Just One Life



The stark, compelling aerial photograph above was taken on July 3, 1944, during an American bombing mission over Timisoara, Rumania. Unlike so many aerial combat photos, whose exact date and location are at best the subject of educated guesses, we know the specifics of this one because the crewman who snapped it later took the time to add the information on the back of the original 3x5” photo -- presumably for the benefit of his mother and father back in Kingston, Ontario. There’s certainly more than a hint of pride in the inscription he wrote:

The hand written caption on the back of the photograph of 485 Bomb Group Liberators dropping their loads over Romania - in the hand of Tommy White. Photo by Tommy White

The plane-spotting photographer and mission-chronicler was T/Sgt (“Technical Sergeant”) Thomas L. White, a Radio Operator & Waist Gunner with the U.S. Army Air Force based in Italy. Twelve weeks less a day after taking this picture -- on Sept. 24, 1944 -- Tommy White was killed (along with seven others of his 10-man crew) when his plane was shot down over Salonika, in Nazi-occupied Greece. He was never married, and had no children.

Until just over a year ago, that’s pretty much all I knew of Tommy White’s story. If that. And that’s a shame.

Not because Tommy White’s story was in any sense epic, or history-altering. In the grand scheme of things, he was just one of thousands upon countless thousands who volunteered to join a struggle which had overtaken the world in which they happened to be living. Whether by chance or by choice (-- though we presume the latter --), Tommy’s participation in that struggle ended up being in the air. And like so many of his fellow radiomen, gunners, navigators, pilots and bombardiers, in the air was also where it ended.

And it would be nice if somehow we could all know a little bit about what happened to each and every one of them. But the reason it’s a shame I knew so little about this one person’s story, is because Tommy White is family.

A photo of 26 year old Tommy White from his US citizenship document taken nearly 10 years before his death. Photo via White Family Collection

He was my wife’s great uncle. My great uncle-in-law. (Though after twenty-three years of marriage to a woman as remarkable as the one I get to call my wife, I think I can now claim Tommy directly, without the “-in-law” qualifier). But either way, he is unarguably a great-great-uncle to each of our three children, an ancestor of whom I hope they will all someday be very proud.

And my own personal interest aside, it’s ultimately for them that I now want to gather together and re-create as many fragments of Tommy’s story as I can -- a task which has so far proved both unexpectedly frustrating and surprisingly rewarding, in roughly equal measure. It’s definitely a job that will never be finished, only become a bit less incomplete.

THE STORY ~ SO FAR

So what could I tell our children today about their mother’s mother’s mother’s brother?

We know he was born on December 14, 1908 in Kingston, Ontario. That’s where his parents -- Tom & Lizzie -- along with their Scottish-born daughter Mary, had all reunited and settled together earlier that same year. They had emigrated to Canada from Greenock, a major port and ship-building centre northwest of Glasgow. Being their first son, Tom was named after his father, and so technically was Thomas White Jr., or even Thomas Leitch White II.  But to his many siblings, nieces, and nephews, he was mostly just “Tommy”.

My genealogist spouse -- Mary-Elizabeth Brymner Gordon -- was named after Tommy's sister Mary (my wife’s grandmother) AND Tommy's mother Elizabeth (nee Brymner) White (my wife’s great-grandmother) -- all of whom Mary remembers well, since “Lizzie” & Tom White Sr. both lived till she was 8-9 years old.



Four Generations -- in late 1956, Mary-Elizabeth Brymner Gordon -- my bride-to-be -- sits on the lap of her mother Thelma, who is joined at right by her mother (& Tommy White's sister) Mary, who is joined in the centre by her (& Tommy White's) mother Elizabeth (nee Brymner) White.  Second photo:  Lizzie & Tom White Sr. during the post-war years in Kingston Ontario; now with more grand- and great-grandchildren than can be counted, but reportedly never free from the grief of the loss of their son. Photos: White Family Collection

The White’s had very little in the way of disposable income, so family photos from their early days are few and far between. And, as I was disappointed to discover on a recent visit to the rebuilt edition of Tommy’s Kingston high school, year books from the early 1920s didn’t include photos of every class, much less each individual student.

