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Leo  D.  Crooks

 

Personal Legacy
LEO D. CROOKS
World War II
Memories and Biography
15 February 1945

(Taken from a letter to Pete)

December 5, 1987

Dear Pete:

Thanks so very much for your nice letter of last Sunday, 29 November 1987, together with the snapshot of myself (always with my mouth open) and the literature on the 2nd Division. I am happy to report to you that I already am a member - and I find the publication full of nostalgia.

After a mission to Magdeburg where we got shot up a little and a faux pas right afterwards on a base in England related matter of duty failure. I had Godwin, the engineer, replaced! Godwin had told me on a landing that the nose gear was "down and locked" when he hadn't bothered checking it out! It wasn't down at all and we skidded a few hundred yards on the nose! This happened at Woodbridge south of London where I was taking two other minimum crews to pick up a couple of our birds which had been battle damaged and were now ready to go back to base and were able to fly. Godwin lost a few stripes and ended up as a waist gunner. My replacement engineer had been ill and in the hospital, while his own crew finished their tour. He became available a few days before the incidents necessitating my removal of my own engineer - Godwin. His name is Chisman, but I can't remember his first name [Albert]. He was quiet and very efficient - just the opposite of Godwin, who was opinionated and too lazy for me!

Pete! I really had a good time at the reunion in September. You and the other fellows made me feel right at home. The time passed very rapidly and I still have a warm feeling of "belonging" which brings back fond memories of the good times - not the bad ones.

I will bend every effort to attend the Colorado event if at all possible.

Kindest personal regards,

Leo D. Crook




LEO D. CROOKS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

Wausau, Wisconsin 54401

28 May 1987

Dear Will:

Thank you for your letter postmarked 18 April 1987, inquiring about my crew and Jack Ketchum.

First of all, I owe you a vote of thanks for making me acquainted with the 8th Air Force Historical Society of which I am now an enthusiastic member, as well as the 44th BG membership of which I am also an enthusiastic member. As I sit here dictating this, I am drinking coffee from a cup with the B24 Liberator logo, the 44th BG (H) logo and the 8th Air Force emblem on it. I thought it would be a good memento, which it is. I also get questioned about it by various attorneys and others who visit at my desk in chambers.

The "Hughes" you refer to in your letter, I am assuming, was the commanding officer of the 66th squadron, the one who flew the Ploesti raid, and was a major in my last memory of his rank. He is accurate in regard to listing members of my crew, which is listed below:

Self, Leo D. Crooks, Pilot, 1st Lt. Now of 525 Sturgeon Eddy Rd., Wausau, WI 54401.
Charles Crocket, Flight Officer, last known address, Akron, OH, copilot.

Ralph Becker, Navigator, Flight Officer, last known address, Freeport, IL

DeFalco, J. F., Harold W. Hanson, Replacement Engineer for several missions, home address unknown (private for several missions).

Carl Kruse, Radio Operator, Pelham Manor, New York.

Glen Gassner, Waist Gunner, Janesville, MO

Richard Bergerhofer, Ball Gunner (waist gunner), Kansas City, KS

Joe DeFalco, Nose Gunner, Brooklyn, New York

Glen Stevens, Tail Gunner, Gainesville, TX

With the exception of Mr. Hanson, who is a replacement, my crew had 23 missions and I had 24. My extra mission was when I rode my first mission as a copilot on an experienced crew with the target being Magdeburg. Thereafter, my crew accompanied me on all other missions.

I was on the supply drop mission headed by Capt. Smith when Montgomery went over the Rhine, near Weimar. The other missions were all bombing missions. Regarding Jack Ketchum, I Knew Jack well enough to shoot the breeze with him frequently, but not well enough to have any real background information about him. Since his crew and mine were two of the "older" crews, we were not shipped back to the states for delay-en-route to the Pacific. I do not remember how many missions Jack had, but he left earlier than I to fly a ship back to the states, reasons unknown to me. I remember Jack Spencer as being an officer who came up through the ranks. Richard Robak is a name with which I am not acquainted. I heard about the accident had by Ketchum and his crew, but knew nothing about the "bird" itself or none of the crew or passengers. I regret not being able to help you in that area. Your comment is the first I knew that the plane was from the 93rd BG.

Concerning Jack Ketchum, I knew him as a good pilot, he wore a mustache, always smiling, quick witted and ready with a one-liner remark most of the time. He was always well groomed and I always thought a credit to the uniform.

It seems odd now that memories become a little slippery about people with whom we served. I guess it goes back to the idea that we never really wanted to get close to anyone in case we or they would get wiped out. Now, when we want to do the recalling to rest on our laurels and on our memories of "the pleasant time of war," things slip away from us.

You asked about the reunion in Milwaukee on 2 September, to 6 September, I certainly am planning on going. I wanted to make the one at Rapid City, South Dakota, but my court schedules prevented me from doing that. I will look forward to meeting with you. I read so much about you in the various publications that I am getting, and know that you are extremely active, and solicitous of putting a lot of memories together.

In the meantime, I will try to learn more about the whereabouts of my old crew, and will keep in touch.

Kindest personal regards,

Leo Crooks
 
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