hotel Ardmore. Luper was being assigned elsewhere and was being replaced by Colonel Ralph Koon. Armstrong and Luper visited Ardmore Army Air Field in August 1943, as part of a selection process for a field to become Headquarters for the 46th Bombardment Wing. December 31, 1943
Combat replacement crews undergoing phase training in late 1943 and early 1944 included: Section A, Crews 852-883 (31), Section B, Crews 2686-2744 (58), Section C, Crews 2518-2573 (55). At this time, 144 crews were in training for three months of intensified flight and classroom instruction. It was reported that crews completed their training at five week intervals within Sections A, B and C.
Major Russell O. Reeves, Director of Maintenance and Supply, learned to fly in the Curtis-Jenny previously owned by Wiley Post. Arthur Oakley, pilot and certified mechanic, rebuilt the plane for Wiley Post at the Oakley-Askew Airport at Ardmore in the 1920s. Mr. Post, according to local history, bought the aircraft with money he received after losing an eye in an oil field accident. Mr. Oakley taught Wiley Post to fly at Ardmore. Major Reeves provided planes and men for the film "Airforce." Howard Hawks directed the filming. John Garfield, George Tobias, Harry Carrey and others were actors in the movie. January 9, 1944.
Sgt. Max Baer and S/Sgt. Buddy Baer of civilian professional boxing fame visited AAAFld. They were pictured visiting with Col. Donald W. Eisenhart in the January 15, 1944 issue of "Bombs-Away." A former soldier stationed here, Sergeant O. Phillip Kent, provided this photo of them with Colonel James R. Luper. Among the 4,019 professional boxers in the US Armed Forces were Gene Tunney, Jim Braddock, Max and Buddy Baer, Lou Ambers, Freddy Apostoli, Billy Soose, Benny Leonard, Midget Smith, Augie Ratner, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Billy Conn, Henry Armstrong and Barney Ross. The Edward J. Neil Memorial Award, given each year by the New York Boxing Writers Association to the man who had done most for boxing has been awarded to the 4,019 boxers serving their country instead of one individual as normally done. Eddie J. Neil was a war correspondent killed in reporting the Spanish Revolution. Eighteen boxers have been killed in action, seven are missing in action and 25 have been wounded. Note: "Bombs-Away" was the four-page weekly (Saturday) newspaper of Ardmore Army Air Field. The paper was printed by the Daily Ardmoreite. Regretably, no one had the foresight to keep the bound copies for future generations. Contributing factors might have been a "throw away party" when moving to a new location following the war and purchase of the "Daily Ardmoreite" by "outsiders" who had no ties to or interest in local history.
Seven B-17Gs from Ardmore Army Air Field took off, January 16, 1944, from Galveston Army Air Field for a high altitude formation gunnery practice over Galveston Bay, Texas. Also flying with 2nd Lt. Ryan J. Lancaster's nine man crew was Staff/Sergeant Elmo A. Hagen, gunnery instructor. After reaching altitude of approximately 10,000 feet over the Bay, they flew a stacked echelon formation, up and to the right. Various aircraft in the formation began firing at the towed sleeve target when it was in a vulnerable position to their gunners. When the gunners of Lancaster's aircraft, 42-30761, had fired approximately 1,000 rounds, the target towing aircraft came in low at 7 o'clock position passing directly under Lancaster's aircraft. At this time, approximately 1733-hours, Lt. Lancaster felt a pull on the controls and thought his aircraft might have received 50-caliber fire from another aircraft. In a few minutes, Sgt. Herschell L. Moore, flight engineer, came forward to report that S/Sgt. Hagen, gunnery instructor, had been struck by a stray bullet and was down in the mid-section of the aircraft. Lancaster immediately left the formation and landed at Galveston AAF at approximately 1805-hours Central War Time (CWT). The aircraft was met by an ambulance and Sgt. Hagen was transported to the Infirmary where he was pronounced dead. It was apparent that he was deceased soon after the bullet struck him. Lt. Lancaster's aircraft received at least ten hits to the wing, gas tanks and fuselage; damaging and cutting cables to the rudder and elevator in the central control cable. Gunners in each of the other aircraft in the formation were questioned as to whether they might have been responsible for the accident. No one accepted responsibility for the damage to 42-30761 and death of S/Sgt. Hagen. Since there was no definite proof and no admittance by any of the gunners of the other aircraft, the accident was declared to be accidental or due to carelessness. The incident happened over the Bay approximately 100-miles south of Galveston Army Air Field. The crew, other than S/Sgt. Hagen aboard as instructor, included: 2nd Lt. Ryan J. Lancaster, pilot; 2nd Lt. Dorance Garner, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Wayne T. Hardwick, navigator; 2nd Lt. Kenneth L. Cagwin, bombardier; Sgt. Herchell L. Moore, flight engineer; Pvt. Andrew Boyarko, radio operator; Sgt. Fred D. Parker, radio operator; Sgt. Oryal E. Page, aerial gunner and Llewllyn C. O'Donnell, aerial gunner. Note: Aircraft from Ardmore and other air fields used the 50,825-acre Matagorda Island Air to Air Gunnery Range for high altitude formation gunnery practice. Live ammo was fired on some missions at towed targets. On other missions, fighter aircraft attacked the bombers giving the fighter pilot experience at shooting down the enemy while the gunners in the B-17s got practice trying to shoot them down. Both type of aircraft used gun cameras on these training missions and evaluated their success after returning to their home bases. When incidents required medical attention or aircraft repair, the nearest field or base usually worked the accident. This rule also applied to crashes.
Fifteen B-17F aircraft from Ardmore Army Air Field were on a high altitude formation training flight over Texas and New Mexico, January 31, 1944, and were returning to Ardmore. Lt. Ramond C. Brittingham, instructor pilot flying with Crew 870, was at the controls of 42-30551, leading the first element of the high squadron. Lt. Kenneth C. Hales, pilot of 42-6181, Crew 879, was flying off Lt. Brittingham's left wing. Lt. Hales' aircraft drifted a little too close to 42-30551, was caught in prop wash and hit the left horizontal stabilizer of Brittingham's aircraft with his right wing tip. The accident, which happened approximately 75-miles southeast of Amarillo, Texas, could have been tragic but fortunately only minor damage was done to each plane. After visual checks of the limited damage to each aircraft, they continued the training mission and landed safely later at Ardmore. Crew members in 2nd Lt. Hales' aircraft included: 2nd Lt. Elmer J. Dreyer, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Lester W. Boardman, navigator; 2nd Lt. Charles J. O'Brien, bombardier; S/Sgt. George A. Pierce, engineer; Sgt. William D. Hasty, armorer-gunner; Sgt. Ray Huskey, gunner and Cpl. Walter Bergstrom, gunner. The crew of 42-30551, other than instructor pilot, 1st Lt. Brittingham, included: 2nd Lt. Richard J. Lavery, pilot; 2nd Lt. Warren E. Spratt, co-pilot; Harry E. Strate, navigator; 2nd Lt. Lewis S. Peters, bombardier; Sgt. Ted S. Hawerlander, radio operator; Sgt. Thomas G. Thorpe, gunner; Sgt. Alymer G. Millard, engineer; Cpl. Lester G. Thompson, gunner and Cpl. Joseph R. Kaminski, gunner. Both crews were from Training Section A, 395th Combat Crew Training School, 2nd Air Force.
Aircraft B-17F, (42-3377), with a crew of eight, under command of pilot, 2nd Lt. Jonathan H. Bullard, was on a low-altitude formation training mission, February 1, 1944. The aircraft was flying at 3,000-feet in light rain with an unknown number of other B-17s. Sgt. Irvin Simon, ball turret gunner, almost lost an arm on this flight by reaching into the ball turret hatch to align the guns. The bombardier had been in the turret earlier and left them improperly positioned for flight. Instead of using the clutch to sedge the turret around, Simon reached inside with his left hand and attempted to align the turret with hydraulic power by activating the power switch. While doing this, he was off balance and pulled the traverse (elevation) switch to the rear causing the turret to revolve backward. This forced the turret door down on his arm and upper part of his body. He attempted to follow the turret as it turned to prevent it from pulling his arm off but his leg caught in the cat-walk around the turret. The bombardier, who was still in the waist area, heard his screams for help as did the navigator. Unable to disable the power to the turret and realizing the seriousness of the situation, the navigator quickly advised the pilot who cut power to the turret. Simon received multiple compound fractures to his forearm requiring hospitalization. The crew of 42-3377 included: 2nd Jonathan H. Bullard, pilot; Captain Joseph Cochran, instructor pilot riding as co-pilot that day; 2nd Lt. Darrel L. Stevens, bombardier; 2nd Lt. William Holmes, navigator; Sgt. Everett M. Casselman, engineer; Sgt. Pierre L. Bordelon, radio operator; Sgt. Irving Simon, armorer-gunner and Sgt. Joseph I. Connors, radio operator. One of the radio operators may have been an instructor. Fast Forward Note: Lt. Bullard and crew were later assigned to the 8th Air Force, 336th Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, Horham (Field 119), U. K. The crew of ten were KIA, June 18, 1944, as badly damaged, B-17, 42-97068, crashed in the North Sea returning from a raid to Hannover, Germany. Most of the Ardmore crew were still flying with Bullard. Sgt. Simon's injury terminated his combat crew training and might have caused him to be removed from flying status. The accident at Ardmore probably saved his life five months prior to the death of the entire Bullard crew.
An open-house was held at Ardmore Army Air Field, Friday, February 11, 1944. Note: One of the crews that participated in the bombing demonstration that day was involved in an in-flight formation collision near Mill Creek, Oklahoma the next day, killing ten crew members. One member, Corporal Jack McClanahan, the tail gunner, escaped without injuries when he parachuted from the severed tail section.
Ten crew members perished in a B-17F (42-30481) crash resulting from a collision of two aircraft during formation flight training. One of the aircraft broke apart aft of the radio compartment. The tail gunner, Cpl. Joseph (Jack) William McClanahan, who parachuted successfully, was the only survivor of the crew on this flight. One of the regular crew, Cpl. Gail P. Mason, gunner, was ill and not aboard. An oxygen instructor, Sgt. Albert F. Franczyk, and bombardier instructor, Capt. Oswald L. Bernich, were extras on the aircraft. Other crew members were: Captain William R. Heck, pilot; 2nd Lt. Robert N. Bullock, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Collins O. Gerstner, navigator; 2nd Lt. Jack L. Rider, bombardier; Sgt. John W. Ashba, engineer; Sgt. Leslie C. Hill, gunner; Sgt. Ray N. Wise, radio operator and Cpl. Anthony T. Casino, armorer-engineer. McClanahan's interesting account of the accident can be viewed here. He was erroneously listed as Cpl. James W. Clannahan in the newspaper account. The other aircraft, B-17F (42-30752), though badly damaged, made it back to the base. The crash occurred, Saturday, February 12, 1944, approximately 20 miles northeast of the base near the Mill Creek, Oklahoma community. A former Mill Creek resident who was eight-years-old when the crash happened, tells his story in"This I Remember...."
Eight members of a B-17 crew of ten that recently trained at AAAFld died in a crash at Grand Island, Nebraska. The pilot, Lt. Howard Talbert, Cliffside, North Carolina, escaped with minor injuries; Sergeant Edward Machos, Manchester, New Hamshire, was critically injured: killed were Lt. John T. McMillian, Cleveland, Ohio; Lt. Kenneth E. Pierce, Brownsville, Vermont; FO Alfred R. Flock, Boise, Idaho; Staff Sergeant Glen M. Cox, Newport, Kentucky; Staff Sergeant Donald J. Vitale, Crockett, California; Sergeant Stanley J. Sala, Cohoes, New York; Sergeant John M. Roberts, Atlanta, Georgia: and Sergeant Loyd D. McNeal, Somers, Iowa. They had only been in Nebraska for a few weeks. February 27, 1944.
