World War II Memories
January 26, 1943
Taken from a letter to Will Lundy.
Will, after reading in your book about the mission that Adams and Mac got shot down on. I think that on that mission, we had to abort because of supercharger problems or because of no oxygen. I know on one mission whenever we were told by the pilot to don and check our oxygen masks that no one in the rear was getting any oxygen through their masks. All valves on bulkhead near rear bomb bay door to oxygen system were on for the rear oxygen outlets. I know, because I checked them along with the engineer. Never did learn what the reason was.
I think now, after looking back, that the oxygen bottles were never refilled from our last mission or the lines had to be bled for some reason or other and never refilled again. Sure was strange.
Get back to you later, Will. My fingers are plumb worn out.
Take care. Walt Hazelton, 66 Sq.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Walter I. Hazelton
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
January 2, 1988
I was a member of the 66th Bomb Squadron, 44th Bomb Group from January 1942 until August 1943. I flew 26 missions as a left waist gunner starting in November 1942. My last mission was to Naples in July 1943. Squadron Operators took a count about then and found some gunners had flown 25 missions and some like myself had flown 26. At that time, 25 missions was max.
I saw this notice in the 44th Logbook.
Walter I. Hazelton
1405 Holiday Place
Bossier City, LA 71112
Monday night - no date listed
If I may, Will, I would like to correct a few errors that you might be interested in.
The name that our plane was first called was "Jenny." It was named after Kahl's wife. After Kahl left our crew and was named operation officer, Lt. Scrivener took over as first pilot with Lt. Anderson as copilot. They were two of the best pilots I have ever flown with. Our tail gunner was a George DeLacy until he froze one of his hands very badly on a raid deep into France on 20 December 1942. They had to cut off about three of his fingers because they could not save them.
We got a replacement by the name of Walter Patrick. He came from a B-26 Squadron. I do not know how many missions he had flown on B26s, but whenever our squadron CO, who by the way was a Major Hodges, took me off of combat, he also took S/Sgt. Patrick off. Pat as we all called him, had racked up his 25th mission (July 19th) on the raid to Rome.
A T/Sgt. Perry (radio) and a T/Sgt. Scott (engineer and top turret) had also racked up their 25th mission. The reason I know this is that we all returned back to our base in England after Ploesti. We were only there for a short while until we were all flown back to the States.
I believe we arrived in the States (Mitchell Field) around the early part of September. I'm getting ahead of my story, Will, so bear with me. Okay, we renamed our plane "Lady Luck," after Kahl left the crew. Where this name Zoller came from I have no idea as I don't recall ever meeting a fellow by that name. I will list other crewmembers:
T/S William Coll was the engineer and top turret gunner. T/S Channing Satterfield was the radio operator. After Mikoloski left for the 67th, we got Lt. Toczyl as navigator. Lt. Hause, bombardier, came on the crew as a replacement for Lt. Brenner. I don't really know what happened to Lt. Brenner, or the reason why he was replaced. We also received a Sgt. Mickey and a Sgt. Schappart. And I was left waist gunner.
This was the crew of "Lady Luck" when we reached Africa. They were given another plane instead of "Lady Luck" for the Ploesti mission. A new crew flew "Lady Luck" that day. Why the switch, I never knew. Pat and I went down to he place where the plane was parked with the crew that morning to see them off and to have a few words with them, not knowing it would be the last time. We had been through quite a lot together and it hurt like hell when they didn't make it back. Then Capt. Kahl let us stay in the operations tent listening to all the calls coming in from all over Sicily, Malta, etc., hoping we might just hear that they were down somewhere and were all right. It was not to be.
A S/S Malone went as tail gunner on that mission with the crew. He was off of Lt. Miller's crew. Our squadron CO (Major Hodges) went as Lt. Miller's copilot.
Of the crews in the book, only one stood out of the names I remember of the 66th Bomb Squadron, and that was William Brandon. How they missed the other eight crews, I'll never know. I'm talking now about the crews that left the States with the 66th.
Some of the missions weren't as I remember from reading the book. I guess that's to be though, because the author wasn't sitting where I was at the time.
