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tv   Disappearance of World War II Bomber Crew  CSPAN  January 31, 2016 8:50am-10:01am EST

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to the great opportunities the internet offers. when you start to see a two-tiered internet created because of any competitive way that data caps are applied, that causes concern. >> watch "the communicators" monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2.- >> next, on american history tv, journalist and author gregg jones discusses the mystery of the disappearance of a bomber named jerks natural. mr. jones, the nephew of one of the missing men, has conducted months of research at the library of congress, with a soon-to-be published book, "the last mission, the legacy of the lost world war ii bomber crew." the library of congress hosted this event. >> today's program is titled "the last mission, the legacy of
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a lost world war ii bomber crew." it features author and journalist gregg jones. this is a unique fellowship that allows an experienced and talented writer to spend a fall semester at the library of congress and a spring semester at the university of nevada las vegas to work on an ambitious writing project. gregg's project is ambitious and he has spent a quarter of a century reconstructing the lives and times of 10 airmen aboard the liberator which disappeared over austria on october 1, 1943. as you will hear gregg has a , personal connection to the story. he has traced the lines of the fallen servicemen, situated them within the larger story of combat deaths in europe, and
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reflect it on his own personal journeys to the village in southern austria where the men disappeared. this is the research you will hear about today and which will inform his forthcoming book about the subject. he has been a foreign correspondent and investigative journalist for more than 30 years. he is the author of "honor in the dust," an editor's choice of the "new york's time sunday book review." last stand at caisson and red revolution, which was a finalist for the pulitzer prize. he's been a staff writer for the and he hass times," covered the philippines for the washington post, and the guardian. he reported from pakistan following 9/11. he has traveled to afghanistan to cover the search for osama bin laden, and tora bora. he is currently be black
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-- the black mountain fellow working on his fourth book about the multi-general legacy of a lost world war ii bomber crew. we decided to structure today's -- today as a conversation. i will start off with the first question and gregg will take it from there. so, welcome sir. >> thank you, sir. has a veryry personal connection for you. let's talk about what that personal connection is and how you came to be aware of this episode with these 10 men. >> thanks very much, jason. there are several people i want to thank. i want to take the kluge center, bob patrick, megan harris. they do great work to preserve the stories of our nation's veterans.
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megan has been very helpful in my research. thanks very much. also, the kluge center has been my home for the last three plus months. this is really an extraordinary place. as jason noted, i come for me -- from the journal is inside of the world -- from the journalism side of the world and that tends to be a shabbier side of the street. so being able to walk in this every dayent building for the last three months has been a sublime pleasure. and it has been made an even greater pleasure by the environment that has been created here at the kluge center. lount to thank robert, mary . the staff, really, top to bottom, has just made this a marvelous place to do good work.
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kluge want to thank the anter intern who has been integral part of my research. and i want to thank the scholars and the fellows with whom i've shared this space the last few months. really amazing, warm, inspiring, intimidatingly smart. incredibly generous group of people. i will never forget you all. one quick correction. as much as i wish that my book "red revolution" has been a finalist for the pulitzer prize, it was my journalism work that was a finalist, but i will certainly take that. [laughter] gregg: jason, the question is -- and i'm going to try to --
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i have some images that i want to share. and this may not be entirely seamless, but i think worth -- these are worth sharing. the personalis connection and how this has been woven into my life. i grew up with -- looking at this image, this photograph that you see there. muchther kept a small and less crisp print of this on her bedroom dresser when i was growing up. my earliest memory of this was, probably i was 12 or 13. i remember looking at it and asking her about it. my mother didn't have a lot of .acts about this photograph she did know that her brother is in this photograph.
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he is the man at the lower left-hand corner. his name is l.h. white. he was a technical sergeant and the radio operator on this bomber crew. she knew that the crew had disappeared over austria during a mission on october 1, 1943. beyond that, she didn't know a lot. there were questions as to whether or not they had been found, whether any of the other men had been found, but there was one other twist to it. there was a survivor. my mother did not know much about him, but that obviously begged the question of how was there one survivor and how was it the other men were not found or did not come back? was reallyotograph an entry point for me.
