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S/Sgt Benjamin A. "Junior" Piteo, Jr.
Tail Gunner

After undergoing written tests in Boston and being accepted in the Aviation Cadet program, I was sworn in, in December of 1943 envisioning feats of outdoing the "Red Baron". I had no sooner completed basic training than the Cadet program was dissolved and some 25,000 men were reassigned to the infantry. Having enlisted, I was offered the opportunity to continue as a Flight Engineer, Radio Operator or Gunner. I chose gunnery, as had many others in the Cadet program. I found out much later that the Aviation Cadet program had been terminated in preparation for the invasion of Europe.

Born March 3, 1926; enlisted December 6, 1943; called to active duty March 16, 1944; assigned to Crew 15 at its inception - youngest in squadron, was christened "Junior" which sticks to this day - within the Squadron.

It seems that everything that should or could be said about our visits to Japan has been said, so I'll touch on my life after Armageddon.

I met and married a Connecticut hometown gal, Lillian Willicka, in 1950. Lillian pre-deceased me in 1978 (cancer). I was fortunate to graduate from Marquette University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. I was associated with General Electric for many years in the design and development of industrial products that then expanded into offshore design and manufacture of products indigenous to the area.

Lillian and I both valued education highly and while our six children have been a source of pride, I am especially proud that they held the same value: -

Benjamin III Cornell University
Cynthia Université de Rouen (France)
Marcia University of Illinois
Mona University of Pennsylvania
(Wharton School of Finance)
Amy University of Connecticut
Michael Central Connecticut State University

At last count there were 10 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren

Forty-nine years later, massive help from the Veteran's Administration, Department of Defense, Postal Service, Internet etc., etc., etc. led to locating all crew members living and dead, culminating in a 50th Anniversary reunion in Bristol, CT. All but Geller and Ossian were alive and well and with the exception of Andy (having lost his wife Tina, a few weeks before), attended this first of several reunions.

Contrary to movie versions of life in the service, the crew had gotten much closer after 50 years that we were during our "hey days" together. It is gratifying to find that, without exception, the crew had lived lives as responsible citizens and family men. We communicate frequently and are enjoying our "golden" reunions.


S/Sgt Benjamin A. Piteo took his Final Flight on 21 March 2006 at the age of 80 yrs. He was buried with military honors at St. Joseph Cemetery in Bristol, CT.



Source: Benjamin A. Piteo, Jr.; Obituary of Benjamin A, Piteo, found at BristolPress.com
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This page created 21 March 2001/revisted 12 Nov 2006
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