Submissions of 303rd Bomb Group related stories and articles are most welcome.
July 15, 2012
Volume IV, Issue 7
by Robert B. Green, Nephew to Alan Frey, 360th BS
This story, originally published in the August 2003 Hell's Angels Newsletter, is being rerun in honor of Gene McCutchan. Gene passed away June 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. At his request, no services were held and no obituary was written.
It was then that Alan asked me if I knew a Colonel Gene McCutchan from my days in Vietnam. I was sorry to say that I didn't. Alan pointed out that Gene McCutchan was his B-17 Pilot during WWII and that they had completed all 35 missions together, Alan as his radio operator. I soon recognized the name "McCutchan" as Uncle Alan sometimes spoke of him on those rare occasions when we talked about his days with the 303rd. However, Alan usually referred to him as "Mac" and that may have caused my confusion?
I informed Alan that I would check with my group, the Forward Air Controllers Association, and try to locate Gene McCutchan. This turned out to be an unexpected revelation. When I inquired about Gene McCutchan over the Internet with my group, I was flooded with e-mails. Apparently I exposed my limited knowledge and felt somewhat foolish for not knowing about a true legend in my outfit.
I finally started communicating with Colonel McCutchan and over time, we developed a fine rapport'. I had told him on one occasion "had I known we were in country together, I would have requested a transfer to His outfit as his crew chief." I'm sure that would make for some interesting conversation at my family reunions.
I was soon to learn the 303rd was planning on having their reunion in Baltimore, not too far from my home in Virginia. I immediately contacted Colonel McCutchan and asked if he would be attending. He was sorry to inform me that because of some health problems he could not make this reunion. Fortunately, I have some friends in the Phoenix, Arizona area where Gene lives, and suggested to my wife that we take our vacation in Arizona this year. She agreed and the wheels were put into motion.
All the planning and preparation for the "Big mini reunion" had been made and all that was left was counting down the days. Finally on October 8, 2002 I met Gene McCutchan for dinner. This wasn't the reunion dinner but a surprise gathering, the night before the reunion, to bestow honor upon one of our nations true heroes, a veteran of three wars, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
Although Gene had completed Vietnamese Airborne Jump School and made numerous combat jumps, he was never awarded the U.S. Parachutist badge that he was now authorized. To correct this situation in attendance at this dinner party were Lt. Colonel William Shelton, United States Army Special Forces (retired) and Major Joe Granducci United States Air Force (retired). Joe also served as a "Redmarker FAC" in Vietnam with Colonel McCutchan. Although the official records of Gene's combat jumps are no longer available due to the collapse of the South Vietnamese Government. Colonel Shelton and Major Granducci presented Gene with an "Unofficial" certificate and the U.S. Parachutist Badge attesting to his accomplishments.
Finally I had the honor to meet Gene McCutchan and to thank him for his dedicated service to our Country. To all our Veterans, and especially our Veterans that served during WWII, I thank you for securing my Freedom and allowing me to live in the "Land of the Free". Let it be known that my generation is eternally grateful for your sacrifices.
By Dawn Furbush
Stockton Springs (ME) – Jerry Dobbins was born May 28, 1923. On January 23, 1943, he became the first of eight Stockton Springs residents to be killed in World War II, out of the 70 townsfolks who served in the military during those frightful years. The local American Legion Post 157 was subsequently named in his honor.
On June 16th, The Town of Stockton Springs will welcome the lone living survivor of the tragic World War II B-17 plane crash that took the life of Dobbins, representatives from Pluvigner, France where the plane crashed, Michael Noyes from Senator Susan Collins’ Office, and other special guests to a program honoring the hometown hero Jerry Walter Dobbins, who died in that crash over 69 years ago. In recognition of Sgt. Dobbins’ heroic actions on that fateful mission, documentation of the event has been submitted to the Secretary of Defense for a posthumous award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Dobbins was a member of the B-17F (“Beats Me!”) aircrew with the 360th Bomb Squadron attached to the 303rd Bomber Group (H) stationed in Molesworth, England. He was the Left Waist Gunner, manning one of two .50 cal machine guns that fired from each side of the aircraft. The mission on 1/23/1943 was the crew’s eleventh since deploying to England, and its target was the German U-Boat pens near Brest, France. Twenty-one B-17’s took off that morning and flew towards the target. Two planes had to turn back due to mechanical issues.