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i was already very interested in history and curious, reading a lot of history. that really brought world war ii alive for me, but there was also was obviously tinged with sadness and mystery. the other episode that really started me on this journey was about when i was 15 years old. my mother had mentioned that she had a box of my uncle's personal effects. this box had been left to my grandfather a man by the name of , -- grandfather, a man by the name of floyd white. when he passed away in 1967, he left that box to my mother. i found it in the back of my mother's closet. i took it out to my room. i remember it was a winter night. i sat on the floor with this box, i took each item out piece by piece. there was a leather flight suit,
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a cap, jacket, pants, boots, and gloves. there was a camera, binoculars, a radio repair manual. a sheaf of official correspondence, letters that the war department and the army air forces had written to my father,her, to l.h.'s and there was a sevare box -- cigar box inside that larger box. inside that were several letters and they were the final letters that my uncle l.h. had written home to his father. and there were letters that my grandfather had written to l.h. those letters -- each had been stamped " "return to sender, missing in action." they had been returned and had never been opened.
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they had been returned and had never been opened. so, i opened those letters and read them. and there was nothing especially profound that my grandfather -- not an educated man. prosaic descriptions of, he was a small farmer and a livestock trader. so, talking about the fall harvest and what was going on with my mother and her next oldest sister. they were the two youngest children at home. then the final letter that he wrote that at this point he had received the missing in action telegram which arrived a month after the crew disappeared. he was trying to be upbeat. but at the same time there was this anguish, despair and concern that it just had a remarkable effect.
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and i just really i think was gripped with this saga. and even as a 15-year-old, it was an experience i'll never forget and started me on this journey. host: as a high school senior, you wrote a novella about this mission. mr. jones: right. when i was a 10th grader, i had a history fair project on the crew. these men were assigned to a b-24 liberator group. it was part of the 8th air force, the 93rd bomb group part of the secondary division which was within the 8t air force. but the b-24 liberators were the utility players of the 8th air force.
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they were based in england but were sent to north africa on temporary duty on three occasions in 1942 and 1943. and so, the crew had actually flown the famous low level mission of august 1, 1943. they were flying through airbases around benghazi, libya, in the desert. i actually have, this is -- this would have been what it looks like for the crew. they literally were flying in at smokestack level on this raid. and it was an extraordinary casualty rate. 177 aircraft took off from north africa and about 1/3 didn't return. so i did this project that featured the crew and told the
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story of the rate. two years later as a senior in high school, i tried to, i wrote a fictionalized account of what had happened, what i imagined had happened to the crew. so, that was really my first attempt to try to start understanding and telling the story. host: then that led to a larger investigation and how did that unfold? mr. jones: i had become a journalist. my love of history is what led me into journalism. i had been a foreign, freelance foreign correspondent in southeast asia and mexico. had come back from six years overseas. in early 1990 i was visiting my parents in southeast missouri. and i went to my mother's closet and i got that box, my uncle's
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personal effects out. just like that night it was 15 years after the night i had first gone through it. so, i went through this box item by item. and i was taking notes this time, and going through the documents. and there, the documents were documents like this. this was a letter the squadron commander, a much beloved man by the name of joseph tate had written my grandfather in december, 1943. the crew had been missing six weeks at that point. two days after joseph tate wrote this letter, he disappeared and was shot down over germany. it says "you have been notified your site was missing in action on october, 1943.
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other than this, we have received no further official information. if we do, you can be sure we will not fail to notify you immediately within the bounds of censorship." first paragraph. so, in this box that there were letters like this but there really, again, there was such a derth of details. but one document that was in there in addition to this was a list of addresses and i think we may be locked up. hopefully that will come. but the 1943 addresses. what they would do was they would list all the crew members, list next of kin and send that to the family so the families could correspond with one
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another, try to keep each other spirits up in the absence of information. and so, this list had been circulated to all the families, and they began corresponding with one another. they had stayed in close contact for a number of years. then parents died in many cases and families drifted apart. but i found this. and i decided that i would try to. track down the families so, i started writing the hometown newspapers. this was still the internet and e-mail, widespread access was still a few years away. which dates me. but your best way to found somebody was to write the newspaper.
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i wrote to the editor. describes the crew that went down over austria in october 1, 1943. i'm looking for the air men from this hometown. so, i wrote all the hometown newspapers. the gunner and flight engineer was from los angeles. i noticed his name was armenian. i figured it would be hard to find somebody by writing the newspaper in los angeles. i wrote the armenian orthodox church publications. and started filing freedom of information act requests with the pentagon with the national personnel records center. and i also started writing newspapers in austria. at the same time, i joined a group of veterans as an associate member.
