Collegiate Jesse Owens
The deck of USS Hornet aircraft carrier awash with Doolittle Raider's B-25s on April 18, 1942.
Imagine you are 9 years old and your father is taking you and other kids to Wrigley Field to see Game 3 of the World Series with your beloved Cubs against Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees. You are sitting in the lower seats way out in left field. The score is tied 4-4.
In the fifth inning Babe Ruth does his famous point to center field before the first pitch and again before the second pitch when he hits that curve ball out of the park at least 440 feet in center field.
Do you remember the point...maybe not because you are only nine but...YOU WERE THERE.
For the 50th anniversary of the B-17 (1935-1985) Boeing held a huge gala at their complex in Seattle. It took all of the Seattle school buses most of the day to take the guests to the Boeing plant and field. Military personnel that were associated with the B-17 were invited from all parts of the country and brought their spouses and some even brought families.
Late in the afternoon of the all day event while they were outside talking, General LeMay autographed the front of Bill's flight jacket.
Under the balcony on VE-Day was not the only time Bill was close to Winston Churchill. (See The First Edition below)
Another time Bill was shuttling bigwigs to a meeting of the International Order of Characters at Dr. Crane's home in Connecticut. The IOC is devoted to fostering aviation. Members comprise movers and shakers from around the world who advocate aviation. Each member has a nickname.
When they landed Bill was invited inside. Winston Churchill was present and gave a short talk to the group. Another member of IOC came up to Bill and gave him a hat and IOC patch of the organization. The fellow said, "Now, you are a Character." Of course, it was only a token gesture since belonging to the group had much higher qualifications for its members.
At any rate Bill was honored. So was Winston Churchill when the US Congress resolved to name him the first honorary US citizen on April 9, 1963.
B-47 with nuclear capabilities
Around the time Bill was age twelve his father taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. (His father had 3 PhDs). Bill's dad would take students to Greenfield village as part of their coursework and received credit for it. Bill's dad received an invitation for his family to join in the Christmas festivities at the Hall in Greenfield Village.
They drove down from Ann Arbor in the afternoon. At the get together Bill wandered over to look at the pool. Henry Ford was the only other person in that area. They talked about cars, of course, but mostly about planes. (Bill's love of planes and flying must have occurred at birth.)
During the dance later Bill (always friendly) asked Clara Ford for a dance and she accepted.
He recalls that the pool was lighted, that Henry Ford seemed pretty big to a twelve year old, and Clara was quiet and quite nice.
The Royal Family celebrating the birth of the new baby seems an ideal time to impart Bill's encounter with Prince Philip who is pictured above. This time with Arnold Palmer, another pilot, who is also pictured above.
For the 1968 Summer Olympics Bill was assigned to fly some bigwigs to the Mexico City venue. As Bill was securing the plane after the guests left for games the airport manager rushed up to Bill and said, Prince Philip's plane is landing over there and I have no officials to greet him. Your are the only person who looks somewhat official because you are in uniform. Would you please greet the Prince and welcome him to Mexico City for us? Of course he agreed. Bill, as a Public Information Officer for the USAF Academy, had been around enough ceremonial events to know what to do.
The brief conversation after greeting Prince Philip turned to talk of London where the flight originated and perhaps the Prince helped pilot. Bill said, "It was a relaxed exchange like two buddies getting together. He's a wonderful man and was doing wonderful work in England. A true gentleman, I thought. At that point the Olympic runner from Mexico was first into the arena and the roar of the local crowd was heard everywhere including the flight line. Prince Philip's transportation arrived to carry him to the games.
In 1976 Arnold Palmer and crew set out from Denver to fly around the globe. A few people came to see him off including many people from the USAF Academy. Of course, Bill was there in his flight suit. Bill said to Arnie, "Not many people fly around the world. I was wondering if you would take this small American flag with you. Arnie said, "Sure."
Upon return the crowd was considerably larger and there was press coverage because Arnie had set an around-the-world speed record of 57 hours, 25 minutes, 42 seconds A crew member handed Bill the small flag. It is in one of the 167 boxes Bill has in storage.
