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Published by BBYRA, 2018-03-20 21:12:24

March, 2018

March, 2018

Volume 27, Number 1

March, 2018

Lou Langer Interviewed by Kevin Callahan

Louis Langer was a B-17 armaments and waist gunner with the 15th Air Force, 301st Bomb Group, 353rd
Bomb Squadron in Foggia Italy, 1944-1945. 8th videographer Kevin Callahan interviewed Lou December 2,
2017 about his war experience. Kevin’s video is posted on YouTube.com. The photos are Kevin’s, as well.

Lou volunteered with the Army Air Corp’s cadet aviation
program before he could be drafted into the military. He passed
the aviation cadet test and proceeded to basic training, pilot
program, armaments school & gunnery school. He was assigned
to the 301st Bomb Group training in Louisiana as a B-17 waist
gunner.

As a waist gunner, Lou was responsible for ball turret operations,
watching the tail gunner & radio operator as well as operating
two waist guns. On two occasions he flew the ball turret. He
liked it, thought it was an amazing piece of equipment.

Figure 1: Harold Hanson, USN (left); Lou Langer, In Foggia, Italy the airfield was makeshift - built on farmland
USAAF (right.) Center photo is Lou and singer with steel mats for runways. Early February, 1945 Lou started
John Denver. They shared an interest in aviation flying missions: 19 in all. He flew mostly in Germany & Austria,
and airplanes. with one going over Ploesti. A Berlin flight and the one over
Ploesti were particularly memorable.

March 25 – Lou’s birthday – a mission over Berlin went bad. Extreme flak
blew holes in his plane’s wings and fuselage. Then they were hit my ME-
262’s. Three of his formation’s lead planes were blown out of the sky
making Lou’s plane the default lead plane. “We couldn’t get sights on the
262’s. They were just so fast,” said Lou. His squadron lost 6 planes that
day, with only 18 of 24 returning to base. His crippled B-17 was one of
them. It all made for a most memorable birthday!

Figure 2: Lou's B-17 memorabilia. When the war ended, Lou made his way back to Minnesota. He built a
construction business and then a real estate business. With the post-war
building boom, Lou’s businesses did well. His sons now operate them.

Lou has a positive outlook. He feels he has had a good, successful life. He thinks the Aviation Cadet Program
was terrific. “It taught me so many things: How to think, discipline & how to live,” said Lou. Overall he thinks
highly of his Air Corps experience. He is grateful things turned out well for him.

Luncheons are Wednesday, 11:15 AM
K of C Hall, Bloomington, MN.
See our website: www.8thmn.org

Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota Officers
& Directors as of January 1, 2018

President Vice President Treasurer John Ahaus
Steve Marks Dick Hill (179th FS) Gary Birchem 10548 Penn Ave., S
5121 Gorgas Ave. 934 Woody Lane 28790 Ivywood TRL Bloomington, MN 55431
Edina, MN 55424 Coon Rapids, MN 55448 Chisago City, MN 55013 (612) 720-8307
(952) 926-0148 (763) 755-3559 (651) 257-1550 [email protected]
(952)-797-2783 [email protected] [email protected]
[email protected] frontier.com Vince Parker
Dick Kaminski 38 Moonlight Bay
Marv Jansma 6633 Xerxes Ave S Gene Kretchmer Stillwater, MN 55082
14721 Denmark Ct Minneapolis, MN 55423 11206 Virginia Rd. (651) 439-8679
Apple Valley, MN 55124 (612) 869-5978 Bloomington, MN 55438
(952) 423-1260 (952) 943-3988

James Rasmussen Lawrence Sagstetter
18273 Fillmore St., NE 4035 Victoria St N #313
Cedar, MN 55011 Shoreview, MN 55126
(763)-434-3654 [email protected]ail.com

Past Presidents

Frank Frison (447th BG) William Herbert (96th BG) Earl B. Joswick (95th BG) Ed Kueppers (AM)

James Keefe (95th BG) Richard Postier (96th BG) Harold Rutka (34th BG) Dave Dahlberg (487th BG)

Don Zupan (379th BG) Don Bruns (379th BG) Larry Bachman (392nd BG) Don Kent (401st BG)

Clyde Thompson (490th Dick Kaminski (457th BG) Robert Clemens (15thAF) Al Anderson (ARDC)

BG)

Newsletter prepared and edited by Lawrence Sagstetter, 4035 Victoria St N #313, Shoreview, MN 55126.
Phone: 651-776-7434, Email: [email protected]

“Deterrence through strength, global strike on demand.”

