America's Greatest Generation

Living Their Finest Hour:
World War II -- 1941 - 1945

Stories of Men and Women who experienced the greatest event in the history of the world -- World War II...As seen through their eyes and told in their words.

The pages that follow in the category of "Army Air Corps Heroes" are dedicated to the men and women served with distinction in the forces of the U.S. (Military) Army Air Corps.

They served in every theater of the war including North Africa, the Italian Peninsula, D-Day and the massive invasion of Normandy. The served in the many campaigns over the European contentinent from early into the war until the last of the war. These men flew in planes over hostile territory and battled the best the enemy had to throw up at them.

These campaigns included huge formations of bombers flying deep into Germany, fighting off constant harassment by German fighters and having to fly directly through walls of enemy flack concentrations. The missions were flown at times at altitudes where they fought in bone chilling cold. These men suffered appalling loses as they flew in daylight raids over the heart of Germany.

As the war progressed they were escorted to the target by the "little brothers" -- the P-51's and the P-47's who helped ward off attacks by wave upon wave of attacking enemy planes.

Many men flew in less glamorous roles, flying lonely escort duty over the cold brutal Atlantic convoys. Others flew into the battles dropping paratroops in such campaigns as D-Day and other raids.

Still others had the important and vital job of training other flyers to go to the battle fronts.Though less glamorous, these jobs were vital to the war effort and ultimate victory.

The flyers also flew in the huge Pacific campaign flying vast distances while island hopping and harassing Japanese troops throughout the Pacific. Still others flew the long and arduous flights into the heartland of the Japanese home islands and dropping incendiaries and high explosives over the cities of Japan. While others; but a few, flew the last missions that ended the war over Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought the soldiers finally back home.

These men were common citizen soldiers who were placed into heroic situations and performed their duties -- not for glory or rewards; but, because the job had to be done. They did their part. These citizen soldiers came from every walk of life in this vast country, putting on their uniform and marching off to an uncertain future. When the war finally ended, most returned to family and home...many did not. They all served -- with pride!

Not all came home boasting a chest full of medals -- nor all did heroic deeds on the great battlefields of the world. But each one was a hero in his own right all the same; enduring and dedicating himself to the task at hand. Thus, another small piece of the vast picture we called the "great war" was fulfilled. Another soldier had done his duty and could come home to his just rewards holding his head high in pride.

This series of pages will be a sounding board, have you, for the generation referred to as "America's Greatest Generation". Their generation, collectively, experienced the most turbulent and terrifying era in the history of this great nation.In their own way they played their small part in doing their part in World War II -- helping to shape the world and stopping the tide of world domination by some of histories greatest tyrants.

Heroes: the Army Air Corps









Our Newest Story

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Jorgen Jorgensen
33rd Squadron, 513 Troop Carrier Command
U. S. Army Air Force
China, India, Burma Theater

image of NEWStory Added on 24 January 2012

"...We were in vertical dive. Both Dick and I grabbed the controls, pulled on the control columns with all our strength, our speed down was no longer shown on the speed meter, I feel were at 500 mph or more, 15,000 plus pounds dropping from 15,000 feet vertically toward earth is a velocity unknown to me. We were both jamming the floor pedals straight legged no response..."


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"Diary of Combat Missions: 8th Air Force, February - September 1944"
Tech. Sgt. Edward C. Penniman,
351th Bomb Group, 453rd Bombardment Group

Story added on 29 April 2008.


"...Lost thirty-seven planes today. Two crews next to us shot down. Lt. Well and Dixon were flying in our element and shot down. We were the only ship in our element to get back. Angel in each wing. Said prayers many times. Everywhere you looked planes were going down..."



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"Looking for Old Buddies He Served With"
Melville Wesley Bever, MSgt,
351th Bomb Group, 509th Bomb Squadron (Heavy)

Story added on 30 May 2007.


"...He served in England, Russia and France for a period of 30 months. He participated in the battles of Rhineland, Central Europe and the Air Offensive over Europe..."



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"We Bombed That Bridge -- The Bridge Over the River Kwai"
Charles F. "Curley" Linamen, 7th Bomb Group, 436th Bomb Squadron (Heavy)

Story added on 19 June 2006.

"...I was getting ready to make a turn to the left off the bombing run at 9:15 A.M. flak hit the aircraft and blew away the two rear bomb bay doors, part of the right vertical stabilizer, part of the right wingtip (approximately three feet of it), and knocked out the aileron controls and two of the four radio sets. Thank God no one was hurt..."



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"Mission: Merseburg - December 12, 1944"
Bill Rosnyai, 351st Bomb Group, 509th Bomb Squadron (Heavy)

Story added on 6 June 2006.

"...As we started the bombing run, we faced a wall of intense flak. Almost immediately the right in-board engine was hit and the pilot was able to feather it..."



