World War II: The Airmen of Pacific County: The Gunners: Part 1

Jim McGee, B-24 waist gunner, 308th Bomb Group, 14th Air Force, Kunming, China. Posed with .30 caliber machine gun hoisted onto his shoulder.

I wish to be a pilot

And you along with me,

But if we all were pilots,

Where would the Air Corps be?

It takes guts to be a gunner;

To sit out in the tail

When the Messerschmitts are coming,

And the slugs begin to wail.

The pilot's just a chaffeur,

It's his job to fly the plane;

But it's we who do the fighting

Though we may not get the fame.

If we all must be gunners,

Then let us make this bet -

We'll be the best damned gunners

Who have left this station yet.

- "A Gunner's Vow,"

author unknown, WWII

Savvy crewmen of a WWII heavy bomber warplane understood full well they were riding in a virtual flying bomb, replete with deadly explosives.

With the 10 man crew were 2,000 gallons of high octane fuel, a large storage tank of oxygen and up to six tons of bombs. Especially in the European theatre, bomber groups approached their targets at 25,000 feet in a tightly stacked formation. After first surviving the enemy's air attacks, amid the loud and reverberating sounds of the gunners' machine gun fire, a relative calm would settle within the bomber as the men braced themselves for the onslaught of anti-aircraft fire.

Nearer the target, the airplane would be surrounded by dark and deadly clouds of flak. This was the beginning of the terrifying 10 minute period called the "Initial Point," when the plane was flown on a straight and level course, allowing the bombardier, with his Norden bombsight, to drop his bombs.

Rocked by the explosions, crewmen might look up to see falling parts of mortally wounded B-17s or B-24s, either falling back or on fire and rolled over on their backs, sometimes with chutes coming out and sometimes not. For the men who had jumped, the stark fear was well realized: the freezing atmosphere, a lack of sufficient oxygen, men falling beween stacks of bombers with their deadly propellers and finally, a greeting below by an assembly of angry citizens who waited with pitchforks ready.

A worse scenario would be a group of Hitler Youth, eager to take their deadly revenge for the Fatherland.

For the crews inside the airplanes, still whole and comparatively safe, the fear remained intense with the knowledge that only an eighth of an inch of aluminum was between them and the hostile and frigid outside. To be sure, inside it was not much better, with temperatures as cold as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Men were clothed in electrically warmed flying suits; oxygen masks allowed life to continue. With frost covering weapons and instrument panels, dials and guns were cleaned off with a swipe of a gloved hand.

The ship would still be short of the target area when the bombs were released, allowing them to more accurately drop to the intended objective. At the release point the airplane suddenly leapt upward, out of trim because of the sudden release of its deadly cargo. Below, death and destruction marked the success of the mission. Taking back the controls, the pilot would turn the ship and dive homeward, increasing the speed in excess of 230 miles per hour, with the bomb bay doors shutting.

Evading the flak was always a matter of luck, good and bad, with twisted metal pieces often crashing into the airplane, sometimes striking or narrowly missing crewmen and the vital parts of the ship. As one airman recalled, the 10 minutes through the I. P. was "a trip through Hell."

Headed for home, pilots ran oxygen checks to make sure their crew members were conscious and safe. If a crewman failed to respond, the nearest person would go to his aid. The continued threat of German fighters was always near and toward the end of the war there was the additional worry of the new German jet, the Me262. Another threat was the increased armor and guns of the Focke-Wulf 190.

In the U.S., a patriotic circular foolishly boasted, "...who's afraid of the Big Bad Wulf?" One response, ostensibly from an American bomber group in England, fired back their reply: "We are," they said. In the end and at a costly price, American aircraft survived the German threat and defeated the war-weary and beaten Luftwaffe.

Flight Sgt. Stanley Bostwick Frances

Air Gunner, Halifax bomber MZ865

429th Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force

Killed In Action,

Feb. 15 1945

RCAF air gunner Stanley Bostwick was 10 days short of his 22nd birthday when his plane, a Halifax bomber, was hit by Swedish anti-aircraft fire on the clear winter night of Feb. 15, 1945. The airplane crashed into the sea near Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden and the bodies of all seven airmen washed ashore during the following days, near Skansor, Sweden.

