B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

The Steeple Chaser-How My B-26 Got Named
by Kenneth G. Ross, 442nd Bomb Squadron

 

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Ready For a Mission
L to R: Flight Engineer, Curtis G. Handy; Radio Operator, James R. Williams; Combat Observer-name unknown; Co-Pilot, Morris M. Thompson; Bombardier, Evel O. Harrison; Pilot, Kenneth G. Ross; Turret Gunner, John K. Moberly.
The plane is "The Steeple Chaser".


 

 

The name of my plane was The Steeple Chaser, and it was aptly named by my crew. The year was 1942, and I was 23 years old. We were stationed at Baer Field in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Since my hometown, Huntington, was 20 miles from Baer Field, and every pilot plans to buzz his hometown if the opportunity arises, you can guess what my plans were!

 

 

 

____
ONE YEAR AGO
Sunday, November 14, 1943

     Capt. Kenneth Ross, who has completed 40 bombing missions in Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy, sat in a barber chair in Huntington Saturday afternoon having one of the "home.folks" touch-up his army haircut. It seems "Just swell" to be home, Captain Ross said, looking forward to the 20 days of his leave at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Ross, Lafontaine street. He arrived Saturday morning.
     Captain Ross took a bit of Huntington with him into the battle, since his crew members insisted upon calling his B-26 Marauder bomber "The Steeple Chaser" after the time Captain Ross stunted over Huntington, swooping between church steeples, while his commanding officer from Baer Field watched him with blood in his eye.

 

 -exracted from The Huntington Herald Press

My opportunity came on a Sunday afternoon in November, a crisp day with the sun shining brightly. My crew and I were flying south of Huntington, so I lined up with Jefferson Street, the main north-south street in my town. I started my descent and leveled off at about 100 feet with an air speed of 240 mph. There were two churches a block apart, and I flew between the steeples. As soon as I was at the north end of town I pulled up to about 1500 feet altitude and headed back to Baer Field.

I landed, got in my car, and drove to Huntington to visit with my parents for a couple of hours before I returned to the base. I was puffed up with pride for my devious deed. We were supposed to be on base no later than midnight, and I was back in plenty of time.

At breakfast the next morning I was told to report to Col. Garrison at headquarters. I wondered why he wanted to see me. The Colonel asked me if I had buzzed Huntington the day before. I replied, "Yes sir." It seems he just happened to be in Huntington the same day I decided to buzz the town. He was unable to get the number off my plane, but did check and found who was from Huntington and I was the culprit.

Since we were headed overseas in a few days, he couldn't threaten me with overseas duty, so he restricted me to the base until further notice.

Three days later we headed for Morrison Field, West Palm Beach Florida. Six weeks later we were in Marrakech. Captain Dorman and I left for Oran. On our last leg of the trip Captain Dorman suggested that when we took off, I should get on his wing, and we would buzz the tower. Of course, I was all for that idea! We buzzed the tower, then flew on to Oran.

Huntington Pilot, Pantelleria Hero, Recalls Grounding
____
(Special to The News-Sentinel)

     HUNTINGTON, June 18.-Lieut. Kenneth G. Ross, 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray R. Ross, this city, reported in North African dispatches to have flown a B-26 bomber 60 miles after it was almost disabled over Pantelleria, gave this city several thrills and got himself "grounded" when he was stationed at Baer Field, Fort Wayne.
    The young man, who learned to fly on the now-abandoned city field south of the city, swooped low over Huntington one day after sending his mother word to watch for him. He swooped several times - and most of the swoops were viewed by his commanding officer at Baer Field who was here on a visit.
    When Ross got back to the field he found a hot reception waiting for him.
    The pilot, who enlisted December 15, 1941, has been in foreign service several months.

 

After landing in Oran, we were met by a 320th B-26 crew, and they told us to follow them to Tafaraoui.

Two weeks later we got a call to report to Col. Garrison, the same Colonel that had caught me "steeple chasing" in my home town! When I walked in, he said, "Ross, I see you are up to your old tricks again." I said, "What do you mean, sir?" He replied, "I have a letter from Marrakech saying you and Captain Dorman buzzed the tower, and they want me to take disciplinary action." The Colonel said, "Don't buzz Marrakech in the next 24 hours. Consider yourself disciplined!"

So, the "Steeple Chaser" lived to buzz another day!


 

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