William Robert Lawley, Jr. was born in Leeds, Alabama on August 23, 1920. He lived there throughout his childhood, graduating from high school in 1938. With the United States’ entry into the Second World War, Lawley didn’t wait for his name to be called in the draft and volunteered for the United States Army Air Corps on April 9, 1942. Lawley also volunteered for pilot training and received his wings along with his officer’s commission about one year after his enlistment in April 1943.
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