The aircraft activity of that February night had been partly motivated by German troop movements. Soviet armies had begun their final thrust into the heart of Germany, while several German armies were trapped in the Baltic states and East Prussia. With the German Navy desperately trying to ferry troops back into Germany, the Allies began to obstruct the Nazi plans. The RCAF sent several air crews into the Baltic to lay mines to stall German movements. One of these air crews was the men of Halifax bomber #MZ8665. Five regular crewmen and two substitutes were aboard the plane that fatal February evening.

Unfortunately, neutral Sweden's air defenses staunchly defended their coast line from all hostiles, regardless of Allied identifications. On that particular night there was turmoil in the air space over Oresund and Copenhagen. Observations from Malmo reported that Copenhagen was attacked twice by a small number of Allied bombers. At about 8:50 p.m. there had been additional firings from the Danish coast. Across the water, in Sweden, a few airplanes came into Swedish air space and attracted anti-aircraft fire. Two of the planes were hit and crashed into the sea. One plane crashed outside Skansor-Fasterbo and the other into the sea a few kilometers west of Trelleborg. After the airplane hit the water a fire was seen for a short time. One of the more detailed reports said one dead airman, with his parachute on, had been badly burned.

Later, RCAF records reported that Flight Sgt. Stanley Bostwick had completed 38 missions. He is buried in plot A.11.29, at the Magleby Churchyard, in Langleland, Denmark. He was the son of Anthony and Mary Bostwick of Frances and had attended both Lebam and Ilwaco high schools and also Washington State College (WSU) before joining the RCAF in March, 1943. Born in Pine River, Manitoba, Canada, on Feb. 26, 1923, Stan was survived his parents and two sisters, Margaret Bostwick of Frances and Mrs. W. L. Williams of Raymond.

Technical Sgt. Stanley Domin

Willapa

B-17 waist gunner

Headquarters Squadron

19th Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force

Killed In Action,

Dec. 8, 1941

In October 1941, the 19th Bombardment Group was sent from Albuquerque, N.M. to Clark Field, The Philippines, via Hickam Field, Hawaii. Technical Sergeant Stanley Domin, a B-17 waist gunner, was a member of the group.

When forces of the Japanese Imperial Navy and Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they also attacked other British and American-held Pacific bases at the same time. One of these targets was Clark Field, where the 19th Bomb Group was located. The time of the attack was the same as Pearl Harbor, but because the Philippines is across the International Date Line, it was dated the next day, Dec. 8.

Word of the attack at Hawaii was first heard on Luzon at around 3:30 a.m., and within 30 minutes the radar at Iba Field plotted a formation of unknown airplanes about 75 miles offshore, headed for Corregidor Island. At Clark Field, B-17s were ordered off the field and into the air, to not allow the Japanese to attack them on the ground. Fighters from Iba Field made a search for the Japanese over the South China Sea, but came up with no results. After circling the general area for several hours, most of the B-17s returned to Clark Field for refueling. Shortly afterwards, Japanese planes attacked Clark Field, destroying many B-17s and fighter aircraft.

One of the areas struck at Clark was the airmen's barracks. Having been up early and back for a rest during the refueling, several crewmen were caught by the exploding bombs and the ensuing fires. Many men were killed during the first attacks, one being T/Sgt. Domin. A later report revealed that most B-17 maintenance facilities had been demolished, with 90 men killed.

By Dec. 17 American commanders recognized the grim prospects and ordered the surviving bombers and airmen of the 19th to leave for Batchelor Field, near Darwin, Australia. This evacuation, which took place on the 19th and 20th and was done with stops in New Guinea. Unfortunately, most of the ground crews were left behind, to fight on with infantry units. These men were either killed or captured by the Japanese.

T/Sgt. Domin's military career had started when he enlisted in the Air Corps on Nov. 19, 1939. He received training as an airplane mechanic at Rantoule, Ill.; March Field, Calif.; and Albuquerque, N.M. Born in East Raymond in September 1918, Stan graduated from Valley High School in 1937. He was a reserve on the school's 1936 state basketball championship team. Domin was one of two Pacific County men to be killed on the first day of the U.S. involvement in World War II.