Thanks for listening to me ramble on, Will. I hope I have been of some help to you.
P.S. Last I heard from Mikoloski was two years ago. He was headed for Moscow. Guess he didn't make it back for that's the last I heard form him.
Wednesday, January 20
I'm going to give you some more poop from Gp. As we were fond of saying in days gone by. Make sure if you can that what I tell has a ring of the true facts before you print it, okay?
On the mission to Germany (Vegasack) probably misspelled, the same day Balsky was wounded and later to die from his wounds. The engineer on William Brandon's crew, T/Sgt. Wygonik was blown out of his top turret by a 20mm shell and was bleeding very badly. The crew thought he would bleed to death before they could get him back to base and at that time they weren't too sure themselves that they would make it. So they had T/Sgt. Perry (radio) tie a piece of rope to the ripcord on his parachute and then he was pushed out through the bomb bay. He lived for the Sq. to receive word through the Red Cross in Switzerland a few weeks later.
At this moment in time, I believe that Basley and I were flying with another crew that day as replacement gunners. And for the truth of it, I'll be dammed if I can remember whose crew it was. Ain't that something? I recollect we were flying off of Brandon's right wing when all this was taking place and I was in the left waist.
I remember seeing something sticking out from under the bomb bay on Brandon's plane but couldn't figure out what the devil it was. At the time we were kind of busy with enemy fighters and when I looked again, whatever I had seen was no longer there. I found out later what happened after we landed. And a few days later I had the worst task of all, that was escorting Balsley's body to the American Cemetery just north of London to be buried. Somewhere I have a picture of his grave.
Will, you have a Lt. Curtis S. Griffin on two crews as copilot, on Brandon's and on Kolliner's. Wasn't he made first pilot of a crew in the 66th Squadron and didn't he get shot down on the mission to Naples? Seems as though I remember something like that.
We were flying in the slot that day. Why in the devil they put us in that position, I'll never know. I believe I saw Griffin's plane go down. A burst of flak tore off his right wing and only about two or three guys made it out. The right gunner (Mickey) brought it to my attention. The German's threw a whole bunch of fighters at us that day, 109s, 110s, 190s, and even JU88s. Up until then, we had it pretty easy, but not that day. I received credit that day for downing an ME110.
Now I see what crew Lt. Toczyl (navigator) came from. Didn't Lt. Kolliner and crew end up in the 67th? After landing in the States, I traveled with his engineer T/Sgt. Compton to LA. He was headed for his home in TX.
We got on a plane (C47) headed in that direction out of Mitchell, but got bumped in Memphis. Took a train from there. I was on my way to Shreveport (actually Bossier City) to pick up my girl friend. And from there, we traveled by train back to my hometown in Northern NY to visit my people. Some round about way wasn't it? Her mother went with us. First time either had been that far north. Both had been born in Texas.
If you ever find out what really happened to Mikoloski, let me know. He had told me that he had to have a triple heart bypass operation, but that he was doing great. Was wondering if we could somehow get together - me, Kahl, Patrick and Mikoloski. No word from him since. Take care.
Harvey C. Compton's hometown was listed as Waxahachie, Texas. I got this from a set of old orders dated 6 April 1943. They are yellow with age and some pages are missing. They are headquarters 8th Air Force and list personnel who received medals from flying combat missions.
Harvey and I ended up at Harlingen AFB after returning from overseas. We were crew chiefs on B24s. We also served as flight engineers as we flew whenever our plane flew. The purpose was to train gunners for combat crews. The 50 cal's shot a type of plastic bullet at a P39 that was rigged up electricity to register hits upon the P-39. I got lucky after a few months and was assigned to a stripped down B-24E. Instructor, B-24 pilots flew these E's checking out B-24 pilots who were just out of flight school.
