Thursday, January 30, 2020

Interesting...


So frequent commenter and reader Nylon12 went all off-topic on me yesterday and I'm glad he did.


(And yes, you can ignore the bit about, scratching, gassing, and the potential for the non-wearing of pants.)

The post he was referencing is here (and yes, the headline is incorrect, he was the bombardier, not the pilot - juvat also wrote about 2d Lt* Kingsley here). The 173rd Fighter Wing's website also has a good article on this aircraft and 2d Lt Kingsley, here.


Here's another view of that "Heritage" bird which Edwards painted up for the 173rd -


Pretty cool name, huh? Sandman, which was a B-17F Serial Number 42-30333, which is depicted here:

(Source)
Which led me to a couple of disconnects** with what may or may not be the truth. The Air Force says that this F-15C is named after the aircraft which 2d Lt Kingsley flew his last mission aboard. An aircraft which crashed in Romania on the 23rd of June, 1944. However, that doesn't appear to be the "real" story, which is actually a lot more interesting (and far less politically correct than the modern Air Force probably cares for) than what I read at the 173rd's website.

As I usually do, I tried to track down the serial number of the aircraft in question, a search for "B-17 Sandman" yielded the serial number 42-30333, a B-17F, so far so good. However, this aircraft (which for some reason is not listed on Joe Baugher's website) has this entry on a German website for the B-17 -
Delivered Cheyenne 14/5/43; Gore 17/5/43; Cheyenne 20/5/43; Smoky Hill 30/5/43; Tinker 19/6/43; Casper 28/6/43; Kearney 30/6/43; Greenville 7/7/43; Eglin 10/7/43; Dow Fd 12/7/43; Assigned 32BS/301BG St Donat 8/43; Oudna 6/8/43; Cerignola 7/12/43; Lucera 1/2/44; {18m} transferred 341BS/97BG Amendola, then weather aircraft 15/7/44; Salvaged 14/10/44. SANDMAN.
Hhmm, what? How could this aircraft, destroyed in Romania on 23 June be salvaged on 14 October later in 1944? Answer, it can't. Digging some more I came across this website, which has this to say about 2d Lt Kingsley's last mission-
The navigators of the 97th Bomb Group B-17s checked their maps as they approached the Danube River from the north on the morning of June 23, 1944. So far they were on course and on time for their assigned target, the Romanian city of Giurgiu on the border with Bulgaria. The Italy-based Fifteenth Air Force had that day launched hundreds of bombers against targets affiliated with Ploești and other Axis petroleum production and shipping points.
Nearly 70 miles south of Ploești, the Flying Fortresses pressed through a thick anti-aircraft barrage. During the bombing run on Giurgiu, the B-17F Opissonya was struck by flak and began losing altitude, but pilot Lieutenant Edwin Anderson was determined to put his bombardier over the target.
Lieutenant David R. Kingsley crouched over the Norden bombsight in Opissonya’s nose, seeking the aim point. He ignored attacking Messerschmitt Me-109s and dropped his bombs through thickening flak. By then the B-17 had taken a beating: Anderson pulled off target with one engine out and serious airframe damage.
More 109s pressed in, eager to finish off the straggler. One of them put a 20mm round into the tail gunner’s compartment, wounding Sergeant Michael Sullivan. Unable to call for help on the intercom, Sullivan crawled forward to the waist position. The gunners carried him to the radio compartment and summoned assistance. Now that they had dropped their bombload, Kingsley was the obvious choice to provide first aid.
A veteran airman on his 20th mission, Kingsley was not quite 26 years old. Although the lieutenant had washed out of pilot training, he excelled as a dual-rated bombardier-navigator. He was a long way from his home in Portland, Ore.
After removing Sullivan’s damaged parachute harness and jacket to expose his mangled shoulder, Kingsley managed to slow the bleeding. But the gunner had already lost too much blood; 500 miles from base, Sullivan was going into shock.
Then even more 109s arrived. During the course of a prolonged gunfight they shot the Fortress to tatters, forcing Anderson to ring the bailout bell. In the resulting confusion, Sullivan’s chute harness could not be found. Kingsley didn’t hesitate: He removed his own harness and fitted it on the gunner. Sullivan later related: “Lieutenant Kingsley took me in his arms and struggled to the bomb bay, where he told me to keep my hand on the ripcord and said to pull it when I was clear of the ship. Before I jumped, I looked up at him and the look on his face was firm and solemn. He must have known what was coming because there was no fear in his eyes at all.”
Dangling in their chutes, the crewmen watched their bomber fall to earth and burn in Bulgaria. The fliers were soon taken prisoner, and their captors later said they had found a dead airman on the crushed flight deck, perhaps having attempted a crash landing. Ten months later the Kingsley family received David’s Medal of Honor.
The 97th Group lost three more aircraft that day, while the Fifteenth wrote off five other bombers and four fighters. It was one more tragic entry in the prolonged campaign to turn off the spigot of Adolf Hitler’s Balkan oil.
Note that second paragraph, Opissonya is given as the aircraft name. A B-17F (manufactured by Lockheed-Vega) -
42-5905/5954 Lockheed/Vega B-17F-35-VE Fortress 
42-5951 (97th BG, 341th BS) lost Jun 23, 1944.  MACR 6406
The aircraft was lost on 23 June 1944 which is the day 2d Lt Kingsley was killed, so that matches. Now say that name out loud, slowly. Now does that seem like something the Air Force would paint on the nose of its aircraft in these modern times? Yeah, I didn't think so.

