The story behind THE TAIL GUNNER novel, based on the WWII experiences and collection of Keith B. Lile
March 12, 2014 — As I sorted through Dad’s collection, I found that a few of the photos were actually marked or signed with people’s names. Those people became the anchors of my research, providing launch points for looking up information such as enlistment records and mission reports. Thanks to the dedicated people at the 57th Bomb Wing Association, I was able to identify the men in the only crew shots Dad kept—those from his training crew in South Carolina and the crew of Dad’s Mission 17, the only time that training crew flew in combat together.
Today’s post features what I call “The Captains.” This set of images is among the best photographic quality of the bunch, most of which were probably taken by an Army photographer. During the war, many photographers were trained to take reconnaissance photos but no doubt snapped pics around base as well. These portraits appear to have been taken at the camp on Corsica.
If you know any of these men, please post a comment below or email me to add to the knowledge base. I know the names as Dad noted them on each photo, but I don’t know much of anything else. Thanks to all of the friends, family, and interested historians who continue to put faces with names and lives.
For reference, the 321st Bombardment Group contained the 445th, 446th, 447th, and 448th squadrons. Each squadron contained about 460 men.
As you might imagine, identifying all of these men is a daunting task, but little by little, we discover their stories. Little by little we unearth their buried lives.
Thanks for following.
Next Post: More Men of the 321st