39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City of Jewett City"
"Kick A Poo Joy II"
B-29 # 42-65361
"B" Flight Leader
2 3 4 5

Crew 47 coming home to Guam from their mission
Thanks to Don Montague for capturing this from film at the National Archives

Ralph Weston in his "My Life of Flying" made this all so easy to write. At Alamogordo AAF, New Mexico he met up with his future Airplane Commander in July of 1944. Captain Jerome "Jerry" Zee was a veteran already. He had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and had been to England. He had flown Blenheins on patrol over the North Sea for a year. He had moved on to Sterling and Lancaster Bombers over Germany and France. After five months he transferred to 7TH Pathfinder Squadron making 37 trips as a pathfinder. He then transferred to the USAF as Captain, instructing for a year and then volunteering to B-29's.

The rest of the crew was assigned at Smokey Hill. T/Sgt Carroll Hart was our Radar Operator. Lt Ed Davenport was later assigned so Sgt Hart was out of a job. Hart was a veteran of North Africa in B-24's and had been wounded by a 20MM in the leg. Hart really wanted to stay so it was worked out by Zee to replace Southern CFC gunner, James Hughes. He had an accent that Jerry could not understand. The crew was assigned three bombardiers, one at a time but Lt Gabriel got the assignment.

The crew was off to Batista Field, Cuba for a short stay and back to cold Salina in February 1945. At Salina they picked up their new plane and decided what to name it. Jerry's ship in England had been named "Lil Abner." The crew decided if Jerry could came back in a plane of that name 43 times, the name "Kickapoo Joy" should be good for their plane. They just added the "II" to the Al Capp cartoon creation.

In March they were off to Herrington and on to Mather Field on the 30th. They were over the Pacific to John Rogers then Kwajalein and landed at North Field on Guam April 7th. They were alerted for their first mission April 11, just four days later. Koriyama was the target. After four hours of formation flying out of Iwo Jima, they finally arrived at the place they had all trained for. It was over the target area, unload the bombs and head for home. They landed after 18 hours of airtime. This was the longest bombing raid in aviation history up to that time and the longest of WWII.

Missions were flying by slowly and very boring. They made their first visit to Iwo, doing the usual sightseeing of the island that would save so many lives after costing so many in February. They agreed the entire place smelled like death.

Colonel Mundy joined Crew 47 on their mission to Tokuyama but they had to abort just north of Iwo due to a No. 3 engine oil leak. Mundy was not happy about the abort as they dumped the bombs in the ocean and were back on Iwo again. They would ferry a beat up old dog from the 29th Bomb Group to take them back to Guam. They learned the Germans had given in and the war in Europe was over. The crew had also confirmation of two fighters to their credit. Gabe and Jack had one each!

The mission to Nagoya on May 16/17 was scheduled in the plane of Captain Paquette (P-52). 1st Lt Robert C. Morton of that crew had been seriously wounded when hit by a 20MM phorphorous shell on a prior mission. The medics tried to clean the blood from under the seat during repairs to the nose cone were made but the plane retained the hospital smell of ether or formaldehyde.

Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group" by Robert Laird (crew 5) and David Smiith (crew 31)