39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City Of Virginia"
"Burnin' Desire"
B-29# 42-93979

"City of Virginia" aka "Burnin' Desire" and Crew on the go
Photo courtesy of Joe Jacaruso, TG, P-47

Burin' Desire Nose Art
Photo courtesy of Wayne Weaver and Serafin Family

Click to Enlarge!
lick Here to Enlarge
The top left photo was given to Wayne Weaver by the Serafin Family. Wayne shared the photo with us for inclusion on the Crew's pages. The bottom left photo is a crop of that photo - note the "B" from Burnin' Desire and Jerry Matt's (AC) name under the AC's window. We asked Wayne if he could scan that area marked. The result - using a microscope he was able to read the complete SN and also sent in an image of that serial number (right photo). B-29 SN 42-93979 This plane was originally assigned to Crew 44. Click here for more about it. (Click on the images above to enlarge)

Kneeling L to R:
S/Sgt Thomas L. Harris Left Gunner
S/Sgt Ivan L. Weaver Right Gunner
1st Lt Otto Gestring Pilot
2nd Lt John E. Stauffer Bombardier
Sgt George Erhardt Tail Gunner
Standing L to R:
T/Sgt Frederick A. Ripley, Jr CFC Gunner
2nd Lt John A. Skurla Navigator
Capt Gerald N. Matts Airplane Commander
1st Lt Michael Serafin Radar
Sgt Richard D. Moss Radio Operator
F/O Bois D. Crocker Flight Engineer

 Crew 60
Honor Roll 
Capt Gerald N. Matts
Airplane Commander
23 September 1981
1st Lt Otto R. Gestring
Nov 1990
2nd Lt John E. Stauffer
16 July 1991
2nd Lt John A. Skurla
30 September 1995
Sgt George Erhardt
Tail Gunner
08 June 2000
S/Sgt Ivan Weaver
Right Gunner
09 September 2000
S/Sgt Thomas L. Harris
Left Gunner
31 May 2001
1st Lt Michael Serafin
Radar Observer
06 February 2015

Crew 60 trained at Clovis, New Mexico and received and checked out their plane at Smoky Hill, Salina, Kansas. On arrival at North Field, they also lost their new B-29 to another crew. They were supposedly the second replacement crew to the 39th Bomb Group.

The members of "Burnin' Desire" or "City of Virginia" flew varying numbers of missions. Individually they flew with various crews until they got their own plane. It was then that they became a real flying crew. Weaver mentioned he had only 14 combat missions having been injured on the highly successful Yokohama raid of May 29. Sgt Ivan Weaver was hit and wounded by a shell coming through his blister window, the Plexiglas shattered and hit his left hand. There was no other damage to Weaver except a slit in the flak helmet above his ear. Sgt George Erhardt, tail gunner, was also wounded in the feet and hands on this flight. Immediately after the bombs were released, eight enemy fighter planes made repeated vicious attacks on their B-29. In spite of the fierce opposition, Erhardt remained at his position and assisted the other crewmembers in shooting down two of the interceptors. Erhardt and Weaver both received the Purple Heart. Weaver would miss several missions -because of his injuries but Erhardt was able to keep flying. The crew flew prisoner of war supply missions, two air-search missions as they looked for the General Andrews and the Show of Force mission. Other crewmembers had about 22 missions.

Crew 60 put a claim into the "Blockbuster" September 15 for being the youngest crew in the Group. The average age was 21 years and 4 months. Gerald Matts, airplane commander was 22 years and 4 months. The oldest man was 23 years and 10 months and the youngest was 19 years and 8 months. The claim was never verified but who cared when you were going home.

Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"