A bomber crew of the 97th Bomb Group with their B-17 Flying Fortress.

They are from left to right: Lieutenant Frank R. Beadle, of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Sergeant Chester Love, of Cincinnati, Ohio; Sergeant Richard Williams, of Utica, New York; Lieutenant Levon Ray, of Poolville Texas; Glen V. Leland, of St. Petersburg, Florida; Sergeant Frank Rebello, Tiverton, Rhode Island; Sergeant Joseph Cummings, of Oskaloosa, Iowa; and Sergeant Zane Gemmill, of St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

Lieutenant Beadle was Bombardier on the lead ship on the 8th very first mission in 1942 to Rouen. He kept a bomb pin as a souvenier. Plane name was ‘Butcher Shop’ B-17 #2578. Paul Tibbets was the pilot, Col Frank Armstrong was the co-pilot Navigator was Lt. Levon Rebello. the Date was 17 August 1942.

Seventy Five years ago today, the “Mighty Eighth Air Force” struck enemy targets in Occupied France! Executed by the 97th Bomb Group (now our training unit at Altus) with the appropriate motto: Venit Hora “The Hour Has Come.” (approved 5 March 1943).

Also flying the mission was Brig Gen Ira Eaker flying in Yankee Doodle. The mission though small in stature signaled the United States commitment to high altitude strategic bombardment.

Checkout the website from our UK cousins—excellent photos and information! “Bombs Away!”

Col Decker

Chapter 8, Volume, Army Air Force History, (Plans and Early Operations, January 1939 to August 1942), Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, p. 655-668, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948.