39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City Of Spokane"
"Betty Marian "
B-29 #44-69910

Crew 17's B-29 was named "City of Spokane" since the Airplane Commander was from Washington State and the name "Betty Marion" was for the daughter of Pilot Philip Schild*. They would fly a total of 24 missions with the 39th Bomb Group on Guam. They got off to a wild start; their first was Tokyo on Friday, April 13th. Fires could be seen over 200 miles caused by planes that had gone over the target earlier. Flak was moderate but very intense to the new men of P-17 but they sustained no damage that maiden venture.

Two days later at Kawaski, P-17 saw their first "Fireballs" and learned they were part of the "Kamikaze Squadrons." The crew learned about flak holes and the damage they could make. The crew decided to paint each patch with red paint.

Next mission was their first in formation rather than alone. Opposition was practically non-existent but a leaking engine cause the Flight Engineer to shut down number 3 north of Iwo Jima. A pattern was developing for P-17; the pattern was of failures.

Kushira mission on 27 April added more spice to their lives. Flak was meager but they were met with 25 fighter planes that use every possible method to knock them down. They were met with air-to-air phosphorous bombs as well as cannon and guns. Another engine lost from a 20 mm shell hitting the wing flap of Number 4. They four confirmed kills and several damaged on this one.

They would loose another on the Otia City mission, which was their fifth mission.

Crew 17 had a "milk run" on Nagoya, 14 May, but two days later on the same target, they would loose Number 4 again. Three times out the last four trips north on three engines. They hit Hammatsu on 19 May and Tokyo on 24 May no problems.

The second trip to Tokyo on 26 May was much different. Flak was accurate and all planes were hit with damage. In the case of P-17, it was a couple of Jap fighters that picked them as primary target. Diving in from both sides, they were able to hit the crew pretty good. A 20MM shell hit the navigator, 2nd Lt. Walter Rossig, Jr., killing him almost instantly. No. 1 and No. 3 engines were also lost. After what seemed like forever, the fighters broke off and returned to Japan. Capt. Barton was having trouble keeping the bomber in the air and decided they would strip the plane in hopes of keeping it flying. Starting at the tail and working forward, we tossed overboard every item that was not bolted down and some that were. They finally leveled off at 2000 feet and limped toward Iwo Jima. Iwo was "socked in" so it was on to Saipan.

The fuel was calculated to get to Saipan, Barton requested a direct landing. A direct landing was granted on Tinain granted. They managed to get off the runway and onto the apron before fuel expired. They remained on Tinian for six days for repairs.

5 June, at Kobe, they sustained minor damage to their plane during the bomb run. One of the damaged B-29's struggled to keep up. Barton maneuvered P-17 over the crippled plane and escorted it out of the flak and fighters back to Guam. A few new red spots appeared on their ship. The Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded for the service to the "Crippled Bird."

One abort and 2 milk runs later, Crew 17 was one of 26 planes in on the destruction of the port of Kogshima. Flak was very heavy and small arms quite intense and aaccurate with one more running battle with fighters over 100 miles.

Then some easy missions to Shizuoka and Tamashima and some more red paint to cover the patch holes. 26 June they would start for Nagoya, but the Number 1 engine swallowed a piston and so they aborted and returned to Guam.

P-17 was selected as "Dumbo" for the Nobeoka raid. Sixteen hours later we returned to base. No trouble or casualties. We circled over a submarine 20 miles off shore, Mission 18!

The Ogaki raid was unique in that there was a correspondent onboard broadcasting the bomb run back to Stateside. We arrived over the target at 0315. There were no fighters, no flak, nothing that any crew member barely stayed wake for. However you would have thought that we were over Tokyo in all the flak in the war with a million fighters on the attack. Oh Well! Anything for the home front! We had mission 22," said Al Kyler, tail gunner.

It was Mito for the 23rd mission and Isesaki on August 15 for our 24th mission. One and a half hours out of Guam on the return and the radio reported 'The War Was Over.' We were done with our combat flights to Japan.

Albert & Marylou Kyler
2000 Reunion
All the material of the proceeding events were recorded by the tail gunner of P-17 after each mission. All are factual events involving P-17 and may or may not have involved any other crew. In the event we have stirred up memories of crew experiences, so much the better for after all, we went through a lot together and remembering is no sin, " Submitted by Al Kyler, Tail Gunner, P-17

Crew 17 Main Page
60th Squadron Crew Index
Sources: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"; 39th BG Scrapbook, Adam Braver, grandson Philp Schild