I think there are a couple of original crews missing from the 66th roster. One I believe is Wild Bill McCoy's crew. I may not have the name spelled correctly and I do know for sure I am not going to get the next name goes something like McPhillamy. Can you come up with a couple of names similar to those? The enlisted men on McPhillamy's crew shared our quarters at our B-24 base at Shipdham. Members of Capt. Adams crew shared one end of the hut, Kahl's crew the center part and McPhillamy's the other end. Why I can't come up with any of the names, bogs my memory for I remember guys from Adams' crew quite well. Names like T/S Vogt, Sgt. Jones, Rolfe and a Sgt. Brewer. If I saw the names, I might be able to remember.
Captain Adams and Lt. McPhillamy (I'll call him this for now) were both shot down on the same mission. Word was that Adams Vogt and Jones were killed. Perhaps some of the others were also for I don't know off hand. All of Lt. McPhillamy's crew seemed to have bailed out and were all made POWs. I recall seeing a picture of this crew in a copy of a Look magazine after I returned stateside. This was supposed to have been posed around a construction of painted white stones with a white propeller in the middle. Where they come up with a propeller in a POW camp, I'll never know. I'm sure this was for propaganda for the German cause. They wanted the outside world to think that the POWs were being treated okay. Remember anything like this, Will?
Now, as I remember, the mission that they were shot down on turned out to be what you would call in football, "A busted play." Perhaps you can come up with the mission and to where. I think it was to Germany, late February or early March 1943.
As I try to remember, I seem to see us going in and out of a whole mess of clouds and even losing sight of the planes we were flying formation with. We would see them and then we wouldn't. Finally, word was received to turn back for England and as far as I know the whole 44 Group did except for three planes from the 66th Squadron. They were Capt. Adams, Lt. McPhillamy and Lt. Miller. Why they did not receive the message, we'll never know. There were some B17s along that day and somehow Lt. Miller attached himself to them. I guess that's how he made it back. His plane was badly shot up and when he arrived back over the base, he was told to bail out his crew then put the plane on auto-pilot, head it out over the Channel and for him to bail out. This he did. Everyone landed okay except one of the gunners sprained his ankle upon hitting the ground. Miller's enlisted men were billeted with my crew. We got this story from them that day afterwards.
Any ideas my friend? Can you come up with a Lt. McCoy? He was killed test hopping a B24. The tail assembly came off the whole darn works. He had no rudders, elevators, etc. On board was the copilot, crew chief and a couple of maintenance personnel going along for the ride. I don't believe his engineer was aboard. There may have been other crewmembers for I don't remember.
Do you know who might have taken over Dexter Hodge's crew after he took over the duties of Operation Officer of the 66th?
You know, Will. I don't think anyone knew anything about the crews of the 66th. It's like they were not even in the 44th. None seem to be mentioned in he three books that I have Liberators over Europe, Jaws and Fields of Little America.
You are right in saying that the 67th had a hard row to hoe. IF my memory is correct, they were almost completely whipped out two times before we headed for Africa. Perhaps more.
You tossed me a curve on Sgt. Wygonik not being thrown out on the Vegesack mission. I would have bet my last dollar on that. Now you can see how a person's memory gets all screwed up with time.
Another question before I retire my writing hand. Who were the five crews that Lt. Miller and Major Hodge as his copilot led in formation over the target at Ploesti? Three crews in formation were to their right. They weren't touched. S/Sgt. Ducote the TG said there were five ships behind whenever their plane entered a dense huge cloud of smoke and flames. Delayed bombs were going off in front of them. Whenever they emerged from the smoke, they were alone. He could not say what happened to the others. One was my crew, Lt. Scrivener's.
Take care, Walt.
Thursday night, March 3
I'm glad that you can get some information out of that set of old orders. They seem to reproduce on a copy machine quite well as you will find.
Will, I'm going to give you an address that you might find useful in relocating personnel, but I believe it is good for only if they are retired. But again, it may work for ones that aren't. No harm in trying. What you do is write the person'' name on a stamped envelope with whatever you wish to say to this person on the inside and mail it to the following address.
