2nd Lt. Charles F. Bacigalupa
Charles Francis Bacigalupa was born on May 7, 1923, in Baltimore MD. He was the first son of Charles Andrew and Mary C (Wilson) Bacigalupa. He is survived by his younger brother, Robert A. Bacigalupa.
Charles attended St. Thomas Aquinas Elem. School and City College High School, graduating in 1941. He took academic courses, played Varsity Lacrosse, and had future plans of becoming a CPA.
After graduation he married Katherine Ruth Plaine (deceased). They had one daughter, Mary Katherine. He also completed a course in Aircraft Precision Inspection at Johns Hopkins University and worked at the Glenn L. Martin Company.
Charles entered the U. S. Army Air Force from the State of Maryland. He was assigned to the Greenville Aviation School in Ocala Florida and completed training as a navigator. He achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant.
Charles served as the navigator of the B-17 “Chow Hound”. The Chow Hound was shot down on August 8, 1944. Charles was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.
Charles Sherrill was born in Bisbee, AZ on February 22, 1918. His moved to Calhoun, KY with his dad and brother when he was a small boy and graduated high school there. He enlisted in the Army/Air Force on October 14, 1941. The bases he was attached to were in Biloxi, MS; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad; and Roswell, NM, where he qualified as a bombardier and commissioned as 2nd Lt in October 1943. He then went to Dalwart, TX in March 1944 and left in May 1944 for Europe with the 322nd Squadron, 91st Bomb Group. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Air Medal in 1944.
Tech Sgt. Henry F. Kortebein
Henry Kortebein (Harry) was born in Queens, Long Island, New York on 22-July-1920. He graduated from Newtown High School and worked at the N.Y. Trust Company as an accountant. War broke out and he wanted to fly, so he enlisted in the Air Force. Harry was sent to flight training schools in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Tennesse. He was offered an instructors position but refused as he wanted to have a greater contribuition to the war effort. He was sent to the 8th Air Force stationed in Bassingbourne, England. He was the flight engineer and top turrent gunner for Chow Hound. After completing 14 missions, they were on their last mission over France and took flak that severed the tail. The plane crashed with no survivors. The plane came down in Lonlay l'Abbaye, France.
After 60 years impacted in a farmers field, the plane was discovered and excavated. His remains and those of his crewmates were honorably buried in Arlington National Cemetery on 24-August-2006.
Tech Sgt. Blake A. Treece
Blake Arthur Treece, Jr was born November 1, 1920 in Marshall, AR, which is in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas. He will be remembered as the son of Blake A. Treece, Sr. and Vergie Hendrix Treece, and the brother of Virginia Treece Dimon.
At a very early age he learned the Morse Code and the Flag signals, so it isn't surprising that he could excel in the communications field.
At age 14, a high school sophomore, he was allowed to drive to school. He graduated high school at the age of 16.
Knowing we would be in war, he left the University of Arkansas at the end of this third year so he could choose the service he wanted.
After training at several bases around the country, he told his father "Dad, I can build the planes and I can fly them too." When he was checked out to be a pilot, he apparently went beyond the designated routine (could be he watched too many old movies with stunt pilots). His superior officer, having a very unpleasant ride, refused to permit Blake to proceed as a pilot.
His life was over at 22 years, 9 months and 8 days.
Gerald Franklin Gillies was born July 11, 1919, at Altoona, Kansas, to Frank and Abigail Gillies. He attended Fredonia, Kansas, public school graduating in 1938. While in school Jerry was active in athletics, quarterback of his 1937 undefeated football team, played basketball and ran track. He was also active in Hi-Y and dramatics. Following graduation Jerry was employed at the Burke Printing Company in Fredonia.
On Sept. 13, 1939, he was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Joanne Kirk. On January 6, 1942, a daughter, Dolly Gail, was born to this happy family.
