Submissions of 303rd Bomb Group related stories and articles are most welcome.
November 12, 2010
Volume II, Issue 16
Remembering Those Who Preserve Our Freedom
Gary and Susan Moncur Return to RAF Molesworth
Gary and Susan Moncur were honored to be invited back to RAF Molesworth on September 23-24, 2010. As the Historian and Webmaster of the 303rd Bomb Group, Gary had been asked to speak to the men and women of the JIOCEUR Analytic Center (JAC) as part of their ongoing Distinguished Speakers Program.
Gary's father, 1Lt Vern L. Moncur, was a pilot in the 359th Bomb Squadron, flying 28 combat missions from November 1943 to April 1944. Fascinated by the incredible history of the 303rd Bomb Group, Gary and Susan have worked totally as volunteers for the past 14 years to make the accomplishments of the Hell's Angels better known to the world. Gary developed, designed and still maintains the 303rd Bomb Group Website at www.303rdBG.com, and is the Editor of The Molesworth Pilot newsletter.
The Moncurs were escorted to the Cambridge American Cemetery by Mr. Jeffrey L. Bauer and Mr. Peter G. Park, of the JIOCEUR Analytic Center Commander's Action Group. Joining them were Dr. Peter Martland, Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, and Margan C. Kerwin, a Public Affairs Officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Gary and Susan Moncur lay a wreath honoring the men of the 303rd Bomb Group at Cambridge
American Cemetery. Cemetery Superintendent Michael Green salutes as Taps is played.
"Seeing Gary and Susan laying the beautiful 303rd Bomb Group (Heavy) wreath at The American Cemetery at Cambridge, England; and later watching the Moncurs walking among the graves of the 145 303rd members buried there and carved in the Wall of the Missing was a poignant vision. This man has dedicated his life to the legacy of these brave men." — Peter Park, JAC HistorianThe group was then taken on a guided tour of the Cemetery by Superintendent Green and his knowledgeable staff.
The event at the Cambridge American Cemetery was followed by lunch at a local pub and a guided tour of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.
"Mr. Gary Moncur's presentation was an inspiration for those serving at RAF Molesworth today. Gary's encyclopedic knowledge of the 303rd and his deep personal commitment to the legacy of those brave men who served on this base, especially the 841 for whom Molesworth was the last place they trod the earth is clearly evident. You only had to look at the faces of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians in the audience to see the power of Gary's message." — Peter Park, JAC Historian
"When making my way through the daily grind, it is easy to forget that here at RAF Molesworth, I am walking on hallowed ground, paid for by sacrifices which are hard for me to imagine. Although I have the opportunity to brief the history of RAF Molesworth to many visitors, listening to Gary brought the message home. When he speaks, it is with complete sincerity and conviction. For him, it's personal. He has a gift for making it personal for all of us. What the 303rd accomplished here between 1942 and 1945 should never be taken for granted or forgotten. Gary is a compelling spokesman for that message." — Jeffrey Bauer, JAC Professional Education DirectorFollowing his presentation, Gary was presented with a Commander's Coin by Army Colonel Matthew P. Glunz, Commander of the JIOCEUR Analytic Center.
M/Sgt Steven J. Miller greets the Moncurs in the RAF Molesworth Enlisted Heritage Lounge
Jeff Bauer and Peter Park escorted the Moncurs on a tour of the base, including the remaining WWII hangars, the old Main Gate and runway locations, plus the cold war era cruise missile bunkers. The two-day event ended with a delicious lunch at a nearby pub.
Susan and Gary were very touched by the warm welcome and royal treatment and hope to be invited back in the future.
Returns to Molesworth
Kyle Crew Machine Gun Discovered After Nearly 64 Years
by Gary L. Moncur
Kyle descended to 3,000 feet and attempted to find a hole in the clouds. He retained his bombs not knowing where they might fall. At 1315 hours and 2,600 feet altitude, the Cheviot Hills suddenly loomed out of the snow. Kyle's B-17 struck the mountainside and skidded across a bog, with the peat absorbing some of the impact.
The Cheviot Hills are a range of rolling hills straddling the England–Scotland border, between Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. The Kyle Crew's main crash site in the Cheviots has been excavated many times for over 60 years. Some small pieces of metal and debris still remain.