A Bulgarian website (of all places) actually has a couple of photos of Opissonya -



History gets very interesting when you start digging. I can understand why the Air Force chose not to paint that F-15C with the name Opissonya on the nose, but it's not correct. I can also understand why the crew of that B-17F chose that name, it's a very G.I. thing to do. A great name really.

Perhaps 2d Lt Kingsley once was a crewman on Sandman, I'm still digging on that, but really Air Force, if the name of the aircraft 2d Lt Kingsley died on bothers you, paint it in the colors of the 341st Bomb Squadron in which he served, doesn't have to have a specific aircraft name on it. Well, at least Sandman was in the same squadron.

Really cool story, but I can't stand political correctness.

While it does nothing to diminish the heroism of 2d Lt Kingsley, it ain't quite the whole story now, is it?

Any theories? Data that I missed? Am I too wrapped around the axle on this?

What say you on this matter?




* Why can't I find an Air Force publication/website on official Air Force rank abbreviations? Why do I have to use the Trade School on the Severn's data? (Not that I have a problem with that, Tuttle is a graduate.) But geez USAF, come on!
** The second disconnect was that apparently 2d Lt Kingsley's aircraft was shot down on a mission to bomb Giurgiu, not Ploiești. Same country but the two towns are some seventy miles apart, the former is north of Bucharest, the latter south of the Romanian capital.

42 comments:

  1. I looked at that last night, just before I met the sandman. I thought it was kinda cool. Very unsurprising that the Hair Force would do that. I'm glad you dug into it.

    We can't be honest anymore. We're too sensitive.

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    1. Sensitive is one way of putting it.

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    2. It's been proven that allowing crews (flight and ground) to buy into the plane and do nose and body art helps morale and helps ensure quality treatment. Even just listing all the crew's names on the plane somewhere helps.

      Politically correct is not something the military should be.

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    3. Beans - Concur. Name on the bird is an awesome morale booster.

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  2. I love it! I know it would be cost-prohibitive to paint more active duty birds with commemorative paint jobs, but perhaps the Air Force might consider painting the base static displays with information such as this. God Bless 2nd Lt Kingsley.

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    1. Men (and now women) like 2d Lt Kingsley need to be remembered, their sacrifices have to mean something.

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  3. Excellent sleuthing Sarge, don't think you're too wrapped on this at all. Methinks that one plane sounds too "Russian" but then what do I know. Perhaps the take-away is to remember 2nd Lt. Kingsley and his sacrifice and that's what was done here again. Thank you.

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    1. Sound motives, the execution was lacking. B-17s, from what my research has revealed so far, didn't have invasion stripes painted on them, nor did B-24s. The reason, from what I've seen so far, is that the Luftwaffe had no operational four-engined aircraft, so no need to paint the stripes on them. Single and dual engine aircraft were more of a problem, so invasion stripes. Hhmm, that topic might make a good post.

