e-Newsletter for October 2002

Last Flights:

Jim Wisley, Flight Engineer, 833rd: 09/11/02.
Jim Wisley, 83 resident of Palm Desert died at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage on September 11th. Born in Rock Island, to James and Mary Ellen Wisley, he attended local Catholic schools prior to enrolling at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, IA. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940 and served with the 8th Air Force 486th Group, in Suffolk, England. Ed, as he later became known, flew on 23 missions ands a flight engineer. When he wasn’t flying, he played basketball on the regimental team and served as a Chaplin’s assistant. Following his discharge in 1946, he completed his business degree at St. Ambrose College, and in 1948, married the Rosemary Kennedy. Immediately after their marriage, the couple moved to Southern California. There, Ed started the North American Insurance Agency. He ran this business until his retirement in 1988. The business continues today as HRH North American Insurance, located in Orange, California. Long active in the Catholic Church, Ed served in the leadership of several Catholic Parishes. At the time of his passing, he was a Eucharistic Minister at St. Francis of Assisi Church in La Quinta, California. James E. “Ed” Wisley was preceded in death by his bride of 53 years Rosemary, on May 21st of this year, and is survived by five children: Jim, Rita, Joe, Mary and Kathy and; by six, doted over, grand children. His son Jim told us that during the post war years, Jim seldom made reference to his service, only that he served with a great bunch of guys, was proud to have served, and was glad to have been a part of the victory. Jim Sr. was the flight engineer, and top turret gunner for the Burton Ward crew, 833rd.
Robert Seabury Gibbs, pilot, 833rd: 09/10/02.
Robert Gibbs, of Windmill Hill Road, Inman, SC, died at Mary Black Hospital. Born in Providence, R.I., he was the son of James Gibbs and Helen Seabury Gibbs. He was the husband of Elizabeth (Betty) Kelly Gibbs. During World War II, he was stationed in Sudbury, England with the 8th Air Force. He was a B-17 pilot (486th Group) with 30 bombing missions over Germany. When asked how he managed to get back safely with so many missions, he explained that he carried a special airman's poem and his mother's bible on each flight. Later he became a mechanical engineer; in 1978 he was transferred to South Carolina. During his career, he developed a method for successfully welding stainless steel, a method used widely today. He was an active volunteer with the VA Hospital in Albany, N.Y. Bob was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Delmar, N.Y. Post 3185. He had been post commander, Albany County (NY) commander and an officer in the N.Y. Dept. V.F.W. In 1964 he actively promoted the idea of making a much needed additional military cemetery adjacent to the Saratoga Battlefield, N.Y. Thirty-eight years later Bob's dream has finally come to fruition. He was preceded in death by his beloved stepdaughter, Cheryl Porter. Surviving, in addition to his wife, Betty, are stepsons, Clifford J. Fisher of Boiling Springs and Timothy K. Fisher of Dormansville, N.Y.; grandsons, Jude Fisher and Nicholas Fisher of Boiling Springs, Joshua Porter and Eric Porter of Johnson City, Tenn., Jessica Fisher and J.T. Fisher of Dormansville, N.Y. A memorial graveside service will be held in Good Shepherd Memorial Park on Thursday, September 12 at 11:00 a.m. conducted by Rev. Andrew Bullions.
Andrew Russell, Intel Officer, 832nd (S-2): 09/05/02.
Andrew "Andy" Russell, Jr., was born on May 11, 1922 in East Chicago, IN. He is the son of Andrew and Marie Russell. Upon graduating from E. C. Washington HS in 1940, he volunteered for service in the United States Army Air Corps, and five years of enlisted and commission service. As a Captain assigned to the 486th Heavy Bombardment Group, 8th AF, in England, Andy was an Intelligence Staff Officer assigned to the S-2 department. In this capacity he planned for and prepared orders pertaiing to the collection, evaluation, interpratation and distribution of information of enemy and counter-intelligence activities. He kept the commanding officer and others informed regarding the enemy's situation and capabilities. In addition, he served as Group PW Officer, continual instruction of all combat crews and methods of escape and evasion. As Group FLAK Officer, he was responsible for disseminating the disposition of all information relative to the location of German Anti-Aircraft batteries. CAPT Russell also performed duties as the Base Security Officer; continually checking all officers and offices for correct use and dissemination of all classified documents. Following the war, CAPT Russell served seven years in the Active Air Force Reserve. His awards include: Good Conduct Medal, EAME Medal (6 battle stars), American Defense Service Medal. Air Offensive Europe includes the campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Euorpe.