2

8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018
Memorial to PVC
Joe Mann in Best,
President’s Report Holland. Mann
was
By Steve Marks posthumously
awarded the
Last May, 2017, our president Steve Marks Medal of Honor
joined the Fort Snelling Round Table’s for smothering a
European battlefield tour. The focus was sites grenade with his
surrounding Operation Market Garden, Battle body.
of Arnhem, Battle of the Bulge in The
Netherlands and Belgium. 3

Steve came back with a lot of photos and
stories of all the places the tour went. He also
has vintage photos of extraordinary Airborne
and glider drops. That’s because the tour
visited the Airborne Museum Hartenstein.
See war photo vs. current photo of Harenstein
Hotel at right.

This June the Round Table continues it’s
series of annual tours with a visit to sites in
old Eastern Europe. They will visit Berlin,
Gdansk, the Wolf’s Lair, Warsaw, Krakow
and Prague. A number of German
concentration camps are included on the tour.
Sounds like another interesting trip.

If you are interested in joining a Round Table
tour contact Don Patton at 612-867-5144 or
email him [email protected]

As Steve would write, MAY GOD BLESS ALL
OF YOU AND GOD
BLESS THE UNITED
STATES OF
AMERICA!

Battle of
Arnham
Airborne
parachute
drop.

8 th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018

WWII Pi lot’s Poem

Bomber

by
Hugh C. Weaver Co-Pilot
767th Squadron; 461st Bombardment Group

. A low incessant rumbling cracked the stillness of dawn, With a whir that grew in volume to a quake;

Armored monster birds of battle hit the runway, then were gone Leaving only deadly silence in their
wake.

Turbo’s churning, engines roaring, ever driving toward the sun, Rank on rank, in vee and echelon they
stacked; Bucking broncos, pitching inward as they tightened for the run, While the lashing, steel drawn

50’s slowly tracked.

Then for minutes all was silent, save for ceaseless engine din As the heavies drove like arrows to their
ring-

Just as cluster upon cluster plunged from bomb racks deep within, Raging hell came bursting upward
on the wing.

First it puffed, and then it bellowed, like a clashing cannonade Belching ragged steel which ripped and
then destroyed;

Tough metal twisted, engines coughed, heavies fought and then they swayed, ‘Til they finally hit the
rally and deployed.

Then the crippled journey homeward bound for those who still remained For the others – peaceful rest
from the battle flight;

Once again above the runway clashing engines were unchained,
As the combat – wearies peeled off to alight.

Shaded talking, ever softly, came from grim – faced lips of men As the ground crews heard of battle’s
latest fate

Then in strained and reverent silence, each returned to work again

“For they also serve who only stand and wait”*. *Quote from John Milton

“I viewed my mission as one to save lives, rather than take them.”
-Paul Tibbets, Flight of the Enola Gay

4

8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018

Gary
News & Info Jottings Birchem,
8th
Most weeks there are still 25-35 8th members Treasurer,
attending Wednesday luncheons. Every time you on his
go you learn something new. First thing to know birthday,
is many folks drive long distances to attend with cake
weekly luncheons at Knights of Columbus Hall below.
in Bloomington.
Gary Birchem, our Treasurer, drives all the way
south from Chisago City. That’s about a 50-mile
drive each way. Jim Rasmussen drives about 45-
miles from Cedar, not far from Chisago City.
Others drive long distances or need carpool
drivers. All that to attend weekly Wednesday
luncheons for some camaraderie and buffet
lunch.
Says Jim Rasmussen, “Guys attending luncheons
travel long distances. It just goes to show we’ll
go anywhere to any length for free cake & ice
cream!”

Jim, above, is referring to cake & ice cream
provided whenever one of the regulars has a
birthday or special occasion. Gary Birchem
brings the cake from his favorite bakery in
Chisago City. K of C Hall provides the ice cream
to go with it.
Gary recently had his 74th birthday. Pictured
opposite – top right - is Gary celebrating the
occasion, with his cake all decorated up with
emblems and photos of his Air Force days.
January 2 ,nd the 8th celebrated Dick Mann’s 95th
birthday with a cake. At right shown with his
daughter, Dick was at one of his last luncheons.
He passed away March, 1.

5

12

8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018
Lloyd Flynn has a new book out! Lloyd
Dick Mann was a lifetime 8th member. He Flynn: A Collection of Stories. It’s self-
was a regular attendee to Wednesday published. So you have to ask him for a
luncheons up until he contracted leukemia. copy. But it is an interesting read well
You would always recognize Dick because he worth the price.
was the one wearing the USS Saratoga hat. He
had been a Naval fighter pilot during WWII in The introduction to the book reads, “Lloyd
the Pacific. We hadn’t seen much of him the Flynn has worn many hats. Father,
past couple years while he was fighting his husband, friend, Marine, combat pilot,
disease. But he was able to make it back a mortician and grandfather, to name a few.
couple times early in the New Year, 2018. We The stories in this book include his first-
will miss him greatly! hand experiences of growing up on Dupont
Ave. South, to landing F4U’s on Wallis
Island during WWII, to meeting his beloved
wife, Betty Whelan, and growing his family
of eight.”

