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Bob McGregorArmy Air Corps
Sometimes Bob wonders why some of his friends didn’t make it back but he did; he had a really good friend killed in Normandy.
When they left Italy, there were 5,000 men on one ship and it took 2 months to get to the Philippines they had two meals a day, there was hardly any room and their ship was being followed by a Japanese submarine.
At one point, he was in Italy doing reconnaissance and the Italian lady gave him a bar of soap around Christmas and was a touching experience.
Melvel Clifford Owen
U.S. Army Air Corp
- Flight Officer
- Aerial Navigator, on a B-17 bomber in the 305th Bomb Group.
- 366th Bomb Squadron Mel was drafted on March 13, 1943 at Fort Douglas, Utah and signed up for the Air Force, saying he wanted to be an Aviation Cadet. He was sent to Fresno, California for Air Force basic training. When basic training was over he was assigned to Buckley Field, Colorado for a month while he was waiting to get into CTD (College Training Detachment) at the College of Southern Utah in Cedar City, Utah. Mel completed these intense college courses on January 1, 1944. Mel's next assignment was classification and pre-flight training at Santa Ana, California. Here he took all kinds of tests to determine which position he would serve on a B-17 and his highest qualification was that of navigator. Mel's next assignment was to Kingman Army Airfield in Arizona for gunnery training. This training was all in the air in B-17s with a .50 caliber machine gun. Mel completed gunnery school on June 24, 1944. The next assignment was navigation school at Selman Field, Monroe, Louisiana where he graduated as a navigator on October 28, 1944 and became a Flight Officer in the Army Air Force.
Next Mel went to MacDill Field, Tampa Bay, Florida with the 8th Air Force for training with his assigned B-17 crew. They worked together for about two months before going to Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia for two weeks and then Dow Field, Bangor Maine before leaving the United States to go fight in the war.
The first stop was at Goose Bay, Labrador, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean on their way to Chelveston, England. As Navigator, Mel got his crew safely across the Atlantic Ocean despite a German submarine broadcasting a signal to lead them off course, which would have led to them flying over the ocean until they ran out of fuel and then crashed.
From Chelveston, Mel flew a total of 17 bombing missions-16 to Germany and his last one to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. On one mission the crew was required to bail out by parachute from a disabled aircraft. Often Mel's squadron was under attack from the ground and the air and they experienced several near collisions with their own aircraft and enemy aircraft as they flew to their destination to drop the bombs they hoped would help bring an end to the war. At one time the crew had to land with a partially armed bomb hanging from the bomb bay. On another mission, while flying in tight formation, their B-17 lost all engines and they had to drop straight down to avoid collision.
Mel was also assigned to fly lead missions and flew three flight leads-one squadron lead, one deputy squadron lead, one deputy division lead, and one division lead. A division was 1,000 B-17s and two navigators flew in a division lead plane, leading the whole bomber column to a designated place in Europe where the squadrons divided to go to various bombing assignments. After V.E. Day, Mel's squadron was assigned to fly into Germany to pick up American Prisoners of War.
Being an artist, Mel had the opportunity to paint at least two paintings on the noses of two B-17s. One was "Hey Joe, You Speak." The other was a scantily clad telephone operator representing Mel's pilot's wife.
After combat, Mel was assigned with his crew to the " Jones" mapping project of Europe and Africa for years and was stationed in St. Trond, Belgium; Lechfeld, Germany; Foggia, Italy; Tunis, North Africa; and Monrovia, Liberia. He always performed each assignment professionally. Mel said that this gave him an appreciation for America that he never had before. Mel came home on the victory ship "Chapel Hill" and was mustered out of the Army Air Force at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on August 23, 1946.
Mel was lucky-he was never injured and he wasn't killed. But he went into the war knowing either of those events could have happened, and he gave his all for his country and his home. Mel has instilled in his children a love of America and a respect for the men and women who have defended and continue to defend liberty.
Fran enlisted at South Bend Indiana September 15,1943. She went to boot camp at Hunter College in New York. From boot camp, she was sent to Pensacola, Florida for pharmacy school, then went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to the Naval Hospital.
From there she went to receiving station in Boston, Massachusetts. After four and a half months of ward duty, four months at EENT, and four months at the pharmacy, she was then made Ships Company and worked in the Record's Department. She had the Chief Warrant Officer, David Whitlock, for a boss. In July of 1945 she was transferred to Washington D.C. to the Bureau of Medicine. She was discharged from there October 26, 1945.