Bill reflects, "He's one heck of guy,. Great experience with a great person." Circumnavigating the globe is something, surprisingly, Bill has not done.
When Bill's NORAD (North American Air Defense Command)briefing team was getting ready to make their presentation at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs Governor Reagan called an impromptu news conference there and most of the audience went to that.
After the conference Governor Reagan came and apologized to the team for interfering with their presentation.
Years earlier at a studio halfway up Mulholland drive when Bill was working with Disney and the entertainment industry for the Academy he talked with Ronald Reagan, the actor.
The next mission for Bill was to get his Master's degree at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He needed only two languages and a dissertation for his doctorate but he reported to Barksdale, AFB, with the Strategic Air Command, General Curtis E. LeMay, General Glantzberg, and the wing of 6-engine B-47's
The USAF Academy was the goblet's first residence when not traveling and is shown here with Cadet Honor Guard.
Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle and Major General Curtis E LeMay
Two of Bill's favorites.
NOTE: Both officers appear in jackets that are too tight. In the beginning
of their service Air Force personnel gained an average of 10-20 pounds.
Complete ceremony honoring Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and Final Toast.
3 - WOODY HERMAN AND THE HERD
Young Jesse Owens was sitting in the stands at the University of Michigan waiting to compete in his track event when Bill sat down with him and they talked about the upcoming Olympics in Germany.
Many times Bill's encounters with notable people would last only five or ten minutes; long lasting memories in such a short time period.
Bill and Bob flying the C130
The first USAF Academy museum site was in Denver and showed 14 life-sized pictures of the first Generals involved in the development of the Academy.
Late in the afternoon a tall man walked into the room carrying a propeller and Bill immediately recognized him as Charles Lindbergh. (Maybe the propeller was a clue!) Bill asked him if he should call in a higher ranking officer. "No," said Lucky Lindy, "I'd rather talk to you about the museum.
For nearly two hours without interruption the pilots talked and for Bill it seemed like a millisecond. Indicating great respect for aviation history Lindbergh said that our future depended on the success of the Air Force Academy. Bill hung on every word. Lindbergh's thoughtful ideas and foresight later became part of the growing academy.
Lindy said that the place of a museum in any organization is very important and that made Bill feel both he and his new job meant something.
Lindbergh left to present the autographed propeller at an official dinner. Bill then put it in the museum collection.
1 - DICK JURGENS
At one such performance in downtown London the stage was dark with a single spot light on a chair in the middle. Orson Wells walked into the spotlight and said his troupe had been grounded in France because of bad weather after he had flown ahead. He told the audience that they may recieve their money back from the cashier. He went on to say, "As for me, I'm going to read Moby Dick." He sat down and proceed to read aloud the classic with his riveting voice - NOBODY LEFT- and you could hear a pin drop! You felt like you were right there with Ishmael.
Sometime during that stirring recitation Bill and his fellow airmen were called back to duty leaving with this moving encounter etched in their minds.
De Havilland 98 Mosquito
A later Spitfire. Feisty looking - aren't they?
The first of Bill's mentors was then Lt Colonel Curtis E. LeMay that Bill met in 1945 - the very beginning of Bill's Air Force career. The first contact occurred when he spoke to Bill briefly at Chelveston, England.
During the 40 years that Bill was mentored by LeMay behind the scenes and the man showed up three or four times at different places in the world surprising Bill. They would have a short talk where LeMay would do all of the talking and then would quickly disappear leaving Bill scratching his head. One time in Colorado where Bill was pursuing his degree LeMay walked up behind him and said, "You should be flying." All through the ranks he pushed Bill to do bigger and better things.
Other contacts with the famous general were on military and flying business at the Pentagon and elsewhere. Bill never saw the man smile.
(Note: The US Army had been around since June 14, 1775; the US Navy was established on Friday, October 13, 1775; the US Marine Corps November 10, 1775; the US Coast Guard January 15, 1915; and the US Air Force July 26, 1947.
In 1959 the first class graduated from the United States Air Force Academy a mere 12 years after the US Air Force became a separate military branch under the Department of Defense. It is truly amazing and admirable what was accomplished by so few people in such a short amount of time.)
