Memories of World War II
Taken from the Eastern Arizona Courier, Safford, Arizona
July 29, 1998
Staff Writer D. R. Hall
In World War II, it was unlikely that any man would live through more than five missions while serving a tour of duty with the United States Air Force.
Frank Bata, however, successfully flew 54 missions during World War II and 43 more during the Korean conflict.
Flying those missions earned him the right to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in June.
Over the course of his career, Bata was stationed in England and took part in several historical events including the first three daylight raids to occur over Berlin.
He lost several friends and had many close encounters with death while fighting for the government he believed in.
After one mission over Korea, when his scanner blister was shot through by enemy jet fighters, he said, "If it hadn't been for the hand of God holding me back, I would've been blown out without a parachute."
His fearlessness and dedication to the United States during his 26 years of service earned him several medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the AF Commendation Medal.
Bata's mother and father came to he Untied States from the Czech Republic in 1905. His family share his dedication to this country and at one point during World War II, five Bata boys were serving in the military.
Bata's wife, Doris, said, "Because his parents came over to this country, he felt he owed it to the country (to serve in the military). This was his way of paying it back."
Bata met Doris in California and the two were married in 1961. After he retired in 1967, they moved to Arizona to take care of Doris' mother.
He began working for the State of Arizona in 1969 at the Franklin Port of Entry. The couple settled between Duncan and Three-Way where they lived until 1990. They moved to Thatcher that year so Frank could be close to medical services the hospital offered.
While living in the Gila Valley, Bata was a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He spent much of his free time talking to area youth about the benefits of having a military career and convinced many to enlist.
He flew a United States flag in his front yard every day that weather permitted and was very humble about his military achievements, Doris said.
"The kids in the neighborhood knew how much flying the flag meant to him," she said, "and after he died, the little girl across the street, who is probably about seven, brought over a little flag that her teacher had given her on Memorial Day and asked that it be put with Frank."
Doris granted the girl's wish and the flag rests in the same niche at Arlington that Frank does.
"The people at Arlington acted like it (the little flag) was ten-feet long," she added. "Everyone there was so nice. I will be buried there with him also."
Frank Bata escaped death many times while serving as an armored gunner for the United States Air Force. He is pictured here after surviving a mission in Korea in 1951. During that flight, an estimated 150 MIG-15s attacked the formation he was in. He lost his radio headset and got a bump on the head after MIG shells pierced his scanner blister.
NOTE: Recently I received a call from the owner of this newspaper. He said that he had heard of the incident regarding the MISUNDERSTANDING about an obituary for Frank and asked if he could send a reporter to get the information regarding the Arlington burial. I agreed.
Corrections: Frank was buried July 7, 1998 with full Military Honors. He served 20+ years. We came to AZ and bought my mother's house when she returned to the East.
FRANK B. BATA
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter from Doris Bata to Will Lundy)
23 July 1999
Dear Mr. Lundy:
It has taken me much too long answering your very nice and helpful letter. I have been trying to go through Frank's things and sorting out information about his military. Some days I just can't go it. It is true that there isn't much about his WWII time. Much was lost in a fire many years ago. He always talked about his time with the 44th and even had a license plate with 44th - BG - B-24 on each of our vehicles. He spent more than 20 years in the military but the 44th BG was the one to which he felt the closest. He kept a photo of (then) Col. Leon Johnson pinning the DFC on him.
From what Frank told me, he flew a total of 54 combat missions over enemy territory during WWII including the first three daylight raids over Berlin. In the later years, when frank would mention things about WWII, I asked if he would let me tape record some of his experiences both serious and funny and he would always say, "we can do that sometime," and we never did get it done. After Frank's first tour of duty, he returned to the States on leave and then returned to do a second tour. I had to laugh at his answer when I asked him WHY did you go back and he said, "I was experienced." At the ripe old age of 22 years I suppose many of those young men were "experience" in those days.
Thank you so much for the printout you sent of the missions with George Insley. Since I do not have a computer, is there any way that I could get a printout of an individual history regarding Frank? I will gladly pay for that information, if it can be done by someone.
Thanks again for contacting me. I appreciate it very much.
Doris D. Bata
3970 Allred Street
Thatcher, AZ 85552
PS. Frank flew on B29s during the Korean War doing over 40 missions before his blister was shot out. Then on B66s doing recon out of Japan. His last service was with SAC on B52s out of Travis AFB, California.