When I was a lad, my family relocated so often that we used to joke we moved once a year just to stay in practice. When I was 9 we rented a house in Rocky Mount, NC w/a big, unfinished attic. Shortly after we moved in, my father had reason to go up in the attic & allowed me to tag along. There was nothing up there but insulation and a few odd items left behind by previous tenants.
Including a big, thick book on the history of WWII.
I forget the title or who published it, but it was clearly evident it was a series of articles -- probably written for newspapers & magazines of the era -- about specific events in the war, all arranged in roughly chronological fashion. There weren't a lot of pictures in it, but one picture was the one seen below.
My father had a copy of Bill Mauldin's classic WWII cartoon-journalism book, Up Front, so the idea of a bomber crew horsing around under their nose art caricatures was something I could grasp. As I said, I was only 9, JFK had not been assassinated yet, war to me consisted of old movies on TV and shows like Combat! and Victory At Sea, something to be viewed with fascination and a little bit of envy, not dread.
We soon moved from that house, but the book traveled with us. Somewhere along the way we sold it or traded it or gave it away, but I remembered the picture of Waddy's Wagon, and the young men so full of life and vigor, looking forward to ending their war and going home and renewing their old lives. Every now and then I would wonder about them, what became of them, how their futures turned out.
Then I found the above photo online with this caption under it:
The crew of B-29 Superfortress bomber "Waddy's Wagon" duplicate their caricatures on the side of the plane. The aircraft took part in the first mission to bomb Tokyo from Saipan in November 1944. The entire crew was later killed when "Waddy's Wagon" was shot down on Jan. 9, 1945.
Here are the names of the crew:
The crew of B-29 Superfortress 42-24598 "Waddy's Wagon", 20th Air Force, 73rd Bomb Wing, 497th Bomb Group, 869th Bomb Squadron, the fifth B-29 to take off on the first Tokyo mission from Saipan on November 24, 1944, and first to land back at Isley Field after bombing the target. Crew members, posing here to duplicate their caricatures on the plane, are : Plane Commander, Captain Walter R. "Waddy" Young, Ponca City, Oklahoma, former All-American end; Lieutenant Jack H. Vetters, Corpus Christi, Texas, pilot; Lieutenant John F. Ellis, Moberly, Missouri, bombardier; Lieutenant Paul R. Garrison, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, navigator; Sergeant George E. Avon, Syracuse, New York, radio operator; Lieutenant Bernard S. Black, Woodhaven, New York, Flight Engineer; Sergeant Kenneth M. Mansie of Randolph, Maine, Flight Technician; and gunners - Sargeants Lawrence L. Lee of Max, North Dakota; Wilbur J. Chapman of Panhandle, Texas; Corbett L. Carnegie, Grindstone Island, New York; and Joseph J. Gatto, Falconer, New York. All were killed when "Waddy's Wagon" was shot down attempting to guide a crippled B-29 back to safety during a mission against the Nakajima aircraft factory in Musashino, Japan on January 9, 1945.