The Cold War did not start on an actual date but grew from the hostilities with the Soviet Union commonly called Russia after WWII. Although Russia dissolved in December, 1991 into 15 countries: Russia, Georgia, Ukrane, Moldovia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania., the tension is revived today..
4 - JAN GARBER
Bob Hope was to appear at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) when he received news that his second brother had died within the week. Bill received permission to check out a Sabreliner to fly Bob to Palm Springs from a three star general in Washington, D. C. who said, "Whatever Bob needs, give it to him." The Palm Springs airport was closed due to a sandstorm but Bill was able to land the maneuverable sabreliner safely there.
This was the second time Bill flew Bob Hope. The first was the USO 1966 Christmas Tour of Viet Nam. Bill, as Director of the USAFA Museum Collection and Public Information Officer,encountered Bob Hope many times and in many parts of the world. More about the 1966 tour later.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. exhibit at The National Museum of the US Air Force. (Photo courtesy of the US Air Force)
Modern USAFA complex
The De Havilland 98 Mosquito or Mossie as it is referred to by the British was a plywood plane. It was also called the Wooden Wonder on this side of the pond.
Operating between 1943 and 1945 the Mosquitos fought primarily in one-to-one air battles. They were based in England and this Mossie is of the 613 (City of Manchester) squadron. What makes this photograph so special is that it was taken on D-Day.
Bill's experience with a Mosquito occurred at night. It seems that on occasion the Mossies would land at USAAF bases. The daring British pilots invited Bill for a ride. (Remember how young these pilots were and that they sometimes would not use good sense.)
Off they went into the night and ended up flying over London. This flight is particularly exciting because they were flying the wooden craft upside down. They gave Bill the stick to see how he managed the manuevers. Naturally, Wild Bill as he became known thought the whole episode was loads of fun.
Bill went from teaching to other jobs at the Academy until being made Museum Director. This opened a whole new world for him. He started working with international experts Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, the creators the new US Air Force Academy. It is amazing how much worldwide cooperation went into the whole USAFA story. A group of six brilliant and competent civilians advised Bill (the pilot) on how to create a museum and collection appropriate for this bold new venture.
As the academy developed it received gifts from all over the world. Bill was in charge of these gifts and would prepare them and display them quickly so the donors could see them in their place.
Bill's wife Shirley escorted the designer to his first viewing of the completed hanging multi-story (marble?) circular staircase in Arnold Hall. He had tears in his eyes. It seems tears of pride were prevalent at the beginning of the new Academy.
After flight school Bill was licensed as a Pilot/Co-Pilot and after brief five year respite the United States and Bill's crew found themselves in another war. They flew refurbished B-29 Superfortresses. In the beginning there were a lot of planes that were no good. Later on improvements were made, but they never were a good airplane.
One night on one of the many sorties the target was the furthest north point of Korea on the Russian border. The run was unsuccessful losing many planes and missing the targets. The B-29s were lit up by searchlights that made everything inside an eerie green. Without fighter support the big planes were easy targets for the Russians and Koreans.
After the failed first run Bill's skipper discussed making another run at the targets. Scared as they were they turned off all of their lights, made a ten mile looping turn, and found out that the enemy had turned off the searchlights leaving the city and bridges lit. They made their bomb run, knocked out the main bridges and scooted home as fast as the plane would go. Because of this effort Bill's entire crew was recognized in front of the wing by a four star general (Bill can't remember his name) and given special action medals. It was an unexpected honor.
On an island in the middle of a hurricane Bill's crew and their B-29, the Linda Darnell, had their engines running at full speed foward with 39 five hundred pound bombs on board just keep the plane on the ground.
|Jitterbug||St Louie Shuffle|
|Mambo||International La Conga|
|Samba||Italian Line Dancing|
|Viennese Waltz||Walking Step|
|Complete Waltz||Quick Step|
6 - BOB CROSBY & THE BOBCATS
In 1945 the new navigator, Bill, who was newly married to Shirley, (See Photo Array Page) and his crew left Gulfport, Mississippi for Chelveston, England and WWII. They joined up with General Curtis E. LeMay's 305th Bombardment Group. Previously on October 14, 1943 the 305th had lost 87% of its wing in the Black Thursday raid on the heavily fortified Schweinfurt ball bearing factory. That raid changed the face of the bomber offensive to include fighter protection. The Can-Do 305th rebuilt from that disaster to go on to be what a United States Air Force Academy historian called the shoulders that the new Air Force was built on.