On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Kevin Ryder and his wife Carole of South Loftus, England, were hiking in the Cheviot Hills. Kevin wrote:
We have been walking all the mountains in England and we have only three left to climb and consequently we have come across several wartime sites, often with little or no remains to be seen. However, last Saturday when we were crossing the moor from one hill to the other, my wife saw a small piece of metal sticking out of the peat. After a bit of pulling it was obvious that it was a heavy calibre machine gun. We have covered it and left it where it was, marking the spot with our GPS, and continued on our way only to find further wreckage, which apparently is well known.
.50 Caliber Browning Machine Gun from B-17G #44-6504 unearthed after 64 years
Carole Ryder relaxes near their new discovery in the beautiful Cheviot Hills, 250 yards from
the main crash site. The photo was taken looking southwest from Braydon Crag.
Kevin then contacted Gary Moncur, 303rd Bomb Group Historian, with the news of their discovery. Gary put him in touch with Carol Kyle Sage, daughter of pilot George Kyle. Carol took charge and began working with Deborah Morgan and Dr. Vivian Rogers-Price, Research Center Director at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler, Georgia.. The goal was to find a way to get the machine gun back in the USA, preferably to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, where the 303rd BG archives are housed.
Carol, Deborah and Vivian worked for over two years to find a way to get the machine gun to the United States. As the gun is still officially US Army property, and is still considered a weapon, it became an insurmountable task. Regulations of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms prohibit importation of weapons such as this, and all attempts to have it returned to the USA failed. Through all this time, the weapon remained at the Northumbria Police Armoury, where they were considering destroying it.
As a last resort, which perhaps should have been the first resort, the JIOCEUR Analytic Center at RAF Molesworth was contacted to see if they would be interested in the machine gun for display. The response was a fast, resounding "YES!" With full approval of JAC Commander, COL Matthew P. Glunz, U.S. Army, and JAC historian Peter G. Park, arrangements were quickly made to return the machine gun to the base from which it departed.
For the men and women of the Armed Forces from around the world who are fortunate enough to be stationed at RAF Molesworth, the Kyle machine gun is certain to be a constant reminder of those who came before them — the men of the 303rd Bomb Group, the famous Hell's Angels — at the base once known as USAAF Station 107.
Looking much younger than his 93 years, Al Farrah poses with Jeanne, his bride of 62 years.
2Lt Albert L. Farrah, 0727561
by his daughter, Melissa Bouzianis
Liberated by the Russians in May of 1945, "Honest Al Farrah," as he was known in Stalag Luft 1 prison camp, returned to his family in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Prior to the war, Al was a pre-med student at Syracuse University. Circumstances dictated that he join his father in the family businesses instead of returning to complete his undergraduate degree.
On August 31, 1947, Al married Jeanne LeClerc . They raised seven children while running the family businesses which included a funeral home and flower shop.
In the early 1950's, Al was involved in the start of the New England Patriots franchise, known at the time as the Boston Patriots. He was given the rights to the promotion and organization of the first six pre-season games. The first game took place in Marblehead, MA. The second was scheduled for New York City, but slow ticket sales resulted in the game's cancellation.
Over the ensuing years, Al's businesses branched out to include real estate holdings in the Lawrence, MA area. He owned property rented by Sears Roebuck and held other real estate, including office buildings. He was an avid member and President of the Exchange Club in Lawrence and a leader in his church.
In appreciation for all they did for him during his time as a POW, Al has given back to the Red Cross by serving as a member of the Red Cross Board of Directors in both Lawrence, Massachusetts and in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He has also been a guest speaker at several colleges and on local radio shows, educating the public about his time in World War II and as a POW.
Al and Jeanne currently live on Gerrish Island in Kittery Point, Maine. In addition to their seven children, their family has grown to include 17 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Al continues to be physically active and maintains good health through daily workouts. He would like to reach out and make contact with any members of his crew.
Alpine Construction workers lifting the 303rd BG Memorial from it old foundation.
The new Gowen Field Memorial Park in Boise, Idaho was dedicated on May 27, 2010. At that time plans were underway to move the 303rd Bomb Group Memorial from its current location to the new Memorial Park, about a block away. The move has now been completed.