Staff Sgt. Jim McGee

Long Beach

B-24 waist gunner

425th Bomb Squadron

308th Bomb Group

14th Air Force

Jim McGee spent his earliest years on a farm near Beaverton, Ore. and remembers not having a store-bought shirt until he got to high school. By the time the family moved to Washington, to rural Clark County, 10-year-old Jim helped with the ploughing and harvesting and had cows to milk. He remembers when the family moved to Long Beach.

I only had my senior year to go, so I stayed behind with a half brother and his family. When I got my diploma in May 1939 I joined the family in Long Beach. I worked in a service station, then I did dairy work for a few weeks, even built a barn. Then I worked with beef cattle and took care of the hay. After that I went back to the Standard Oil service station. There was some oyster work in there, too. I did all this for about two years. Finally I went up to Forks, where my married sister and her husband were living. Up there I worked for Shell for $25 a month.

When the war came along I decided to go into the service. My brother suggested I try the Air Corps, as a mechanic. My mother thought I should stay home until Christmas. When I left there were three of us, Joe Wade, Russell Egger, I remember he was from Chinook and me. We went up to Aberdeen and enlisted. It was Jan. 4, 1942. Joe Wade failed the physical. Russell Egger didn't leave until the next day. I left with some Pe Ell guys and we all had requested to be airplane mechanics. So after about three days they told us were we being shipped to Sheppard Field, Texas.

Detoured by a six weeks bout with scarlet fever, Jim completed his training, including mechanics' school, did some instructing and then was sent to gunnery school. He did not think much of Sheppard Field. After his Texas stay Jim was sent to Tucson to train on B-24s and where the 308th Bomb Group was formed. A member of the Group's 425th Bomb Squadron, Jim's crew was sent to Pueblo, Colo. and then Salina, Kan., where they picked up new airplanes. By that time it was January 1943. Jim recalls being sent overseas.

We got a short furlough to go home before heading overseas. Our pilot was William Swanson and I was a top gunner at that time. In the B-24D we had five gunners, but later we got a B-24J and then we had six gunners. In the B-24J we had six gunners. One rule at gunnery school was that you couldn't be over 5-10 and weigh over so much, I can't remember now. I weighed about 140. We had a tail gunner, two waists and a ball turret. One waist could fire down.

Flying brand new B-24Ds, the first leg of the 425th's overseas odyssey took the men to West Palm Beach, Fla. After a wait of nearly two weeks, the squadron got a surprise when they learned they were not headed to England, but rather to China. It seems their CO had wrangled a deal with General Hap Arnold and soon they were on to Ascension Island and then to Africa. From Africa the fliers went on to India, to Agra, where they crossed the Himalayas into China. The destination was Kunming, where the squadron was to share the base with Gen. Chennault's 14th Air Force headquarters and two fighter squadrons made up of P-40 and P-38 fighters. Along with the new Liberators there were transport aircraft and a small number of B-25s. Jim McGee talked about the situation at Kunming:

Chennault didn't have enough transport planes so we had to fly in our own supplies across the Hump. On clear days we could fly through passes at around 12,500 feet, but if it was cloudy we went as high as 29,700. Anyway, we landed at Kunming, but the other squadrons of the 308th were based at other places. The 373rd was about 50 miles away and the 374th and 375th were together at another area. Chennault was right where we were. The only time I ever saw him was when he came out to play baseball with us. He seemed like a real nice guy. Our 308th Group personnel were there, too. The group operations officer was there, he was a West Pointer.

Jim's squadron flew regular trips back and forth across the Hump to bring in supplies and sometimes high-octane fuel made up the bulk of the cargo. At first the gunners were not included in the flights, only the pilots, navigator, radio operator and engineer, which included Jim. Soon, however, two of the gunners were named assistants to the radio operator and engineer and then they alternated trips. That way everyone was able to raise their flying time, which added to their pay. These missions across the high mountains were very dangerous, as Jim recalls.