Andy was an active member of the 486th Bomb Group Association, and served as Treasurer and Vice Commander. He was also a member of the American Legion Post 201, Alpharetta, GA.

In civiliam life Andy served as Chief Clerk of he East Chicago Water Department under Mayor Walter M. Jeorse; US Treasury, Internal Revenue Agent, Gary office. He was also the owner and operator of STEEL CITY VENDORS in East Chicago, IN for 30 years. He retired in 1987.

Andy was a past President of the Indiana Vending Council, Inc.; the East Chicago Chamber of Commerce, and the Synod Council of the New St. George Romanian Orthodox Church in Lansing, IL., where he also served as Cantor for more than 40 years.

He was honored by the lake County Women's Council as one of ten men in Lake County for "Outstanding Community Service." Commendation from the E. C. Chamber of Commerce for "Leadership, wise counsel and  sage advise to the Chamber and the Community from 1973 to 1987, as an officer and director." He also received awards from the American Heart Association for Meritorious Service.

He married Rose Lazar on October 19, 1947, who survives him. Other survivors include his children: Andrea Vagelatos (Jerry) of Broomfield, CO; Gayle M. Russell of Lafayette, IN and Annette Russell Farmer (James) of Roswell, GA; his brother, Peter M. Russell (Vera) of East Chicago, sisters-in-law Helen Popa (Charles) of Munster and Viorica Secheresiu (Aurel) of Romania. He has seven grandchildren: Lynette Underwood (Scott) of Huntington, IN, Lisa Ferguson (Scott) of Valparaiso, Andrew Russell and Mary Lorraine Vagelatos of CO, and Bryan Timoty, Zacharay James and Samuel Russell Farmer of Roswell, GA. Andrew also has six great-grandchildren: Lauren, Landon and Meghan Underwood and Emma, Donna and Bryce Ferguson of Valparaiso. Numerous nieces, nephews and Godchildren.

Andy studied concert violin for 12 years and shared his love of music with his family and his church, where he served as choir director.
My Mosu
(My Grandfather).

A memorial for the Walthall Crew

The association has been informed by the US Forces Liaison Officer at the American Embassy in Berlin, that a memorial to the Walthall crew will be dedicated on the North Sea island of Borkum. On October 4th, 1944, the Walthall crew, 832nd, on their first flight, was badly shot up by FLAK. Unfortunately, the crew was unable to make it across enemy lines, and the pilot and copilot put down on Borkum, with no injury to the crew. By this time, treatment of allied prisoners of war had degraded, and brutality against them by their captors, and the populace at large, was sanctioned by the NAZI regime. This is a sad reality for several 486th crews downed during the last year of the war. Of the nine Walthall crewmen, seven were executed while being paraded down a town street; shot from behind. The survivors were, Quentin Ingerson, and Kazmer Baczak (Rechak?), who were interred for the remainder of the war.

The officials responsible for the memorial are trying to track down the two surviving crewmen, and any next of kin, of all the crewmen. I would appreciate any information which would facilitate my search.

 

8th Air Force Rest Homes

The following information is found in Roger Freeman's "The Mighty Eighth War Manual

Name Capacity
Stanbridge Earls 30 officers
Palace Hotel, Southport 50 officers & 100 enlisted
Moulsford Manor & Bucklands 25 officers
Combe House 50 officers
Walhampton House 50 enlisted
Aylesfield House 25 officers
Roke Manor 25 officers
Pangbourne House 30 officers
Spetchley Park 45 enlisted
Furz Down House 25 officers
Eynsham Hall 65 officers
Keythorpe Hall 30 enlisted
Ebrington Manor 20 enlisted
Knighthayes Court 40 officers

Books:

Spirits in the Sky by Martin Bowman -- This book is a collection of photos of many restored WWII aircraft, along with text describing each aircraft. This book retails for about $17.99.

Consolidated B-24 by Martin Bowman -- What Roger Freeman did for the B17, Martin does for the B24. Worth a look! Retails for $44.95.

RAF & RCAF Nose art of WWII by Clarence Simonsen -- In all my readings I have failed to note any nose art worth mentioning that adorned the British military aircraft of WWII. This book shows that the British did have a penchant for nose art, some of which was as risqué as the art of their Yank counterparts. Retails for $55.00, but $38.50 on Amazon.com

Vintage Aircraft Nose Art by Gary Valant -- Finally! Phil Brinkman gets good press for his artwork with the 486th! This books is the most compreshensive collection of USAAF nose art that I have seen. Retails for $24.95.

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