Even though the building and the name of Tommy's local high school have both changed since the early 1920s, the students of Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute (just KCI when Tommy attended the now demolished building nearby) still rush daily past a large bronze plaque in the main stairwell, bearing the names of the many dozens of KCVI students and staff who lost their lives during WWII. Photo by John Bertram

But we do have a couple -- including this unique family portrait from 1916:



The White Family in 1916 -- Halfway through The Great War of 1914-18 -- though already in his early 40s and despite initial rejections -- Tommy’s father had finally convinced the Army to let him enlist. In this torn and fading family portrait, seven-year-old Tom Jr. poses "in uniform", flanked by his equally patriotic younger brother Jimmy and their father, as the senior Thomas White prepares to leave his growing family and re-cross the Atlantic. Tommy's father served as a medical support worker in England for about a year and a half, after a previously-sustained foot injury rendered him unfit for active duty. When on leave, he traveled north to visit friends in Greenock Scotland, and sent picture postcards to “Mrs. White” back in Canada, with nostalgic views of their old home town. Photo: White Family Collection.

A NEW HOME

In the early fall of 1926, still three months shy of his 18th birthday, a young Tom White left his hometown of Kingston and moved to Rochester, New York, on the opposite shore of Lake Ontario. Oral family history is certain he went there to work at the Kodak plant. This may well be the case, even though we’ve recently been told by the Company itself there are no written records to indicate he was ever officially employed there. We do know he was following in the path of his older sister and brother-in-law (my wife’s grandparents), who had already made the same move. But THEY soon ended up returning to Kingston -- after first giving birth to my wife’s mother -- while Tommy stayed on, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen in 1935, at the age of 26.

A Certified Citizen -- For most of his adult life, Tommy White lived on his own in Rochester, New York, yet still not far away from his parents, brothers & sisters, nieces & nephews all just across the lake in Kingston, Ontario. After residing and working there almost nine years, Tommy became an American citizen at age 26 (in 1935) -- the certificate for which now provides us the one and only "professional portrait" we have of him at any age. Certificate via White Family Collection

To my wife’s Rochester-born mother (who sadly I never got to meet), Tommy was a much-loved favourite uncle, and by all accounts this opinion was shared by many of her siblings and cousins. No doubt the mystique of being the special-occasion, gift-bearing “American uncle” only enhanced this aura of admiration.

But despite the high regard in which he seems to have been held, only the smallest scraps of Tommy’s pre-war life in Rochester remain. Some boarding house addresses in census reports; an automobile registration card; the name & address of a long-since-closed furniture manufacturing company that was his last civilian employer. No letters to or from his former home in Kingston (though perhaps no need for same, given his just-across-the-lake proximity); no personal journals; no albums of snapshots.

Stories have been passed down of Tommy being technically-minded and mechanically-inclined – all of which seems in keeping with both his civilian employment and his later military assignments. And like his namesake father, there are also references to Tommy White being very musical – a facet of his personality we’d love to know more about.

Meantime, still concentrated in Kingston and the surrounding area, Tommy’s seven Canadian siblings continued to grow up and get married and have children – not always in that order – throughout the 1930s and beyond. But as that decade was ending, a second global conflict was erupting. And as of September 1939, the country of Tommy’s birth -- and still home to all his family -- was suddenly at war, while the country of which he was now a citizen was not.

Which must have been a strange scenario, at the very least. And perhaps made even stranger some twenty months later, in early May of 1941, as word reached both countries of the latest blow dealt to the embattled nation of Great Britain: over a two-night blitz on May 6 and 7, bombers of the German Luftwaffe had targeted the port city of Greenock, Scotland. While damage to its strategic shipyards ended up being minimal, the hometown of Tommy White’s parents was devastated, with almost 300 of its citizens killed, and large sections of the town severely damaged or utterly destroyed.

Greenock, Scotland. May, 1941 -- What came to be known as "The Greenock Blitz", a two-night attack by German bombers against this major west-coast shipping port north of Glasgow, devastated the Scottish town from which Tommy White's parents had left for Canada many years earlier. (This picture shows the destruction at the intersection of Cathcart & Brymner Streets -- "Brymner" being both my wife's middle name, and Tommy White's mother's maiden name.)

And exactly seven months after that, an American naval base was attacked by another Axis power -- again from the air -- and now Tommy White’s adopted country was also at war. But, by this time Tommy himself was turning 33 – hardly “old” by any standard, yet still a decade or more beyond many of his younger countrymen now lining up to join the fight.