Each of the 80 silver goblets is engraved with a Raider's name twice...once to be read in an upright position and once to be read in the upside down position as the goblet is turned over when the Raider is gone.
Display of Doolittle Goblets at Edwards AFB.
The cadet social center, was dedicated by General Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold's wife. Bill became enamored with this lovely sensitive lady and wanted the unveiling of the name to be the best ceremony. Unfortunately one of the drapes hung up on a letter. Bill was devastated. Mrs. Arnold leaned over and said, "That goes to show you there will be some exciting times in the hall."
Flight Officer Navigator 1944. Shirley made him shave off the mustache before she would marry him
We will miss you Arnie.Scoll down to photo and story. So much information is added to this page that the columns no longer line up. You'll just have to poke around. Of course, you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not read the site in its entirety but will particularly impoverished by not reading the bottom of both columns on this page.
Type your paragraph here.
The Dance Steps
To dance at that time one needed versatility and timing. It was not just one dance craze that swept the world.
Bill notes that the Americans and especially the Canadians living in his retirement park still love and enjoy the music and dances of bygone eras.
Shirley and Bill did 26 different dance steps and the table at the below represents those that Bill remembers. When he finds that year among his diaries the table will be amended.
At one point Bill received orders to report to the United States Air Force Academy at their temporary site at Lowry AFB in Denver, CO. Bill did not believe they were real orders because he thought he was doing a good job for Generals LeMay and Glantzberg at Strategic Air Command (SAC). After all General LeMay said that each of his pilots was worth one million dollars. A couple of days later Bill was told that the orders were real and he was to report to the new USAFA. This was the 12th move for the family.
An early Doolittle Raiders reunion at USAF Academy.
Bill is the one on the very left.
Two days before the Aswan dam opened Bill and his crew had the flight of a lifetime. It is doubtful anyone else has ever seen the valley in its entirety at such a momentous time.
Flying very low up the valley of the Nile from Victoria Falls to Cairo these men saw on either side of plane huge carvings of the Pharaohs in the walls almost all the way up the valley. As they proceeded toward Cairo the sun was setting.
All gone now.
6 Amazing Days
(See Photo Array page also)
5 - ORRIN TUCKER & WEE BONNIE BAKER
The London theater district was open all through WWII and many people in the entertainment world were willing to give their best for those who were giving their all. Imagine doing a performance in
As Bill says, "People were different then."
Earlier that day Bill and his crew were standing right underneath the balcony where British Royalty and Winston Churchill were celebrating with the thousands and thousands of people in the square. The noise was deafening, the streets and buildings shook, windows broke, and every face you saw was joyful. The place rocked and roared.
(Note: Unfortunately, photos of this occasion belong to Getty Images who only sell their images. If you search Images for VE- Day royal family on balcony with Winston Churchill, Bill and fellow airmen were standing underneath there celebrating that momentous occasion with everyone else.
Henry and Clara Ford
This beautiful photo is especially poignant because it takes place during a memorial service for a fallen comrade. The impact of the moment is felt by the lone cadet at the tail of the plane and the meteor over the peak in the distance.
That must be some kind of record.
Not only is this photo an example of what the crew saw on their trip up the Nile but Bill also remembers driving on that narrow road around these carvings to their landing strip. Imagine finding this photo at random on the Internet!
2 - LAWRENCE WELK
Rock-A-Bye Baby - While returning from a WWII mission over the English Channel with B-17's as far as the eye could see the one named Forever Amber was swaying back and forth in time with the crew singing. Rock-A-Bye Baby in honor of the birth of Bill and Shirley's new daughter. Vicki.
Preparing for another dedication a forklift was raising the statue of the Eagle and Fledglings by Herbert Bayer onto a pedestal when the statue tipped and fell on the ground breaking the base. Bill and Herbert spent the night trying to repair the statue so that it would be presentable for the dedication the next day. They were able to drape a cloth to cover what they could not repair. The message reads, "Man's flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge."
