MAURICE L. DYER|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy dated 10-30-89)
Really appreciated your letter of 15 September. It dredged up a lot of memories I hadn't recalled for many years. Would guess that by now you have come down out of the hills, over and back from the reunion of the 44th BG over in Merrie Olde England. Since the information on our crew is a bit sketchy at the moment, let me first give you a quick resume of my "career" with the 44th BG.
I was assigned to our crew at Topeka, Kansas while awaiting orders for overseas. (As it happened, I also met my wife at Topeka). We sailed over on the old Queen Elizabeth, and arrived in the Firth of Clyde, Armistice Day, 1943. At the time, members of our crew were: Dean Miller, George B. Davis, Joseph W. Ray, Maurice L. Dyer, ? Coyne, Marvin Bolton, Hager, Rizzo and A. Litras.
Can't recall the names of the other waist gunner or ball turret gunner on the crew when we shipped out for the 8th Air Force.
We were first assigned to he 506th squadron and our first mission was a raid on some new "buzz bomb" launching pads in France. Sometime, during our first few missions, our ball turret gunner was grounded and (?) Rizzo froze one of his hands in a freak accident with a gun cradle. He was permanently grounded and sent back to the states. Cannot remember the name of his replacement but do recall he lived with his wife "next door" to the 506th. Sgt. (Fredrick) Thompson was working in armament, and volunteered for flying duty as our ball turret gunner.
After about 14 missions, Dean Miller was transferred to Italy. He was replaced by Johnny Grow. His original crew had broken up. Shortly thereafter, our crew was transferred to the 66th, which was being reorganized to furnish lead crews for the 2nd Air Division. In the process, we lost a gunner position and gained two rated navigators. Lt. Devlin, radar navigator, and Lt. (?), pilotage navigator in the nose turret. Sgt. Thompson switched to the tail gunner position after the ball turret was replaced by a radome.
Except for the two navigators that joined us in the 66th, the crew completed our tour shortly after d-Day. And so, in the normal course of events, a crew that was almost "family" for a nine-month tour of combat flying, were all individually reassigned to state-side units. In the process, our crew was scattered far and wide, and one of us ever served together again.
At first, we tried to stay in touch, letters, Christmas cards, etc., but it didn't last too long. George Davis, Joe Ray, and I kept in touch over the years, but it was primarily because our paths would cross from time to time. Contacted both of them last spring to pass on the information about the 50th anniversary of the B-24. George was unable to make it due to prior plans, but the answer I received form Mary Ray was quite a shock. She wrote that Joe died on the 14th of this April (coronary arrest resulting from cardiac arrhythmia).
George Davis' address: 3009 Malvert Drive, Nashville, TN 39211.
In my case, the Fort Worth reunion just wouldn't jell. Actually, it is just up the road from here and less than an hour away form our No. 2 "home town," but we couldn't make it. Would have been great to have met with General Leon Johnson again after Lo, these many years!
The name Paulino Ugarte seems to ring a bell. If I am not mistaken, he was one of those who made the Ploesti raids. Not sure about Captain Robert E. McCormick. If he is the one I'm thinking about, he was from Hamtramck, Michigan. It sticks in my mind because I had never heard of the place before. And by the way, Johnny Grow had his own crew prior to joining ours. As best as I can recall, his old copilot was grounded and for reasons I can't recall, the rest of the crew was broken up and reassigned elsewhere.
Don't have the foggiest about the names of Mahyo Coiner, Lawton McCandless, and Harry D. Yoder. All things considered, my recall of my combat tour, and those I was associated with in the 44th, is fairly good. However, it is exasperating to recall faces without names... Seems to be a lot of that going around, at least among my contemporaries in this area.
And going back further, to the beginning of my military career, brings to mind a name that might be in your files. I began as a draftee in January of 1941, and was assigned to the 45th Infantry Division. After six months "in the field" two of my friends and I started to apply for Aviation Cadet Training. Since our year was about up, put it on hold. Then on a fateful afternoon in December of 1941, I was rudely awakened from a nap by Bud Archambault who said, "Maury, the D_____ Japs just bombed Pearl Harbor. What in the H_____ do we do now?"
To make a long story short, dusted off our "Aviation Cadet Plan," and were out of the infantry and into the Army Air Corp within three months...which is the good news. The bad news is, both of my friends went down over Europe. One was in B-17s but I was told that Bud Archambault was assigned as a bombardier to the 44th awhile before me and that he went down on a mission to Austria.
Would certainly appreciate any information you might have on Bud. (KIA 10/43)
Under the heading of "Wish I had known that," a couple of events come to mind. In the early to middle 1960s when I was stationed in Germany, I had a few TDY visits over to Merrie Old England. Also spent a two-week vacation there with my family. While on that vacation, made a special trip over to Shipdham just to show my family. Was aware that the air base, as such, would not be there, but was not aware of the local interest in the old group.
And just last September, we were on a round robin trip from Minneapolis down to Denver and drove by the main gate of the Air Force Base at Rapid City, South Dakota. A branch of my family holds their annual reunion just south of the Black Hills, so might be able to work that into the itinerary of a future trip.
Wish I could have joined in on the 44th BG get together in Shipdham this month. Just couldn't get away long enough to do all the things we would have wanted to do. However, just putting the trip on hold for the time being. Since I'm aware that the 44th is still remembered by some of the locals will make it a point to spend a little time visiting in that area.
Thanks to you, I heard from the 2nd Air Division Association. Noted that they will be having a reunion in Norwich next July. That may be an opportunity for me to meet some of the old group.
I want to commend you and all the others who have been "minding the store" over the intervening years since World War II. That is an excellent idea of "hooking" all 44th units together to form the 44th Heritage Memorial Group. Keeps the history of the olds units alive while providing rich tradition for those on active duty. The USAF had a hard time "aborting." Neither the Army or Navy were willing to give up any turf.
The Army insisted that Infantry Commanders control all aircraft operating over their sector and the Navy insisted on controlling all aircraft operating over water, off shore. Thanks to some "early rebels" who wouldn't knuckle under, a semi-autonomous Army Air Force was in place in time for World War II. And, as they say, the rest is history... But I digress.
All the best to you and yours...Maurice L. Dyer, 3110 Tawny Oak Drive, San Antonio, TX 78230
MAURICE L. DYER
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
San Antonio, TX 78249-1874
About the piece of flak that hit Major Spencer S. Hunn. At one time I had a picture of his flak suit, but can't find it now - what else is new? However, I was of the opinion that the flak hit him just above his rear end. The picture showed how it tore up the padding and recall he only suffered a bruise. Also recall that flak suits became very popular after that incident.
All the best to you and yours.
Maurice L. Dyer