Alpine Construction was contracted to relocate the Memorial. They took great care to protect it from damage during all aspects of the move. Meridian Memorial cleaned and polished the granite monument and plaques.
New WWII Area and 303rd BG Monument Dedicated on November 12, 2010
Newly Completed 303rd Bomb Group Memorial
A brief rededication service was held on November 12, 2010 for the 303rd Bomb Group Memorial and the newly placed Memorial Bricks and Benches. Representing the 303rd Bomb Group was Brian Rencher, son of 358th BS pilot Jack Rencher, who passed away last August.
New Memorial Bricks at the base of the 303rd BG Monument
Previously purchased Memorial Bricks are now in place around the memorial, with room for more to be added in the future. The 303rd Memorial is the first item in the WWII part of the Gowen Field Memorial Park and is now much more visible to everyone entering Gowen Field.
Sincere thanks to CMSgt Pete L. Glick, State Command Chief for the Idaho Air National Guard, and his team for their tireless work and support, and for their deep respect for the heritage of the 303rd Bomb Group at Gowen Field. Memorial Bricks and numbered coins are still available for purchase. Proceeds are used to fund the completion of the Park. For more information, see: http://museum.mil.idaho.gov/gfmemorial/
by Gary L. Moncur
My thoughts were of Bill as I spoke with the B-17 Thunderbird crew at the Air Fest. At my request, on Sunday, November 7, 2010, Thunderbird dipped her wing in the clear, blue skies over historic Kelly Field in honor of our friend, and brother-in-arms, "Bergie" Bergeron. Thanks to Lone Star Flight Museum pilots Paul Evangelista and Skip Bonner, and Crew Chief John Sykes for their thoughtfulness. "Bergie, we salute you. Shaking your hand will have to wait for another time."
While awaiting our flight home at the San Antonio International Airport, we had a most unexpected treat. An announcement was made that a group of WWII veterans were arriving at Gate 8, just down the concourse. They were returning from an "Honor Flight" visit to the WWII Memorial in Washington DC.
About 200 strangers met the plane and applauded as the veterans entered the terminal. Someone in the crowd began singing "God Bless America" and the rest joined in. There were tears in everyone's eyes as we shared a very special moment.
I shook a few hands as they passed, some in wheelchairs and some walking. Some were smiling and some were crying. I didn't know anyone in the group —and yet, in a way— I knew every one of them. Thank you Veterans, thank you so much.
A memorial service for Mr. Rowe will be held on Wednesday, November 17, at 2:00 P.M. in the chapel of the First Baptist Church in Gainesville, Georgia. Visitation will be at 1:00 P.M. immediately preceding the service. Mr. Rowe was the son of the late Lottie Mae Brown Rowe and O.Z. Rowe, Sr. of Hilliard, Florida.
Mr. Rowe served in the Air Force as a radio operator in B-17s during World War II. During his almost 3 years of active duty, he was stationed in Molesworth, England and completed twenty-nine flight missions.
In 1985, Mr. Rowe retired from his management position with Bell South after 44 years of employment. Mr. Rowe was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia and volunteered there in the Family Life Center. He also volunteered at the Gainesville History Center and was a member of the Telephone Pioneers and the Lanier Men's Garden Club.
O.Z. Rowe was preceded in death by his sister, Nora Imogene Rowe Jackson, his brother, Harold E. Rowe, and his grandson, Richard Carl Houck. Loving survivors of Mr. Rowe include his wife, Annette Suggs Rowe, his daughter, Angela (John) Hewitt, his brother Clark H. Rowe, two grandsons, Blaine and Tyler (Elizabeth) Hewitt, three great granddaughters, Ansley Marie, Avery Patricia and Anna Elizabeth Hewitt, and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia Ministry of Caring. Those wishing to make online condolences may do so at Littledavenport.com Little and Davenport Funeral Home, 355 Dawsonville Hwy, Gainesville, Georgia is in charge of arrangements.
He was born January 5, 1922 at Cherokee, Kansas, the son of Martin and Catherine (Sedusak) Semonick. He lived in Scammon, Kansas since February 5, 1949 when he was married to Rosalie Knight. She preceded him in death on February 24, 2002.
