A TRIBUTE TO FRANK DAVIDO|
By Robert Lehnhausen
On December 28, I received a call from "Corky" Davido (Frank, Jr.) advising that his father had died the night before (December 27, 2001). This was stunning news to me. Frank and I had been very close during the time we were in the 67th/44th. He came to us as the copilot on Ben Gildart's crew - a few days before we left for Benghazi. In fact, there were no planes for them to fly to Africa. They got to Libya via ATC. Frank and I were tent mates while in Africa.
He was a special person, intelligent, resourceful, with a very pleasant personality. He loved to fly. He was a curious aviator with a delightful sense of humor.
He became a favorite of the ground crews for his curiosity about the B-24 and its systems.
He distinguished himself by his bravery and pilot skills on January 21, 1944. On this mission to Escalles-sur-Buchy, France. He flew as a copilot for Sam William in the 68th's "Flak Alley." On this mission, the 68th Squadron lost four of its seven aircraft on this target. "Flak Alley" also was attacked and Sam Williams was badly injured. Frank, too, took a neck wound. But he took over with his skills and courageous fortitude saved the crew and the airplane.
When I became CO of the 68th Squadron in early April 1944, I selected Frank Davido to be my Operations Officer. This, despite the fact that he had just become a First Pilot/Crew Commander. In my opinion, it was a splendid choice. He was eager, hard working, got along extremely well with the Air Echelon and as I indicated earlier, was a favorite of the Ground Echelon, and especially the Engineering unit.
He completed his tour in early November 1944. During the period April through November, we shared a room and spent many long hours working together. To my knowledge or recollection, we never had a difference or disagreement. He was a gentleman of integrity, with a personal standard of morality that was admirable.
Somewhere along the line he named one of our B-24s "Corky" for his son who was born to Frank and Mildred while he was overseas. This aircraft (No. 42-51101E) became the subject of considerable publicity several years ago. A painting of "Corky" was accomplished by a popular aircraft artist and was widely published. A Canadian physician, a Doctor Robert Reid, acquired the original painting and then did extensive research on the plane's record and crash. Many 44thers have copies of this painting.
When I asked "Corky" what I could do when he called to tell me about his father's death, his response was, "Please call Will Lundy so he can tell Dad's friends." So I write this note - to relate to you my personal feelings about another of our dear, unsung heroes. Frank was, indeed, a patriot - a special class of man. He did his duty willingly, without complaint, and in a superior manner. I am honored to have had him as a friend - grateful for his service to all of us.