39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City of Albuquerque"

B-29 # 44-69769
Standing L to R:
1st Lt Dalvin E. Donovan Navigator
1st Lt Billy P. Pratt  Pilot
Capt Sterling Pile Airplane Commander 
1st Lt Emil I. Schupack  Radar Observer
1st Lt Harvey L. Hoth Bombardier
Kneeling L to R:
M/Sgt Ted E. Sherrill  Flight Engineer 
Sgt Leonard F. Hawkins, Jr. Right Gunner 
Sgt William H. Harter  Tail Gunner 
Sgt Jacob B. Witbrodt Left Gunner 
T/Sgt Jack R. Franke CFC Gunner
Sgt Winston W. Smalling Radio Operator
Click on a crew member's names above for more information about them

 Crew 32
Honor Roll 
1st Lt Billy P. Pratt Pilot 22 September 1971
Sgt Jacob B. Witbrodt Left Gunner April 1971
S/Sgt John E. Downey Ground Crew: Mechanic 1990
Sgt William H. Harter Tail Gunner 06 February 1990
1st Lt Harvey L. Hoth Bombardier 20 November 1993
Sgt Leonard F. Hawkins, Jr. Right Gunner 04 April 1994
1st Lt Emil I. Schupack Radar Observer 08 March 2000
Capt Sterling Pile Airplane Commander 08 July 2001
T/Sgt Jack R. Franke CFC Gunner 03 January 2002
M/Sgt Ted E. Sherrill Flight Engineer 03 September 2004
Sgt Winston W. Smalling Radio Operator 05 September 2009
S/Sgt John G. Sapuder Crew Chief (Ground Crew) 30 July 2012


4 Sept 2016: Added DOD for T/Sgt Jack R. Franke, thank you to Barbara for providing us with the DOD for her father.

17 Sept 2012:
Added S/Sgt Sapuder, Crew Chief, to Crew Honor Roll

24 September 2009:
Added Smalling to Crew Honor Roll and updated his dedication page with additional information

Reunions Become Important After 37 Years

Ten men got together at Cochocton, Ohio to reminisce about the past. The year was 1982; ten of the original air and ground crew were there to renew friendships made long ago. Missing were Billy Pratt and Jacob Witbrodt, both deceased and Winston Smalling who was in Africa. Dalvin Dolovan was the organizer of the four day event.

At their last reunion in June 1995, the years had taken its toll on the crew. Harvey Hoth, Leonard Hawkins and William Harter would join their crew mates. As their numbers diminish, the meetings become more important.

Ending It with A Bang

Dal wondered if they'd see each other when they went back to the states. Ellegood was firm about going to the University of Oklahoma. Dal knew he wouldn't go there. He'd seen U.C.L.A. and fallen in love with the campus and the weather. But U.C.L.A. was iffy. Enrolling there would mean leaving his elderly grandparents - the people two raised him and if something happened he'd be over two thousand miles away. So Ohio State was a more likely option.

"Donovan, are you awake?" The intercom message from his airplane commander overrode Miss Holiday and jarred him out of the daydream. Dal switched back to intercom and answered, '"Yes Sir. We're right on course. Our E.T.A. is 2300 hours.

The Piledriver started a slow descent and an hour from base leveled off at five thousand feet. Occasionally the big bird took a small bump from a cumulus top that got in its way but otherwise it was like gliding on ice. A phenomenal aircraft, only once were they forced to come back on two engines but this splendid machine was easily up to the task. Thanks not only to the people who designed and built it but also to John Sapuder, John Downey and the rest of the ground crew who took exceptional pains with the maintenance. As much as Dal hated killing people, even an enemy who wouldn't hesitate to do the same to him - he would miss the flying. And even more, miss the friends he would remember a lifetime.


61st Squadron Crew Index
Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"; SSDI