On our first trip over the Hump to India our squadron CO and his crew went down, never to be heard from again. Another crew was late on the way back and had to come in in the dark, without airfield lights. They got in okay. One of the captains was made major and named the new CO. Another captain was made major at the same time. On our very next combat mission both those guys were killed. In both cases the crews got back, really shot up. The other squadrons lost whole crews.

I remember the first mission we went on we went down to Hong Kong, when another B-24 in our squadron left their Sperry ball turret down the whole time, instead of pulling it up into the fuselage. After we dropped our bombs and got away from the target area the planes were supposed to move their turrets back up inside, but this guy didn't. That caused drag on the airplane and they ran out of fuel and crashed and of course the crew bailed out. They were rescued and returned to the base, but after that we were strictly told not to use the turrets unless there were enemy fighters around us. We weren't like the bombers in the European theatre. They had to fight their way in and back, but we didn't. The only time we had enemy fighters around us was when we were in the target area.

Most of our combat missions went across French Indo-China (Vietnam), which was controlled at that time by the Japanese. We bombed areas like Haiphong, Hanoi, also Hainan Island. We went to other places, too. We hit other places when we flew out of Rangoon. In 1944, after I had been there 13 months I had 50 missions. Then they sent me home.

CORRECTION: Due to the writer's oversight, a crucial mistake was made in the Ernie Wirkkala story. An intended sentence was meant to say that Ernie had been NEARLY shot, or shot at. He was not shot during WWII. Confusing errors were also made in the numbering of Ernie's squadron and group. To add some clarity, please note that four squadrons made up one group. Ernie belonged to the 356th Bomb Squadron, which was a part of the 354th Bomb Group.

AM2 Court Marchant

Seaview

PBY gunner, Aviation Machinist 2nd Class

Fleet Air Wing, US Navy, South Pacific

Court Marchant went into the service in mid-November 1942, after graduating from Ilwaco High the previous May. By September 1943, he had completed gunnery school at the Aviation Free Gunnery Unit at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.

In March 1944, the Seaview (Sandridge) native was a crewman on a PBY5, stationed at the Segond Seaplane Base, Esperito Santos, in the New Hebrides Islands of the South Pacific. The airplane had a seven man crew and was armed with several .30 and .50 caliber machine guns. Court's duties were airplane mechanic and manning a .50 caliber machine gun in the portside blister.

One of young Marchant's fond memories is sharing duties and living quarters with a New Zealand squadron. He recalls getting used to and liking the "Kiwi" style of cooking mutton, of which they had a plentiful supply.

The aircraft did not have retractable wheels, requiring take offs and landings from the water.The pilot approached the float in the same manner as a boat, with sea anchors put out through the blisters. The total amount of guns on board were: front, twin .30s. Blisters had .50 calibers, while at the back end, under the tail was an opening, with one .50 caliber gun.

Following his overseas combat duty, Court returned to the States where he was entered into a V-5 pre-flight class, located at Cal Polytech in San Luis Obispo, California. With the end of the war in September, 1945, the program was halted. Court was discharged from the Navy on February 1, 1946. After spending most of his adult life in Anchorage, Alaska, he now lives in Lake Oswego, Ore.

AO2 George Rogers

South Bend

PBY gunner, Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class

US Navy, South Pacific

A 1941 graduate of South Bend High School, George Rogers worked as a county timber cruiser before entering the Navy in September 1942. He received basic training and attended ordnance school at San Diego and was shipped overseas in August 1943. A member of a PBY flying boat squadron, Rogers's responsibilities included being a lookout for Japanese surface vessels and submarines and the care of the aircraft's weapons. Upon returning to the States in August 1944, AO2 Rogers talked about his PBY duties:

Looking for a sub in the Pacific Ocean from 1,200 feet up was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We flew 10 to 12 hour patrols, circling a designated area about 25 miles out of range for about two weeks before an invasion is launched. In six months we never spotted more than two or three enemy crafts. I was there a year and didn't see one Japanese prowler. As to our rescue missions, there was nothing to be afraid of. Once in a while we flew in a little close to shore and the Japanese opened up on us with their tommy guns, but it was not too bad. We had a good pilot and got off the water in time on every mission.