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"My Life in Service"
Michel "Mike" S. Daninger, 7th Bomb Group, 436th Bomb Squadron (Heavy)

Story added on 20 April 2006.

"...One afternoon when the planes come in, we had to refuel right away. I put a ladder against the wing to get up on it and I could not touch the wing, for it was so hot when I did get on the wing, I had to keep lifting my feet as they were burning through the leather soles. We had to fill one or two thousand gallons in the plane at one time. Then we had to check the oil tanks. They held about thirty nine gallons on each engine; number ninety oil..."



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"D-Day Raid"
Burton Miner, 305th Bomb Group, 364th Bomb Squadron

Story added on 13 May 2005.

"...When the bombardier opened the doors I heard the gunners in the rear of the plane hollering that something was wrong in the bomb bay. The ball turret gunner said he had to get out because his turret was filling up with smoke and he was choking..."



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"Doodlee Doo"
Crew of the B-17G,#42-31493
94th Bomb Group, 333th Bomb Squadron

Story added on 10 December 2004.

Personal bombing mission log kept by the "Doodlee Doo's" radio operator, T/Sgt Robert M. Dykeman and a crew photo (undated).

Burton Miner, 305th Bomb Group, 364th Bomb Sq.,"D-Day Raid"

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Burton Miner
"Raid on Saarbrucken, Germany, May 11, 1944"
305th Bomb Group, 364th Bomb Squadron

Story added on 5 October 2004.


"...I arrived at the 305th base the day of the Schweinfert Raid 1943. The group sent out 18 planes and got back 3. I suspected I had made a bad move. 30 missions later I returned home, wiser..."

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The story below is by one of the men who flew some of the same missions that Bill Brown flew [See Bill Brown story below].

H. Cameron Murchison,
453rd Bomb Group (Heavy),
733th Bomb Squadron
"Our Longest Day -- 4 April 1945"
Story Added on 7 August 2004

"...The gunners noted several holes in the horizontal stabilizer, the fins. and wings outboard of the engines. Another miracle - not a single control cable, trim tab, aerial, nor any radio equipment was hit. Final count late that day showed 28 holes in the A/C, but no large, tearing gaps, thankfully..."


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The story below is by one of the men who flew some of the same missions that Bill Brown flew [See Bill Brown story below].

William Voight,
453rd Bomb Group (Heavy),
733th Bomb Squadron
"Last Mission -- Lasting Memories"
Story Added on 3 June 2004

"...Directly behind us (Lt. Powell), the plane received a direct hit and went down in flames. Our tail gunner told us he saw two chutes appear for a few moments, but they then caught fire and burned..."


We Have Just Added a THIRD Story in a Series of Stories about Local New Orleans Aerial Gunners.

William E. "Bill" Brown, Jr.,
Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner:
Bill's "Hollywood Style War",
453rd Bomb Group, 733th Bomb Squadron,
8th Air Force
Stories Updated on 22 May 2004.

"...I remember. I said, "I don't know if I like it this clear." And with that I see way behind us POW -- flak. Didn't think much and POW -- another 50 yards in front of it and then all of a sudden it hit a plane -- BAM. That plane went [indicating a wing over] and then it [flak] kept coming and I was almost mesmerized. I yelled at Bill. I said, "Bill, DIVE, DIVE, DIVE. RIGHT NOW! QUICKLY!, I said, Flak's right on our tail -- he's got us." He dove and right on top of us -- POW POW POW..."




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Alan MaGee,
303rd Bomb Group (Heavy),
327th Bomb Squadron
20,000 Ft. Fall, No Chute & Survive!
Story Added on 29 March 2004

"...He saw a gap in the side of the spinning plane and jumped out," said Jenkins,who explained that in the confusion Magee forgot he wasn't wearing a chute.  "He remembered tumbling, but at that high altitude, he quickly lost consciousness from lack of oxygen..."

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John Robertson Tail Gunner,
Vickers Wellington Bomber,
108 Squadron RAF

Story added on 15 March 2004.

"...when we landed the ground crew, instead of coming to give us a hand, cleared off as fast as they could. We were mystified-until we climbed out. Then we got the shock of our lives. Sticking out of a tail fin was a 250-pound bomb. The bomb had been dropped by a Liberator of the American Air Force over the same target area. I was only three feet away from the bomb in the rear gunner's nest..."









We Have Just Added a SECOND Story in a Series of FOUR About WWII Aerial Gunners.

Carey W. Mavor, Ball Turret Gunner,
452nd Bomb Group, 728th Bomb Squadron,
8th Air Force

Stories Updated on 15 October 2003.