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i joined the second air division association. and got the membership list and started sending out hundreds of letters to men who had flown with the 93rd, the 44th and the 389 were the three groups flying on these missions on the temporary duty and north africa. and so, all these letters started to arrive. host: you actually got letters back. mr. jones: within days, i started hearing from the first family members. and just rapidly and exponentially, my knowledge of who these men were and their time in combat was really greatly enhanced. and there is just to -- i'll show you a couple of photographs here.
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these were the guys in training. so, i started to learn more about -- i wanted to understand what they went through, how they became a crew. i went to, i started going to the national archives. this was in the days when world war ii records were downtown and that suitland, maryland. before the magnificent college park facility was opened. so, i was pulling sortie reports. i was finding everything i could to piece together. i also went to the air force historical resource center at maxwell air force base in alabama. learned a lot about the training and the extraordinary pressure there was to turn out bomber crews. really astonishing fact that there were 15,000 deaths in training accidents, airmen
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during world war ii. 15,000 in the u.s. so,that number astonished me. but when i read these documents i started to understand why they had green pilots. a shortage of 100 octane aviation fuel. host: let's talk about the crew. who were these guys, where were they from? tell us more. mr. jones: it was a cross section. if you set aside segregation so they all were white or hispanic. and but really covered the gamut of city boys and country boys that there was the son of a wealthy new york city manhattan businessman who had gone to
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columbia university. the father had. and there were a number of immigrants in the group that my uncle was in the back, the far right. next to him is jack casparian, the son of armenian immigrants. phil bedwell was from marion, indiana. the other two men were on the crew, for there was a lot of churn before they went overseas. they, men going awol. and having a bit too much to drink and things like that. and so, sometimes -- they were here and then they were gone. this is the plane i did want to mention this. something that threw me from that photo. you made it the the name was war of avion on the plane. that was not the plane that was not the plane they were flying.
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i was puzzled for a long time why they posed in front of that. that was known as an assembly ship. a worn out aircraft. that would take off and then would start rotating and would become the rallying point for the other aircraft that would take off on a mission. so, usually they would be painted garish colors and things. so they could be distinguished. the other planes would take off and fall into formation. my uncle's crew, the pilot was william stein, the son of, lithuanian immigrantsa brown university economics graduate. i'll point him out when i shift over to the crew photo, but this will tell you something about this aircraft. they inherit an aircraft called
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jerks natural. this is a beautiful photograph taken in england. the name is distinctive and i'm sure you are scratching your head as to how it got this odd sounding name. the jerk was the nickname for the pilot. this was a reference to a soda jerk, which soda shops were popular at the time. to dispense carbonated water you had this lever would jerk and create carbonated drinks. and shakes and things like that. and so, john -- was the pilot who, the first pilot in this aircraft. his nickname was the jerk. the tail number was 23711. 41-23711. in dice games, which were popular with men in the service, 711 was a very fortuitous roll. hence jerk's natural. this was the aircraft my uncle crew was the first wave of replacement crews that have gone to england in may of 1943. the plane had seen a lot of action by that time.
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host: one quick anecdote or side fact. goes crews was part was part of the first crews that had gone there. quick anecdote or side fact. you had mentioned when we talked last week that was it, treadwell, one of the guys was quite a character? clowning around? mr. jones: let me try to find those photographs. phil bedwell. bear with me while i -- phil was in the photographs. he was this marvelous character. he was from indiana. he wore his flight cap.
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turned the bill up and painted hoosier on the cap. he was the life of the party. he looked to play drums. he had a sister. i have to mention her, barbara, who is still alive, around 90 years of age. barbara has been an extraordinary partner in t his. one of the first people to get in touch. they had this magnificent collection of photographs that barbara and phil's mother, mother and father, grant and ava bedwell in this corn fed, indiana small city of marion. eva was known by the nickname of maude. she doted on phil. mischievous but very thoughtful and sensitive and sweet guy.