Bill was quite surprised that in the picture the ever-present cigar had been preempted by a pipe.
ONE WHO CAME BACK
William H. 'Wild Bill' Copp
Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was a Royal Canadian Air Force flyer during the Battle of Britain in 1941. He wrote High Flight on the back of a letter to his missionary parents. A test flight above 30,000 feet the day before insinspired the sonnet.
Shortly after writing it he was killed in his Spitfire VZ-H in a mid-air collision at the age of 19.
Magee's parents traveled from England to the new US Air Force Academy to present a copy of the original written in Magee's hand as a gift. General Harmon, the first superintendent, accepted it on behalf of the Academy. Bill was present to add the valuable document to the museum collection.
Hight Flight has been repeated orally, in written form and even etched on grave markers. Many who have flown relate to this poem more than any other. It is revered by military pilots around the world. The original resides in the Library of Congress.
The poem High Flight is on the Home Again Page.
Bill's flight jacket was not military issue. Shirley bought it for him before he left for WWII. He can still wear it today.
The back has no more room for the names of his planes and countries. It is showing a some wear and a little looseness at the seams, but then, aren't we all?
To continue, the B-17 50th anniversary activities were held in the big Boeing hanger which had been decorated for the dancing that evening. On hand were many entertainers and bands that Bill knew like Les Brown, The Andrews Sisters, Bob Hope, and of special importance to Bill - Kay Starr. Bill had known Kay since she was 16 years old singing with the Joe Venuti Band at Ocean Beach Pier in Michigan.
Throughout the hanger you would see small groups talking and reminiscing with friends they had not seen for decades.
Boeing distributed a keepsake book on the B-17. Bill said, "It is the finest book on flying that there ever was. It tells the whole story." It is kept in a special place.
At the peak of the evening Boeing turned the lights down and the big hanger doors swung open to reveal two shiny spotlighted B-17s. First, the crowd roared and
applauded. When the tears started it got quiet, an eerie thing, while people were thinking back. Bill said, "It was the end of an era."
Bill returned from Korea with "scare circle" of white hair on the top of his head.
On August 29, 1958 the Academy moved from Denver into its new quarters outside Colorado Springs, CO. The cadets wanted to march from Denver to the new site but that plan was vetoed. There were only a few buildings on the site, a dormitory, the dining hall, an academic building, the main office building and a social center. They did not even have names yet.
From top left to bottom right
Pilot "Skip" Schorner, Co-Pilot "John" Kasiwski, Navigator "Wild Bill" Copp, Bombardier "Friendly Dave" Wright, Engineer Stan "Pops" Golehry, Radioman Dick "Dealer" Rowe, Tailgunner Bob "Trouble" Berkes, Ball turret gunner Bob "Turret" Dornbush, Waist gunners "Slim" Carlson and Ed Leheke. The crew of Forever Amber.
PEOPLE AND PLANES
Jimmy Doolittle Raider's Goblets
A decision was made at the final public appearance recently that the four remaining Doolittle Raiders would open the
bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special Cognac (Jimmy's birthdate) to toast the fallen Raider's with the engraved silver goblets instead of the original plan to wait for the last two. The toast will be a private one at a later date. Of the original 80 B-25 heroes these four remain.
Bill, as USAF museum director, received and was in charge of the goblets in the early years when they weren't travelling. Jimmy Doolittle's son would periodically come to maintain them. The silver goblets engraved with name of each of the 80 Raiders and wooden display case were a gift of the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club and businessman Leon Levy in 1959.
The treasured box's home is now the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson, AFB in Ohio.
Someone once said the message sent by the Tokyo Raid was "We will fight. And, no mater what it takes, we will win."
The Raiders took off into a strong (estimated 50 or 60 mph) headwind that helped considerably. Each plane was tied down to the deck. The leading plane would power up to the maximum, they would release the ropes, and the B-25 would take off. This was done one plane at a time. It is amazing that all 80 were able to take off from the Hornet. Each pilot had to do everything exactly right because if one plane had made a mistake it would have wiped out the remaining planes. Bill says, "It was a miracle. Without that headwind I don't think they could have made it. It was a very short run to water's edge and the planes actually dipped"
On a couple of occasions at the USAF Academy Bill met with Jimmy Doolittle. He thinks the occasions were the dedication of Doolittle Hall and one or more reunions of the Raiders. Bill also talked with the pilots at the reunion ceremonies.