9504 IH 35 N
San Antonio, TX 78233-6636
It's from a retired newsletter I get every so often from the Air Force. It helped me locate our TG Walter M. Patrick. I just received an eight-page letter from him. He retired in 1969 as an E8. In his letter, he told me he had racked up 28 combat missions - three over the 25 which was the number you had to have to complete your tour when Major Hodges took him off of combat. He flew some missions in B-26s before he came to our Squadron. I don't know whether I had mentioned this to you or not. I gave him Mikoloski's address. Patrick worked for him when they were both stationed at Westover AFB, Mass. Maybe he can get a rise out of Mike. We are going to plan on meeting in the near future. He seemed so happy to think that I thought enough of him to go to the trouble of locating his whereabouts. He even remembered the day his oxygen mask froze up and I pulled it apart and just put the end of the oxygen hose in his mouth. The bag was as big as a large balloon when I noticed it. He was flying as belly gunner that day. I'm going to have to find out from him just when he did arrive on our crew - for the sake of me I just can't remember.
After Balsley, he was our TG. How in the devil he ever managed to get into the tail turret I'll never know for he was kind of fat, if you know what I mean. It sure will be good to see him once again. Now if we can just find Mike, we might all get together.
Jim Kahl said he was going to contact you for one of your books. I sent him two that I had "Jaws," and "Liberators over Europe," to read and to see if he wanted a copy. He has returned them but he never did say whether or not he was going to try and get a copy.
Sorry about your plane, but more sorry about the crew that got it over Rouen. After that mission, we gunners threatened to send the navigator and bombardier to school so that in the future they would be able to tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy. We never did have fighter escort very much as I can remember. Not like as it was later. They even had fighter escort way into Germany, I heard. I hated that oxygen mask.
During missions in he winter months, I think I flew with just the hose in my mouth than with the whole mask. It seemed like it was too much trouble trying to keep the darn thing from freezing up on you, so we just used the hose. Flying out of Africa was a breeze at times - no mask to freeze up on you.
Like I said, Billing's could not fly formation. That was the story after he collided with Long. We heard our pilots talking about it. I hated it whenever I had to replace another gunner for I thought my pilot was the best darn pilot in the whole 8th Air Force. I just wasn't comfortable even though I knew at the time that the pilot I was with was rated very high.
If I see Pappy Moore at the mini-reunion in Dallas, I'll say hello for you. It won't be so lonely this time for I'll have my buddy from the 93rd along. Will tell you about it.
Was I ever off base about Wygonik. So, Will, you can see my memory isn't so good after all. I never thought it happened on the Kiel mission though. So I guess I will stick with Brandon as the crew that Balsley and I flew with on the Vegesack mission. His name sticks in my mind somehow. I could probably ask Jim Kahl and being the operations officer, he would maybe know but I won't.
You see, Will, I have asked Kahl things in the past about some of our missions and it's been like talking into the wind. He will answer your letter and he will talk about everything but what you asked him. Never has he talked about what we did overseas. It was frustrating as hell I can tell you. I wanted to know about the crew, what happened. All I received was that they were all KIA. That was it. Not one more word was ever said. I had to read it in your book. I also wanted to know if he knew about what happened to the bodies. Again, nothing. So I quit asking.
We have met twice since the war and we have had a great time together with the families getting along real nice. He married a Shreveport girl and her kin are all over Shreveport.
That person you have listed on McCoy's crew as engineer was actually the crew chief, a M/Sgt Smith. I believe the only enlisted man of his crew aboard that day (20 February) was his radio operator, the other enlisted personnel were mechanics. And the word we got was that the whole tail assembly came off. But now, as a person thinks back on it, you have to wonder because I have never heard of that ever happening before or since. Have you?
Beaman, on McPhillamey's crew slept next to me in our billets. I have or did have a picture of Garmon in his flying gear somewhere. One day I'm going to have to get this stuff altogether and just see what I do have. I have it scattered all over hell's half acre.
You can have these old orders, Will. I made a copy of two or three pages. The ones with names that I remembered. They reproduced better than I thought they would.