So we can only speculate what his thoughts were during the eleven months that followed – what recruiting posters he may have seen, what friends he might have watched join up, what subtle (or not so subtle) pressures he may have felt, what options he may have considered. We only know that on November 16, 1942, at the relatively advanced age of almost 34, Thomas Leitch White followed in his father’s volunteering footsteps, and enlisted in the US Army Air Corps.

A photo of Tommy White after enlistment in 1943...  and some of the USAAF recruitment posters from the period which may have inspired his decision to join. Photo via White Family Collection

A NEW WORLD

But why not regular Army? Or the Navy? Did he already have an interest in aircraft and aviation? Did he dream of one day maybe even becoming a pilot, like so many Air Force recruits did at first? Or had he already decided he wanted to pursue the more technical roles, and didn’t have to wait to be streamed in that direction? All we know for certain is that he spent a large part of 1943 training at Technical and Gunnery schools in Sioux Falls (South Dakota), and Tyndall Field (Florida) respectively, and by early 1944 was stationed at Casper, Wyoming's Army Air Base.



Sense of Duty (and a Sense of Humour) -- Tommy White as the young home front cadet in 1916 (age 7);  as the recently-enlisted trainee attending the U.S. Army's Technical School at Sioux Falls, South Dakota (February 1943; age 34);  and as the newly-minted T/Sgt & gunnery school graduate in January 1944 (age 35), now stationed at the Army Air Base in Casper, Wyoming. But the adult Tommy White's playful side can still be seen in the captions he wrote on each of the later pictures, before sending them to his family in Kingston. For the shot from Sioux Falls Technical School, he inscribed:  "How do you like that cute little cap. It keeps my ears warm."  And for the smartly-turned out pose a year later, he writes: "Ain't I the one!"

Sometime in the Spring of 1944, now Sergeant White of the USAAF got to visit his family in Kingston, Canada. The pictures from that visit are labelled on the back as “Tommy’s Last Leave”. He can be seen here at his parents’ home in Kingston, alongside his mother and father, and his seven brothers and sisters (including my wife’s then 38-year old grandmother Mary, second from the right):

Tommy on his last leave with his family in Kingston in 1944 Photo via White Family Collection


Two Wars; One Family -- Encircled by his four sisters, an 8-year-old Tommy White becomes "the man of the house" in 1917 while his father serves overseas in WWI, The War To End All Wars;  Twenty-seven years later in 1944, in what is to be their last time together, T/Sgt Tommy White of the US Army Air Force visits his mother and father back in Kingston, before heading overseas himself to fight in the Second World War.

INTO BATTLE

In June of 1944 -- not long after the D-Day landings in Northern Europe -- Tommy was sent overseas, assigned to the 485th Bomb Group (829th Squadron) of the 15th Air Force, based near Venosa, a small town in central Italy. (At this point in the war, the whole southern half of Italy was under Allied control.)

Although at least some of his training stateside was in B-17s – the “Flying Fortress” popularized in movies and the press – all of Tommy’s 34 combat sorties were in B-24 “Liberators”, specifically the G, H and J variants.

 
Though presumably taken on an earlier day, this is the only photo we've been able to confirm as showing the specific B-24 Liberator (letter "M", Serial Number 42-50755) in which Tommy flew his final mission on September 24, 1944..

The Collings Foundation's B-24J, at Moffett Field, California in May, 2011 -- the only still-flying original B-24 Liberator in the world, and the same "J" model as Tommy flew for many of his missions, including the final one. Photo: John Bertram

Over a century of aviation design, there have been many aircraft which can rightfully be called “elegant”, or “graceful” -- even objects of genuine esthetic beauty. The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was never in danger of being so labelled. It was built strictly to do a job, and was churned out in greater numbers (some eighteen and a half thousand) than any other single American bomber. Painted in every possible way -- from olive drab to desert beige to camouflage to natural metal -- it flew in every major theater of operation: Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia and the Pacific

Tommy’s 485th BG used their B-24‘s to strike at Axis-controlled targets all over southern Europe and the northern Mediterranean. The mission log of his three months flying in combat reads like a travel brochure for a whirlwind coach tour of that part of the world:  Sete, France;  Bucharest, Rumania;  Budapest, Hungary;  Genoa, Italy;  St. Tropez, France;  Vienna, Austria;  Pardobice, Czechoslovakia;  Munich, Germany;  and many others, including repeated visits to heavily fortified targets whose names had already become well-known, even infamous, to many a previous bomber crew -- places like Ploesti in Rumania, and Blechhammer (“Black Hammer”) in Germany.