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  4. I'm not sure it was Political Correctness per se. I think it was more of a "why bother". Some half wit would undoubtedly get their panties in a wad and breathlessly protest the insensitivity. Since they added invasion stripes which, as you say were not historically accurate, as well as a two toned camo job, which I don't think (I could be wrong) were also not historically accurate, why deliberately wave a red flag at the Bovine Feces protesters. However, they should present this as a means of honoring a MOH recipient for which Kingsley Field is named.

    I believe the listing of official ranks is a Joint reg. For instance, Lieutenant Colonel is LTC for the Army, LtCol for the Marines and Lt Col for the USAF for instance. Here is the DOD site that has a listing. If I recall correctly there was a big brouhaha over this when the Joint thing first took off in the early 90's. As a Major on the CincPac Staff, I ran afoul of a Marine 0-5 for using the wrong abbreviation. My offer to perform ritual disembowelment to atone for this grievous mistake didn't seem to appease him. Sheesh!

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    1. Yup, their hearts were in the right place. Good point on the not waving flags at the Bovine Feces crowd, they are legion. 2d Lt Kingsley's bird's name is perfect for that crowd. (Heh.)

      I chased that website for the ranks, heh, they have Air Force O-1 as 2d LT (should be lower case "t") and O-2 as 1st Lt, which is better. I chased a number of Federal government websites looking for an answer, little things like "2d LT" are endemic across government websites. The Feds are consistently inconsistent.

      It is to weep.

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    2. Most likely some high-ranking not-smart-posterior made a mistake and no-one wanted to correct it. Seen that in the commercial side of the world, no reason our government can't be as or more stupid than business.

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    3. Could be Beans, I've seen it before.

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  5. "Sound motives, the execution was lacking". Agreed. Still, love the history, and thanks to you Sarge for doing all the homework. I also say we could use less PC and more of this (scroll to photo)--

    http://www.kimdutoit.com/2020/01/28/unnecessary-2/

    Here is another story for you--

    https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/139143/world-war-ii-ironmans-remains-return-home/

    I first received a link to this story via email back in '99. That link is no longer good, but here it is for reference--

    http://www.behindbarbedwire.com/carlh.htm

    I also heard the story told on a short radio show documentary. In that telling, 1Lt. Hoenshell became separated in combat and found himself alone. He soon joined up with another separated P-38. The two of them then spotted a straggling bomber (B-17?) and took up escort. Soon after that, they were attacked by six Me-109's. They turned into the enemy to break up their formation, but it didn't work. The 109's tightened up a went by. The kicker is that each P-38 pilot knew the other was out of ammo.

    I have searched for more info a few times, but my weak a-s google-fu is not up to the task.

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    1. I'll have to chase those links when I get home. You guys always give me interesting stuff to look into and even write about from time to time.

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    2. (Don McCollor)...another interesting episode is in Martin Caidin's "Fork Tailed Devil" when a B17 YB-40 Gunship shot down a rogue P38 (captured and flown by an Italian pilot) [in the Mediterranean Personals chapter]...

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    3. I read that book when I was a kid. A long time ago...

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  6. I think you're on the right track. Referring back to my comment yesterday, this is one of the "running the country" duties of the sovereign ape-lizard citizen. Point out the discontinuities/errors and show your work.

    A very big problem today is that all of the people in government and media can so easily convince themselves that the end justifies the means and then choose to behave in that fashion and execute that plan. And of course all of the non-government/non-media citizens can whip the same jedi mind trick on themselves and decide that the proper way to be is to view all other non-immediate tribe members as things to be manipulated rather than as equally sovereign human beings. Therefore all the lying, cheating, stealing, and apathetic going along to get along is the way it should be. It doesn't matter that the details are wrong, those old dead people are just half imagined concepts anyway. The important thing is the dopamine rush that comes from seeing a pretty pickshur or a kitty video.

    So yeah, in my opinion, pointing out the mistakes here and showing your work is important and is part of the job of running the country.

    Sucks to be you! ;-)

    Great post and thanks for doing your part Sarge!

