Veterans of a daring and costly World War II low-flying raid on Axis oil fields are gathering in Dayton this week for a 70th anniversary reunion.
Those participating in the Ploesti Raid reunion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will arrive today, gathering for dinner followed by private events Wednesday. On the raid anniversary Thursday, there will be a public memorial service at the museum, and a chance to meet veterans.
Tomorrow is the 6th of June. Sixty-nine years ago, the allied forces at war with Hitler’s Germany invaded northern France in what will always be known as D-Day. On that morning in 1944, when Ohioans woke up, the battle in Europe had already been going on for hours. The airborne troops were the first ones to enter the conflict. One local paratroop veteran of that battled died recently, but told his story to our aviation commentator Dan Patterson.
Flying into the sunset in the B-17 that portrayed the Memphis Belle in the 1990 film.
Credit Dan Patterson
Seventy years ago this week American aviators were at war in Europe. In airplanes known as the B-17 Flying Fortress they were flying bombing missions over Germany. One of those planes, nicknamed “The Memphis Belle” flew its 25th combat mission on May 17th, 1943, and then came home to the US with its crew. One of the Memphis Belle’s first stops was Wright Field in Dayton, where today she’s being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Col. Doolittle (left) and Admiral Marc Mitscher (right) surrounded by the volunteers, over Admiral Mitscher's left shoulder, Tom Griffin.
Thomas Griffin died in late February - he was one of 80 American servicemen who flew a legendary mission in World War Two. They were known as Doolittle's Raiders. Griffin lived in Cincinnati and he was 96 years old. Now only four members of that elite group survive.
WYSO aviation commentator Dan Patterson knew Griffin and tells us his story.
The Ohio Departments of Aging and Veterans' Services is commemorating Pearl Harbor Day with a special installment of their War Era Story Project, including 19 stories written by current and former Ohioans about where they were and what they were doing on December 7, 1941.
The Department of Aging's Story Projects solicited stories of life during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s from Ohioans who lived through it. More than 300 individuals sent in their recollections and lessons learned so that people of all ages today might get some perspective on our current economic situation.