Hello all! Thanks, Marion, for the invitation to join all the good folks here. I've learned a lot already and look forward to more of the same!
I found my way to this site while trying to research the service time of one of my uncles. I discovered someone by his same name on the WWII Memorial Registry and wondered if this might not be him. Through a pm to a member here, I happily found out that this was indeed my Uncle Charley, honored by the Polar Bear Association of WWII, 339th Regiment. Thank you for your help, Steve! I'm anxious to read more about this group and the others mentioned here. I've spent the last four years researching my dad's service time in the Air Force (AAC). The more I learn about WWII, the more I want to know. My life dealing with research has become one of tangents, and I still find it impossible to grasp the scope of it all!
I have finally wrapped up the search for my father's crew mates. He was a radio operator on a B-17F heavy bomber, based in Horham, England, flew 25 of those dreaded daylight missions from June-Oct. 1943. The crew of the Yankee Queen arrived first in Framlingham, England a few weeks after the Memphis Belle finished their 25. The odds of surviving a mission at that time was 1 in 3. Dad was a member of the 95th Bomb Group, 336th Bomb Squadron. Unknown to me until a few years ago, dad kept journals detailing his time overseas. He documented his training activities and each mission as it occurred. After WWII ended and he returned home, he typed out a manuscript based on the journals and his other memories of that time. He kept a scrapbook full of news clippings, awards, etc., some photos, and all his medals. He packed these things into a briefcase and stored them away, never mentioning them to me. The briefcase was sent to me after my step-mother passed away in 1999. Dad died in 1992. I was overwhelmed by all of this information and at some point determined to learn more about this part of my father's life that had been hidden away for so long.
I decided to try and find the other nine members of the Harry O'Neal (pilot) crew or at least their surviving families. With so many military records lost in the 1973 St. Louis fire, I thought that sharing my dad's recollections with any who were interested would give the others involved in the story a chance to recall forgotten details...or the families an opportunity to learn of their loved ones' WWII accomplishments. With the internet as my window to the world, I set out on what would become the most rewarding journey I've taken in my life thus far. The details of my research are in my head and are a bit tedious, but the results are the most valuable aspect. A couple of months ago, I finally found the last missing man, the tail gunner. There is only one living crew member now, the Bombardier, but I have had the joy of sharing my dad's memories with him and telling him quite a bit about the post-war lives of the rest of the crew. Some of the other crew "kids" and I have become like extended family. These are connections that I dearly treasure. Perhaps now I can move ahead and finalize dad's manuscript with all the information that I've found along the way. His is a rousing story and gives great insight into a part of the air war that hasn't previously been well documented from a personal standpoint. At the very least, I will have everything in one place. Dad's original mementos will eventually be donated to an appropriate museum for preservation. As much as I appreciate the interest in WWII memorabilia, I will never sell dad's things or auction them on Ebay.
Time allowing, I've helped a number of other people with their WWII research projects, particularly in finding people. It seems only right that I should share what I've learned if I can. For me, there's nothing like that "BINGO!" moment when I discover a bit of helpful information! I'm a retired Respiratory Therapist and now a miniaturist, belong to the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. I make tiny food items from polymer clay. For me this is very therapeutic and relaxing.
That's my story! I'm happy to be here!!