39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City Of Aurora"
"The Caboose" B-29 # 44-69870
"The Caboose Jr" B-29 # unknown

P-35 in flight
Courtesy of M/Sgt Jay Ivey, 61st Flight Chief

Taken: 6 July 1945 Guam
Photo courtesy of Richard Kelso, Son in-law of Lt. Col James H. Thompson

Front Row L to R:

S/Sgt Karl E. Wright Radio Operator
Sgt Vincent W. Nelson Tail Gunner
Sgt Rudolfo Savio CFC Gunner
Sgt Bert C. Messenger Right Gunner
S/Sgt Henry P. McManus Left Gunner
F/O Robert A. Jones Flight Engineer
Back Row L to R:
1st Lt Kermit K. Cohen Bombardier
1st Lt Paul Kennedy, Jr. Pilot
Capt George S. Wilson Airplane Commander
1st Lt Richard N. Fried Radar Observer
1st Lt Dale J. Gage Navigator

 Crew 35
Honor Roll 
S/Sgt Rudolfo "Rudy" A. Savio
CFC Gunner
03 October 1989
Sgt Vincent W. Nelson
Tail Gunner
27 March 1991
1st Lt Kermit K. Cohen
21 Septembre 1994
1st Lt Paul Kennedy, Jr
January 1998
S/Sgt Henry P. McManus
Left Gunner
18 January 2009

Crew 35 flew a total of 18 missions as a crew; some of the crew did fly missions as fill-ins on other crews. In addition, the crew did fly one mission to drop food and other supplies to a POW camp called "Senghai # 9" over pm the west coast of Japan. Of course, the mission flown around the perimeter of Tokyo Bay during the signing of the documents ending the war, making a total of 20.

There were two particularly memorable missions that we flew. The first was the daylight incendiary raid on Osaka on June 1, 1945 (local time). Being one of the last formations to go into the target, by the time we got there the thermal cloud from all the fires reached an altitude considerably higher than the altitude at which we were flying. We were flying left wing of the lead element and had been briefed to turn right off the target after bomb release. Our leader took us right into the thermal and since I could see nothing, I continued straight ahead rather than risk turning into someone. We gained about 6000 feet in altitude in that thermal and when we came out the other side, we continued to fly straight ahead until the rime ice, soot and cinders had eroded from the windshield so we could see. Then we picked up our withdrawal heading. It was then, the radio operator reported that the forward bomb bays doors were missing and the aft doors were handing open. We closed the doors again but they would not stay closed due to the airflow through the forward bomb bay. After leaving the coast and decreasing our altitude we checked further and found we had taken some flak in the forward catwalk. When we closed the doors, the actuators tore from the catwalk rather than close the doors. The forward doors were there; they had just up against the outside of the plane. After a quick conference, I decided that we would go to max power and head directly back to Guam rather than head back to Iwo where we would probably sit for quite awhile before we could get the aircraft repaired.

Needless to say, we knew we would be running low on fuel and we knew it would be dark when we arrived at our base. Tension was running just a little high as we approached our ETA. It was one of those black South Pacific nights and we couldn't see a light anywhere. I asked the navigator how we were doing and he replied Guam should be off our left wing. The radio came to life asking us (as a bogie) to make our "cockrel crow". We turned on our IFF, the lights came on and we turned left onto the base legs informing the tower to clear all other traffic since we had to land the plane on the first pass or we were through. We set her down, closing the bomb bays just before touchdown so we wouldn't scrape them and managed to taxi almost to our revetment before the engines began sputtering. It was a close one!

On July 10, 1945 (local time) we flew a night incendiary raid on Gifu. When we broke off the coast, we checked fuel and had plenty, so we headed home. At about 7:00 A.M. local, 80 miles west of Saipan, we swallowed an intake valve on our #4 engine. The next time the cylinder fired, we had a fire all the way back to the carburetor. Since the extinguisher did not extinguish anything behind the firewall where the carburetor was located, we immediately made the decision to bail out. We were all out of the plane in less than 90 seconds and would have made it sooner if the radio operator had not started to warm up the Collins transmitter. After he went out the forward bomb bays I dropped from the nose wheel well and by the time I was hanging vertically after the chute deployed, all I could see was a black cloud of smoke where the plane had exploded. A Navy destroyer going to Guam from Okinawa was just south of our location and saw the plane blow up. He was poking around in the debris when a 330th aircraft saw our sea dye marker and gave him a call. I was the last one out and the first picked up. We all survived and all continued flying missions after 10 days in Hawaii.
- George Wilson, AC

Source: George S. Wilson, AC, "History of the 39th Bomb Group"