March 1, 1944 was a record day for extensive damage to four of Ardmore's B-17s. Three B-17s made emergency landings at Tinker Field, Oklahoma City, due to not being able to extend both landing gears by electrical or manual procedure. They were sent individually to Tinker at different times by the Ardmore tower since Tinker was better equipped to handle this type emergency. Each aircraft received major damage to engines and fuselage. No crew member of either of the aircraft was injured in the incidents. First Incident: 1st. Lt. Roger L. Fisher, pilot instructor, and crew of 11 departed Ardmore Army Air Field, February 28, 1944, aboard B-17F, 41-26633, at 1950 Central War Time (CWT). 2nd Lt. James C. Ray, pilot of the crew, was flying this day as co-pilot. They were on a navigation training flight direct to St. Louis, Missouri and return. Additional crewmembers were: Flight Officer William W. Thorton, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Dustin S. Slade, Navigator; 2nd Lt. Ralph H. Pederson, Bombardier; 1st Lt. J. C. Talbott, Navigator; Sgt. Bobby B. Hicks, Engineer; Sgt. Roscoe S. Johnson, Engineer; Sgt. Donald E. Lewis, Gunner; Cpl. Edgar A. Holladay, Gunner; Sgt. James Lashin, Gunner and Sgt. Jerry Hosek, Gunner.; Arriving at Ardmore at 0152 CWT to land, Lt. Fisher was advised to prepare for a crash landing at Tinker Field due to the landing gear problem. At approximately 0210 CWT, Lt. Fisher contacted Tinker Field tower and advised that he could not lower the left landing gear and would have to make an emergency, wheels-up landing on arrival. The Assistant Operations Officer, who was in the tower, asked the condition of the airplane and if all emergency requirements relating to wheels-up landing had been completed. Acknowledging that they had been, Fisher was given landing instructions and advised to land on Runway 12 with the tail wheel fully extended which was done manually five minutes before landing. Following instructions, Lt. Fisher landed as advised at 0309 CWT. The aircraft slid for approximately 1500 feet and ground looped off the runway on the dirt for approximately 50 feet.
The second incident of the day happened when, Flight Officer John J. Ferreter, short on fuel in B-17F, 42-3374, made an emergency landing at 0415 CWT in a soft, muddy, Emergency Airline Landing Field, at Neosho, Missouri. Others of Crew 2570, Section C, 395th Combat Crew Training School, included; Flight Officer Kenneth H. Loehwing, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Joseph S. Gary, navigator; 2nd Lt. Angelo Genova, bombardier; Sgt. Richard F. Kuna, engineer; Sgt. William E. Purdy, Jr., radio operator; Sgt. Claud L. Chastain, aerial engineer; Sgt. Burr N. Rabb, armorer-gunner; Sgt. Leroy H. Presley, gunner and Sgt. Fred C. Matthewes, gunner. The aircraft was heavily damaged but the crew of ten walked away without injuries.
Third Incident: Second Lt. Albert N. Davis and crew of 11 departed Ardmore Army Air Field at 1510 CWT on a routine training flight to practice instrument flying. The crew other than Lt. Davis included: Flight Officer William W. Thorton, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Hugh R. Davidson, navigator; Sgt. Donald J. Scott, aerial engineer; Sgt. Walter E. Sorter, aerial engineer; Sgt Alfred F. Vacco, radio operator; Cpl. Marvin F. Cates, gunner; Sgt. Clifford E. Rye, gunner; Sgt. Alfred W. Garceau, gunner; Pfc. John H. Robasky, gunner and Sgt. Albert R. Gaband, gunner. They flew locally for approximately three hours before returning to the field to land at 1815 CWT. When lowering the wheels of B-17F, 42-3005, the right wheel could not be lowered. After reaching Tinker, the left gear was lowered and the aircraft landed at 2010 CWT without difficulty, traveling approximately 1,500 feet before it ground looped slightly to the right off the runway and came to a stop.
Fourth Incident: Aircraft 42-5868 with a crew of eleven departed Ardmore Army Air Field on a routine formation training mission at approximately 1300 CWT. Pilot in command was 2nd Lt. James A. Bonner, co-pilot was 2nd Lt. Leon Shapiro. Others of the crew included: 2nd Lt. Dean W. Jansen, navigator; Flight Officer Gene A. Friedman, bombardier; Sgt. Robert P. Knobel, aerial engineer; Sgt. Albert E. Gregoria, aerial engineer; Pfc. James C. Demetry, radio operator; Sgt. Kenneth F. Bondurant, radio operator; Sgt. James F. Grant, gunner; Sgt Robert C. Rhoades, gunner and Sgt. Elvin E. Clinkenbeard, gunner. They flew for approximately five hours and were letting down at Ardmore at approximately 1800 CWT. Due to the landing gear problem, they were redirected to Tinker. At 2020 CWT, the aircraft landed and slid on the ball turret and bottom of the fuselage for 800 to 1,000 feet. Fast Forward Note: Cpl. James C. Demetry. assumed to be Pfc. James C. Demetry of this crew, died in a B-17G, (42-102786), fiery crash with 10 others, April 24, 1944. The accident happened four miles north of Ardmore. Demetry had been promoted and was listed as a passenger. He possibly was flying as an instructor radio operator as this fatal flight was the first transitional training flight for the new crew. The aircraft was new with only 85-hours on engines and airframe.
GIs can no longer play poker or roll dice aboard trains according to directive from Headquarters of AAF Training Command, Ft. Worth, Texas. Laws in some states and prohibition of gambling aboard trains necessitated the order. March 4, 1944.
Gray haired Oklahoma mother, Mrs. Lou B. Jackson, received the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster posthumously for her hero son, Lt. Dixie G. Jackson, Ringling, Oklahoma. Lt. Jackson was mortally wounded during combat in the skies over Nazi occupied Europe. Colonel Eisenhart presented the awards. March 7, 1944. Fast Forward Note: First Lt. Dixie G. Jackson died, July 14, 1943, north of Amiens, France as the result of enemy action. He was a P-47C pilot with the 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group. A wingman flying with Jackson reported he last saw a German Me-109 behind and firing on Jackson's aircraft, 41-6222, as they decended through a hole in the cloud cover. Jackson's last transmission to the wingman was " I'm hit and need help!" not indicating whether he had been wounded or the aircraft had been hit. The P-47C was trailing smoke indicating he was in trouble. No other sighting was seen of Jackson's aircraft or the Me-109 before the wingman left due to shortage of fuel.
The "Fortress Bombers" basketball team defeated the Plainview "All Stars" 46-32 at the field gym. March 11, 1944. Fast Forward Note: The base team also played other high school teams in the area, they lost some of the games also.
The 702nd AAFld band will give free concert at the Gilbert Building auditorium at 4PM, March 12, 1944. The program is under the sponsorship of the Enlisted Mens Wive's Club and the USO.
M/Sgt. Den Fitts (50), mess sergeant for 46th BOTW has been a mess sergeant for 28 years and has "served" in two wars. March 18, 1944.
Six WWI veterans with combined service time of 52 years are members of the 418th Hq-AB Squadron and include Pfc. Joe Valursky, 48; S/Sgt. Frank Kennedy, 47; S/Sgt. Fred Salkeld, 48; Pfc. John Murnahan, 50; Sgt. Robert Harris, 45 and Sgt. James Leitzell, 45. March 18, 1944.
Daily bus service from Sulphur to the base became effective March 15, 1944. The one-way fare is 35-cents, 60-cents round trip, 12 trips a day from the PX bus stop. Commuter tickets (20 rides) are available for $6. The trip takes approximately one-hour and is provided by the Flegan Bus Line, Sulphur. March 18, 1944
Major General Lewis B. Hershey, Director of Selective Service System, reported that 22,130,000 men between ages 18 and 38 have registered for the draft and 6,540,000 have been inducted. Men who enlisted number 2,430,000. Those disqualified due to physical problems, 3,357,000, occupational deferments 3,834,000, dependency deferments 4,645,000, deferred for other reasons, 152,000, unclassified 90,000. Over 9 million men are already in the armed forces. March 18, 1944
A B-17 crew that trained at AAAFld, presently serving in North Africa, named their bomber "Wits End" after the well-known Ardmore stationery printer and paper supplier, Wits End. March 23, 1944.
Captain T. A. Russ, post engineer, and Lt. Lanelle Chambers, surgical nurse at the base hospital, were married in the field chapel. March 30, 1944. Fast Forward Note: One of the sons resulting from this marital union tells of some of his Dad and Mother's experiences while stationed at Ardmore in "This I Remember...."
The Fortress Bombers, Ardmore Army Air Field baseball team, will play its season opener, April 8, 1944, with the University of Oklahoma's nine at Norman, Oklahoma. OU will travel to Ardmore for the second game May 23, 1944.
Commander of 2nd Army Air Force, Brigadier General Uzal Girard Ent, visited AAAFld. April 9, 1944. Fast Forward Note: General Ent was critically injured, October 10, 1944, in a crash at Fort Worth Army Air Field. The injury eventually led to his death.
Air field to get new runway and taxiway, contract to Plains Construction Co., Pampa, Texas ($30,579.68). April 9, 1944.
Enlisted Mens Service Club opened, April 14, 1944. It has a large lounge, comfortable furnishings, game room, music room and other facilities.
More than 173,000 sick and wounded patients of the United States and Allied forces were evacuated by American military aircraft throughout the world in 1943. April 15, 1944
Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle, Washington will convert its B-17 Fortress plant into B-29 Superfortress production. Conversion will begin immediately and will be accomplished gradually over several months. Fortresses will continue to be produced at the Douglas Airplane Company and Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in California. April 15, 1944. Fast Forward Note: Production of all B-17s ceased in May 1945. Total production was 12,726; 6,981 were produced by Boeing and 5,745 by Douglas and Lockheed (Vega).
Captain Elmer J. Gedeon, Operations Officer, 394 Bombardment Group, Holmsley South Air Field, and his crew were lost, April 20, 1944, on the 14th mission of the 586th. This was the first crew loss in a year of training. The 586th flew 145 missions from the Gedeon loss to November 18, 1944, when Captain J. DeRitis and crew went down. Fast Forward Note: Captain Elmer Gedeon, one of the most popular officers in the group, was a former outfielder for the Washingon Senators and a star athlete while attending the University of Michigan. Others of the crew were 2/Lt Jack March, S/Sgt. Joseph Kobret, Sgts. John Felker and Ira Thomas and Pvt. Charles Atkinson; 2nd Lt James Traaffee was taken prisoner.
General Order 46, 8th Service Command, 2nd AF, set curfew of 11:30PM for enlisted men visiting towns around the base. The curfew applied from Sunday through Friday. On Saturday nights and nights preceding holidays, the curfew was extended to 2AM, April 22, 1944.
The fifth crash with fatalities of Ardmore based aircraft, occurred north of Ardmore, Monday, April 24, 1944, taking the lives of the 11 men B-17G crew. This crash happened east of Dornick Hills Golf Course, on the Mort Woods Dairy farm, near Mt. Washington School. The aircraft B-17G (42-102786) was approximately six miles from AAAFld, having taken off at 3:35PM. The instructor pilot, 2nd Lt. Milton Hansberry, with a student crew, was at the controls. The assigned crew pilot, 2nd Lt. Charles H. Boyer, Jr., was occupying the co-pilot seat. Other crewmembers included: 2nd Lt. Edward W. Hamlin, bombardier; Cpl. Andrew Lasiter, engineer; Pfc. Forrest W. Weissert, armorer-engineer; Cpl. Victor E. Turner, radio operator; Pfc. Billie F. Marrs, gunner; Pfc. Donald G. Petersen, gunner; Pfc. Walter O. Dytman, gunner and Cpl. James C. Demetry, passenger. Rank would indicate that the crew was just beginning combat crew phase training and were making a local transition training flight. The aircraft was seen 10 minutes after take-off making steep, slow turns over the golf course at an estimated altitude of 800 to 1,000 feet, apparently sightseeing. After about three turns, the aircraft exceeded 90-degrees of bank and went part way on its back. It then fell off into a 1 1/2 turn spin to the left and crashed before a recovery could be made. It was completely destroyed and burned on impact killing all aboard. The author's wife, her sister and brother, who were students at Mt. Washington, were on evening recess and were eyewitnesses. This crash was used by AAAFld training officers as an example to other transition crews as to what can happen to a heavy aircraft during steep turns at low altitudes .
Lt. Colonel Hudson H. Upham assumes command of the 222nd Combat Crew Training School, May 1, 1944. Colonel Eisenhart was transferred to Dalhart, Texas. Fast Forward Note: Colonel Donald W. Eisenhart later became commanding officer of the 9th Bomb Group (Extra Heavy) (B-29s) assigned to Tinian in the Mariana Islands. Arriving there January 18, 1945, he led a 30 plane formation on their first bomb run to Truk, February 9, 1945. Their 5th mission led by Eisenhart was to Tokyo, February 25, with 32 aircraft. The group chief of staff was aboard one aircraft which was lost on this mission and Colonel Eisenhart was appointed by General Davies to take his place in the Group. Lt. Colonel Henry C. Huglin, deputy commander, replaced Colonel Eisenhart, March 7, 1945.