"...So I turned my turret and I was looking right at him to see what they really looked like. And he got a direct hit and the only thing I saw left from that plane was the engines and the wheels -- no propellers -- just the engines -- no cowling -- no nothing -- just that corn cob engine-like -- those and the wheels. Everything else was in little scraps." What was he hit by? "Flak -- a direct hit. He was lower because I was the only one who saw him. I'm in the turret looking at him and I knew that they had nine or ten men on the plane and I didn't have no control..."





"World War II Gunners Reminisce":
Story Appearing in Local Newspaper
About FOUR Former Ball Turret Gunners

Story Added on 17 September 2003

Following an interview with Leonard J. "Mickey" Hurley, (ball turret gunner -- See Mickey's story below) a newspaper article appeared in the local paper after four former ball turret gunners got together to talk over old times. The website story about "Mickey" Hurley on this web site was instrumental in getting this event to happen.



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Marchioli, Steve,
364th Bomb Squadron,
305th Bomb Group (Heavy)

Story Added on 17 September 2003

"...The copy of the orders shown below appears to be the orders shipping Steve Marchioli from the States to England and he is listed in the group of men designated as: Crew 98 (APO 16095-CJ-98) This group of airmen included:

Sgt. Loron A. Patton, Sgt. Robert L. Pearson, Cpl. Arthur H. Smith and PFC. Louis C. Warth..."



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Capt. Glenn Rojohn,
100th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force
United States Army Air Corps

Story Added on 6 September 2003

"...Story by Ralph Kenney Bennett. Rojohn and Leek were still seated in their cockpit. The nose of the plane was relatively intact, but everything from the B-17 massive wings back was destroyed. They looked at each other incredulously. Neither was badly injured..."



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UPDATE on These TWO Stories

WWII Stories -- In Their Own Words:
Army Air Corps Heroes

Story Updated on 16 August 2003

"See what you've brought about!!" (Edward Johnson)

A THIRD crew member is located!

We were recently contacted by another member of the crew that crewed the "Thunder Mug" and "Jolly Roger"...the 1st pilot, Mr. Edward Johnson.

Lloyd Conklin and Joe Gilinsky (co-pilot and navigator) had thought Ed Johnson had been long gone! Out of the blue, he contacts us and all three men start bringing each other up to date on their lives since their missions over Europe almost 60 years ago!

Joseph J. Gilinsky: Navigator on
"Thunder Mug" & "Jolly Roger"

Lloyd J. Conklin: Co-pilot on:
"Thunder Mug" & "Jolly Roger"



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1st Lt. Bill V. Ackerman,
27th FBG, 523rd Squadron
United States Army Air Corps

Story Added on 16 February 2003

"...In my estimation, just the act of getting off the ground was the most dangerous part of this mission. The P-47 was a very forgiving airplane, but in this case there was absolutely no margin for error. Any number of minor mechanical malfunctions, like a tire blowing out, or a slight miscalculation by the pilot, would have meant certain disaster..."





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A New Group of Aerial Gunners Has Been Formed. This Story is the First in A Series of Stories of Aerial Gunners from the New Orleans Area.

Leonard J. "Mickey" Hurley,
U. S. Army Air Corps,
1942 - 1945
the Ball Turret Gunner
Story Added on 4 November 2002

"...Then a Lt. Passed and called the pitcher, "John did you hear about Frank". Sure did, had breakfast with him this morning, Heard a twenty millimeter went through the waist and blew his head off. They then proceeded to play ball and I proceeded to My barrack to think whether I really wanted to be a Ball Turret Gunner or not..."



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Lloyd F. Conklin,
94th Bomb Group, 332 Squadron,
U.S. 8th Air Force,
B-17 Co-Pilot, Europe 1942-1945
Story Added on 1 November 2001

"...It looked like two flocks of birds coming head on. Planes were diving & turning all over the sky. I made a diving turn to my left. Just in time to see two B-17's come together in a blinding flash. In seconds, two planes and 20 men disappeared. Several days later, to my dismay, [I found out that] one of the planes carried my good friend James Cawley*..."



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Joseph Gilinsky,
94th Bomb Group, 332-333 Squadron,
U.S. 8th Air Force, B-17 Navigator,
Europe 1943-1945

Story Added on 17 August 2001

"...I was the only man wounded on our crew. A small piece of shrapnel is yet above my left ear. The scar was readily seen before Elvis helped folk to appreciate sideburns. A frozen mist enveloped all of the interior of our navigation area. I was sure that it would vaporize to a harmful gas, when we descended to a warm altitude. Time and heat helped me to realize this was only the 'liquid' from our relief cans, splattered and vaporized about the area..."




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Add YOUR Story Here: Crew Member, Ground Crew, Support Personnel, Fighter Jock, Cargo Crew, etc.
Story Added on ----------

"Now you can add your story to the growing list of men and women who have come forth with their stories of World War II. We are collecting stories -- anyone who did their part! No story is too small, nor insignificant. Contact this webmaster to tell YOUR Story"


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World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words.

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