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but always doing wacky things. but they had all these photographs and a lot of letters and things that just aided me in my search. host: let's talk about the context in which this is happening which is an important part of your project. 1943. there is discussion about what the strategy for the air campaign should be in europe. questions of daylight bombings and the risk associated with that. european strategies versus american strategies. how did that factor in? mr. jones: absolutely. and this is something i want to scroll back to. i have a photograph of henry arnold the air force commander in chief on the right. that's ira acre on the left who commanded the 8th air force from
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december 1942 to december 1943. aker was a longtime subordinate and co-authored a couple books before the war and military aviation. the world war ii, for the army-air forces was seen as this huge opportunity to finally prove they were worthy of being an independent service, a service that could escape the tyranny of the navy and the army, which always gave them short shrift in budgeting times. so, in the 1920's and 1930's, all these disciples of billy mitchell, who was the father of american air power, who emerged from world war i and started to develop the doctrine of calming as a decisive force and warfare. this doctrine of daylight bombing immersed in the 1930's. arnold became a proponent of it.
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aker and several other of their associates. they were collectively known, the men who had drafted this, the bomber mafia. and so, they wanted to prove that daylight bombing would work. the british when the americans enter the war warned hap arnold, that you cannot do it. british had tried a time bombing and gone to nighttime bombing, which was essentially a fly over a city and drop your bombs. the british could justified by saying you had factory workers there. therefore, we're hitting a military target. in theory, the american daylight
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precision bombing would be more accurate and would be more humane. there was also some parochial interests that come into play. that fascinated me because it gets into the exercise, the power. and not just the convictions of the bomber mafia that this could be done but also the sense this is our. opportunity to create an independent air force arnold was determined to keep pushing deeper raids into europe in 1943, into germany. even though they did not have really the critical mass in terms of numbers of bombers that were needed at that time. and one of the great failings is they had not developed long-range fighter escorts to escort the bombers into germany. arnold and the bomber mafia had a saying "the bomber will always
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get through." they were convinced that mass bombers at that point, 10 machine guns on each aircraft, could fend off any german fighters. the germans as any good military force would, changed tactics and started bringing down large number of bombers. but arnold kept pressuring aker. you need to field more missions, larger missions, keep pushing them deeper into germany. and this ultimately led to a lot of deaths. casualties soared through the summer and fall of 1943. my uncle's crew was one of those crews that was shot down. as a results of the prosecution of this without the long-range fighters. host: let's talk about the summer and fall of 1943. your uncle's crew was first involved in a rescue raid.
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let's start there, and maybe tell us about their experience during that famous raid. mr. jones: as i mentioned before, it was an extraordinary thing, terrifying event, because the aircraft flew in at nearly zero altitude. my uncle's crew, actually the pilot, jerk's natural william stein slid into the copilot's seat. their copilot had fallen ill in the desert camp. so he flew as copilot. cleveland hickman from northern california flew the aircraft. they flew in over the target with the other aircraft in the 93rd bomb group. in fact, their small group of aircraft was led by ramzi potts. ramzi potts was a long time
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washington, d.c., lawyer. very prominent man. and an accomplished pilot and college athlete before the war. my uncle's crew actually survived this raid but they were shot up over the target. they were losing fuel. they had two engines damaged. they were not going to make it back to the base in benghazi in the desert of north africa. so they made an emergency landing at -- sicily on the southeastern peninsula in sicily, which had just been -- the sicily invasion had just happened three weeks earlier on july 10. so, the british had just taken that area. they landed at an airstrip that british spitfire unit had taken over. you can a magic, they'd been in
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the plane for 10-12 hours. they had seen planes with men they knew blowing up around them. men jumping out of planes at low altitude on fire. it was really just unspeakable carnage that they witnessed and experienced. and the bombardier, this beautiful soul from oakland, california, guy by the name of john mcdonough and i hope to talk more about him later, but john was climbed out of the aircraft and was physically ill. hanging on the nose wheel for the better part of an hour. i know this because one of the crew members that was on that raid, he left shortly afterward. two other men also left the crew
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there were so traumatized by it they took themselves off-line status. this one eyewitness that describes this to me continued on flying status, but it was just something that, it's really hard to imagine what it was like. and how traumatic that would have been. host: and so, they survive that dangerous raid. they, i think you told me they got a chance to go to england for a little bit and enjoy themselves. maybe a little bit of reprieve in august of 1943 but then they were back at it again fly more missions in the fall. and maybe you could now tell us about the fateful mission, the one they did not get back from. mr. jones: they had flown a few missions after the raid. then the b-24 groups were shifted back to england.