New shoulders that improve field runways and taxi strips are approximately 15% complete. Plains Construction Co., Pampa, Texas is doing the work under supervision of U.S. Engineers. The new shoulders of light bar and rod mats will be 75-feet wide. Completion date is estimated as July 1, 1944 at a cost of $130,000. Final work on the two new formerly occupied hangers ended May 6 at an overall cost of $200,000. Addition of the concrete doubled the size of the parking apron providing space for 100 Flying Fortresses based on 4,000 square yards per B-17. A new taxi strip was finished January 31, 1944 completing an external circulating taxiway system. All taxi strips were recently widened 25-feet. May 6, 1944
Newest addition to the Field Chaplain Corps is Lt. C. Allan Goss, Protestant chaplain from East Braintree, Massachusetts. May 13, 1944.
War Department says it now costs .59/day to feed a soldier. Quartermaster Corps spends annually per soldier: $215.35 for food; $173.70 for clothing; $44.70 for individual equipment and $31.31 for barracks equipment. May 13, 1944.
"Male Call" was a weekly comic strip in "Bombs-Away." It was drawn by Milton Caniff, creator of "Terry and the Pirates."
Combat crew officers had access to Dornick Hills Country Club, two miles north of Ardmore. The club was leased by the AAAFld officer's club. Any member of the base officer's club automatically had membership. Special bus service was available from the officer's club on the field to Dornick Hills and back to the base. A dance was held on Saturday nights for families and their guests. May 13, 1944
Soldier of the Month-May 1944: T/4 Orville Horton Shoemaker, Medic, NCO in charge of the Dental Clinic entered service via draft, August 3, 1942. He was transferred to Ardmore from Bowman Field, Kentucky having been at Ft. Thomas, Kentucky previously. He was a member of the original Medical Detachment cadre, arriving at Ardmore Army Air Field, November 16, 1942. He is single and owned and operated a meat market in Gallipolis, Ohio prior to being drafted. May 27, 1944
"Glider pilot training was reopened recently to enlisted men who have a minimum of 125 hours on any type of aircraft or glider and who meets the other minimum requirements. On completion of glider pilot training, enlisted graduates are appointed flight officers and granted the rating of “Glider Pilot” for duty with the Troop Carrier Command. Applicants must be 18 to 30 years of age, members of the AAF and not scheduled for transfer outside the US. Preflight or basic military training must have been completed and the applicant must have certified evidence of having flown as pilot a minimum of 125 hours with 25 hours logged in the past year. Applicants must not have been eliminated from flight school for fear of flying, air sickness or lack of officer qualifications. A minimum of AGCT test score of 110 is required. Training consists of four-week review of military training, glider maintenance school for six weeks and 14 weeks of basic and advanced school. Elimanees from AAF advanced flying schools and EM who have completed three or more CAA War Training Service flying courses will be given priority of assignments to glider pilot training course as aviation students and will receive pay and allowance as authorized by AR 615-150. Qualified applicants will be called as vacancies exist." May 27, 1944 Bombs Away
First civilian employee at field to work for the Army, Miss Doris Urie, secretary to several base commanders at Ardmore, becomes Brig. General Armstrong's private secretary at Grand Island, Nebraska after working for him at Ardmore and Colorado Springs (Headquarters, 2nd Air Force). May 28, 1944.
KVSO radio station broadcasts AAAFld program "What's On Your Mind, Soldier?," a Friday, 15-minute weekly program. June 4, 1944.
D-Day Invasion, June 6, 1944.
Chief Petty Officer Tex Beneke (former sax player and vocalist for Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Paul Whiteman) and his Norman Naval Base Training Station band played to the service club's largest-ever crowd. Beneke brought the house down by playing his famous rendition of "Chatoonoga Choo Choo." June 6, 1944. Fast Forward Note: Civilian Tex Beneke and band, revisited Ardmore Air Force Base to perform for the troops in 1955.
Captain Lewis F. Johnson, Jr, Lexington, Kentucky, received the Silver Star for risking his life to land his heavily damaged B-17 in England over a year ago in May 1943. Part of the crew had bailed-out of the plane which was afire in the midsection. Captain Johnson was combat crew coordinator of Group 1. Lt. Colonel H. H. Upham presented the award. June 10, 1944.
Twin 19-year-old brothers from Stella, Nebraska, Corporals Milton R. and Milford W. Snodgrass are waist gunners on the bomber piloted by Lt. Arthur A. Northern, Crew 142, Sqd. 3, Group 1. June 10, 1944.
Corporal Robert W. Farrington, Bedford, Ohio of the Orderly Room, Training, Section E is having trouble giving all the candy away he received on his recent birthday. June 10, 1944. Fast Forward Note: Corporal Farrington was helpful in providing several copies of "Bombs Away" for review during construction of the webpage. His story and that of his wife, a civilian employee, are found in the "This I Remember..." link.
The field library has moved to Building 2-251, a block north of Headquarters and adjoining the Chemical Warfare Classroom. The new building has more seating capacity, improved lighting facilities and quieter atmosphere. A branch library has been established at the Aviation Section Service Club, open Monday-Friday, 2PM to 7PM. The main library is open 8:30AM to 10PM except Saturday, 8AM to 5PM. June 10, 1944
Lt. Florence O. Eby is new chief nurse at Station Hospital. June 11, 1944.
Eight crewmembers of B17F, 42-29929, bailed out, June 14, 1944, when No. 2 and No. 3 engines failed approximately 35 miles south of Salina, Kansas. The aircraft was on a seven plane formation high altitude bombing mission from Ardmore to Wichita to Salina to Kansas City to Ardmore. The aircraft piloted by 2nd Lt. Padrial B. Evans and 2nd Lt. Harold R. McGahan, landed safely at Smokey Hill Army Air Field. The navigator, 2nd Lt. Joe M. Pavin, and bombardier, 2nd Lt. John N. Dozier, landed in a wheat field owned by Thomas Tucker about five miles north of the airfield. Pavin received a sprained ankle; Dozier received internal injuries to his back. Flight engineer, Sgt. Charles E. Koegel, who bailed through the front escape hatch, received a sprained ankle. The tail-gunner, Cpl. Franklin J. Brown was the first man to exit the waist position. He landed in a cornfield, was picked up and joined the crew at a farmer’s home. Cpl. Robert K. Winther, ball turret gunner, was the second man out. The left waist gunner, Sgt. George J. Ferenchak, was third. Just prior to leaving the aircraft, he observed that radio operator, Sgt. Edward M. Ragsdale, was making final adjustments to his chute harness. The right waist gunner, Cpl. Ernest L. Crawford was the fourth man to jump. None of the gunners were injured. Sgt. Ragsdale was not observed leaving the aircraft by these men. He was declared missing until his body and open parachute were located a day or so later. His parachute was fully deployed. Having exited the aircraft last, the heavy gloves and flight jacket might have caused problems in his pulling the rip cord soon enough to slow his fall. Fast Forward Note: Mr. and Mrs. John Paul Ragsdale were featured in Life Magazine, November 20, 1944, along with several other parents who had lost son/s in WWII. At the time of the story, “Families Speak for Their War Dead” a son, Lt. John Paul Jr., had been killed earlier on a bombing mission over Germany. Sgt. Ragsdale had died parachuting in Kansas five-months prior to the story. Another son, 19, was also an Army flier. It is unknown if the remaining son survived the War. Mr. Ragsdale was a veteran of WWI. In the previous month of October alone, 19,183 Americans had died. Roosevelt and Truman had just been reelected as President and Vice-President previous to this issue of Life.
Lt. Jane Sewell (25), field transportation officer and trained mountain climber, is first and only WAC to serve with the 222nd to this date. June 16, 1944. Fast Forward Note: Lt. Sewell served for a very short time as the first commander of the 100 person WAC unit (Squadron W) that arrived June 23, 1944 from Oglethorpe, Georgia. Another group from Colorado Springs, Colorado arrived five days later.
AAAFld had six Link Celestial wooden towers which housed crew model LCN Trainers. The radio operator, navigator, pilot and either an instructor or bombardier all trained at the same time. The celestial dome gave the appearance of the real sky. The towers resembled farm silos from a distance. June 17, 1944.
The May 1944 edition of the Selective Service Bulletin reports 240,000 registrants have been unable to pass Army intelligence tests thereby being rejected for duty. This number drew attention to the fact that by May 6, 1944 total Army casualties were 206,227. June 17, 1944.
The normal B-17 engine changes per month at Ardmore was usually 50 or more. For June 1944, 102 engines were replaced. Engines were changed after 600-hours use or earlier as problems develop.
Eleven crewmen aboard B-17G, 42-102410, had been on a local training flight, July 9, 1944, and had returned to the field to land. 2nd Lt. Authur H. Bloomberg, pilot in command was allowing 2nd Lt. Albert T. Flynn, co-pilot, to practice first phase “follow-through” landings. They had made a normal pattern and approach and had made two previous landings with Lt. Bloomberg at the controls. The third landing at 1402-hours Central War Time (CWT), 2:02 PM, was being made by Lt. Flynn from the right seat while Lt. Bloomberg was following through on the controls from the left seat. As they proceeded down the runway, the left landing gear collapsed. The Airdrome Traffic Controller, S/Sgt. Francis M. Kehoe, on duty in the tower, described the NE/SW runway accident in his report to the Accident Investigation Board as follows: “Aircraft made normal pattern and approach but appeared to bounce quite badly as it touched the runway. At about the 1/3 mark the left landing gear appeared to collapse and the ship spun off the left side of the runway." None of the crew was injured in the collapse of the landing gear. Considerable damage was done to the props, engines and fuselage of the aircraft. Other members of the crew included: 2nd Lt. James E. Dodd, bombardier; Sgt. Alden B. Childs, flight engineer; Pfc. Harry W. Klatt, flight engineer; Cpl. Leon F. Mat, radio operator; Cpl. John H. Lindstrom, radio operator; Cpl. Leonard P. Klimas, gunner; Pfc. Walter E. Baker, gunner; 1st. Lt. John C. Barker (or Baker), instructor pilot and S/Sgt. Vern L. Kemp, gunner.
The Christian Servicemen's League for soldiers and civilians met each Tuesday in the Field Chapel. Chaplain C. Allan Goss was the presiding leader. The league promoted Christian fellowship, spiritual growth and wholesome social activity. July 22, 1944.
To accomodate soldiers who would like their pictures taken near an aircraft or on the base, the following was issued in Bombs Away. "Pictures can be taken according to Base Regulation 45-3 in areas west of A Street and north of 7th Avenue. Due to interest of having combat crew or individual pictures made by an aircraft, one will be located at an identified area for this purpose. The film will be developed through the facilities of the Post Exchange." June 22, 1944
Members of the Armed Forces on leave were previously limited to 5-gallons of gasoline for the entire length of the leave. A new policy to be adapted soon will allow 5-gallons for the first 3-days and 1-gallon per day for the remainder of the leave. July 22, 1944
Soldiers and their families who were part of the field garrison prior to January 1, 1943 celebrated with a reunion at Chickasaw Lake Club, northeast of Ardmore. They were at AAAFld when water was rationed, when heavy rains flooded the area, and when various section areas were undeveloped. Their original organization inluded 902nd Quartermaster, 4035th Ordinance, Medics and 418th Headquarters Air Base Squadron. July 22,1944.
Base billeting officials ask Ardmoreites that rental property rates be reasonable and not be increased for soldiers. June 27, 1944.
The Medics had a Section party at the Chickasaw Lake Club, east of Ardmore, July 21, 1944. Pfc. Alvy C. Payne and Pfc. Jon S. Hargrave provided musical entertainment at the outing. The Chickasaw Lake Club was a popular place to have base get-to-gethers.
Administration, Section A, Squadron outing and picnic will be held July 26, 1944 at the Vendome, Sulphur, Oklahoma. Starting at noon, transportation will leave the USO at Ardmore at noon, 3PM and 7:30PM for enlisted men, their wives and girl friends. GI transportation will leave A Orderly Room every hour on the hour until 8PM, starting at noon. Swimming and dancing will be popular features. Young women from Ardmore, Sulphur and other nearby points are invited. "If you have your own girl, bring her!" Food will be provided by cooks under direction of S/Sergeant William J. Glivic, mess sergeant. July 22, 1944
WAC company arrives at AAAFld (222nd) under leadership of Captain Elizabeth A. Hunter. They were quartered in the barracks formerly occupied by the 46th BOTW administrative offices. They operated their own mess and administrative offices. July 25, 1944.
Nine Germans made a forced landing in Spain in a B-17 US Flying Fortress. The aircraft bore German markings and appeared to have been patched together with parts of Allied planes that had crashed in Germany. The crew were interned as POWs. July 29, 1944.
Baseball ends as "Bombers" disband for the season. Captain G. S. Boley, PT Officer , announced the decision following a 4-game losing streak. July 29, 1944.