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  7. Appreciate your telling "the rest of the story" - perhaps we can start calling you "Paul"? :-)

    I'm also of two minds about the details - the main point is to honor the man and his deeds - so that's a big plus, and none of the PC-ness takes away from that. Should the correct name of the a/c been used? Certainly. Would the conduct of Lt. Kingsley been any less heroic if the a/c had been named "Bugs Bunny"? or "Hillary's Crimes"? of course not ... So in that regard, what's in a name?

    But I also hate the PC society that has evolved - everyone needs to tell those pushing that garbage to sit down and shut the F up!

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    1. The PC crowd is one of the big reasons the country is so fouled up.

      I do love that the 173rd honored a local man who's actions on the 23rd of June 1944 epitomize John 15:13.

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  8. It took me to the end of the post to understand the lack of political correctness in the name of the plane. It's all in the pronunciation. Like the name 'Syphilis.' Pronounced 'Sigh, fowl, isssss.' Or 'L-a.' Pronounced 'La, dash, ah.' All about the pronunciation.

    Bleh. Political correctness so they couldn't do the right thing and make a single tribute bird correctly. Dang it.

    At least they didn't forget him totally. Like the AF Memorial did to the missing Medal of Honor recipient that juvat is always talking about and I'm too lazy to look up.

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    1. The actual name struck me immediately, of course, I'm kinda wired that way.

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    2. Actually it's the Air Force Museum. The Air Force Memorial in DC has them all. By the way his name is CMSgt Richard L. (Dick) Etchberger. His Sons (3) have a charitable organization in case you're interested and his biography has been published. BTW, on our masthead he's top row, 6th from the left.

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    3. I thought that's who he meant. Figured you'd know exactly. Thanks juvat!

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  9. Spokesman: “check out the new paint job!”

    Reporter: “I’m offended by the name!!”

    Spokesman: *narrows eyes* *points at name*

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  10. PissonthePCcrowd. I never knew about Kingsley, nor that he was a fellow (former in my case) Oregonian. That would explain how the USAF (now ANG) base in Klamath Falls OR was named. As the closest military facility when I lived in South Oregon, I got my first dependent ID card there.

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  11. There's part of me that says that if you're going to honor a bomber crewman, you shouldn't paint a fighter.

    Especially when there's mud-hens aplenty.

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    1. I feel the same way about ship-naming conventions. MOHs get DDGs, so NCs shouldn't be attached to CVNs. That's PC.

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    2. Angus - Good point, but 2d Lt Kingsley is from the area, the base where the 173rd operates from is named for him. They have no F-15Es so they worked with what they had.

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    3. Tuna - DDGs also get named for Navy Cross holders - McFaul, Peralta, etc.

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    4. The to properly honor him, convert the squadron to F-15E!

      Someone call the Pentagon, I'm available.

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  12. Hi Sarge! This is rather late and you may have already found this info but from what I've read Kingsley's crew had no bomber assigned to them for a long time and flew the pool bombers. when they finally got their own bomber they named it Sand Man. On June 23, 1944 Sand Man was down due to mechanical problems so they flew another bomber which was named by another crew as Opissonya.......

    Link to the book:
    https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=IhMGCVmJ5dAC&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=B-17+opissonya&source=bl&ots=i973--LZEL&sig=ACfU3U2-Jqy7zG-R140OPxUjRKSVBB_3eg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj_i7nI-P_pAhVLVN4KHbv7DhQQ6AEwDXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=B-17%20opissonya&f=false

    - Victor

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    1. Yup, saw that reference, but thanks Victor.

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  13. Interestingly it is mentioned on the 142nd Wing website that Kingsley's bomber during his last mission was Opissonya.

    Here's the link:

    https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1211286/redhawk-reflections-on-the-first-american-mission-in-europe-1942/

    - Victor

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    Replies
    1. Good link, thanks.

      I see that the video I posted is now "private." Grrrr...

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  14. I have the crew roster of the Sandman and 2 photos. 1 of the crew with names and one of it in flight over Russia. Kingsley was not on the Sandman. It survived until scrapped in October of 1944. If anyone is interested let me know. My best friends grandfather was the co-pilot.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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