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the men got leave. went to london for some r&r. they flew a couple of missions out of england in early september. in the middle of the month, world war ii historians in a group that was the salerno landing on the italian mainland which happened in september. the beachhead was in peril almost immediately. there was a concern the germans would overrun it. they rushed the b-24 groups back down to north africa. this time to tunis tunisia, by the time they got there the allied landing forces had broken out. so, the crews started flying missions against targets further up the italian mainland, hitting rail heads and, that sort of thing trying to rush german
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reinforcements down. they flew those missions without incident and that was one final mission they were going to fly. and it was a very long mission to austria. it was a factory that was the source of the second-most important factory that was manufacturing the luftwaffe's frontline fighter plane. this is 30 miles south of vienna. so, they took off early on the morning of october 1, 1943. flew across the mediterranean, across italy, the adriatic, yugoslavia. then they turned north. then struck -- from the east. it was during this raid that my uncle's crew fell out of formation and that was the last
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they were seen by the other crews in the 93rd. the 93rd that was the only aircraft they lost that day. the 44th got hit very hard by german fighters. but there was this mystery as to what happened to the stein crew. host: what was conveyed to the families in the aftermath of this disappearance? mr. jones: it took about three to four weeks before the disappearance of this crew worked its way up through the echelons in the. armed forces. the mia telegrams were sent out on november 3 and november 4, 1943. at this point, the families were given just the essential information. that they were on this raid an
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disappeared over austria. within a week, one of the families received a telegram notifying them that their son had been confirmed as a prisoner of war of the germans. this was the navigator william warren sykes from eastern pennsylvania. he is the second from the right and was the navigator. no information or details were provided. and just that one man was a pow. in that situation, all the families obviously were hoping for the best. the fact that one was a pow gave great hope. it was something they could hang onto to cling to. if one man got out as a pow, them probably the others got out. so, families started to write each other. and exchanging bits of information, but there was no official information.
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the letter from the squadron commander, which came six weeks later in late december, noted. that there was no additional information so, the families went through this long period of hoping for the best. there was the hope that perhaps they were with tito's partisans in yugoslavia which were getting a lot of publicity in american papers at the time. and southern austria was very close. and tito's partisans were operating in southern austria. so, there was this great hope that they were going to come home still i mentioned at wealthy manhattan businessman. he was working his contacts and he had a friend who was a ham radio operator.
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amateurish your operators monitoring shortwave broadcasts was popular at the time. they were monitoring german shortwave broadcast to try to hear pow listings, new pow's would be announced. and so, at one point in early 1944 this gentleman in new york, me. stats, wrote my grandfather telling my grandfather that his friend the ham radio operator had heard my uncles name read on a german shortwave broadcasting had been listed as a prisoner of war. and so, you can imagine the hopes that the family had. but they waited and waited for official confirmation. and no confirmation ever came. host: so, in the 10-15 minutes we have left we can shift to the aftermath.
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your interaction with the families and the closing of this, of some of these missing pieces of information. i think you had said it was finally in 1949 or so that they actually found some remains in austria? five years after the war. maybe you can talk about that> mr. jones: right. absolutely. this was more information came out. this was 1945. the survivor was held -- the famous pow camp where "the great escape" happened in the spring, 1944. he wrote a statement in november 1945. the family members had all called, written, some had gone to his house to get additional information. there was never much he had to say other than the fact they had lost a couple engines, fallen out of formation and had been ambushed by three german
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fighters. he parachuted out and later in the day when he was on the ground, some austrian farmers had shown him watches and rings that he recognized as those of his crewmates. that was all the information he had. and so, the families were writing the army air forces asking, the men were declared presumptively killed in action a year and a day after they went missing. that was the law. presumptive kia finding in 1944. but there was no information. so the family essentially disregarded that. then finally, in 1949 the families were notified that an unidentified set of remains that had been exhumed in austria had
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been identified as those of your son and 8 comrades. there was no detail, no explanation, no really explanation as to how that finding was made. where the remains had been recovered. and that sort of thing so, it was an extraordinary how little information was given to the families. they received a telegram a few weeks later saying there is going to be a funeral on march 15, 19 50 at jefferson barracks in st. louis. so the families showed upat jefferson barracks. in this photograph, it shows this was actually the first load of remains coming back from europe in 1947. so, there was this great effort to find all of these graves around the world. and identify them and then bring home the remains. so, this was going on from 1947
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until you had you how all these group identifications that were the final ones. and that was the case with this missing aircrew. this is what the families saw when they showed up at jefferson barracks. at national cemetery on march 13, 1950. there was one coffin, no explanation. one coffin. and that was a terrible shock to the families that they were puzzled. they were, some were angry and almost to a person they were convinced the men had not really been found. that the government had just done this to get them off their backs or to close the books on this case, dismissing crew.