Open house was held at the base on the 37th anniversary of the Army Air Force. Attendance was estimated at 3,378 civilians. The "Battle of Britian" played to a packed house in the base theater at 1:30PM as the first feature of the day. A mass flight of 18 B-17s demonstrated a bomb run at 2.30PM, along with take-off and landing procedures. Visitors lingered along the flight line, visiting the link trainer exhibit and other points of interest open to public viewing. August 1, 1944.
Five aerial combat veterans of the South Pacific and European theater now training combat crews at Ardmore were decorated August 1, 1944 before thousands attending the Open House celebration of the Air Forces' 37th anniversary. Captain John A. Gay, Chicago, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster and Silver Oak Leaf Cluster to his previously earned Air Medal. Captain Gay, navigator on a B-17, "participated in an extremely hazardous combat mission against the Japs in the South Pacific."Captain Samuel M. Slaten, B-17 bombardier, Courtland, Alabama received a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster each to his Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal previously awarded "while serving as group bombardier with the 8th AF on a mission over Germany, the formation was subjected to determined fierce attacks by German fighters which continued until the approach to the objective. Captain Slaten manned the nose guns courageously fighting off vicious frontal attacks. Inspite of intense accurate anti-aircraft fire, Captain Slaten, knowing the bombing effort of the entire group depended on his accuracy, cooly and skillfully released his bombs directly on the target. His courage and exceptional skill aided in causing vast destruction to an important enemy installation."Lieutenant Curtis K. Campbell, Princeton, Texas received the Air Medal and three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters for "courageous action as crewman with the 8th Bomber Command on 15 heavy bombardment missions over enemy occupied Europe." One of the clusters was awarded for "coolness and skill in shooting down an enemy plane." T/Sgt. Charles B. Schreiner, Denver, Colorado received the Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal previously presented for "meritorious achievement while participating in five separate bomber missions over Continental Europe." S/Sgt. Wayne E. Wertz, Mt. Shasta, California, former B-17 waist gunner, received the Air Medal and two Silver Oak Leaf Clusters "for his combat service with the 12th Air Force and North African Strategic Air Force." He was credited with destroying an enemy fighter at 23,000-feet altitude. Decorating officer was Colonel H. H. Upham, station commander, with Major R. G. Boyd, executive officer, as commander of troops in the review.
AAAFld firemen help fight Cotton Oil Mill and Traders Compress fire in Ardmore. August 2, 1944.
Three AAAFld soldiers die in truck collision, two others and a civilian butane gas transport driver were critically injured. Those killed instantly in the crash, which occured four miles north of Ardmore near the Caddo Creek bridge, were Cpl. Alfred E. Ott, 36, Waucoma, Iowa, Pfc. Jess L. Jones, 19, Germantown, Tennessee, Pfc. Maleon M. Stanford, 23, Warsaw, North Carolina; seriously injured were Pfc. James Silwinski, Gundalk, Maryland, Pvt. Archie Nimmer, Dermott, Arkansas, civilian Ward Crumb, 26, Ardmore. The other seven soldiers in the half-ton army truck were hospitalized but not believed to be seriously injured. Fast Forward Note: Pvt. Archie Nimmer died a few days later. The 12 soldiers in the truck had delivered a convoy of vehicles to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The butane truck was almost empty and no fire occurred. Note: Other soldiers were killed or seriously injured in auto accidents during their tour at AAAFld but were not on duty at the time of death. Note: Since these men were on official duty, they have been included on the "In Memory Of" remembrance page and are listed on the granite monument near the airpark entrance. August 3, 1944.
"Fourth Wreck Victim Dies" "Death on Sunday afternoon of Pvt. Archie Nimmer, 25 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Minnie Nimmer, Dermott, Arkansas, brought to four the fatalities in a head-on truck crash of last Thursday afternoon near Caddo creek bridge. Ardmore Army Air Field announced the death of the soldier at the field hospital to which he and eight injured companions were moved immediately after the accident. Three soldiers were instantly killed in the crash. The 12 soldiers were en route to the field in a half ton army truck. It crashed almost head-on with a butane gas transport driven by Ward Crumb, Ardmore. Crumb, who has been in serious condition with severe head injuries, was reported to be making some improvement on Tuesday at Hardy sanitarium. His condition has been extremely grave and he is still regarded as being in danger." Daily Ardmoreite, August 6, 1944
Approximately 40,000 Army nurses have become officers of the US Army acquiring full military status for the first time since founding in 1901 by act of Congress. They will now have the same status and pay as other officers. Commissions in the present rank will be forthcoming unless they decline appointment. August 6, 1944
A B-26 crew with the 394th Bombardment Group, 585th Squadron, stationed at Ardmore for a short period of five weeks in 1943, was listed as missing in action in France, August 7, 1944. The military record of crew member S/Sgt. Donald W. Short, a gunner on the aircraft, is listed on the site. Note: The pilot, navigator, co-pilot and bombardier were not the men shown in the crew picture on this link. The day the plane was downed by flak at La Boissiere, France, the crew included Major Clinton Lee, pilot, 1st Lt.Richard Parsons, co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Arthur Thornton, navigator, Captain Bjarne Tangen, bombardier, Sgt. John Waite, gunner, S/Sgt. Albert Kahler, engineer, S/Sgt. Donald Short, gunner and T/Sgt. Franck Drapola, radio operator. The wife of Captain Bjarne Tangen relates her story in "This I Remember..." about how this crash not only touched family and friends in America but also those of the French village where they crashed.
Dornick Hills Country Club and Army Officers Club destroyed by fire. Employee Bobby Lively, 19, dies in fire and Cpl. Robert W. Gallup, AAAFld, was injured in his jump from the building. The Army had leased the club in May of 1944. August 8, 1944. Fast Forward Note: After investigation by County Attorney Rutherford Brett and authorities, Cpl. Gallup was arrested and charged with murder. He was turned over to the Army and tried by a military court. The conclusion of that body was that Cpl. Gallup was innocent of the charge.
"The war is costing Uncle Sam $170,000 a minute, or $2,837 a second. Freedom has its price. Keep buying Bonds!" so proclaimed a first-page banner in "Bombs Away." August 12, 1944.
Bombs Away, the weekly newspaper, had a column entitled "G. I. Speaks." A different question was asked each week to several individuals in a base unit. The August 12, 1944 question to the WAC Detachment was "How Do You Like Your Job Assignment?" The answer given by Pvt. Pauline T. Normandy, Greenfield, Massachusetts, "When I enlisted in the WAC, I had hoped to be placed as a switchboard operator but apparently classification saw fit to make a weather observer of me as that is what I am now learning to be. Of course, at first I was disappointed, but now I am glad, for I have learned a new type of work and I believe when the war is over it will stand me in good stead. Last, but most certainly not least, I am doing an important part in helping to speed victory." Another feature called "Suggestion Box-Here's the Answer" gave soldiers the opportunity to voice complaints or offer suggestions. Someone who knew, answered as to how the Army saw the problem or why "it" had to be done that way. The soldier's picture accompanied their comment. An "Outstanding Soldier of the Week" and B-17 "Crew of the Week" were also featured.
T/Sgt. Joseph C. Moravcik (Chicago, Illinois), Training Sec. E (Group 3, S-2), American Red Cross life saving instructor, helped save the life of a 5-year-old Ardmore boy at Whittington Park pool. The boy's father pulled him from the water and artificial respiration was performed by the pool guard and Moravcik. Moravcik was a life guard at Turner Falls. August 26, 1944.
First Soldier of the Month from WAC, Sec. B, was first cook, Pfc. Veda L. McCain, Turkey, Texas. The recognition earned McCain a 3-day pass. August 26, 1944.
Two olive drab GI buses transported passengers over two fixed routes over the base. The buses carried 29 seated passengers and a 40 passenger peak load. They operated on a 20-minute schedule with the PX as a transfer point. August 26, 1944.
The first AAAFld soldier to be discharged to return to the "skilled-labor-short" tire industry was Sgt. Harry Hanna, Wadsworth, Ohio. He served as a cook, Trng. Sec. E. Workers with his former skills, tire worker, were desperately needed in production of heavy duty truck and bus tires. He returned to his former employer in Akron, Ohio. August 26, 1944
Time-In-Grade for officers was extended. For promotion to grade of Colonel, 18 months (formerly 12 months); Lt. Colonel, 15 months (previously nine months); Major, 12 months (formerly nine months); Captain, nine months (formerly six months); First Lieutenant, six months, (unchanged). Time outside the US and in Alaska will be counted as 1/ 1/2 time. August 26, 1944.
Army Air Force combat veterans are returned to the US at the rate of 5,000 per month. Ninety-four percent of the returnees are officers including pilots, bombardiers and navigators; Eighty-two percent of returning EM include aerial gunners and radio operators. They may be assigned similar combat-seasoned positions in the US training others or be reassigned to combat at a later date. August 26, 1944.
Mrs. C. G. Eisenhart, Culbertson, Nebraska, has six sons in military service, three of them are colonels. Colonel Donald W. Eisenhart, former CO at Ardmore, now commands the B-29 Heavy Bombardment Group Training at McCook Army Air Field, Nebraska. Another is deputy commander at Airman, Nebraska. The third is CO of the Four Engine Air School at Maxwell Air Field, Florida. September 9, 1944
The Veteran's Administration is now the world's largest life insurance company. It has policies worth $117,670,000 covering men and women in service. August 26, 1944.
Lt. Edward F. Neu and Lt. Harold R. Stock, former AAAFld crew members, missing over Germany since September 15, 1944. October 19, 1944.
A veteran Fortress tail-gunner of 33 missions in the ETO, S/Sergeant Jerold L. Lindsey (23), returned to AAAFld as a combat experienced Gunnery Section instructor. Prior to going to England, Lindsey, from Loveland, Oklahoma, received his aerial combat training with Crew 206, B Section from November 1, 1943 to January 31, 1944. He flew with the 8th AF over Germany on bombing missions from February 22 to July, 1944. After receiving a leg wound and recovering, he reported for duty at AAAFld September 6, 1944. He is recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. September 16, 1944.
WACs Ann Carpenter, Ethel Levine, and Cpl. Helen A. Fields were control tower operators detached to Ardmore Army Air Field from the Army Airways Communication System (AACS). September, 1944 Fast Forward Note: An interesting account of one of Helen's early experiences at AAAFld is available in "This I Remember...."
Approximately 262,000,000,000 cigarettes to be produced in 1944 (probably will have killed more men, women and children in the next 50 years than WWII). October 20, 1944 Fast Forward Note: The American Medical Association states deaths related to smoking cigarettes exceed 438,000 annually in the United States; in developed countries of the world, the death rate for smokers recently exceeded 4.9 million people. In addition to being responsible for 87% of lung cancers, smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, uterine, cervix, kidney and bladder. Approximately half of smokers die in middle age (35-69), losing an average of 20 to 25 years of life expectancy. After September 11, 2001, we have closed buildings, taken antibiotics, worn protective clothing around contaminated areas---yet we still stick a cigarette in our mouth, draw the smoke into our lungs, and let the kids in the car or house draw in their share, caring not that this device has killed and will kill far more people, past and present, than anthrax, WMD or IEDs ever will! Based on the above figures, an estimated 1,200 people die daily in the US (13,500 worldwide) from cigarette associated illnesses. Politicians wanting to place blame on the Bush administration for daily deaths in the Iraq Freedom Campaign, never compared Iraq causalities to cigarette death figures. Not until late November 2004, did this war's deaths equal one day's US citizen loss to the cigarette. As of August 10, 2005, 1,841 battle deaths had not equaled two days of smoking associated deaths. Estimated battle deaths on the third anniversary of the war (March 20, 2006) was 2,313, far from equaling three years of deaths (1.3 million) associated with cigarettes in the US. After four years (March 20, 2007), the death count has reached 3,200 compared to 1,720,000 for cigarettes. Battle deaths at the five-year date, March 20, 2008, were 3,991 (2.1/day of conflict) compared to 2,190,000 deaths for cigarettes (1,200/day). At the time of pull-out of battle troops in August 2010, deaths totaled 4,416. Cigarettes are estimated to have killed this many US occupants in 3.7 days. As of June 6, 2011, 43 more have died in Iraq, bringing the number to 4,459, still within the 3.7 days range for deaths from smoking. In 10 years, an estimated 4,380,000 people in the United States, legals and illegals, are no longer with us.
The "Bombers," the base softball team, wins state and regional title but lost to the Columbus Auditors and Tip-Top Tailors at the Nationals in Cleveland, Ohio. September 18, 1944.