For the Record: June 23 - Sept. 24, 1944 --  Looking more like a re-assembled fragment from a Dead Sea Scroll than a record of service, this one page documents each of Tommy White's 34 combat sorties -- when they happened, where they went, how long each one took, his accumulated air time, and which flights counted as "Double" toward his never-quite-reached 50-mission, tour-ending total.

But Tommy was not taking in their cultural landmarks from an air-conditioned bus; he was passing over their oil refineries and marshaling yards from five miles up in the sky, in an unpressurized and open-to-the-elements flying boxcar, getting his air from oxygen tanks, and his warmth from electrically heated flight suits, which literally had to be plugged in at various stations within the plane.

And now at the ripe old age of 35, and the rest mostly in their early twenties, Tommy had the dubious honour of being the crew’s grand old man.

Inside a B-24 Liberator -- For T/Sgt Tommy White, these had become very familiar locations: the Radio Operator's table (in the plane's upper front section, just behind the two-man cockpit), and the Waist Gunner's position, fed by long metal belts of 50 calibre -- that's about 4 inches long for each bullet -- ammunition (with one on each side of the plane's midsection, accessed via a narrow catwalk through the middle of the bomb bay area).  Photos by John Bertram; special thanks to pilot John Purdy and the Collings Foundation of Stow, Massachusetts. Photos: John Bertram


The rules for what constituted a completed “tour of duty” were ever-changing, but when Tommy White was at Venosa in the summer and early fall of 1944, you needed to have been credited with 50 missions, with some “sorties” (a single flight) counting double, i.e. being credited as two missions. These would be the ones of longer duration, or in some cases, that involved greater risk. (Later in ’44, this system was replaced with the less subjective requirement of just 35 missions, period -- 1 credit per 1 completed mission, regardless of distance, danger, etc.)

In Tommy’s case, if the mission log info we have is correct, then his September 24, 1944 sortie to Salonika Greece -- which the crews that day had been briefed would be a trouble-free “milk run” -- would have been credited as his 47th (while for some of his fellow crewmen, this mission would indeed have been their 50th).

Still, only a couple more to go. And then the chance to return home, to visit his parents and siblings across the lake, and be besieged by an adoring army of nieces and nephews, all captivated by his exotic American uniform, all demanding to hear stories of how he single-handedly helped win the war.

Instead, this Canadian-born son of thickly-accented Scottish immigrants, the one-time British subject turned American citizen, and now a sergeant in a U.S. Army Air Force bomber group based in Italy, suddenly had a new designation: Missing In Action, somewhere in German-occupied Greece.


The First Word  --  And the beginning of an eight-month wait.

WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU...

Most of us (thankfully) can only imagine the agony of losing a child. It’s hard to think of many things which could be harder to bear. One of them perhaps, would be having to endure over eight months of waiting and hoping until that loss is finally, officially confirmed. But that’s what happened to Tom and Elizabeth White of Kingston Ontario, after receiving that first telegram from Washington, D.C. in early October, 1944.

More telegrams followed, always regretting the lack of any new information. Meantime the mothers (and sisters and wives) of the missing crewmen had begun exchanging letters of support and encouragement, a mutual don’t-give-up-hope society. They had found each other unofficially at first, since technically that kind of crew I.D. and next-of-kin address information was still restricted.

And as the months passed, there was suddenly a ray of hope. In the winter of 1945, as victory in Europe seemed to be drawing ever closer, word reached the families that two of the crew from Tommy’s plane had in fact survived the Sept. 24 mission. Bombarder Joe Hackler, and Tail Gunner Dale Morrison, had apparently been taken prisoner by the Germans, had escaped, and by late December had eventually made their way back into Allied hands -- a full three months after their B-24 was shot down over Salonika, Greece.

And if two of the crew miraculously survived, maybe others did as well.

But after recuperating, and then we assume getting official permission to do so, each of those young men took it upon themselves to write very heartfelt letters to Tommy’s mother (the person he’d listed as his official next-of-kin). They did so not only out of respect and the genuine friendship they felt for a comrade-in-arms, but also because they felt she deserved to know the truth about what her son experienced, and what they each saw, during those final moments in the air.

