39th Bomb Group (VH)
Crew 5

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"City of Eagle Rock"
"Lord's Prayer"
B-29 # 44-69914

Crew 5's story begins at Smoky Hill AAF, Salina, Kansas, as did that of many of the other B-29 crews. Many of the future crewmen assembled at Salina from Great Bend and Pratt, both in Kansas. Others were transferred there from a number of other locations scattered throughout the country. In significant numbers, both ground and air echelon arrived to form the 39th Bomb Group.

Our crew was formed in early October of 1944 and included men from virtually the four Corners of the country. Our Airplane Commander was a slender young Californian, 1st Lt Robert L. Spaulding. His hometown of Eagle Rock lay about half way between Pasadena and Glendale. He was married and a father. Although he weighed a scant 135 pounds soaking wet, we soon learned that his physical size was more than compensated for by abundant self-confidence bolstered by a touch of cockiness. To some, this could be aggravating. But as we learned to know and understand him better, a different opinion surfaced. - If self-assuredness, decisiveness; and the ability to unerringly make the right decision time after time constituted cockiness, then so be it. It indicated to many of us that maybe more cocky pilots were desperately needed.

Our pilot was 2nd Lt Al Baldi. He and I had been crewed up together for a short time at Great Bend. When that crew was disbanded, we found ourselves together for the second time at Salina. Al's parents had come to America from Italy early in the century. He was born in the "Ironbound" section of Newark in 1918, so that made him a first generation American. When one thinks of it though, we are all descendents of foreign lands. The only difference is that some of us have been here a little longer. Crew 5 had many other foreign roots.

Our initial bombardier was Lt. William Badgely from Dayton, Washington. He was later assigned to Crew 7 and was succeeded by Lt Asa B. Edwards of Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Ace" was with us for only a short time and then he too, was transferred to Leo Lewis's Crew 8. Edwards was followed by yet another, whose name I don't recall as he remained with us for only a short time. We would pick up our fourth bombardier, Lt William Hill, at Topeka just prior, to departure for overseas. Later, on Guam, Billy would be grounded for medical reasons and be replaced in that position by our radar specialist, Lt Frank J. Folker. In all, we would accumulate five bombardiers during the 11 months of our crew's existence. It might possibly qualify for some sort of record in our Group.

Crew 5's navigator Lt Edward S. Edmundson, Jr. was a North Carolina native, and had the distinction of being the only southerner on the crew. This made him the recipient of many good-natured ribbings from time to time. After a shaky beginning, which might be said about the rest of us, Ed became an excellent navigator, and would figure prominently in the saving of a crew whose B-29 was mortally damaged by flak over Nagoya.

M/Sgt Glade A. Loy, flight engineer, was born in Oklahoma but had adopted California as a home state. An auto mechanic in his civilian days, his transformation to airplanes came easily. Glade was easy-going and well liked by all the crew. Though we kidded him a lot, we regarded him as the best engineer in the 39th. We would probably get an argument from others on this.

Cpl John F. Magirl from Omaha, Nebraska, the radio operator, was the youngest member by a few months. Though Jack was very serious about his job, he also had a unique sense of humor. Competent and likeable, he gained early acceptance and respect from his fellow crewmates.

Assigned as Crew 5's Central Fire Control Specialist, was T/Sgt Robert Sands, a Pennsylvania native. As CFC gunner, his job included the supervising of pre-flight and post-flight gunnery procedures, loading of ammunition, and in-flight supervision of the weapons system. Bob flew our first 17 missions and was grounded for medical reasons. A/C Spaulding assigned the left gunner to that position and he would fill in for the remaining 9 missions.

The other gunners consisted of Cpl Stanley Phillips in the right blister, S/Sgt Bob Laird in the left, and Cpl Michael Revock in the tail. When Laird took over as CFC gunner on their 18th mission, Cpl Claude "Bud" W. Alger of Waterport, New York replaced him in the left blister.

Stan's home was Monaca, Pennsylvania, a small town in the western part of the state. Mike hailed from Cleveland, Ohio, and Laird from Vermont in northern New England. The gunners had all started out in the Cadet program, but were "washed out" when the Army Air Corps decided it had all the pilots it needed. All had a strong desire to fly and selected gunnery as the next best alternative. Little did they know at the time that the unpredictable Army would reopen the Cadet Program within a few months, but for them, it was too late.

Finally, the eleventh man on the crew was radar observer 2nd Lt. Frank "Bud" J. Folker from Bergenfield, New Jersey. Bud's warm personality and easy-going way combined with an infectious smile endeared him to the crew, particularly the enlisted men. Later on, overseas, Bud would be replaced in the darkroom by 1st Lt. Herman Marthaler, Jr. of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"