As they approached the target, the German Luftwaffe sent up 45 ME-190 fighters to engage the bombers. In the heat of the battle when the B-17’s were dropping their bomb loads, the entire tail section of “Beats Me!” was destroyed by a bomb dropped by a plane flying immediately above it, making it unstable to fly. The pilot kept it flying as best he could until the plane actually inverted and ultimately crashed in a field near Pluvigner. During those frightful moments before going down, a drama unfolded that had never been highlighted until June, 2011 when members of Legion Post 157 had a telephone interview with a surviving crewmember, Mr. Charles Roth of Grand Junction, CO.
As the Radio Operator, Roth was wearing a “fanny pack” parachute. The Waist Gunners did not have on their chutes, which were hanging on the fuselage inside the aircraft. The altitude for that bombing run was 21,000 feet – an altitude at which all crew members needed oxygen. In emergency situations, each crew member had defined duties. SSG Roth’s duty was to get the ball turret gunner out of the turret. That crew member was then to open the emergency hatch door so all could exit. The Waist Gunners were to continue to provide fire power against any enemy aircraft still in the area. During those moments, Roth next went to help the Right Waist Gunner but he was already dead and fell from the gun opening. Roth lost his oxygen tube while he was going to help the Waist Gunner. Jerry Dobbins saw this and went to retrieve a tube from another crew member who had died, so that Roth could get safely out of the plane. Dobbins provided the oxygen tube for his crewmate instead of getting his own parachute on so he could jump. At that moment, the plane inverted and went straight down. Roth had safely jumped before this, but seven including Dobbins went down with the plane. Roth and two other surviving crewmen were captured by the Germans that evening and spent the rest of the war as prisoners of war in Stalag Luft III.
The town of Pluvigner, France has erected a monument in the field where “Beats Me!” went down. The remains of the seven crew members who died in the crash were moved back to the U.S. in 1950 and are now buried in a mass grave at the National Veterans Cemetery in Rock Island, IL.
Roth, who will be 90 years old on 6/14/2012, will be attending the Stockton Springs commemorative event along with his son and daughter-in-law, members of the Dobbins family, and Jon Schulstad, son of the pilot of the “Beats Me!” B-17. Other special guests include Michele and Hubert Le Neillon representing Pluvigner and the French Remembrance Association. Le Neillon has obtained Jerry Dobbins’ dog tags from a Belgian collector and will present them to the Dobbins family.
Members of Legion Post 157 have been assisted by Mr. Roth, Senator Collins and Lt Col Peter Ogden of Maine Veteran Affairs in applying for the posthumous award to recognize Jerry Dobbins’ singular act of heroism on Jan. 23, 1943.
Research on these events and Jerry Dobbins’ life have been provided by Diane Coose Littlefield of the Stockton Springs Historical Society and Legion Post member Earl Trundy. A message posted on the 303rd Bomb Group’s website enabled the Legion Post’s Historian and Officers to locate and contact Mr. Roth.
This is a very small story that was a part of the fabled story of the 303rd "Hell's Angels" Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force during WWII.
Six replacement crews joined the 359th Squadron in late 1943 to carve their places in history. These were led by Howard Dahleen, Billy Goolsby, Art Hybert, Vern Moncur, Noel Newell and Don Stoulil. These six crews flew many missions together, including the January 11, 1944 mission to Oschersleben, earning the Group's Presidential Unit Citation, and the March 6, 1944 trip to Berlin. All completed their combat tours, with only a few injuries.
Billy Goolsby went on to lead the Group's missions, flying with then Captain Mel Schulstad and then Lt. Col Richard Cole. In addition, Don Stoulil, flying a PFF aircraft, led missions with, among others, then Major Lew Lyle and our Colonel Kermit Stevens. Don's combat tour was extended due to his leading many missions in the PFF plane. His regular navigator was Hal Susskind, remembered as Editor of the 303rd newsletter.
