B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

'05-'06 Reunion Association Officers

 

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John W. Metzen, President

 

After attending Western Michigan University, John entered the service in Kalamazoo, Michigan (hometown) on May 19, 1942 and was discharged December 2, 1945.

"I was assigned to the Air Corp. doing basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. I was sent to Buckley Field, Colorado, where I completed Armorer School. From Buckley I was assigned to Hendricks Field, Sebring, Florida. Hendricks Field was a B-17 Pilot Transition Field.

After nearly a year at Hendricks, I was shipped to North Africa as a replacement, landing at Casablanca on Christmas Day, 1943 (c-rations for Christmas dinner). We did "forty and eight's" across the Atlas Mountain (9 days with cold c-rations) to Tunisia. After a few weeks at an air base there, we shipped from Algiers to Cagliari, Sardinia-assigned to the 443rd Squadron, 320th Bomb Group. My job was armorer from Sardinia to Corsica to Dijon, France. Following the German surrender, we did disarmament duty in Furth, Germany.

Following WWII and return to civilian life, I was a Territory Sales Rep with Standard Oil Co. in Michigan. Later I was promoted to a Special Rep selling chemical specialties for the State of Michigan.

I joined Chemagro of Kansas City, Missouri on January 1, 1960. BAYER of Leverkusen, Germany soon took over Chemagro. I was in the Agricultural Chemical Division of BAYER.

I was promoted to Northeast Regional Manager in 1964 and relocated my wife and two daughters from Michigan to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I retired from BAYER in July, 1987. My wife died in 1996 and I married my wife, Rosemary, in 2001.

One of my few regrets in life is that I was unaware of our 320th BG Association and annual reunions until 2001. Rosemary and I were "first timers' in Albuquerque and had such a wonderful time that we intend to make every future reunion. We have made so many special friends in such a short time and it has been great enjoying the camaraderie, sharing the laughter, and reminiscing the experiences that we shared."

 

John Malcolm, Immediate Past President

 

A Nebraskan by  birth, a Texan by choice. John Malcolm was born and educated in Nebraska. In the early forties he moved to Chicago area to attend the RCA Radio Institute to become a broadcast Engineer. With the Pearl Harbor event he enlisted in the Air Corps and graduated from the cadet program in May 1943. He Joined the 320th B.G. in Sardinia in November 1943. John returned to the USA after his tour (65 missions) as a flight instructor for the A-26 program at Marianna, Florida. He was the Commander of the Training Squadron at Marianna prior to his discharge in 1945. He completed his degree work at the University of Nebraska in 1948 and returned to the Chicago area and worked in Commercial Art until recalled during the Korean conflict.

He remained in the Air Force with very diverse assignments: Training Command; Instrument  Pilot Instructors School; Air Defense Command, 39th Air Division, Misawa Japan; Strategic Air Command as a tanker pilot; Air Rescue Service in support of the NASA program in Libya; Military Transport Command and Tactical Air Command as C-130 pilot and Operations; Operation Officer for the C-130's in Saigon, Vietnam 1971; and Director Command & Control, 12th Air Force Headquarters. He retired from the Air force in Austin Texas and joined the University of Texas, Industrial Training Department. John also conducted Supervisory/Management seminars throughout Texas and foreign areas. He retired from the University in 1986. Metals and decorations include the coveted Good Conduct Medal.

 

Bob Perrine, 1st Vice President

 

 

Jack Haher, 2nd Vice President

 

Jack was in Cadet Class 44A from Ellington Field, TX and transitioned to the B-26 at Del Rio, TX.

"After the Barksdale, LA Replacement Training Unit, I tried to lead a three-ship formation out of Hunter Field, GA on the Southern Route to North Africa.  When I say tried, we left the first wingman at West Palm Beach, FL on his saying he had a fire in the bomb bay. I think his crew smelled smoke from a nearby swamp burn-off. The second "bailed-out" for another forgotten reason at British Guiana. So this left us all alone with the ATC navigator to go on our merry way. Being all alone, I dropped down on the deck to make our landfall at Roberts Field, Liberia. I called the tower for landing instructions and was promptly told to climb back up to 6000 ft. because a flight of 6 B-25s had beaten us to it. Would you believe I had to hold for 2 hours on instruments after 5 hours coming from Ascension Island! Not calling in earlier was a big mistake!"

"Anyway, we came in OK in a driving rainstorm; and, while taxiing to the ramp the B-26 following overshot and into the river at the end of the runway, he went! We hopped in a jeep to see if they got out OK. We found that the nose wheel had not folded and they were climbing out the nose wheel door - very
wet and very embarrassed! I guess some guys will do anything to get out of combat.... My two wingmen and the overshooter!"

That was Jack's introduction to combat operations. He went on to fly 42 missions from Sardinia, Corsica, and the Dijon Area. He then graduated with a BS in Air Transportation from Purdue University in 1948 and held management positions in the plastics industry. He retired in 1992.