Some background is needed here. Shortly before leaving for WWII Bill and his family moved to Winnetka, Illinois. Shirley came to dance with him. The year 1944. It turns out they were later married in Gulfport, Mississippi 5 days before Bill flew off to war.
They first met at dance at Creighton University where Shirley wowed the crowd with her Charleston. Both loved dancing and were very good. Bill started dancing at age ten. To this day at age 90, Bill cuts the rug and is often asked to dance at the live music on Friday nights.
Shirley and Bill were among a group that would go down to Chicago for all the great dance bands. The bass player for Bob Crosby's band even wrote a song about the group. It is the now famous "Big Noise from Winnetka".
On two different occasions Shirley and Bill saw the entire band at a dance walk single file down the center of the crowd and right out to sign onto military duty as a unit. These two bands would play as fellow troops for everyone at each assignment throughout the war.
Bill remembers, "Those were heady days before WWII and I often think about our forever young musicians and fellow dancers."
6 Amazing Days
(See Photo Array page also)
In Chicago Shirley and Bill danced to a different band for six nights in a row and they danced ALMOST EVERY DANCE!!
On VE-Day pure joy enveloped Britain, the free world, and lasted several days. Bill says, "It was unreal."
That euphoric night of VE-day Wild Bill and his fellow young airmen tried to get in the gate to see the King. They were politely and firmly led away by the Guards..
Undaunted, the group tried to build a lawn chaise bridge out to where the boats were on the Thames. The bridges kept sinking, of course. The soaking wet airmen would probably still be at it if the Bobbys hadn't discouraged their good-natured fun. Bill says, "No, they weren't drunk. Everyone was happy."
More Musical Memories
When Bill saw the images of the bands and hotels on his website it triggered, as often happens, more memories.
Bob Crosby's drummer was named Beansy (? sp) Williams. Bob's band was one of the smaller ones, about 12 musicians, and they were a rowdy group.
The Aragon was small but it had both indoor and outdoor dancing.
Each band was associated with a particular hotel and would play there 7 nights a week.
Bill and Shirley would arrive early and stay late, many times leaving when the band did. They would hop on the El back to Winnetka and walk the rest of the way.
The atmosphere at these events was intoxicatineg. The bands would talk to the dancers on breaks. Bill says, "It was almost as if the bands and the dancers were one unit."
After the end of WWII Shirley and Bill kept dancing but to new sounds and new bands.
It was a cloudy day at the dedication of the statue of Pegasus the flying horse given to the USAFA by the Italian Air Force. Just as the the Italian representative presented the statue the sun broke through the clouds and shined directly on Pegasus. It was an emotional event that brought tears to the eyes of both groups.
ONE WHO CAME BACK
Described by General H. H. "Hap" Arnold as the "backbone of our worldwide aerial offensive, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress served in every World War II combat zone."
Financed entirely by Boeing the B-17 aircraft went from design board to test flight in less than 12 months.They were the first Boeing military aircraft to have a flight deck instead of a cockpit. B-17s first saw action in 1941.
What impressed the pilots was the feature that one could contol all four engines with one hand.
Of course, Bill has some stories about the B-17. One time in France it was necessary for the fllight crew to change out two engines on their own airplane. Fortunately, they accomplished this task with no parts left over.
Another time Skip, their pilot, flew Forever Amber under the bridges and just over the water in southern France. Still another time before shipping out to England the crew flew the B-17 through Gulfport, Mississippi at the 5th floor level past Bill and Shirley's window on their wedding night. Quite an introduction to being married to a pilot for Shirley.
Raising the roof Mitchell Hall was one of several architectural feats at the Academy. It drew engineers and architects from around the world. The one solid piece roof was raised on 16 hydraulic jacks and set on the supporting pillars. The interior curtain walls hold no weight. It continues to be impressive as the largest dining hall of its kind in the country.