To describe these letters as poignant, and very moving, would be an understatement. These are some excerpts, first from the Bombardier, Lt. Joe Hackler:

Mrs. Elizabeth B. White
24 Fifth Street
Kingston, Canada

My dear Mrs. White,

Maybe you will recall my name; I am the bombardier who was on Tom's crew on that fateful day over Greece. I wanted to write you just what I know about that mission, although I'm afraid what I have to say is not cheerful. Even kind letters are rather cold;  I wish I could just sit down and have a long, warm, friendly talk with you about Tom.

You see, the plane got a direct hit and blew into many pieces. I am almost positive that it killed the other members of the crew almost instantly. Only two of us were able to get out, and that was due to a great miracle.

[…]  Tom was in the waist position with Sgt. Stone as we went over the target that day and both of them were doing a good job manning their guns. But I'm afraid they just couldn't find a chance to get out. When Morrison and I floated to the ground we didn't have the chance to inspect the bits of plane which had scattered over the countryside for conclusive evidence that the others were killed (The Germans were right on the spot to pick us up) but it is our truthful opinion, Mrs. White, that Tom could not possibly survive.

Maybe the War Department has not written you the final word, but do not blame them too much, for they give only only the information they know is correct, and since this is only an opinion, they may wait quite a while before telling you, hoping for another miracle. But I do not expect anything that good. I hope you will excuse me for being so direct, but I know your long days have been filled with expectations for word of some kind, and I am doing that which I think is right. I know my wife would want any bit of information she could get.



In a separate letter, the crew's Tail Gunner, Sgt. Dale Morrison, added his first-hand account:

[…]  We were the very first plane over the target and one of the first bursts of flak gave us a direct hit in the bomb bay ripping our ship into 4 parts. We started falling straight down immediately. Our plane was a mass of flames due to the mixing of oxygen and gasoline. I got out of the tail turret after quite a long struggle and managed to get over to Tom and Stone, the Engineer. They were both unconscious. I put their parachutes on them and threw them out of the plane, pulling their rip cord as they left the ship. I put Tom out first but the flames had burned his chute too badly and when it opened, everything seemed all right until suddenly his entire parachute burst in to flames. I then threw Stone out in the same manner, but his chute also burned immediately. I too would have went as they did had I not been nearly to the ground when I jumped. My chute had an extremely large hole in it.

Mr. and Mrs. White, I want to express my deepest sympathy and sorrow to you and I want you to know that I too have shared much grief with you that is unknown to any one. […] Yes, Tom gave his life so that his loved ones might live on and do as Tom would have wanted them to do. I am very sorry I am the one to have to send such dreaded news one's family that meant so much to me solely by raising a Son like Tom. Tom meant much more to me than just a friend  […]

my Deepest Sorry and Sympathy to you.

Dale E. Morrison
Berwick, Illinois,
USA


Lt. Hackler’s letter concludes with other memories of Tommy’s time serving with the 485th:

And I wanted to tell you how much the boys loved Tom. Seems like Tom was the life of our outfit. He always had a kind word; he always had a wisecrack for the others. We officers enjoyed him so much we visited in their tent quite often, and they came over to see us a lot, too. On missions we always chatted and joked over the interphone until just before the target, forgetting what lay ahead. Tom seemed always to be the one to lead the thoughts; he was older than the others as you may already know (I was the next oldest, 27). But I never knew anybody to fit into a group of boys like Tom did-- just perfectly. And every time he got a package from home he'd call the guys together for a celebration. He was just the nicest, kindest person I've known.

I've thought of him many many times since then, hoping for a miracle that somehow he was safe -- but, Mrs. White, I just can't twist my hopeful expectations enough to have that consoling thought.

Somehow I can't say the things I feel about Tom. He was as close a friend as I had anywhere and you know what that means. I'm not much good at writing things like this. But I wanted you to know, first, what I knew about the mission, and secondly, just how much all the boys who knew Tom loved him. I'm having a hard time trying to express my belief about the boys and still trying to spare you the pains of grief which I know you feel now.  […]   I know this letter comes as a shock, and I know it won't lessen your grief, but I know you are proud to know that Tom was so well liked. He made our every mission and our every day seem shorter and easier.  […]


Your friend
Joe Hackler
Mountain Home, Arkansas

June 18, 1945 -- Almost six weeks after the jubilation of VE Day, came the official confirmation of what Tommy White's family already knew, but perhaps still secretly hoped would somehow turn out not to be true after all.