Our country was at war and Jerry felt it was his duty to do his part although fathers were not being drafted at that point. On August 27, 1943, he was sworn into the U.S. Army and Sept. 19, entered active service, reporting at Sheppard Field, Texas, assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps and took his basic training at Sheppard Field, TX, later being assigned to gunnery school at Las Vegas, Nevada. He was graduated from gunnery school and was then sent to Dyersburg, Tenn. for overseas combat training and before leaving there was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Jerry was assigned to a plane at Kearney, NB, and went overseas the latter part of May, 1944. He was based in England and served as tail gunner on a B-17 (Chowhound). On Jerry's 17th mission, his plane was reported lost in action on August 8, 1944. He received the air medal and one oak leaf cluster for meritorious service in the line of duty.
The first message received by his wife was August 18, 1944, stating that her husband was missing in action. Further information was received by his wife in a letter dated October 2, 1944, which stated that the bomber was lost over Caen, France, at 1:10 AM, S.E. of the target, where our plane encountered enemy antiaircraft fire and Jerry's plane was seen falling to the earth with no one in the saddle.
Frank S. Bolen grew up in Selma, AL, as the second of four children. He graduated from Selma High School in 1937, where he was active in the Glider Club and won a national prize for an article on aviation. When it was time to serve in World War II, Frank volunteered for the Army’s Aviation Cadet Program in 1943 to pursue his dream of flying. He graduated from Bombardier training at Midland, TX, early in 1944 and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the Army Air Corps.
Frank was then assigned to 2nd Lt. Jack “Tex” Thompson’s crew and trained with them in the B-17 at Dyersburg Army Air Base, TN, in the spring of 1944. After graduating B-17 school, the Crew flew a new B-17 to Europe in May 1944 and were assigned to the 91st Bomb Group’s 322nd Bomb Squadron at RAF Bassingbourn near Cambridge England. Frank flew a total of 13 missions with Tex Thompson’s crew, most on B-17G #42-31367, Chow-hound. On August 8, 1944 Chow-hound flew as Deputy Lead in the 322nd Bomb Squadron formation on a mission to S.E. Bretteville Sur-Laize, France. Frank was replaced on this mission by a more experienced Bombardier, 2nd Lt. Charles Sherrill, and the Chow-hound was shot down over Lonlay l’Abbaye, France, prior to reaching the target. One parachute was seen, but it did not billow out (open) and Tex Thompson and the entire crew perished. Frank explained this day as follows: “I had not been checked out as a Squadron Bombardier – so was replaced for this mission. We [Thompson Crew] had been together and trained together since Feb. 44. I went to the flight line to see them return and was told what happened. That was the emptiest feeling I have ever experienced.”
After a brief rest, Frank was assigned to fellow Alabamian Dave McCarty’s crew and was flying again by mid-August. He flew three more missions before being shot down over Ludwigshaven, Germany on September 8, 1944, in Roxy’s Special (B-17G #43-38348). He survived the shoot-down and subsequent nine-month incarceration as a POW at Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany, and was reunited with his wife and baby daughter in the United States during June, 1945. In the Korean War, Frank served as a tank company commander in Korea and did occupation duty in Japan before returning to the United States in 1953. After that, Frank had a long civilian career as an office manager in the meat packing industry and as a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Selma, AL. Frank died on March 6, 2010, three months shy of his 91st birthday.
Frank’s favorite Chow-hound story was about the day they buzzed RAF Duxford. Duxford was an American P-51 base close to Bassingbourn. The B-17 crews were tired of Duxford P-51s buzzing Bassingbourn on the way home, so one day when Chow-hound was returning from a mission, Tex told his crew: “O.K. boys, we’re going to Duxford on the way home.” Tex was a good pilot and he flew Chow-hound right across the P-51 flight line about five feet above their aircraft. Frank was at his bombardier position in Chow-hound’s Plexiglas nose and had a close-up, mesmerizing view of the P-51s and all the people who scattered to avoid the marauding B-17. He was so close he could almost reach out and touch the P-51s. Needless to say, Frank loved every second of the get-even buzz job.