39th Bomb Group (VH)

[Search Tip: Use " " for better search results ex. "John Q. Doe"; "City of ..."]
"City of New Bern"
"Strato Wolf"

Crew 22, Havana, Cuba
Taken: 13 February 1945
Crew 22 at "Sloppy Joe's Bar" in the City of Havana, Cuba
Courtesy of Benjamin F. Hill

Back Row L to R
2nd Lt  Donald L. Erb Navigator
T/Sgt Joseph W. Glezman Flight Engineer 
T/Sgt Frank J. Policastro Radio Operator
Cpl Richard D. Henkle Tail Gunner
Cpl Benjamin F. Hill Right Gunner
Sgt Charles F. Sauermelch, Jr. CFC Gunner
Cpl Sherburne P. Hill Left Gunner
Front Row L to R:
2nd Lt Leo J. Laux Radar Observer
Capt Woodland Styron  Airplane Commander 
1st Lt  Raymond E. Nation Bombardier
2nd Lt  Rolla P. Knibble Pilot

We were at Batista Air Field in Havana, Cuba in February of 1945. It was a fun time doing over water missions. Fly to a mythical point in the ocean, head for another make-believe dot on the sea and then see if you can find home base. We did some "splash" target practice along the way. Capt. Styron liked to see how low he could fly because it made the splashes that we had created go by that much faster. We got so low the props were throwing wave tops back onto our side "blisters" One night in happy Havana some of our crew had a few too many Cuba Libras (rum and Coca-Cola). Our Bombardier had confiscated a pocket full of shot glasses. On the bus ride back to the base he opened the window and began practice-bombing runs on passing cars with the glasses as bombs. Unknown to us sitting in the rear of the bus in the dark, was a Colonel from the Inspector General's office. He wouldn't let any of us off the bus and put us all on report. In the morning our crew drilled up and down a hot blacktop runway. Capt. Styron was our drillmaster and no one was excused. We had one ten-minute break in the morning and one in the afternoon, sandwiches for lunch, and we quit at dinnertime. Sore feet made flying the next day double pleasure. 

Taken: July 6, 1945 - Courtesy Ben Hill, RG
Standing L to R: 1st Lt Raymond Nation, Bomb; 1st Lt Donald Erb, Nav; Capt Woodland Styron, AC; 1st Lt Rolla Knibbe, Pilot;1st Leo J Laux, Radar
Kneeling L to R: M/Sgt Joseph Glezman, FE; T/Sgt Charles Sauermelch Jr., CFC; S/Sgt Ben Hill, RG;Sgt John Saarinen, LG; S/Sgt Richard Henkle,TG

During the Kyushu campaign on the 29 April 1945 mission, Stryon, (now Major) was awarded the Sliver Star for gallantry in action. Just after bombs away, there was a direct flak hit damaging the bay doors so they could not close. In spite of the crippled condition, Stryon left the safety of the formation to give aid to another B-29 that also had been hit and was being attacked by Japanese fighters. Stryon's crew helped drive off the attackers and escorted the B-29 out to sea where it made a successful ditching. Stryon circled the surviviors, dropped all his emergency equipment to them in spite of his own damaged condition. As fuel became critical, Stryon headed for Iwo Jima.

Update: Crew 22's mission are listed on the next page courtesy of Benjamin F. Hill.

P-22's Missions
Crew 22 Main Page
61st Squadron Crew Index
Source: Information submitted by Sherburne P. Hill, Crew 22 and 3rd Photo Recon for
"History of the 39th Bomb Group" by Robert Laird (crew 5) and David Smiith (crew 31); Ben Hill, RG