George told of running into his brother Stanley on Havalo Island, a small place in the Florida group, near Guadalcanal. It was their first meeting in almost a year. George was then struck down with malaria and spent more than a week in a Navy hospital. Relieved to have survived the battles and diseases, he commented on the beauty of the South Pacific.

The multicolored coral reefs offshore against the blue of water and sky were unforgettable. We didn't notice the difference in weather too much and wore swim suits or shorts and were pretty comfortable on our patrols. We didn't swim much, though, it wasn't worth it when you had to fight the fungi and keep it off your ears and hands.

After his discharge from the Navy George returned to South Bend where worked for a short time as a gyppo logger and then for Weyerhaeuser until.retirement in 1982.

S/Sgt. Don Hatfield

Raymond

B-17 gunner

388th Bomb Group

8th Air Force

Raymond native Don Hatfield entered the Army Air Corps on Sept. 25, 1942. Gunnery school was at Tyndall Field, Florida and crew organization took place at Amarillo, Texas. Don and fellow crew members were sent overseas by ship, leaving New York for Scotland in mid-October 1943. After a train ride south to the former RAF Knettishall Air Station near Norwich, Don and mates quickly settled in to prepare for their first combat mission. The maximum number of missions required during this period of the war was 25.

Answering a question about the bombing missions, Hatfield recalled the longest missions to Posen, Poland, on Feb. 20 and 24, 1944. There were two other trips that were especially dangerous. On one his plane survived more than 50 hits, with at least 100 holes caused by the exploding flak. On another, the ship, called 'Winged Fury,' limped home alone, with only two and a half engines. Fellow airmen were used to the news of lost or killed crews and often helped themselves to personal items of those who did not return to the home base. When Don's ship finally made it back to the base he found someone helping himself to his clothing and dress shoes. He firmly announced to the man, "Put my stuff back."

Another story told was of the B-17 last seen with an engine smoking , heading northward towards Sweden. The opportunity for crippled bombers to land in Sweden was not a simple or easy option, but was sometimes used by desperate Allied airmen. In this case, Hatfield claimed that the crew of this bomber had taken their dress clothes with them on that particular mission.

These early missions were mostly flown without the air cover of the P-51 Mustangs. Instead, shorter escort runs were flown by P-39s, P-38s and P-47s. Don was awarded a Bronze Star and several other commendations.

Other Aircraft Gunners

Limited information available

SGT. REX BARNES, LONG BEACH. B-25 tailgunner, 5th AAF. Killed In Action. A medium bomber tailgunner, Barnes was reported killed in action with other crewmembers while on a mission over the Philippines on January 25, 1945.

S/SGT. KEITH CLAPSHAW, WILLAPA. B-17 waist gunner, 8th AAF. Killed In Action. Clapshaw was a member of a B-17 crew, lost while on a bombing raid over Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on May 15, 1943. In July, 1944, the War Dept. indicated to the Clapshaw family that the bomber had disappeared over the North Sea. Sgt. Clapshaw graduated from Valley High School and had been employed by the Pacific County engineer's office before entering the military. He had enlisted in Feb., 1942 and following his training had been sent to England on Jan. 30, 1943.

CPL. ED DESKINS, LEBAM. B-24 ball turret gunner. Deskins was stationed at Westover, Ma.

S/SGT. GEORGE ELLIOTT, SEAVIEW. B-24 gunner, 13th Air Force. Elliott's unit was known as the "Long Rangers," and one report noted a bombing strike on the Pandfansari (South Asia theatre of war) oil refinery. In March 1945, Elliott received a meritorious achievement award for his participation in combat flights in the Philippines. His mother was Mrs. Ethel Elliott of Seaview.

SGT. IVAN HENDERSON, RAYMOND. B-17 tailgunner, 5th AAF. Henderson was credited with the downing of three Japanese aircraft as early as May, 1942.

