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THE LIFE OF B-24 BOMBER CREW No. 2366
As told by Bombardier Freddie Becchetti and Radio Operator Garl McHenry
THE CREW'S TRAINING IN U.S. AND DEPARTURE FOR COMBAT
November, 1943. Salt Lake City, Utah. The airmen who would eventually form B-24 Crew 2366 began arriving individually in Salt Lake City, Utah, in November 1943 from their respective training program in other parts of the country. Without being immediately assigned to any crew, all of us satisfied certain pre-combat administrative and medical requirements on the base and attended classes in such things as radio and armament during one of the harshest winters in Salt Lake City history.
January 11, 1944. The ten men assigned to Crew 2366 boarded a train at 11:00 p.m. for Casper, Wyoming, This was the first time we had met one another as fellow crew members. Overnight, the Pullman train took us over the Rocky Mountains, passing through many smoke-filled tunnels and rolling for another day and night over the plains of Wyoming.
January 13, 1944. We arrived in Casper, Wyoming, at 9:00 a.m. and took up our schedule as a crew. The crew was composed of the following trained airmen:
B-24 CREW No. 2366
(Standing, Left to Right)
ROBERT SHERICK, Tail gunner, from Lancaster, Pennsylvnia.
LEROY DeROUEN, Engineer/ Top Turret Gunner,New Iberia,Louisiana
GREGORY McGOVERN, Armorer /Waist Gunner, from Chicago, Illinois
LAWRENCE SLADOVNIK, Waist Gunner, from San Antonio, Texas.
GARL McHENRY, Radio Operator and Gunner, from Markle, Indiana.
JOHN M. SMITH, Ball Turret Gunner, from Bay Harbor, Florida.
(Seated, Left to Right)
CLIFF BOLTON, Co-pilot, from Lincoln Park, Michigan.
KEITH PALMER, Pilot, from Waco, Texas.
FRED BECCHETTI, Bombardier, from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
VINCENT P. HAMILTON, Navigator, from NewYork City
April 7, 1944.
April 7, 1944.After training as a B-24 crew in wintry Casper for three months, we shipped out by troop train for Topeka, Kansas, where we were scheduled to pick up a new B-24 to fly to England. In Casper we had learned to trust one another's skills, and we developed loyalty and the strong comradeship of soldiers since the beginning of time. Our first navigator was Phil Genussa, a good guy, but he was transferred early to another crew; then Vince Hamilton became our navigator, and he was a good guy, too. We all got along perfectly, trusting our two excellent and mature pilots Keith Palmer and Cliff Bolton. The wives of the married guys came to Casper to spend the three months. They took us in and created a lively spirit so that the crew became like a family. It was cold on the ground in Casper, but it was a lot colder at five miles in the air, where we did most of our training, but we learned our B-24 jobs well. In spite of the obstacles that the weather had placed in our training schedule, after three months of hard work, we were prepared to do a good job in combat.