JOHN L. SUSAN|
World War II
Biography and History
Excerpts taken from a letter dated August 5, 1990 to Will Lundy.
The 44th BG, as you may know, was spawned from the 29th BG which included guys from the 6th BS of which I was a member until transferred to the HQ Squadron of the 44th BG. Then came the Louisiana maneuvers in the late summer of 1941 when I was sent with a signal corp cadre to Shreveport (Barksdale) to help out the Blue Army in the battle for control of the swamps of Louisiana.
Then came Pearl Harbor Day and all hell broke loose! I had to take a ten-man unit from MacDill to West Palm Beach and set up a communication unit that had nothing to do for two weeks but monitor and log one frequently 24 hours a day, so I assigned four six-hour shifts around the clock and the other six guys not on duty had a ball. Too bad it lasted only two weeks before we were called back to MacDill.
In mid-January, the 44th was transferred to Barksdale Field from MacDill so we proceeded to make the transfer and had four days to report at Barksdale. A good buddy of mine asked me to go private transport with him as he had a 1936 Ford convertible and he wanted to visit his folks in Knoxville, Tennessee before we had to report at Shreveport. I agreed and we left Tampa Saturday noon. We reached Atlanta late evening and proceeded toward Tennessee. . . . About midnight somewhere in northern Georgia Paul (Pickrell) asked me to drive as it was my turn. We were changing off every so many miles. We had been out celebrating our last night in Tampa Friday night so we were both bushed. I declined to drive and suggested we pull over and sleep for a few hours, but Paul insisted he wanted to go to church Sunday a.m. with his family and continued driving.
He never made it to church on Sunday morning as I pulled him out from under the car at 3 a.m. He was DOA at a hospital in Sweetwater Tennessee just 50 miles from his home. Another car was involved with five teenagers, two of which were killed in the accident. We never found out what happened as the only survivors of the accident were all asleep when it happened which probably saved my life, although I did get a broken back and was at LaGarde General Hospital in New Orleans for five months before returning to the 44th at Barksdale.
After returning to the 44th, I was transferred from HQ Sqdn., which, I believe, was scuttled to the 67th BS and was put on Pappy Moore's crew as a radio operator. Shortly after we were transferred to Oklahoma City where, I believe, you joined our squadron so you know the rest of the story.
JOHN L. SUSAN
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
409 Green St.
Rockford, IL 61102
You are right. I do not remember who you are, but your name is familiar and your crew chief "crash" Baccash (George N.) was a good friend. We spent two weeks together in Belfast with Marty Hanley, another crew chief or was he line chief? I often wonder what happened to those two guys.
"Curly" Nelson was another of my good buddies. Glad to have his address as well as the other addresses you sent.
I had no notice that Gib Wandtke passed away [1967 per his widow]. He and I were combine buddies in Stalag XVII-B. I saw him several times in my early days in Chicago, but we drifted apart over the years.
George Hill and I have had phone conversations, but no personal contact yet.
I have enclosed my personal story on our Kiel raid which you may care to include in your book.
Include my name on your list for your new book.
After mustering out in Atlantic City, I moved to Chicago where Irv Rosen and I went into the photography business. We met as POWs in Austria and planned our entire business while we were at Stalag 17.
We were in business for 32 years in Chicago, but Irv retired in 1975 and I am on my second new partner since then. In 1977, we moved the business to Rockford, IL, 90 miles from Chicago and are trying to make a go of it here.
Your 67th Squadron buddy
John L. Susan