SGT. HARVEY MARSH, LONG BEACH. B-26 gunner, 8th AAF. Marsh graduated from gunnery school at Ft. Myers, Fla. and trained in B-26s as well as B17s. He was awarded a War Dept. citation for his unit's devastating attack against Germany during an enemy counter-offensive. Marsh's unit, the 391st Bomb Group, was nicknamed the "Black Death Group," and won battle honors for "outstanding" performance of duty in action against the Germans between Dec. 23 and 26, 1944. This would have been at the time of the Battle of the Bulge. Early WWII historical accounts of the 391st reveal the unit's terrible losses. Marsh reported meeting old friend Tom McGee in England.

S/SGT. TOM MCGEE, LONG BEACH. B-17 top gunner, 8th AAF. McGee graduated from gunnery school in late March 1944. His aircraft was shot down in 1944, but he and crew members parachuted safely into Allied-controlled Netherlands, just two days after the Germans had retreated from the area. One account reported that McGee had contracted pneumonia after the narrow escape.

S/SGT. EARL "BUD" MECHALS. Mechals served in Italy where he was a crew chief on a C-47 transport hauling paratroopers and towing gliders filled with infantrymen. In March, 1945, S/Sgt. Mechals was assigned to a unit at Santa Monica, Ca. This unit was scheduled to be assigned to the operation of a new B-29. Mechals wore the stars of four major campaigns, including the invasions of North Africa, Sicity, Italy and France. Bud's unit also received a presidential citation for heroic efforts in the China-Burma-India theatre of war.

SGT. OLIVER OMAN, LONG BEACH. B-29 tailgunner, AAF. Service in Pacific theatre; no combat.

T/SGT. CECIL TIMMENS, LONG BEACH. B-17 crew chief & waist gunner, 8th AAF. A 1925 graduate of Ilwaco High School, Timmens was a crew chief, in charge of maintenance and repair work on two different heavy bombers. He was later assigned to a B-29.

S/SGT. LAWRENCE URYCH, RAYMOND. A B-17 radio operator & waist gunner, 8th AAF. He attended Raymond High School before joining the Army Air Corps in July, 1942. Immediately before going into the service Urych worked as an automobile mechanic with the Raymond Auto Company. Sgt. Urych received an oak leaf cluster and an Air Medal, for meritorious achievement while engaged in operations over enemy territory.

Previously written stories about aerial gunners: S/Sgt. Ed Lafferty, Willapa; Cpl. Mel Redfern, Long Beach; and Sgt. Roger Lovelace, South Bend, all in the Army Air Force.

Writer's Notes:

1. Stanley Bostwick

a. Stanley Bostwick's sisters, Margaret Bostwick and Mrs. W. L. Williams, were mentioned in the 1945 account in the Raymond Herald, which was very scant on information. South Bend resident Herb Newton recalls the fine Bostwick berry farm at Frances. Anyone with further knowledge of the Bostwick family please contact the writer at 875-6159. Please note that Bostwick had also attended Ilwaco High School.

b. Crewmembers of the downed Halifax bomber: Flight officer Robert Aubrey, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Wireless/gunner Keith Rainford, Vancouver, BC; Flight engineer Woldemir Federchuk; Bomb Aimer Robert McCallum; Wireless/gunner Gordon Barnes, St. John's, New Brunswick. Flight Sgt. Bostwick's service number was R/255759.

2. Stan Domin.

a. Initial information from sister and brother Stella Betrozoff Barkhurst and John Betrozoff, the niece and nephew of Stanley Domin. Additional information from internet sources. Domin was one of two county men killed on the first day of fighting in World War II. The other, Ilwaco native Russell Tanner, was a Navy seaman killed at Pearl Harbor. Both received posthumuous Purple Heart medals. There has been confusion about the cause of Domin's death. Some family members believe that he met death when the airplane was shot out of the air. Obviously, this writer does not come to that conclusion. However, there is no absolute answer at this time.

b. By joining the military in the late 1930s, Domin was a part of Air Corps organizational history. He was a member of what was called the General Headquarters Air Force. which in 1935 was the first named air force of the U.S. Army's air arm. In 1941 the GHQ Air Force became known as the Air Force Combat Command. Also at that time, several of what had been named air forces became the numbered air forces, such as the 2nd Air Force, the 4th Air Force, etc. When WWII began, more air forces were organized, such as the 8th, the 15th, etc. In the Philippines (and soon afterwards, Australia), the 19th Bombardment Group was a part of the 5th Air Force.

