B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

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Jack Haher, 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.
 

Bob Perrine, Immediate Past President

 

 

Si Ober, 1st Vice President

 

 

John Lenkiewicz, 2nd Vice President

 

 

Gail Purtz, Secretary

 

 

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.

 

Rosemary Metzen, Boomerang News Editor

 

 

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.

 

Elden Hunsberger, 441st Squadron Representative

 

 

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

 

 

John W. Metzen, 443rd Squadron Representative

 

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."

 

Harry Bacon, 444th Squadron Representative

 

 

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 three children ages 3,5, and 7. In addition to his interest in the 320th, Franz is an avid woodworker plus enjoys canoeing and bicycling as well as other outdoor activities.


Copyright(c) 2003 320th B.G. Reunion Association. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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