Follow the experiences of a B-17 crew (Brown's Clowns) that trained at AAAFld, April-June, 1944, were assigned to the United Kingdom and flew 30 combat missions over Europe.
Two grandsons of 2nd Lt. Charles Edward Brumback, a navigator who became part of a combat crew at Ardmore and died in combat April 19, 1944 over Germany, have an interesting account on the Internet of his life before and after leaving Ardmore Army Air Base. Google for the Brumback website.
Another former B-17 pilot, Don Miller, whose crew assembled and trained at Ardmore, has an oral history account of his WWII experience during training and combat. His Flying Fortress crew's contact with Gene Autry's Flying A Ranch was a bit unique!
If Don Miller's account whetted your appetite, read (one a day with your vitamin) what 52 other WWII veterans related to 5th and 6th grade students at the Nieman Enhanced Learning Center, Shawnee Mission, Kansas. A "Salute" to the students, teachers and veterans for preserving a part of our American heritage!!!
The Salvage and Reclamation Department, Maintenance F, bales all paper and cardboard materials from the base and delivers it in truckload lots to OK Iron and Metal in Ardmore. Averaging about two truckloads a month, a check for the material is made out to the Treasury of the United States.
Former B-17 combat crew member John E. Peterson visited the base June 17, 2001 to refresh old memories. His first time back, it had been 56 years since he was here training as a 19 year-old waist gunner. He said he stood on the flight ramp that Monday looking across the field and remembered once again the tremendous sound the B-17s made as they started their engines prior to a training flight. When the war in Europe ended, his B-17 crew was dissolved at Ardmore and they were shipped elsewhere to train as B-29 crew members. By the time he was retrained as a B-29 gunner, Japan had surrendered. John E. Peterson retired from the AF in 1970.
Three crew members were killed and six parachuted to safety, Sunday, September 24, 1944 in a B-17G (42-102410) 11:30AM crash four miles north of Ardmore on the O. F. Kramer farm. This was the second aircraft to crash on the Kramer farm. According to the accident report, nine men parachuted after No. 1 engine blew a cylinder at around 2000 feet on the downwind leg of the landing pattern and caught fire. Three of the nine who parachuted died in their survival attempt. The engineer accidentally dropped his chute overboard and exited the aircraft on the back of the co-pilot. When the co-pilot's chest chute opened, the engineer lost his grip and perished. The navigator's chute was only fastened on one side of the harness and failed to open properly. For some unknown reason, the top turret gunner-assistant engineer was last to leave the aircraft at an altitude too low for the chute to fully open. The aircraft crashed nose first and exploded on impact. The crew included 2nd Lt. James E. Wilsey, pilot; 2nd Lt. Joseph E. Aaron; co-pilot; Lt. Stanley Parsell navigator; Cpl. Donald L. Cooper, engineer; Pfc. Melbourne Roy Rieke, assistant engineer-gunner; Cpl. Kermit W. Dunn, radio operator; Cpl. David D. Fowler, gunner; Pfc. George B. Christopher, gunner and Pfc. Robert D. Armstrong, radio-gunner This I Remember..." contains a personal account of the pilot who was later assigned three of the surviving crew from this aircraft.
Warrant Officer Calvin L. Sherwood, Adjutant, Maintenance, Section F, has 24 years service; thought to be longest service time on base. September 30, 1944.
Twenty-one-year-old Dana Marie Gartman, Blum, TX was the petite chauffeur for Colonel H. H. Upham. September 30, 1944.
The Post Field Theater No. 1 (1 of the best) was a self-supporting unit that showed the latest films about 30 days before civilians had them. The theater had the latest projection equipment; admission was 15 cents. It had a seating capacity of 602 and was considered a medium sized theater (56' x 143') for bases. They had four performances a day, three when opening February 14, 1943. It had leather covered seats and a cooling system. Average attendance for mornings was 150, matinee 250, first evening show 550 and 235 for the last show. Average income for a week was $1,000. The theater paid its own electricity, telephone and part-time labor expense. Leftover funds were sent to the U. S. Army Motion Picture Service, Washington, DC, who furnished equipment and technical assistance. Surplus funds from USAMPS were redistributed to posts and bases in the US. The latest films were provided by a Dallas, Texas firm under government contract. They also provided help in keeping equipment functioning properly. October 7, 1944.
According to General H. H. (Hap) Arnold, Commanding General, AF, lack of fuel has grounded many German aircraft and has resulted in a lack of training for new pilots. October 12, 1944.
Fast Forward Note: A lot of memories of Ardmore were soon forgotten by men and women who served here during WWII and the Korean Conflict. One that probably remains was the delicious fried-onion smell and taste of Ernest Brown's hamburgers and his wife, Lillian's, delicious pies served at the Hamburger Inn. In October 2002, the remaining five members of a ten member B-17 crew that trained at Ardmore in late 1944, returned for perhaps their last reunion as a crew. They, and their wives, had been meeting on five year intervals at various places in the US since the early 50s. One year they visited their place of station in England. But never where it all began---Ardmore. When I was privileged to be with them, the former co-pilot, Storrs Clough, said, " I remember a hamburger place where my wife and I use to eat---I still remember the smell and taste of those fried-onion burgers." "If it still exists, we have got to go there!" I told them "It's still here but moved across the street in 1956 to a new building, twice the size of the one when you were here. Mr. Brown was no longer the owner but his speciality was still being enjoyed as it was in the 40s." The Hamburger Inn was added to their "must visit again" list while in Ardmore. While Ardmore Army Air Field was training B-17 combat crews at capacity, Mr. Brown stayed open 24-hours, closing only on Sunday. Ernest O. Brown, the man who captured the taste buds of thousands with his fried onion burgers, departed this life, January 13, 2003.
General U. G. Ent, Commanding General, 2nd AF, Colorado Springs, Colorado, was severely injured October 10, 1944 in a take-off accident in a B-25 at Fort Worth, Texas. The co-pilot misinterpreted a signal from Ent and raised the landing gear before the plane was at adequate flying speed. The plane settled to the runway with wheels up sending a propeller blade through the fuselage severing muscles and nerves from his back and spine. Treatment was at Brooks General Hospital, San Antonio, Texas. None of the other six crewmen were injured.
A group of British air cadets from the British Flying Training School, Miami, Oklahoma, flying AT-6s, dropped in from a routine training flight. The flight training school was located at the Miami Airport. Fast Forward Note: Fifteen graves of young Royal Air Force pilots killed while training are in the Grand Army of the Republic cemetery located approximately a mile north of the former flight training center. The flying school was provided by Spartan School of Aviation of Tulsa, Oklahoma. October 14, 1944.
Field jacket or fatigue blouse art is not allowed on any item of uniform according to War Department, circular 365. October 14, 1944.
The charge for bus transportation from the base to Highway 77 (six miles west of the base) was ten cents. Some complained that this was too much. Comparing bus charges at other stations per mile, Ardmore was the lowest. Bus charges to Ardmore had been reduced earlier from 25 cents to 20 cents at the request of AAAFld officials. October 14, 1944
Perrin Field trainer crashes six miles east of Madill, Oklahoma at 10PM killing two airmen, Cadets Clinton M. Jacobs, and Carlton L. Mullis, 537th AAFBU, 32nd Flying Training Wing. Death was attributed to crushed skulls. October 23, 1944
Ardmore Army Air Field was saluted by the Don McNeal Breakfast Club radio program, October 10, 1944. A "march around the breakfast table" feature accompanied by band music was dedicated to the Ardmore field. Don McNeal and Nancy Martin, the program's vocalist, commented on the praise given the base by Jack Baker, a former singer on the program, after his earlier visit to the field. Many men at the field listened to the broadcast having been informed that the base would be honored. The Blue Network broadcast the program over KVSO, Ardmore. The Breakfast Club has been invited to present a program from the field. October 24, 1944
Battleship "Oklahoma" sunk December 7, 1941, raised and dry docked March-December 1943, decommissioned forever September 1, 1944. Fast Forward Note: Young Ardmore native, Seaman First Class Billy Turner, 18, died on the "Oklahoma." He enlisted in the Navy January 30, 1939. He was the first Carter County casualty of the war. A street in the Frensley addition in NE Ardmore was named in his honor. October 25, 1944.
Lt. Robert O. Downs, 27, said to be the first American to cross into Germany, was killed in action in France, October 20, 1944.
Weather spotters system set up to detect tornados; used 24 civilian spotters within a 25-mile radius of the base. October 28, 1944.
10,000th Fortress goes to Air Force from Seattle, Washington Boeing factory. October 24, 1944
Servicemen and women in 11 states are expected to swing the margin of victory to either President Roosevelt or Governor Thomas E. Dewey in the nation-wide elections November 7, 1944, according to political observers in Washington, DC. More than 4,300,000 soldiers and service women have applied for absentee ballots. October 27, 1944 Fast Forward Note: Sound familar???
Approximately 10,490 draft dodgers have gone to jail in last four years according to the FBI. October 24, 1944. Fast Forward Note: The men who fled to Canada and other places to avoid the Korean Conflict and war in Vietnam shared the same vein of patriotism as these. They should be officially recognized in their hometowns and workplaces for what they did for their country.
Eight RAF Typhoon pilots received official credit for fatally wounding Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, the famed Desert Fox, after bombing a farmhouse near Caen, July 7, 1944. They reported they had raked an important looking staff car with 20MM cannons. November 4, 1944.
Major General Hoyt Vandenberg, 9th AF Commanding General, visited Homesley South Air Field, Bournesmouth, England, November 4, 1944, and presented Silver Stars and Distinguished Flying Crosses to deserving individuals and crews. Major Clinton Lee, pilot and Captain Bjarne Tangen, bombardier, 394th Bombardment Group, Squadron 586, who died August 7, 1944, near La Boissiere, France, were granted theirs posthumously. Fast Forward Note: French citizens from La Boissiere honored the Lee crew by erecting a monument near the Notre Dame Church of La Boissiere in 1998 after learning the names of the crew they buried in a common grave near the church in 1944. An annual mass is held each August 7 to remember the men. The wife of Captain Tangen contributes her memories of the monument dedication and the 394th’s effort in preserving our freedom in “This I Remember….”
Enlisted men promotions tightened by 2nd AF according to Major General U. G. Ent, Commanding General. Regulation (35-4C, Oct. 6, 1944) states prospective Master Sergeants will need at least one hash mark and a year in grade as a Technical Sergeant. Privates will need at least five-months in the Army, one of which must be in grade of Private-First-Class before becoming a Corporal (NCO). Before gaining three stripes, Corporals need nine months in the Army with four months in grade of Corporal. Sergeants must have 15-months Army time, six of which must be in grade of Sergeant before becoming a Staff Sergeant. Before becoming a Technical Sergeant, they must have two years in the Army and nine months as Staff Sergeant. Master Sergeants must complete a full-hitch with one year as Technical Sergeant. Grade levels are established for certain Military Occupational Specialities (MOS). Eleven MOS levels cannot exceed the Master Sergeant level. November 4, 1944
The 702nd Ardmore AAFld Band had a 17-piece "Show Band" which played engagements at other military or naval installations on special occasions. The "Sky Pilots" turned out music for GIs and their partners. November 4, 1944
Major General U. G. Ent was presented the Legend of Merit by General Henry H. Arnold at Brooks General Hospital, San Antonio, Texas. The award was for Ent's outstanding success in organizing the heavy bombardment program for the 20th Air Force against Japan. Ent was critically injured in an aircraft crash at Ft. Worth, Texas. November 6, 1944.
Col. James R. Luper, former 2nd in command at AAAFld, declared missing in action over Germany since October 7, 1944. Several were seen bailing out of the aircraft. November 7, 1944. Fast Forward Note: On January 4, 1944, after leaving Ardmore, Colonel Luper took command of the 457th Bomb Group from Colonel Hugh O. Wallace. The 457th left Grand Island, Nebraska, January 17, 1944, for England. On October 7, 1944, Luper was flying with Captain Al Fischer's crew (trained at Ardmore) on a bomb run as Air Group Commander when they were hit killing Fischer and five others. Luper and three parachuted and became POWs. ("Killed in the lead craft were the pilot, Captain Alfred W. Fischer, the Group Bombardier, Captain Henry P. Loades and the Group Flight Surgeon, Major Gordon H. Haggard. Additionally, the flight engineer, Sgt. John W. Koehler, Lt. Edward A. McNeal, and Sgt. Ancil V. Shepherd were also killed. The leader of Luper's Super Troopers, Col. James Rhea Luper, who had led his troops into combat, was a prisoner of war for the duration." Copied from 457th Bomb Group website.) After the war, he became Chief of Security for the Strategic Air Command. While returning from an inspection tour in 1953, his Douglas B-26 crashed in icing weather conditions at Omaha, Nebraska killing all aboard.