3. Jim McGee

a. James H. "Jim" McGee interview at this home in Kalama, Thursday, June 10, 2004. Jim's siblings graduated from Ilwaco High School. Jim and wife have lived in Kalama for several years and are active members of the Kelso BPOE.

b. Jim's B-24, #42-40075, was called "Hot As Hell." Crew members:1st pilot, 1st Lt. William A. Swanson, KIA; co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Fred McNeeland; bombardier, 2nd Lt. Robert Oxford, KIA; navigator, 2nd Lt. Matthias Quackenbush; engineer & waist, S/Sgt. Jim McGee; radioman, Cpl. Harry Queen; ass't. engineer, Pfc. Michael O'Keefe; ass't. radioman, Sgt. Jerry Kuchar; and tailgunner, Sgt. Clark Kuntz.

c. Family history: The McGees moved from Battle Ground to Long Beach in 1939. They bought and operated a variety store, directly across the street from where Mary Lou's Tavern is today. Jim remembers: "Mary Lou's used to be Marsh's at that time. My dad was William McGee, born in New York. My grandmother came from Ireland. My mother's maiden name was Mary McCormick. Her family also came from Ireland and then to Canada. Dad had had a store in Toledo, Ore. and that is where his first wife passed away. He advertised for a housekeeper and helper in the store. That was my mom. There were four kids from the first marriage and four from the second, including my sister and brothers Tom and Bob (aka Sam) The older kids didn't come to Long Beach."

4. Court Marchant

a. Information by correspondence, Dec. 2004. Court's parents, Emmer and Arloene Marchant, lived on the Sandridge side of Seaview. Emmer worked as a fisherman and boatbuilder. Court had three brothers, Bruce, Al and Virgil. During the war Virgil worked at the Bremerton Shipyard, while Bruce worked as a finish carpenter. Al was a warrant officer in the U.S. Army Tug Boat Service in Alaska. He was a captain of a large tug.

b. Court recalls meeting a couple of fellow peninsula natives in the South Pacific: Allen Goulter and Lloyd Slagle. Slagle was from Ocean Park. After his military service Court eventually became a general manager for National Car Rental in Anchorage. He and wife LaVonne had four children: three girls (two were twins) and one son. They also had four grandchildren. LaVonne died of complicatiosn from Alzheimer's several years ago. Court remarried Jean Sundquist on July 23, 2003. Jean had also lost her spouse. This was a rekindling of an old 1949-1950 romance before either had met and married their first spouses. They live in Lake Oswego, Ore.

6. George Rogers story.

Information from the Aberdeen World, Aug. 24, 1944. Article thanks to Norma and Clyde Olsen. George's brother Stan Navy rank was Motor machinist's mate 2nd class. After coming out of the service, George married Dorothy. They raised three sons, Steve, Mike and Pat. All three are educators and currently live in the South Bend area.

7. Don Hatfield story.

a. Born in 1921, Don's parents were Mary and Hobart Hatfield. There were three children: Don, Wilbur and Lucille (Holcomb). Don graduated from Raymond High School in 1940. (Don and Stan Hatfield are first cousins.)

b. Limited to Don's memory and 60 years, a partial list of his B-17 crew members: Vincent F. Sundstrom, pilot; Kwiksky (sp), bombardier; Murray Stokeman; Burns, tailgunner; Silverman, radio operator; Weintraub.

c. Following the war Don worked in the lumber industry, first for Mill B, then for Weyerhaeuser, as a bucker and faller, for 22 1/2 years. In 1960 Don and Glenna Myers married. Their family included Glenna's two children, Richard and Leslie (adopted by Don) and son Phil. Glenna died in 1998. Today, Don, who suffered a stroke a few years ago, lives in the family home with son Phil.

d. Surprisingly, three Pacific County men were members of the 388th Bomb Group: Lt. Al Haar, Long Beach, bombardier; Bob Owens, Menlo, pilot; and top gunner Don Hatfield, Raymond.

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