The Vern Moncur crew has been immortalized in the "Thunderbird" painted on the wall in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
During the same time, Edgar ‘Ed" Miller of the 360th Squadron, flew several missions with our six crews. Ed was well known in the 303rd Association. Ed and Vern were quoted many times as they described the action in the mission reports.
Recent deaths of those involved include Walter Hein, last remaining member of the Moncur crew, Mel Schulstad, Hal Susskind and Ed Miller.
I flew most missions as the original navigator in the Dahleen crew and was privileged to fly missions with the Goolsby, Hybert and Newell crews. In addition, I would have certainly flown with the Moncur and Stoulil crews if scheduled to do so.
"The Underdogs" 303rd BG Basketball Team. Do you recognize anyone?
Crowne Plaza Hotel – San Antonio, Texas
OCTOBER 3 – 8, 2012
11-11: The Carl Fyler Story
by Karl Webb and Ann Norlin
Video Introduction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uabUfw5NNkQ
There seems to be a shortage of real heroes today. At least in the public eye, there seems to be a dearth of people who live their lives with integrity, true to their own ideals and the ideals of this country. Perhaps that is why we must learn to look at the stories of the real people who live nearby. It might be your dentist, your travel agent, or the person who lives next door. That is where the true heroes will be found.
11-11: The Carl Fyler Story, is one example of such a story.
Dr. Carl Fyler’s story is one of a true American. His roots run deep in this country, as his family is one of the founding families of the nation. The Fyler’s immigrated to this country in 1630, and have been history makers ever since. There is a long and proud line of Fylers that have defended and grown this country from the beginning.
Out of this stream came Major Carl Fyler, a well-known and respected B-17 bomber pilot from World War II. Carl flew with the Mighty Eighth Air Force’s Hell’s Angels. After 25 plus hazardous missions, Carl and his crew were shot down over Bremen, Germany on November 29th, 1943. Carl ended up as a prisoner of war in the infamous Stalag Luft 1, where he spent 510 days before returning to the United States, a changed man.
There are, of course, many men and women who shared in this story of courage, loyalty and heroism. Understandably, the war affected some in a negative way, but Carl’s strength, courage and beliefs did not waiver. He too struggled with the after affects of his experiences, but in the end, he chose to take his experience of war and let it make him stronger, rather than break him.
11-11: The Carl Fyler Story is the story of a man who let adversity, sorrow, betrayal and hardship form him into a man who fought for what was right. He believed in honor and sought to gain it for those who deserved it. He learned to mark time as needed, but to never, ever, ever give up.
This book is as authentic of a biography as one might find. It is based in its entirety on actual documents, oral interviews, and from the personal belongings of Carl J. Fyler. Much of the story is told in his own words.
It is a real-life drama that makes history come alive.
He was born February 23, 1925 in Royal Oak to the late Fred and Marjorie Stauffer. Mr. Stauffer worked as an editorial writer for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers until his retirement in 1990.
He was a World War II U.S. Air Force pilot, a member of the Flyboy's Group, and an Honor Flight Michigan volunteer for "The Legacy Project". He enjoyed his cabin up north, hunting, fishing, photography and music.
He is survived by his wife, Jean H. Stauffer, the couple married June 16, 1951 in Detroit; children, Kirk (Sandra) Stauffer and Susan (Jeffrey) Dunn; grandchildren, Lindsey (Marshall) Meyer, Megan Stauffer, Melissa (Brian) Teske, Jordan Dunn and Emily Dunn; and great grandchildren, Avery Meyer, Abby Meyer and Jackson Teske. He was preceded in death by his brother, Herb Stauffer.