Ardmore Army Air Field's proud boast, "Here Train the Men Who Fly and Fight," was reaffirmed in a letter from an unidentified pilot who trained at Ardmore and was now in combat. The letter was received by the Director of Training, 222nd Combat Crew Training School. "I flew the '5-Grand' (5,000th B-17 manufactured) over. Had a good trip, plenty of instruments though. We really split up at Replacement, I ended up as the only Ardmore crew to be sent to this outfit. We went right to work and I wouldn't call more than one of my missions a real milk run. Have in seven now and really feel like an old veteran. Have limped home on a couple of occasions---one with two and a quarter engines. Funny how a man's ideas change about flying these kites when he gets here. Although we didn't suffer any damage to the ship outside of termites, I consider my second mission the roughest. We were really hit by fighters---sure am proud of my crew. They are even more on the ball than when we were there (Ardmore). I want to pat you men on the back. Since flying next to other crews, I realize now that you have given us the best possible training for combat. Sure appreciate it. Must have done some good too, for we were chosen to be a lead crew. The CO called me in, said I had the best damn crew that he has seen come over in some time. Thanks to you men. Can't give any new suggestions for we fly much as in Ardmore. Only on oxygen a hell of a lot longer." November 4, 1944 Fast Forward Note: The 5,000th B-17G was 43-37716 delivered to Cheyenne, Wyoming (Casper Army Air Field), May 15, 1944 and assigned to Kearney Army Air Field, Nebraska, August 30, 1944. From there it was flown by the above pilot/crew to England where it was assigned to the 388th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, Snetterton. The aircraft was signed by all the factory workers. Surviving the war, it returned to the US, June 14, 1945. Unger and his co-pilot later became P-51 pilots and were known as Mutt and Jeff due to the tallness of Unger and shortness of the co-pilot, Jacobson. Their aircraft were named “Mutt” and “and Jeff.
Crude oil price ranged from .85 to $1.25 per barrel according to quality. November 7, 1944.
Franklin D. Roosevelt re-elected President by large margin, Harry S. Truman, VP, November 7, 1944.
Major General Robert B. Williams (43) replaces Major General U. G. Ent, 2nd AF Commander, who received paralyzing spinal cord injury in a take-off crash October 10, 1944. November 1944. Fast Forward Note: General Ent was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. As he improved in strength, he devoted his time toward developing support devices for paraplegics, some of which were approved and manufactured. Ent died in March 1948 from an infection of the leg caused by a burn from a hot water bottle placed there by a nurse. Looking Back: An Internet article about the history of Bettis Field, Pennsylvania gives the following account of a balloon race in which Lt. U. G. Ent was a participant. " Barnstorming and air racing highlighted aviation during the Twenties. Bettis Field was the site of frequent air shows during its existence. The novelty of aviation drew large crowds to the shows. One of the largest took place on May 31, 1928 when the National Elimination Balloon Races were held at Bettis Field. According to reports more than 150,000 people jammed the field, the largest crowd ever to witness an air event in Pittsburgh. More than 25,000 cars were parked and traffic was backed to Carson Street on the Southside. The 14 entrants got the weather go-ahead and lifted off at 6 p.m. Within a half hour a thunderstorm brewed and the crowd dispersed. The balloons were caught in the middle and a number of them were struck by lightning and went down. Army balloon No. 3 was hit near Youngwood, PA and Lt. Paul Evert died in the crash. Lt. U.G. Ent parachuted to safety."
No more doctors needed in the Army; the Navy still has urgent need for 3,000 medical officers. The Army has about 47,000 physicians on duty, the Navy has fewer than 13,000. December 2, 1944
Mrs. Barbara Barnes, Los Angeles, California, is the new Service Club No. 1 hostess. She is the wife of T/Sgt. Francis E. Barnes, Training Section E, veteran radio operator crewman of the ETO. Both are former west coast vocalists in musical comedies, operas, moving pictures and radio. December 2, 1944
Colonel Robert Edward Northcutt replaced Colonel H. H. Upham as commanding officer November 15, 1944. The Colonel was born in Lexington, Oklahoma and is a graduate of Oklahoma A and M College with a degree in engineering. Mrs. Northcutt is the former Mary Jane Finkner, Halethorpe, Maryland. The Northcutts have two chldren. Fast Forward Note: Colonel Upham later served in England becoming the last of six commanders of the 306th Bomb Group, April 6, 1944 through May 1946, when it was inactivated. Colonel Frank A. Armstrong, Jr. was the groups second commander from January 4, 1943 to February 7, 1943. He led the first bombing raid on Wilhemshaven, Germany, January 27, 1943. Colonel Armstrong was the model for the fictional Brigadier General Frank Savage of "Twelve O'Clock High" who temporarily commanded the fictional 918th Bomb Group. The novel was written in 1948 and the story fostered a popular television series that ran for two years.
Cost of war for a single month as estimated by President Roosevelt was $7,500,000,000, roughly $250,000,000 a day. December 3, 1944.
Colonel Moultrie P Freeman, 31, A-3 officer on the commanding general's staff of the Bombardment Operational Training Wing of the 395th Combat Crew Training School was accidentally shot to death December 13, 1944 at Pyote AFB, Texas. On official mission to the base, he was unpacking in the officer's quarters when his pistol discharged killing him instantly.
Many Jewish servicemen at AAAFld have volunteered to work various squadron duties Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so other soldiers could have these Christian holidays off. Many will perform KP and CQ duties on those days. December 16, 1944.
The "big noise" heard each evening at retreat at Headquarter's plot was a 75MM field piece received from Camp Howze, Gainesville, Texas. December 16, 1944.
Mrs. Ross Lipe, Tishomingo, Oklahoma, furnished station hospital patients with 90 pies baked by Mr. and Mrs. Lipes. She is the bakery and cooking instructor for Tishomingo Public Schools. The Lipes have two sons in service, one serving overseas. December 16, 1944
Lt. Douglas L. Deal, was involved in a landing accident, December 29, 1943, as he ground looped a Stinson L-5, single engine aircraft at Ardmore Army Air Base. He was not severely injured but the aircraft, 42-98695, was heavily damaged. The aircraft was assigned to the 418th Headquarters Airbase Squadron. Lt. Deal and his crew were later assigned to the 457th Bomb Group, Glatton Air Field, England. The crew included: Douglas L. Deal, Mark R. Belcher, Jr, William J. Brandt, Roy I. Vaughn, John M. Traylor, Jr, Paul E. Miller, Cedric N. Priest, George W. Emerson, Edward F. Morgan, Donald D. Drumsvold and Lentz M. Lackey. All crew members survived their assigned missions. Fast Forward Note: Several crews that trained at Ardmore were assigned to the 457th Bomb Group. Col. James R. Luper, the Group Commander, was previously atationed at Ardmore, second in command under Brig. General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr. He was flying, October 7, 1944, with Captain Alfred W. Fischer's crew, also from Ardmore, as lead aircraft on a bomb run to Poland. Fischer's plane was severly damaged by flak and went down in flames. Four of the crew that bailed out, including Luper, became POWs. Fischer and five others were KIA.
A note of thanks from the entire Headquarters Squadron Training Section to Post Master Frank Sacco, Cpl. Joe Sacks, and Cpl. Robert Farrington for the excellent manner in which they handled the Yule rush. They put in plenty of overtime to insure everyone received their gift packages on time. December 30, 1944.Fast Forward Note: Bob Farrington and his wife, Virginia, a former AAAFld civilian employee, relate their remembrances of AAAFld in "This I Remember...."
Crew 234, Squadron 2, was involved in an incident, January 8, 1945, when the ball turret door of another B-17G flying above and in front of B-17G, 42-30934, fell off and struck the left horizontal stabilizer. The impact tore a large hole and damaged the leading edge of the stabilizer. 1st Lt. Babe R. Mitchell, instructor pilot, flying from the co-pilot’s seat, was at the controls, at the time the incident occurred. 2nd Lt. Frank E. Welshon, Jr., pilot, had been at the controls prior to the jolt felt by all crew members. When the waist gunner discovered a large hole in the stabilizer, the aircraft left the 10-plane formation and immediately returned to Ardmore. The cause of the jolt and damage was determined later as the other planes returned and B-17G, (42-31962), reported loss of the ball turret door at approximately 1715-hours, Central War Time. Neither aircraft experienced any change in flying characteristics from the door loss and stabilizer damage. 2nd Lt. Frank E. Welshon, Jr.’s crew included: 2nd Lt. James A. Sumpter, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Truman Robinson, navigator; Flight Officer James O. Inman, bombardier; Cpl. James L. Jackson, aerial engineer-gunner; Cpl. Maurice W. Selberg, radio operator-gunner; Cpl Howard H. Wentland, armorer-gunner; Cpl Henry Mangum, Jr. and Cpl. Russell C. Paris, gunner.
A former Ardmore AAFld officer, 22, with 32 combat missions, the Air Medal and DFC was arrested after transfer to Walker Field, Hays, Kansas for the hit and run death of a Norman Naval Base, Oklahoma, sailor near Ada, Oklahoma. The accident happened on Christmas Eve. Brought back to Ardmore AAFld for trail, the Lt, a bombardier instructor, said he thought he had hit a horse. He was passing a vehicle, ran off the left shoulder and struck two sailors and one sailor's wife. Sailor, Machinist Mate Mancos, was killed, his wife and the other sailor injured. The 2nd Lt. left the scene in a 41 Chevy. Using information supplied by an Ada taxi driver, Ardmore AAAFld Assistant Provost Marshal, 1st Lt. C. J. Bredemus, broke the case by arresting two Ardmore soldiers who were also in the car as were two Ada girls. Using information they supplied, the Lt. who had been recently transferred to Walker Field, was arrested and brought back for a five-day Court Marshal trial. He was acquitted of a manslaughter charge but received a discharge from the Army, $2,000 fine and one-year hard labor for leaving the scene. January 9, 1945.
Mrs. Henry H. Arnold, wife of General Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces, visited Ardmore Army Air Field, January 16, 1945. Mrs. Arnold is a special advisor of the War Department and an executive of Dependency Assistance Branch, Public Affairs Division.
US Armed Forces totaled 11,900,000 men and women to date; 8,100,000 are in the army, the rest in the navy, marines and coast guard. January 20, 1945.
Lt. Colonel I. Louis Hoffman was base surgeon of the station hospital. January 20, 1945.
One B-17 tire contains enough pure rubber to make 20 civilian nylon passenger tires. Each aircraft tire had 16 nylon plys. January 27, 1945.
Former chef for the Rockefellers, Sgt. Christodoulos "Chris" G. Lambis, 37, Brooklyn, New York native, worked at the Rockfellers' Tarrytown, New York summer home from May-September, 1935, with two cooks, two bakers, and six "KPs" working under his supervision. At AAAFld, he cooks and bakes nights in A's mess hall feeding 300 men three times daily. Born in Cypress, he came to New York City in 1930. He came to Ardmore with the 418th Air Base Glider Squadron in December 1942. January 27, 1945
Four Ardmore aircraft were flying, February 23, 1945, in an echelon formation on an air-to-air gunnery training mission over Galveston Bay, Texas. The aircraft departed Ardmore Army Air Field at 1350 hours and flew to the Galveston Air to Air Gunnery Practice Range at an altitude of 14,000 feet in a diamond formation. 2nd Lt. Lawrence H. Hannah was piloting B-17G, 42-102417. Upon reaching the range, the formation changed to echelon, to the right and up. While in this formation at approximately 14,000 feet, B-17G, 42-102417, occupied Number 3 position up. The gunners of each aircraft fired at the towed target as appropriate opportunities occurred as it flew among the four aircraft. After coming down from altitude, Lt. Schuster, the co-pilot, who was riding in the nose of the aircraft, reported finding three holes in the right side of the navigation compartment. Two were on the right side rear of the navigator’s compartment and one about a foot and a half below the co-pilots seat. When the aircraft landed at Ardmore after the six hour, ten minute flight, damage to the Number 3 engine propeller and right inboard wing fairing was observed. A portion of a 50-caliber bullet and the butt end of a 50-caliber case were found inside the aircraft after they reached Ardmore. The reason for the holes in the aircraft was assumed to be from the propeller striking ejected 50-caliber casings and at least one bullet. The damages made by the projectiles were rated as reparable and assumed to have been the result of a problem with the chin turret when guns were fired in certain positions. The bombardier, 2nd Lt. Robert W. Myers, who was firing the chin turret guns on Hannah’s aircraft, reported that he had discharged several rounds trying to correct a malfunction while in the echelon formation. The crew and instructors on B-17G, 42-102417, included: 1st Lt. James N. Twibell, instructor pilot; 2nd Lt. Lawrence H. Hannah, 23, pilot; 2nd Lt. James R. Shuster, co-pilot; Capt. Earl A. Radford, navigator; 2nd Lt. Robert W. Myers, bombardier; Cpl. Richard A. Page, radio operator-gunner; Cpl. George E. Smith, top turret gunner; and S/Sgt. Harold L. Hahn, instructor gunner. They were assigned to Group 1 and designated as Crew 137, 222nd Combat Crew Training School.
