DONALD B. IDEN|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
328 E. Caldwell
Visalia, CA 93277
December 17, 1985
Sorry this letter is so tardy, but as the saying goes - better late than never.
I worked for Southern California Gas Company here in Visalia for 36 years. Retired four years ago and sure am enjoying it. Guess we were neighbors when you lived in Tulare. We still have mosquitoes and fog. As a matter of fact, visibility is less than 100 feet at the moment.
Your record on the crew of our B-24 is correct except for your information on Leo Suszek. You list him as an "Evadee" (?) which he was not. He was captured by Germans as were the rest of surviving crewmen. He was somehow very badly injured on bailout. When we last saw him on the ground, he was unable to converse and appeared to be in extreme pain. I thought he had internal injuries of some kind. We gave him an injection of morphine before he was taken away.
We were told that Robert Daherty's parachute failed to open. Apparently, Francis Buckley went down with the aircraft. I can only assume that he probably was unable to bail out for one reason or another.
We had just closed the bomb bay doors after releasing bombs over Kassel when our plane, which was named "Lakanookie," took two bursts of flak, one to the wing and one to the tail section. The hit to the wing took out the No. 1 and No. 2 engines. The damage made it impossible to keep a heading without complete cross control of aileron and rudder. Needless to say, loss of altitude was very rapid. We rode it down to 1,500 feet at which time we bailed out and were captured almost immediately. After Salfen and I bailed out, the aircraft entered a flat spin, crashed and burned.
As one German soldier said to me (For you der var ist ofer) and boy was he right! Spent the rest of the duration at Barth, Germany, Stalag Luft 1.
Hope the following information will be of use to you.
Carney Baggett - deceased (killed shortly after the war in a chemical explosion).
Edward Vetter -Deceased. (Succumbed to cancer three years ago. His widow, Vickie, resides at 4907 E. Baker St., Tucson, Arizona 85711
William Salfen - Resides at 4024 Locke, Bridgeton, Missouri 63044
I have no information about Bauman, Sinclair or Suszek. Perhaps Salfen may help.
Suszek visited me two or three years after the war. Stated he was headed for the VA Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. Maybe he could be traced through the VA. If indeed you should locate them, I would appreciate their addresses.
Sounds like you're doing a tremendous job so keep up the good work., From my wife, Madelyn, and myself, Merry Christmas.