The visitation will be Wednesday 2-8 p.m. at the Wm. Sullivan & Son Funeral Home, 705 W Eleven Mile Road (4 blks. E of Woodward), Royal Oak. Mr. Stauffer will lie in state Thursday 10 a.m. until the time of service 11 a.m. at Emmanuel Bethel Church in Royal Oak, with the Rev. Laurence Wood officiating. The burial will take place at Oakview Cemetery in Royal Oak. Memorials to Emmanuel Bethel, Honor Flight Michigan or Beaumont Hospice appreciated. Share your memories at www.sullivanfuneraldirectors.com.
He received a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, as well as a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the same school.
During World War II, he served as a Navigator on B-17s with the Eighth Air Force, 303rd Bomb Group (H), in England. He completed 17 missions and was retired as a 2nd Lieutenant following a combat injury.
Mr Subkowsky retired as a Vice-President of Cahn Engineers in December of 1978. He was a member of Beth Israel Synagogue and had served as Treasurer of that organization for three years. He also served on the Wallingford Library Board of Managers for three years. He was a long time Amateur Radio Operator and was interested in computers since 1966. While a resident of Ashlar Village, Mr. Subkowsky was elected president of the Ashlar Village Associaton during 2005/2006 and continued serving on many association committees.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his son and daughter-in-law Robert and Elizabeth Subkowsky of Chicago, IL, and his daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Gary Schaer of Passaic, NJ. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Jonathan Schaer (Lee), Jessica Leiblich (Gill), and Emma Schaer.
Services will be held at the B.C. Bailey Funeral Home, 273 South Elm Street on Monday, June 25, at 10:00 AM followed by burial in In Memoriam Cemetery in Wallingford. If desired, gifts in his memory may be made to the Masonic Charity Foundation, P.O. Box 757, Wallingford, CT, 06492. To leave a message of remembrance or to find directions, please visit www.BCBailey.com
He was born on May 23, 1921, Pittsburgh, Pa. He grew up in Salem, Ohio, and graduated from Salem High School. He enlisted the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and flew 30 combat missions, lead crew, with the renowned 8th AF, 303rd Bomb Group 'Hells Angels,' receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross. Later in life he was active with the 8th AF Association, the 303rd Group reunions, and was a member of DAV, American Legion and Maine Aviation Historical Society.
While briefly stationed at Dow Field, Bangor, before heading to the war front he met Jaye I. Sleight who volunteered at the Bangor USO. In 1945 they married in Salem but soon chose to make their home in Maine. Robert graduated from the Univ. of Maine with a B.S. in Forestry and served 36 years as a professional forester with the Maine Forest Service, retiring in 1987. In retirement he enjoyed family and travel.
Robert was predeceased by his wife, Jaye Sleight Umberger. He is survived by his sister; three sons and a daughter, Robert Jr., Susan, William, John and their families. Robert will be laid to rest with his wife at the Veteran's Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. Calling hours are from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, June 25, 2012, at Long Funeral Home, 9 Mountain St., Camden. A funeral Mass will be held at 9 a.m. on June 26, 2012, at Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church, Camden.
Memorial donations may be made to: The American Heart Assoc. 51 U.S Rt. 1, Suite M Scarborough, Maine 04074
Memorial services will be 10:30 a.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church in Wood River, with Pastor Brad Jepsen officiating. Inurnment will be in the Wood River Cemetery. As per Mr. Paulk's request his body was cremated.
The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Apfel Funeral Home in Wood River.
Mr. Paulk was born Jan. 24, 1921, at Wood River to Thomas E. and Jessie Mae (Carter) Paulk.
He married Opal J. Mays on June 16, 1946, at Wood River.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Opal; and his son, Brent Paulk.
Survivors of the immediate family include a daughter and son-in-law, Marcia Ann and Rob Wortman of Curtis; a son and daughter-in-law, Robb M. and Marie Paulk of Tilden; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
He grew up and attended school in Wood River, graduating from Wood River High School in 1938. He then attended college for three years. Maurice entered the U.S. Army on April 17, 1942, serving with the 8th Air Force 303rd Bomb Group also known as the "Hell's Angels" in Molsworth Air Force Base in England. He completed his final three months serving in North Africa, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant on Sept. 28, 1945.