"Winged Victory" was showing at the base theater, Thursday-Friday, January 25-26, 1945. The picture stared Lon McAllister, Jeanne Crain, and Edmond O'Brien. Paramount News No. 41 was also showing. Admission .15.
Dornick Hills Country Club to be reorganized and rebuilt. February 25, 1945.
Flight Officer Gene Autry surprised 400 4H and FFA club exhibitors by appearing unannounced in his uniform at their banquet at First Methodist Church. Few recognized him until introduced by Hardy Murphy. He spoke briefly, played his guitar and sung several songs. His band could not make the event due to high water in the area. March 16, 1945.
Ardmore AAFld's new insignia will be placed on sale at the PX as soon as they are received from the manufacturer, according to Lt. Clyde Williams, PX Officer. The new insignia may be worn by members of the command on flight jackets, field jackets, coveralls and work uniforms and may be painted on planes permanently assigned to this field. It may also be used as decorations in field buildings. The design for the patch was conceived by Pfc. Richard E. Walton, Moscow, Idaho, formerly of Squadron E and now with the infantry. His entry was chosen from 19 submitted in a contest that won him a $25 War Bond. March 31, 1945. Fast Forward Note: It is doubtful that a patch depicting an American Indian could be selected today in this time of "political correctness."
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died at Warm Springs, Georgia. Harry S. Truman, VP, sworn in as President, April 12, 1945.
On April 11, 1943, Aviation Cadet Ralph E. Gunnels, 23, Galveston, Texas, cleared from Perrin Field, Sherman, Texas on a solo student navigation flight to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, to Gainesville, Texas and return to Perrin Field. At approximately 2300 Central War Time (CWT) his aircraft, BT- 13A (41-11546), crashed and burned about 15 miles southeast of Ardmore, Oklahoma. Mr. Clyde W. Cocks, Park Ranger, Lake Murray State Park, Ardmore, stated that he heard the plane circle about four times, heard the explosion and saw the resulting fire. He stated that at that time there was a large thunder cloud overhead with a good deal of lightning activity but no precipitation.
Ernie Pyle, well-known and well-liked war correspondent, killed by sniper gun fire on Ie Shima. April 18, 1945. Fast Forward Note:This little island played an important part in the final surrender signings by the Japanese and General Douglas MacAuthur.
Mussolini is shot to death. April 30, 1945.
The Red Cross mobile canteen service was discontinued at AAAFld May 1, 1945. The much appreciated service had served 17,324 men on the line at night since January 8, 1945, according to Robert Manlove, American Red Cross field director. The men had been served 1609 dozen cookies, 1264 gallons of coffee, 713 cans of cream and 379 pounds of sugar. The cookies were all "home-made" while the other food stuffs were from army stocks. The canteen corps was headed by Mrs. George Davis and Jane Naylor, co-chairmen. Individuals working with the canteen included: Kathleen Henry; Pauline Anderson; George Davis; Bess Bondurant; Alicia Whittenburg; Pat O'Tyson; Aileen Flanery; Rachel Hanvey; Earl Marie Johnson; Dorothy Demoss; Alvys Anderson; Mrs. Byron McCharen; Ruth Harris; Bess Wells; Mrs. Ford Whitehurst; Mrs. Harold Pierce; Loretta King; Mary Stallings; Bennie Hix; Mary Gene Wilson; Irma Jean Thompson; Naomi Rollins; Louise Decker; Henrietta Baum; Frances Sparks; Doris Becker; Jerry Newman and Irene Yarger. Thanks for a job well done!
Gadsden, Alabama brothers, M/Sgt. Frederick D. Kroelinger, 28, and Cpl. William N, 33, photo lab technicians, both with prior overseas service, finally got together April 1945, at Ardmore's photo lab. Fred served nine months overseas in wartime with two years pre-war service and Bill served eight month overseas. Their paths took different directions when Bill was transferred from Camp Crowder, Missouri in 1942 to the 4th Photo Charting Squadron and Fred went to the 3rd Photo Mapping Squadron. Bill left Washington, D. C., in March 1943 enroute to his assignment at Laredo, Texas about 15 minutes before Fred arrived in the capitol with his APO outfit. They later had an opportunity to spend a few weeks together at MacDill Field, Florida when Fred returned from an assignment in Alaska while Bill was preparing to leave for South America. The brothers had not served together before although they had a few opportunities to be together for a short time or for a few days. The brothers passed on different trains when going to visit the other on a three day pass. Neither had informed the other of the planned visit. Bill was stationed at Buckley Field, Colorado and Fred was with a B-29 unit in Salina, Kansas. When the mistake was discovered, they did get together in Salina for part of the 3-day pass. Bill said he had printed thousands of Fred's negatives. Fred had logged 1500 flying hours in doing aerial map and "recon" photography since entering the service August 25, 1937. The Kroelinger's father owns a photography studio and they plan to work with him when they become civilians again. Fred survived a plane crash that killed two and injured him on his way to India in November 1943. In June 1944, he was grounded from flying and reclassified as lab chief assigned to Peterson Field, Colorado Springs. He arrived at Ardmore from Peterson Field in April 1945. Bill has served at several bases including Laredo, MacDill Field, Atkinson Field, British Guiana for eight months, then Peterson Field. From there he joined an APO unit at Buckley Field but was disqualified for overseas service. He came to Ardmore from there, October 17, 1944. Rank pulling isn't a problem with the brothers who both work the night shift. Both are married, Fred is the father of a son. May 5, 1945
Weather and maintenance requirements determined how many hours the B-17s were in the air each month. During April 1945, two planes (#410 and #388) were in the air 237 and 221-hours, respectively. The B-17s on base were flown 1905 more hours in April than March. Total hours for all planes flown during April 1945 was not disclosed in the May 6, 1945, "Bombs-Away" article. Using these figures, it might be fair to estimate that individual planes were flown an average of around 200-hours each month.
In May 1945, the War Department initiated a partial demobilization program for military personnel based on a point system. Soldiers impacted favorably were those with the longest combat record, most decorations, and several dependent children. Points counted included: One point for each month of service since September 16, 1940; one point for each month of service outside the continental United States, computed from the day of departure to return to an American port; five points for each battle star and decoration for wounds for which the purple heart was awarded; 12 points for each child under 18-years up to a maximum of three children. Those with 85 points qualified for demobilization application. T/Sgt. John H. Clopper, 33, was among the first veterans at Ardmore Army Air Field to be discharged by the point system. He had one child and 50 combat missions in a B-17 over Italy, Romania, France, Yugoslavia and Germany. He earned the air medal, 10 oak leaf clusters and two battle stars during 33-months of service, eight of them in combat.
Victory in Europe announced by President Harry S. Truman. AAAFld ceases training to observe the event at 11AM. Lt. Colonel Northcutt praises the effort of the men who fought and died to make it happen; 132,000 men died in the European Theater. May 8, 1945.
Along with the good news of Victory In Europe, Lt. Colonel Robert E. Northcutt, base commander, became Colonel Northcutt, May 11, 1945, as he pinned on his "eagles." A southwest Pacific aerial combat veteran, Colonel Northcutt assumed command of AAAFld in November 1944. He is a native of Cement, Oklahoma and is a graduate of Oklahoma A and M College with a degree in engineering. He and Mrs. Northcutt have two children.
Pvts. Grace Juliet White, 21, and Amy Kimbrel White, 20, were the first WAC sisters to be assigned to AAAFld. From Monticello, Arkansas, they were sworn-in simultaneously at Los Angeles, California, February 27, 1945, postponing college at the University of California at Los Angeles. May 19, 1945
Combat pilots formerly employed by the airlines may apply for release for re-employment as airline pilots under Cir. 484, WD 1944. Officers not previously employed as pilots with airlines must confirm employment as pilots with a specific airline to qualify for release. Should the pilots who take these jobs be released by the airlines or voluntarily resign from their civilian jobs, they will be immediately recalled to active duty with the Army Air Force. May 19, 1945
A recent US Government order allowing discharge from federal service of men and women 42-years-of-age and older was of immediate interest to 51 enlisted personnel at AAAFld who were in this age category. Discharge applications were made available to personnel who wanted to return to civilian life. Men who chose to remain in service were advised that the opportunity to leave at a later date would also be possible. The order apparently did not apply to officer personnel as no names of officers on base were among the group listed as qualifying for discharge by age. May 25, 1945.
Lt. Colonel Henry B. Earthman replaced Lt. Colonel Clyde G. Gillespie as base commander in late May 1945.
Tobacco rationing was instigated at AAAFld for cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco. Rationing cards were issued by the PX providing for purchase of six packs of cigarettes, 24 cigars or four ounces of pipe tobacco per week. Snuff and chewing tobacco were not rationed. Dependents were also issued rationing cards. June 9, 1945
Abstracts on file at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, indicate that Ardmore Army Air Field was relieved from assignment to the Second Air Force and assigned to command jurisdiction of the Third Air Force, Third Bomber Command, 89th Combat Crew Training Wing, June 16, 1945. The 222nd Air Forces Combat Crew Training Base Unit was redesignated as the 332nd Combat Crew Training Base Unit (332nd Combat Crew Training School).
Ardmore Army Air Field wins 5th Flying Safety Campaign leading all heavy bomber bases of the 2nd Air Force to earn the flying safety blue ribbon. June 30, 1945
Colonel Raphael Baez, Jr. replaced Earthman as base commander, July 1, 1945.
Squadrons A, W, C, D and O sent laundry to Camp Howze Quartermaster laundry (Gainesville, Texas) on Tuesday of each week. Squadrons H, S, and T sent laundry each Friday. The group taking the laundry brought back the previous groups laundry providing a weeks turn-around in getting the laundry back to AAAFld. Captain H. W. Vanatta, ground supply officer, expected this plan to improve the time situation for the field GIs. June 30, 1945
45th Division to return to US. July 8, 1945.
Camp Howze troops (800-plus) invade Ardmore over weekend. July 9, 1945.
S/Sgt. Harry Gugler was a veteran photographer at the base. He was assigned to AAAFld in 1942 prior to completion of the facilities. Cpl. William (Bill) Kroelinger and brother M/Sgt. Frederick Kroelinger were also base photographers and photo lab technicians. July 22, 1945.
Two crews from Engine Change Department set new field record for a four-engine change on a B-17. The job was completed in 11.5 hours. July 22, 1945.
WACs and husbands in the armed forces may now be granted concurrent furloughs for periods in excess of 15 days whenever practical under provisions of WD Circular No. 17, dated January 13, 1945. July 28, 1945
The Army Air Force reduces number of men training as pilots from a peak of 15,000 to 1,000 per year. Bombardier and navigator training has been reduced to a "token flow" according to General Henry R. "Hap" Arnold, commanding general. July 28, 1945
Colonel Russell J. Potts, commanding officer, Camp Howze, Gainesville, Texas, announced the camp will close August 11, 1945. July 24, 1945.
On July 25, 1945, a B-25 flown by Lt. Colonel William F. Smith, Jr., 457th Bombardment Group, crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building. Colonel Smith and two others died as did 11 civilians in the building. Fast Forward Note: This event, no doubt, came to mind to many who remembered this accident when the first news of September 11, 2001 was released. This writer certainly did---thinking it to be a similar misfortune. Don't we wish it would have been!
Two B-29-A Boeing Super Fortresses from Fairmont Army Air Field, Geneva, Nebraska, were flying in a two-plane formation training flight near Ardmore, Oklahoma, July 29, 1945, at an altitude of 20,000 feet. They had been on a flight from Fairmont AAF to Ft. Worth, Texas and were returning to their home base. Captain Earl W. Pascal, flying 44-87754, in the No. 2 position in the formation, drifted too close to 44-87753, Captain Henry H. Luscomb’s aircraft, hitting the right wing tip of the aircraft with his left wing tip. Captain Pascal immediately pulled off to the right to examine the extent of damage and how it affected the performance of his aircraft. He could not detect any difference in the plane’s flight characteristics and decided to continue the flight to Fairmont AAF after communicating by radio with Captain Luscomb who reported his aircraft also showed no change in flight characteristics. None of either crew was injured and the damaged wing tips were reparable.