Tommy’s few personal effects eventually made their way back to his parent’s home in Kingston. So did his Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters (an award based on number of completed missions, which he had already earned), and a Purple Heart, presented posthumously to his mother and father

Scrapbook clippings from local newspapers trace the changing status of Kingston-born Tommy White, in the year that followed his final mission for the U.S. Army Air Force on September 24, 1944

MARKING TIME

Until this past year, the only official marker for T/Sgt White was on a white cross in Plot B, Row 12, Grave 37 of the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery & Memorial, at Nettuno, Italy. By all accounts the grounds there are very elegant, and still carefully maintained. But even in our ever-shrinking global village, Italy still seems a bit far away.

So it was that just this past summer, I finally paid my first visit to the National Air Force Museum of Canada at Trenton. While there I happened to learn of their “Ad Astra” program -- engraved granite stones lining the pathways of their large outdoor Air Park, and collectively paying tribute to Canadians who have served in our Air Force (Royal or otherwise!) in many different capacities, and even including Canadian-born men and women who served in the Allied Air Forces of other countries.

With Trenton being pretty much in the same part of the world as Tommy White’s boyhood home of Kingston, adding a stone in his name to the thousands already there just seemed like the only thing to do.

And the fact that this year's dedication ceremony fell on the exact same date -- September 24 -- as Tommy's final mission 67 years earlier, is just one of those cosmic coincidences to which we can ascribe as much or as little meaning as we choose.


 

WORTH REMEMBERING?

Every life is unique; everyone’s story is special. And when lives are cut short on such a massive scale as took place between 1939 and 1945, we urge ourselves to “never forget” those sacrifices. We even dedicate special occasions to remind us to remember -- Memorial Days, Veterans’ Days, Days of Remembrance, and Days of Thanksgiving.

But is keeping the past alive -- even just one person’s past -- simply waging a costly and ultimately unwinnable war against Time itself? Years turn into decades; decades into centuries. Generation follows generation: the ones who participated, and the ones privileged to have known them; the ones to whom those generations told their stories, and the ones who wrote those stories down; and then all the generations beyond -- some of them still vaguely aware of “stories” that used to get told.

And all of us, everyone in every generation, leading our ever-busy lives – just trying to get by, to do the best we can for the short time we’re here -- but with hardly enough time to do right by the loved ones of our own generation, much less preserve and curate the memory of the ones who came before us, however noble their sacrifice.

So the friends and family and colleagues who think I’ve already invested too much time and too much energy in this particular endeavour may well be right. Because the cold reality is that someday -- whether years from now or generations from now -- Tommy White’s story will almost certainly be forgotten.

But for now, for today -- however stubborn or selfish it may be; however misguided or even pointless it may prove -- I’m just not ready to accept the idea of that “someday” being on my watch.

So for now, and for whatever it’s worth...  Thank you, “Uncle Tommy”.

Your great-nephew (-in-law)
John Bertram



May, 2011 -- My thanks to Collings Foundation pilot Jayson Owen, not only for taking this picture after he and John Purdy skillfully landed the B-24 last Spring, but also for making sure I was able to begin and end the flight seated in the Radio Operator's chair.



1944/45 -- a B-24 Liberator of the 15th Air Force's 485th Bomb Group takes off from its home base at Venosa, Italy.



1944/45 -- mission photo: planes from the 485th in formation



1944/45 -- every Bomb Group had its own unique tail insignia; the 485th's was a black square on a yellow background, atop a yellow cross on a black background. The close-up crop below shows just how open the Waist Gunner positions were to the elements -- especially at around 28,000 feet.





1944/45 -- the airfield for the 485th Bomb Group at Venosa, Italy ~ no doubt a welcome sight at mission's end for every crew fortunate enough to have made it back safely, one more time.



485th Libs taxiing at Venosa.



WIth San Diego being the B-24 Liberator's "hometown" -- the place where it was designed and first built -- it's appropriate that the plane features prominently at the Veteran's Museum & Memorial Center in the city's Balboa Park cultural hub -- with tributes and displays both inside and out to the unglamorous but undeniably vital aircraft.



While doing other work nearby this past Fall, it was my great fortune to be able to drop in on the 2011 Reunion gathering of the 485th Bomb Group Association, and get to meet actual Venosa vets like Marvin Lindsay from Granbury, Texas (in the white shirt and blue cap). Marvin is the one of the Association's four "squadron leaders", keeping track of members who, like my great-uncle-in-law Tommy White, served in the 829th Squadron.

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