Tag Archives: 8th Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Leon R. Vance, Jr., USAAF (June 5, 1944)

Leon Robert Vance, Jr. was born in Enid, Oklahoma on August 11, 1916. After high school, he entered the United States Military Academy, West Point and graduated with the class of 1939. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the infantry branch.

Vance requested transfer to the Air Corps and was accepted for pilot training. He earned his wings along with a promotion to First Lieutenant on June 21, 1940. With the rapid promotions for existing officers as the United States expanded her military for World War II, he was promoted up to Lieutenant Colonel by September 1943 and was named the Deputy Commander of the United States Army Air Forces489th Bombardment Group (Heavy).

Continue reading Lieutenant Colonel Leon R. Vance, Jr., USAAF (June 5, 1944)

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TFH 2/20 Part 2: The Two Heroes of “Ten Horsepower” – Mathies & Truemper

The annals of American combat history are filled with stories of men who risked their lives to save those of their comrades. Earlier I posted the first of two Medal of Honor-worthy “so that others may live” stories from February 20, 1944, that of First Lieutenant William R. Lawley, Jr. Two other airmen belonging to the United States Army Air Forces predecessor of the present day United States Air Force aboard a single Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, serial number 42-21763 and nicknamed Ten Horsepower, provide us with the second.

Continue reading TFH 2/20 Part 2: The Two Heroes of “Ten Horsepower” – Mathies & Truemper

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TFH 12/20: Technical Sergeant Forrest L. Vosler, USAAF

Forrest Lee Vosler was born in Lyndonville, New York on July 29, 1923. During 1942, as his friends from his hometown were being drafted for World War II military service, he decided not to wait for his name to be called, and volunteered by enlisting in the United States Army Air Corps on October 8, 1942.

Vosler had hoped to be a pilot, but his poor performance on the required aptitude tests saw the Air Corps send him to be trained as a radioman instead. Then, he faced another challenge. At the time, there was a 6-foot height limit to be approved for flight status; Vosler was 6′ 3″. He had volunteered to fight for his country, and his determined requests to be assigned to a bomber unit eventually paid off.

The service relented on the height restriction and deployed him to England for service with the 358th Bombardment Squadron of the 303d Bombardment Group (Heavy), part of the United States Army Air Forces‘ VIII Bomber Command, the forerunner of today’s Eighth Air Force of the United States Air Force and Global Strike Command.

After Vosler’s first combat mission to bomb Bremen on November 26, 1943 (83rd mission of the 303d), he was convinced that there was no way he’d survive his 25-mission tour of duty. At the time, the average crewmember longevity was eleven missions.

On December 20, 1943, Vosler boarded Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress 42-29664, named Jersey Bounce Jr., with his nine crewmates for what would be his fourth mission (303d mission 90) over enemy territory. Continue reading TFH 12/20: Technical Sergeant Forrest L. Vosler, USAAF

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