 

Gail Purtz, Secretary

 

 

Edward P. Purtz, Adviser

 

 

Alexander N. Brast, Treasurer

 

Four Brast brothers volunteered after Pearl Harbor - 3 qualified as aviation cadets: (Alex pilot, twin brother George navigator , Bill bombardier ) Dick served in the Coast Guard as a radio operator.

After service Alex attended night college under the G.I. Bill while raising a family.  He retired  as a CPA after 55 years in Auditing and Financial Accounting.

Alex is currently 442nd Squadron Representative and serves as the 320th Bomb Group Registration Chairman and Assistant to the Secretary/Treasurer.

 

Bernie Schank, Boomerang News Editor

 

Bernard Lynn Schank was born on March 4, 1921 in New York. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School June 1938, and entered Brooklyn College where he took only a small program because he had to work to earn money for his necessities. He enlisted in the Air Force as an Aviation Cadet to earn Pilot’s status, however his class did not open until June 30, 1943. In the meantime, he was drafted by the Army and told he would be transferred as soon as his class opened. Surprisingly, all went as promised. However, the Air Force felt he would be more valuable in Intelligence, since they had enough pilots. After a period of schooling, he was assigned to the 42nd Wing doing target bombing evaluation and target selection in support of ground troops. He was given an Honorable Discharge in Oct.1945.

He got a job with an art studio, in sales and creative marketing ideas. He left this position in order to form a small marketing company where his ideas could produce business for his clients and build his own growth. On May 10, 1948, he incorporated Schank Advertising and he was on his way. By June 1983, he had 10 offices around the country, with 120 employees. He was 62 years of age and decided to sell the agency, since several people indicated a willingness to buy. This was done and the new people called the business BSA, which stood for Bernard Schank Assoc. Much easier than explaining the business was sold when people would ask for Mr. Schank.

Now, he is called on to create a marketing approach backed by photography and do other activities such as editing a newsletter called the Boomerang for the 320th Bomb Group, where he was attached during WWII. In addition, since he played tennis avidly, he wrote a book on tennis called 55-LOVE, Doubles Strategy for Seniors. The first edition sold out and the second edition is being sold through Tennis Publications and clubs. He is married and has two sons who are Captains on Delta and Northwest Airlines, and a daughter who teaches and owns a small business in Florida.

 

Bob Swindler, HQ Group Representative

 

Bob graduated from bombardier training school, Midland, Texas in June, 1942. In July 1942 he was assigned to the 443rd squadron, 320th Bomb Group, MacDill Field, FL. During the Group's stay in Sardinia, Bob was transferred from the 443rd Squadron to Group Operations staff. He remained in Group Operations until December, 1944 and thereafter was reassigned to an A-26 training base located at Marianna, FL. He was relieved from active duty in September, 1945. Bob graduated from Butler University with a degree in accounting in June, 1947.

 

Eldon Hunsberger, 441st Squadron Representative

 

 

Seymour M. "Si" Ober, 442nd Squadron Representative

 

 

John Lenkiewicz, 443rd Squadron Representative

 

 

Jack Haher, 444th Squadron Representative (Acting)

 

 

Joseph M. Seiley, Chief Historian

 

A native of San Diego, California, Joe became interested in the 320th when he discovered in 2003 that his father served with the group at Dijon and Dole.  Now he can’t get enough of learning more about this wonderful group of people.  Joe is a proud father of five beautiful children, and a happy husband to wife Rebecca of 15 years.  Joe works as a Marketing executive for a San Diego-based software company, and holds a MBA from San Diego State University.  Joe has lived and worked in Asia and Europe, and speaks Mandarin Chinese.  In his spare time besides his family, Joe enjoys photography, swimming, golf, history, genealogy, and volunteering at his church.  Oh yes, and Joe has a new nick name: “Spider”, given him by Al Kaiser at the 2003 San Jose reunion, because Joe is ‘always on the web’

 

Joseph M. Seiley, Chief Historian

 

A native of San Diego, California, Joe became interested in the 320th when he discovered in 2003 that his father served with the group at Dijon and Dole.  Now he can’t get enough of learning more about this wonderful group of people.  Joe is a proud father of five beautiful children, and a happy husband to wife Rebecca of 15 years.  Joe works as a Marketing executive for a San Diego-based software company, and holds a MBA from San Diego State University.  Joe has lived and worked in Asia and Europe, and speaks Mandarin Chinese.  In his spare time besides his family, Joe enjoys photography, swimming, golf, history, genealogy, and volunteering at his church.  Oh yes, and Joe has a new nick name: “Spider”, given him by Al Kaiser at the 2003 San Jose reunion, because Joe is ‘always on the web’

 

Dr. Franz Reisdorf, Chief Historian

 

Franz is creator and editor of the 320th B.G. website. His grandfather, Ben Reisdorf,  was a pilot in the 441st. He is a native of St. Paul, MN and went to the same high school as his grandfather, Ben. Franz is a cardiologist and holds a faculty position at the University of Minnesota. He is married and has a three year-old son, Ryan, and a one-year old daughter, Jane. In addition to his interest in the 320th, Franz is an avid woodworker plus enjoys canoeing and bicycling as well as other outdoor activities.



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