He attended Cherokee schools and was a 1939 graduate of Cherokee High School. He attended Kansas State Teacher’s College, graduating in May of 1949. Mr. Semonick worked for the Commercial Fuel Coal Company before volunteering to join the U.S. Army Air Corp in December 1941. He was a member of the US 303rd Bomb Group, known as the Hell’s Angels that flew the first B-17 bomber air raids from England to France and Germany. Martin was twice shot down in combat, the second time becoming a prisoner of war for two years at Stalag 17-B in Austria.
He received numerous medals including the Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, four air medals and a presidential citation. He was a member of the Columbus American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
After his graduation from college in May of 1949, he became an advanced salesman for the Jewel Tea Company. He began employment at the Cherokee County Courthouse as a social worker in 1950. He became supervisor in 1960, director in 1968 and manager for both Cherokee and Labette County Social and Rehabilitation Services at Parsons, Kansas where the main office was located. He retired in 1986.
Mr. Semonick was an active fisherman and hunter. He belonged to the Cherokee Gun Club since 1950 and was secretary and treasurer for the first 40 years. He also was a taxidermist since 1965. He was a member of the St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Scammon.
Survivors include a Ed Semonick and Anita Davolt of Columbus and a sister Jane Custer of Scammon, 2 grandchildren Eric and Aron Davolt and 3 great grandchildren Kristina, Alexis and Gracie Davolt. In addition to his wife he was preceded in death by two brothers, Robert A. and August Semonick; three sisters, Katie Semonick, Amelia O’Hara and Annie Semonick.
Graveside services will be 2 pm, Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at Hosey Hill Cemetery with Fr. Chrysostom Ah Maung officiating. Friends are requested to meet at the Cemetery for the services. Informal viewing will be from 1-5 pm Tuesday and from 8 am until 12 noon Wednesday at the Bath-Naylor Funeral Home in Columbus. The Columbus American Legion will provide flag folding rites at the graveside.
Condolences may be left at www.bathnaylor.com. Memorials may be made to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and/or The Alzheimer’s Association.
Services by Bath-Naylor Funeral Home 611 S. East Ave Columbus, KS.
Frank was a resident of the Bay Area for over 60 years where he worked and raised his family. He was a counselor at Santa Clara High School for 30 years, where he worked with his wife, Ruth, of 50 years, before retiring in 1983.
Frank was a decorated veteran of WWII. He was a bombardier on a B-17 and flew 25 unescorted missions over Germany in the early 1940's. Frank was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He was very proud of his service to this country.
Frank will be interred at Mission City Memorial Park in Santa Clara, Ca.
After returning from the war in 1945, he met and married the love of his life, Lydia Gorman(Fern) who preceded him in death. He graduated from Arkansas State College with honors, went back in the Army and off he went. He was stationed in Germany, taught military science at Texas A&M while receiving his masters degree, was stationed in Iraq for 1 year in a remote outpost while his wife and 3 daughters, Lynda, Charlotte and Rosemary remained in the U.S. One year after returning his son William Jr. was born. Shortly after he attended and graduated Command General Staff College in Leavenworth, KS. We were off to the Panama Canal Zone. He ended his military career as the Deputy to the Commander at NORAD in Colorado Springs. While stationed there he shot skeet for the Army team and in 1967 he won the Military World Champion Individual Title and his team won the Team Title.
He retired from the military in 1968 and began his Civil Service career back in Panama. He ended up at Fort Bliss for the third time in 1980, where he was the head of TASC until he retired in 1986. There is so much more to his incredible story and life. He was a quiet unassuming man until you put him in front of a crowd with his fiddle, boy could he play.
Thank you to all those who have served and serving our country as our Father did. And thank you Dad for your devotion to our family for showing us how to live a life full of laughter, adventure, integrity, and most of all love. You and your music will live in our hearts forever. We love you! P.S. Say hi to Mom. Visitation will be Monday, November 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm with a Funeral Service at 12:45 pm at Sunset Funeral Home- Northeast, 4631 Hondo Pass, El Paso, TX. 79904. Committal Service will follow at Fort Bliss National Cemetery. Celebration of life will follow interment at approximately 3:00 pm at 3316 Gabel.
Hi Gary... I hope you are well.Keeping the Legacy Alive,