Capt William F. Barthel,
11 November 1917 in Chicago, Illinois. He entered the service
on 23 May 1942, while living in Mississippi.
training included Aerial Gunnery - April 1942; Advance Navigational
Training - May 1942; Radar Course - August 1944 and Flux Gate
Compass Course October 1944.
was originally assigned to Crew 1
(Capt Allen Miller's crew) assigned as Navigator. On 28 November
1944 - while still stateside during training 10 miles from Smoky
Hill Army Air Field about 35 minutes after take off.
Click here to read a 1944 newspaper
article # 1
Click here to read a 1944 newspaper
article # 2
was one of the lucky ones to have survived.
following is from comes from Rowland
Ball, friend and fellow Navigator (P-3).
bailout procedure for a B-29 was for the Navigator to go first
and the Flight Engineer to follow him. The Navigator, Bill Barthel,
was a friend of mine and he told me about this experience. He
said that when he bailed out he pulled his ripcord almost immediately
because he knew that he was very close to the ground. His chute
opened quickly and almost at the same time he hit the ground.
He landed in a damp freshly plowed field that probably kept him
from breaking his one or both of his legs. He gathered up his
chute, looked around and saw a farmhouse close by. Bill walked
to the back door of the farmhouse and knocked on the door. An
elderly woman came to the door, opened it and there stood this
man in these weird looking clothes with a big piece of white silk
thrown over his shoulder and it scared her to death. She started
screaming and her husband came running out with his shotgun. Bill
had to do some fast-talking explaining of who he was and what
he was doing at their back door. They did have a phone so he was
able to call the base and tell them what happened and to send
Flight Engineer popped his chute early too, but he came down in
a cemetery and hit a tombstone and broke his leg. The Engineer
never did fly again, but Bill was up again in a couple of days."
went on to serve with Capt John Miranda (Crew 13). On 26 June
1945, Miranda was leading his element on a daylight strategic
attack on an arsenal complex at Nagoya. Their plane was struck
by a 120mm shell that suddenly tore about eight feet off the P-13's
right wing, knocked a couple feet off its aileron, and put the
outboard engine out of commission. Being behind and just below
Miranda, a section of their wing and other smaller pieces came
back and narrowly missed crashing into us. Seconds later another
burst tore off half of the left door of the forward bomb bay,
knocked open the other three doors and jammed the closing mechanism.
As a result, their right inboard engine backfired and coughed
in a further loss of power.
2nd Lt Donald A. Gerth, Pilot; S/Sgt Wilbur A. Pickens, Radio
Operator; and Lt Oscar Price, Bombardier, went into the front
bomb bay in an effort to close the doors. Their emergency efforts
were to no avail.
the "City of Galveston" at less than 2000 feet, the crew began
to jettison equipment and supplies in a desperate but losing effort
to stay in the air.
the aid of Crew 5, Crew 13 was able to navigate near a submarine.
In less than hour the Barthel and other member of Crew 13 were
aboard the rescue sub. Click here to read the July 9, 1945 newspaper
Barthel went on to fly 14 missions which included Air-Sea Rescue
duty in Hawaii during the Sunset Project with Crew
7 - Capt Chester Juvenal's Crew - replacing Dale Barton as
was honorably discharged from the service on 10 April 1946, San
Antonio, TX with the rank of Major. He was awarded the Air Medal
and 1 OLC, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Campaign Medal,
World War II Victory Medal and the American Defense Medal.
graduated in business from Mississippi State University. He was
in private business for approximately 60 years in Rayville, LA.
and was the owner of Barthel Meat Packing Company and Barthel
William and his Reba have 5 children, 2 daughters; 3 sons (one
son deceased); 12 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.