Lloyd apparently dictated his stories to
McKenzie Johnson at daily meetings over
coffee. She collected his notes and
memorabilia and helped author the book.

“El Toro was a very famous staging base
near Los Angeles in a town called Santa
Ana. It is where we practiced flying SBD’s
as we awaited orders to go overseas.”

“We would bomb the Japanese when they
inhabited bypass islands. They would shoot
at us as we were bombing them. I never got
hit, but some of the other guys did.”

Sue Rucker gives Lloyd rides to 8th
luncheons whenever they can work it out.
Here is Sue & Lloyd at Mancini’s at the 8th
party in December before Christmas.

6

43

8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018

Sue Rucker is a critical member of the 8th Air
Force Historical Society of Minnesota. She
cares about our veterans and always helps out pounds over the course of only a couple years.
wherever & whenever she can. He was only 17-years old when he enlisted in
February 13 Sue brought in mini-Bundt cakes 1943. That is so incredible! These guys were just
teenage kids.

to celebrate Valentines Day. She purchased Here is a photo of Ray & Jim at summer
something like 36 of them. Made sure each AirExpo. Ray Peterson is left; Jim Rasmussen is
veteran received one. She purchased them on right.
from a specialty Bundt cake store, Nothing

Bundt Cakes. They were beautiful and tasted
great. A real special Valentine’s treat.

Interesting conversations happen every Sue Rucker outdid herself organizing
Wednesday. They start when you least expect Veteran’s Day celebration for the 8th at a
them. Ray Peterson and Jim Rasmussen were luncheon in November. She organized free
comparing historical memory notes one day. buffet for everyone attending. Decorated all the
Jim noted that his induction record showed he tables. Provided entertainment by cabaret
was 168 pounds and 4-foot six–inches! An singer Heidi Ziman, who loves to work the
obvious error by Air Corps record keepers! event.

Ray Peterson noted he was 125 pounds when This is at least the second year in a row Sue has
he was inducted; 135 when he got out. Hard to organized Veterans Day for 8th members at K of
believe he was only 125 pounds at induction!! C Hall. Lou Martin got into the spirit of things
But then these guys were just young kids dressing in period wear and sneaking a dance
brought on board to fight a war! But the Air with Heidi.
Corps must have fed him well to gain 10

7

65

8 th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018


More Veteran’s Day Photos

8

8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018
7

Mancini’s December 3rd
Christmas Party

About 75 8th members, family & guests
came together to celebrate Christmas at
Mancini’s Char House Sunday, December 3.
Once again, Heidi Ziman provided the
entertainment. Stan Turner was MC.

Said Stan in his introduction. "Isn’t it
amazing this coming week will mark the
76th anniversary of America’s entry into
World War II. For many of you that was the
wake up call to respond to the colors, which
you did so bravely, you did so finely, and
you helped with the victory.”

“To this day it shaped our lives. We are in
your debt. There is no way that we can ever
repay you. I remember as a kid I was
surrounded by you folks not knowing what
you had done. But I knew you were out
there. You were my heroes as a boy and you
are still my heroes and always will be. All of
you who answered the call. “

“And I tell you what, I’ve talked to many of
you--hundreds of you--over the years
because I was so interested in you and so
grateful to you. “

“You always say “Nah! I was just doing my
bit. I was just ordinary.” Yeah. You were
just an ordinary guy or gal who was doing
extraordinary things, which makes you
extraordinary people. We’re all so proud of
you. Thank you."

-Stan Turner

8 th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018


More Christmas Photos

8

8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota March, 2018



Randy Penrod showed up recently to a Jim, Vince Parker & Dick Donaldson were
Wednesday luncheon. He doesn’t get there recently featured speakers at a March Ft.
as often as he once did when Larry Bachman Snelling Round Table on the European air
was alive. But he still shows up from time to war. Here are a couple photos from the
time. Here he is at the Mancini Christmas event.
party. Smile for the camera, Randy!!

Anyway, Randy showed up. He sat at the
table with Jim Rasmussen, your editor and
Gene Kretchmer. Randy had a story to tell.

He said, “Larry Bachman once gave a talk at
a junior high school near Lakeville.”

“After Larry was done, the science teacher
said, “Let’s thank Mr. Bachman for
talking about what he did in World War
Eleven!””

The science teacher obviously mis-
interpreted the term World War II.

So Jim Rasmussen who was at the table with
Randy spoke up. “Well, you know they
don’t teach Roman numerals in the schools
like they used to!”

7

.

Texas Raider B-17 belonging to the Commemorative Air Force. Photo by Gary Chambers.


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