Maurice operated and was a partner in Paulk's Super Service for 19 years. He also worked in an auto parts department in Grand Island for 14 years.
He enjoyed his family, fishing, hunting, collecting guns, Native American History, his computer and sharing stories of his military life.
Maurice was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Wood River, a member of the Masonic Lodge, the Shrine, VFW and American Legion, 303rd Bomb Group Association, Nebraska Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, United Nebraska Muzzle Loaders and Order of Eastern Star. He attended the first Hall County "Hero's Flight" to Washington, D.C. to see the WW II Memorial and many other sites in September of 2011. Where he and many others were honored by our great country.
In lieu of flowers memorials are suggested to the First Presbyterian Church in Wood River.
A life–long resident of Raleigh and graduate of Elon College, he joined the Air Force during WW II. Captain Johnson was leader of the Hell's Angels 358 Johnson Crew-303rd Bomb Group (H) and was credited with 26 combat missions. After his plane was shot down in Holland he was captured and transported to a POW camp in Germany where he remained until the war's end. During his business career he was executive sales manager and representative for Nelly Don Manufacturing and owner of Johnson's Cleaners, Ridgewood Shopping Center.
Beverley was a life long member of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, a member of the Carolina Country Club, the Sphinx Club and the Terpsichorean Club. He enjoyed golf, gin rummy, and spending time with his family and friends. In lieu of flowers, contribution may be made to Wounded Warriors or charity of one's choice .
A graveside service will be June 21, 2012 at 11:00 A.M. at Montlawn Mwmorial Park, Raleigh, NC. The family will receive friends after the graveside service.
He died in Green Valley Arizona on Thursday, February 23, 2012.
G.F., as he was known grew up in Leon and graduated from Leon High School in 1943. He then joined the United States Army Air Corps where he flew 35 missions over Germany as a B-17 tail gunner in WWII with the 359 Squadron of the 303rd Bomb Group, known as the Hell's Angels. G.F. played football, basketball, and received his undergraduate degree from Simpson College. He graduated from the Univeristy of Iowa Law School in 1950 and then began practicing law in Leon, Iowa for the next 55 years at the same firm his grandfather started in 1878. At the time of his retirement Hoffman Law Firm was the oldest continuous family law firm in Iowa. He was a lifetime member of the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers.
As a young man, G.F. worked as a lifeguard on the shores of Lake Michigan and helped Edgar Hansel pilot a boat from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. G.F. was an avid fisherman, hunter, golfer, and Iowa Hawkeye fan. In the days before refrigeration he worked delivering ice to the cabins along Long Lake. He often hitchhiked or rode his Indian motorcycle to get to the lake that he loved. He spent 80 memorable summers with family and friends at the cabin on Long Lake at Park Rapids, Minnesota.
G.F. was preceded in death in 2006 by both his granddaughter, Abigail Nicole "Abby" Hoffman and his loving wife of 55 years, Betty Marie [Adamson] Hoffman; in 2009, by his son, George Frederic "Jeff" Hoffman III; and sisters, Katharin "Kit Sue" Dixon and Mamie Nell Viner and husband Dr. Thomas Viner.
He is survived by his loving companion, Phyllis Westberg of Forest Lake, Minnesota; sons, Michael Andrew Hoffman of Blair, NE and Todd Eric Hoffman and wife Janet of Omaha, NE; grandchildren, Ryan Michael Hoffman and wife April of Omaha, Elizabeth Marie Hoffman of Philadelphia, PA, Scott Eric Hoffman, and twins, Sarah Elizabeth Hoffman and Katherine Patricia "Katie" Hoffman, all of Omaha; great grandchildren, Jaidyn Michael Hoffman, Elle Kate Hoffman, and Lily Abigail Hoffman, all of Omaha; foreign exchange son, Atsuro "Atz" Endo of Japan; and other relatives and many friends.
I just was getting on the Web Page to see how to notify you folks of my dad’s passing. And to my surprise, his name was already listed among those who have recently departed.Keeping the Legacy Alive,