Army Air Force consisted of one officer and two enlisted men 38 years ago. August 1, 1945.
AAAFld had an open-house August 1, 1945. The webpage author was fortunate enough to be photographed by a "Bombs Away" photographer.
New bomb wipes out 60% of city of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945.
Atomic bomb destroys much of city of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945.
Between May 12 and July 31, 1945, 235,000 long-service soldiers were released from the Army under the point system. This was an unprecedented happening while a war was still in progress. Another 2,000,000 men and women will be released from the Army by June 1, 1946. August 11, 1945
Japan surrenders unofficially with details to be worked out, August 12, 1945.
Gasoline rationing ends, 7,000,000 to be discharged as soon as possible. August 12, 1945.
Unknown to most Ardmoreites and others, Major Thomas W. Ferebee and Captain Kermit K. Beahan, who dropped the atomic bombs to help end the war, were stationed at Ardmore. Major Thomas W. Ferebee, the bombardier who released the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, was former AAAFld staff bombardier officer and president of the flight officers board. He was stationed at Ardmore from June through September 1944. He served in the Mediterranean theater before coming here and was transferred to Wendover Field, Utahbefore going overseas with the "Enola Gay" crew. He is a native of Mockville, North Carolina. August 12, 1945
The bombardier in the B-29 "Bock's Car", Captain Kermit K. Beahan, was a bombardier officer with Training Section A, 395th Combat Crew Training School, 1943-44. He released the bomb on Nagasaki, August 9, 1945, his 27th birthday. He also transferred to Wendover Field to become part of the B-29 crews eventually stationed on Tinian. For his effort, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Metal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Western Hemisphere Medal and the European Theater Ribbon plus two gold stars. He died March 9. 1989 at age 70. Fast Forward Note: Colonel Ferebee (81) died March 16, 2000 in Windermere, Florida.
Government contracts end, many jobless. August 15, 1945.
Truman sets Day of Prayer for August 19, 1945.
Aircraft workers, 22,000 in Oklahoma, released from jobs. August 17, 1945.
Lt. Colonel Robert C. Lewis, director of flying at AAAFld for 16 months, goes to Ft. Chaffee for discharge. He will fly for Transcontinental Western Airways. August 22, 1945.
First Lt. John C. Goodfellow of 407 Spring St., Fayetteville, New York, was decorated with the air medal and his ninth oak leaf cluster at the presentation ceremony and review on the flight ramp at Ardmore Army Air Field, Oklahoma, Saturday, August 25th. Colonel Paul D. Brown, station commander, pinned the decoration on Lt. Goodfellow "for meritorious achievement while participating in five sorties against the enemy. "The Post-Standard," Manilus, New York. August 29, 1945.
Rye bread (.09/loaf), white bread (.10/loaf), ground beef (.24/lb.), beef roast (.23/lb.), all meat franks (.31/lb.), A&P Food Store. August 30, 1945.
President Truman declares September 2, 1945 as official Victory in Japansurrender day.
380 men at AAAFld get discharges based on point system and are first to go home. September 2, 1945.
45th Divison headed for England from La Hauve, France for shipment to US. September 6, 1945.
AAAFld softball team to play what may be their last game at Raum Field prior to base closing. September 7, 1945
Base gets inactivation notice September 6, 1945 that base will close by September 30. September 7, 1945.
Standard time to resume September 30. Daylight time used since early 1942. September 15, 1945.
Troops begin to leave AAAFld, many go to separation centers at various locations; civilians that qualify may go to Tinker AAB or 8th Service Command Headquarters, Dallas, Texas. September 18, 1945
Senator Robert S. Kerr, Oklahoma, thinks deactivated air fields will become the property of state or cities. September 20, 1945.
All street traffic lights in Ardmore turned on. They were turned off when war was declared except for a trail period for some in heavy traffic areas in recent months. September 24, 1945.
General Patton relieved of command due to his remarks concerning denazification program in Germany. October 2, 1945.
Doc's Drive In opens (formerly Oasis Club), October 3, 1945.
Beatrice Everett Evans, secretary to Red Cross field director at AAAFld since September 1943, transferred to Norman Naval Base, Oklahoma. Robert F. Manlove, field director Red Cross, transferred to Sheppard Field, Wichita Falls, Texas, October 7, 1945.
Only 149 enlisted men, 13 officers, and 200 German war prisoners remain at AAAFld. They are in process of final shut down of all facilities. Colonel Paul A. Zartman reports that 75% of all buildings are closed and cleared of all government equipment. All B-17s, save one that will be dismantled, are gone. Large vans are being loaded daily with crates and equipment being shipped to Tinker Field and other military installations.The base is a virtual "ghost base" having had approximately 10,000 troops during peak wartime occupancy. October 21, 1945.
It is estimated that perhaps as many as 1,300 or more combat crews (13,000 crewmen) were trained at Ardmore from October 1943 through September 1945. This figure is "guessimated" from the 165 or more crews undergoing training when the 1944 yearbook was published. The crews usually completed phase training in three months. Although no official count of B-17s inventoried to AAAFld is available, an aerial photo of the north/south parking-apron indicates parking space for approximately 50 B-17s in 1943. Forty-three aircraft are visible and it is assumed that empty spaces might have been occupied by aircraft on training flights the day the photograph was taken. Additional parking space was available on the east/west apron on the south side of the base, however, the absence of oil spots in that area leads us to believe that it was not normally used for every day parking. A former crew estimated that there might have been as many as 80 B-17s when they were here in late November 1944-February 1945. Fast Forward Note: A story in "Bombs Away," August 12, 1944, related that personnel of the Electrical Department, 3rd Echelon Shops, doing electrical repairs on aircraft were responsible for 68 aircraft plus transient and other planes on the ramp. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records indicate that Ardmore had 71 B-17s as inventory. These records also stated that 168 combat crews were training at any one time. Combat crews completed Phase 3 training on a 5-week graduation schedule among all crews in training.
President Harry S. Truman urges outlawing use of atomic bomb forever. October 28, 1945.
General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr, former commander of the 46th BOTW, sets record in leading the first non-stop flight of four B-29s from Hokkaido, Japan to the National Airport, Washington, DC; 6,544 miles in 27 hours, 29 minutes. November 1, 1945. Fast Forward Note: His son, Major Frank A. Armstrong, III, 37, followed in his father's military footsteps and gave his life while on a mission over the Attopeu Province of Laos, near the tri-border area of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. An account of his ultimate sacrifice is given on "The Virtual Wall" website. "Two A-1E Skyraiders from the 1st Air Commando Squadron detachment, 7th Air Force, at Pleiku AB were conducting a "Steel Tiger" mission, October 6, 1967, in southern Laos near Ban Pakha. As the flight lead, Major Armstrong in A-1E tail number 52-132663, rolled in to deliver his weapons, his aircraft was hit by 12.7mm antiaircraft fire. The Skyraider rolled inverted and crashed. (Loss Coordinates: 143757N, 1072758E) His wingman did not see Major Armstrong leave the aircraft, and no emergency radio signals or other signs of Armstong's survival were found. Major Frank Armstrong was declared "Killed in Action". His remains have not been repatriated." He was 13 when his father served at AAAFld. The Armstrongs lived in Hotel Ardmore while stationed here.
The novel, movie and television series "Twelve O'Clock High" was based on a fictious B-17 Bomb Group stationed in England. The principal character of the novel, Brig. General Frank Savage, was patterned after Brig. General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr. who flew with and was commander for a short time of the 306th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force.
USO furniture and equipment up for bids. Nelle Stayton, USO director. November 9, 1945.
Twenty top Nazis go to trial. November 20, 1945.
2nd Lt. Lincoln Ragsdale, Ardmore. Oklahoma, received his wings, November 20, 1945, as a Tuskegee Airman. Lt. Ragsdale was one of nine Oklahomans that received their wings at Tuskegee from 1942 through 1945. The other Oklahoma pilots were: 2nd Lt. Harold Howard Brown, (8-4-1944). Weleetka (Clairview); 2nd Lt. Joseph D. Elsberry, (9-6-1942), Langston; Flight Officer Samuel J. Foreman, (5-23-1944), Tulsa; 2nd Lt. James Knighten, (5-20-1942), Tulsa; 2nd Lt. Faythe McGinnis, (7-3-1942), Muskogee; Flight Officer Robert Smith, (6-27-1945), Muskogee; 1st Lt. Yancy Williams, (12-28-1944), Tulsa and Flight Officer Isaac Woods, (8-4-1945), Tulsa. Fast Forward Note: A life-size statue of Air Force Major Charles D. Hall, a Tuskegee airman, was unvieled, September 20, 2007, at the Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City. The statue honors Major Hall and Tuskegee Airmen from Oklahoma. Major Hall was the first Tuskegee Airman to shoot down an enemy plane, a German Focke-Wulf 190. Major Hall moved to Oklahoma City following the war and served at Tinker Air Force Base and the Federal Aviation Administration until his death in 1971. He is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery, Spencer, Oklahoma.
AAAFld to be declared surplus property November 21, 1945. All activity will be terminated by January 1, 1946.The field will be under the jurisdiction of US Engineers district office in Dallas, Texas. Civilian work force mostly gone, most soldiers discharged or transferred. German prisoners of war, (June 1-November 1, 1945), who helped deactivate the base were moved to Camp Howze, Gainesville, Texas. Small maintenance force and a few guards remain at field until the facility is turned back to the city of Ardmore. November 21, 1945.
Surplus items remaining at the base were advertised for sale by bids from November 15-20. These included office equipment, chairs, work benches, mess hall tables and benches, lockers, metal ammunition boxes, and many other items. Most were to be sold in lots or all of one particular item to a single high-bidder.
All meat rationing ends, sugar only food item still rationed. November 24, 1945.
C. W. McIntire, accounting division of 8th Air Service Command, at field to check records and accounts of the field. December 2, 1945.
General George Patton receives broken neck December 9 in auto accident, cannot move arms or legs. Died December 22 and was buried in US Military cemetery, Hahm, Luxembourg. December 23, 1945.
Draft ends for fathers, 18-year olds to be called, tire rationing to end January 1, 1946. December 29, 1945.
Tornado destroys 50 Ardmore homes and damages 49 others, February 13, 1946. Two die from injuries. Mrs. Zella Orr, 65, died at 2:45AM, February 14, 24 hours after the tornado. Two days later, 66 year old Frank Bell, 1220 Bailey, died in the local hospital. Estimated property damage was $700,000. The Champion Building, southwest corner of Washington and Main, condemned for removal.
American Airlines to take over AAAFld. Negotiations underway since mid-fall of 1945. Government gave interim-permit to city to lease the land to American Airlines. Lease contract to be signed. Payroll of $1,375,000 expected by July 1, 1946. American Airlines expects 175 permanent party and 150 pilot trainees plus local employees. Captain Harry W. Vannatta, 3rd Army Air Force, and Major J. L. Hogue, Jr., US Army Engineers, Tulsa, meet with Ardmore and American Airlines officials. American Airlines cleared to use field, buildings and equipment. February 14, 1946. Fast Forward Note: American Airlines opened their pilot, crew and stewardess training center, Tuesday, June 17, 1947. A total of 4,000 students participated in the training program before the center closed, Saturday, March 5, 1949. The stewardess program moved to Chicago Municipal Airport in November 1948. American trained crews for the Convair, DC-6 and DC-4. Braniff, Western, Northeast and Continental Airlines crews updated their skills at Ardmore. Pilots for General Motors, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Dutch, Brazilian, Canadian and Chinese Airlines also participated.
Ardmore to install parking meters. February 17, 1946.
Gene Autry and Champion to appear at World Championship Rodeo, Ft. Worth, Texas, March 8-17, 1946.
Autry deeded Flying "A" Ranch to Roy A. Greenland, March 16, 1946. Ownership of portions of the tract has changed several times since then.
The B-17 graphic at the beginning of the main page was originally a photograph of the "Thunderbird," a restored aircraft(44-85718) owned by The Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston, Texas. Their B-17G has the markings and paint scheme of the original, battle experienced "Thunderbird" (42-38050) that was scrapped following WWII. The graphic was reworked and given the numbers and tail identification of a B-17 (42-5121) known to be stationed at the Ardmore Army Air Field during WWII. Fast Forward Note: The "Thunderbird" and several aircraft from the LSFM including a Republic P-47D, Vought F4U-5N "Corsair" and North American B-25 were flown from Galveston to Denison, Texas for safekeeping during hurricane "Rita," September 2005. They were there during the week of the National Aerobatic Contest held annually at Grayson County Airport (former Perrin Army Air Field/Air Force Base).
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