I remember Roven (8 March). How well I remember. We were supposed to have spitfires that day for escort. They were to meet us somewhere near the target area. Before we got hit by the Goring's Yellow Noses (FW190), I heard over the interphone from either the navigator or bombardier that they had sighted our fighter escort about 5,000 or 8,000 feet above us. I stuck my head out the left waist window to have a look and sure enough, I could see a whole flock of fighters way up above us but they were not our spitfires but were FW190s as I so informed everyone. It wasn't long until all hell broke loose. They came from head, on every one of them. On their first pass (as you have mentioned) they took out the lead and the deputy lead. All I could do was look out my waist window and watch them barrel by. Some were even barrel rolling as they came through the formation.
They sure put on a show for us that day. There were some 109s that day also. Why were they called BF 109s? We just called them ME109s.
On 16 February (St. Nazaire) on the way to the target this Lt. Billings got out of position somewhat or didn't know where he was supposed to be and tried to attach his plane to our left wing. Kahl didn't know he was coming in until I told him and even then we almost got ran into because Billings encountered some prop wash and Kahl had to pull up very quickly to keep out of his way. It was just a few minutes later after Billing's had dropped back out of my sight that the tail gunner in our plane called out over the interphone that two planes had run together and had exploded. Our crew was directed by the lead along with someone else to go down and drop our life rafts to any survivors we might find.
We saw no one - not even a piece of airplane - nothing. Story was that Billings could not fly formation.
When that crew crashed and all were killed one morning as they were heading out on submarine patrol, our crew had taken off earlier for the Gulf. I knew Andrews real well as we had gone through gunnery school at Las Vegas earlier in February and March.
They are having a 2nd ADSW reunion on the 19th of March in Dallas at the Harvey Hotel. I have already mailed my check and have reserved a room at the hotel. Wish you could be there, but I know it's impossible as you were just in that area. But it would have been great. This will be my first, but won'' be my last, I'm hoping!
WALTER I. HAZELTON
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
Thursday night, 2100 hours
1405 Holiday Pl.
Bossier City, LA 71112
You will probably be wondering why I am answering so soon. The reason being is that I just finished talking to Phillip J. Defatta. He does live in Shreveport and says he would be tickled pink to hear from you. At the end I will give you his address.
He did fly 20 missions with the 66th Bomb Squadron and did fly home from Europe in their B24 after the war was over. Wish we could have done that. That would have been the living end to it all, to be back in the states once again as we all were only 11 months earlier, but it wasn't to be. So sad.
Anyway, Phillip says he doesn't remember sharing a barracks with a Ketchem crew. I'll let you ask him all about this. You might get him to join the 2nd Air Division Association. I asked him about it and he knew nothing, hadn't heard of it. If you have anything about the reunion in Ft. Worth in May, you might send that to him. Whenever I told him about it, he seemed very interested in the reunion and asked some questions about it. He wanted my address and telephone number, so I guess I'll be hearing from him. I Hope so. He sounded very interesting. I also told him about the books you had written and how great they both were.
If nothing pulls in two and the creek doesn't rise and with the good Lord's help, I shall see you in Ft. Worth along with my good friend from the 93rd. With luck, I might even get Honey Lou to join us at some of the goings on. Her courtesy will draw her like flies to sugar. She won't be able to stay away.
Was wishing Murphy would write, but I guess he doesn't feel like it. And again, he may be in failing health and can't. We are all getting along in years. At least you can still jog with your dog and that's more than I can do. Three laps around the mall is about all I can handled every morning. That's only two miles. It seems like everybody and his brother passes me. The only two I can pass on my walks are two with walkers. Now you know, I'm really fast - like a snail. When I started, I was told to walk my own gait - not any faster than I would walk if I was out for a stroll in the park. There are many that do not do that. They seem to be in a hurry and are walking much faster than they would be if they were out for a little stroll.
Guess you are right about Pat. It's going to be up to me. We'll just wait and see what the future brings.
Phillip J. DeFatta's address is 4612 Orchid St., Shreveport, LA 71105, (318)861-7249.
P.S. Joe Warth knows someone here in Bossier City out of the 44th, but I don't' know who. He visited here and at the same time he came by my place. We had a good talk.