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and so, a funeral which should have been something that gave really the culmination of this suspended grieving process for the families, didn't do that at all. it raised more questions in the minds of the families. and it was just a terribly painful capstone to this ordeal that had gone on for seven years at that point. host: let's talk a little bit about the families. what has become of these families since 1950 and how have you interacted with them, interviewed them, spoken with them as part of your research to piece this altogether? mr. jones: when i started hearing from the families, it was an extraordinary thing, to reestablish that context that had existed 50 years earlier. and then had been severed.
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and it was, i was immediately struck -- and i really was very interested in seeing that all the families had gone through something very similar. and the process, what happens to families of the missing. a scholar a researcher in the 1970's started looking at cases of mia's and sort of the unique process and the suspending grieving process that families of the missing go through. she came up with the term " ambiguous loss" and " frozen grief." that describes perfectly what i learned about my mother and her siblings. and these other families as well. i could not get past that for a long time of sort of the tragic
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aspects of it. and really the shattering aspects of it. so, i sort of missed the fact that the stories of this beautiful, amazing strength. the sisters, so much fell on the sisters in these families. the mothers in most cases were quite devastated. the sisters were as well, but it was just amazing to me what they were juggling, many of them were married and had children. yet they helping to keep the families together. and at the same time, try to deal with this situation they find themselves in of do we give up hope? do we grieve? is that betraying our missing loved one? do we wait? all of these families had gone
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through this really terrible process. then they had all these on questions. for me, that became just the most fulfilling thing for this whole journey was, as i was finding out things, getting things from the freedom information act request, from going to austria and doing interviews with people there and finding eyewitnesses who actually saw the aircraft as it was attempting an emergency landing, that to be able to share that with the families and to be able to answer the questions of had they possibly live? there were all these fantasies that were common to families of the missing, whether it is kidnap victim or an mia in wartime of they have had a head injury. they have amnesia. all of these things to really
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push off the idea that they are really gone. so, it's just been a really beautiful process for me to be able to share that information before many of these people passed away. and to as are of the questions that they had,. which had haunted them for so many years host: we only have a few minutes left. i do want to briefly touch on your visits to austria. you actually went to the site where the plane had come down. you have some photographs, i think. mr. jones: one day and the fall of 1991i sent out all these letters. and a brown envelope arrived in the mail. i immediately saw it was not an envelope that we use in the u.s. and i just sensed what it was and what was in it. i opened it up and there was this extraordinary photograph. and it was sent to me by this
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young man in the photograph who by this time was an older man who was an engineer with seimens in germany. his father had been the police chief in a town 10 miles away. this is a huge event when this aircraft had come down in their midst, had attempted this landing and had crashed during the landing. and so, his father had brought him over. people were coming from miles around. with the last roll of film his father had come he took this photograph of the wreckage of this aircraft. and it was one of so many partial experience i have had to actually hold that photograph in my hands. then to is it that spot and to go to that place was amazing and to talk to a young man who was nearly struck by the plane when
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it was coming in. and it was painful as well, because they came so close. they had gotten the plane back onto control. and were flying low -- this is the alps, the alpine foothills, 2500 feet. but it was an extraordinary feat of piloting to get an aircraft that had lost three engines on the same side under control. get it leveled off after going into a spin. i interview a number of b 24 pilots are described how difficult that would be. and they nearly made it, which was heartbreaking. but the people in the village were amazingly helpful.
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and i forged beautiful relationships there. in 1995, by that time i had found all but one of the families. we had gathered together to put up a memorial at the crash site. this was the ceremony in 1996. this is the memorial. the lady on the right is barbara bedwell, the sister of phil bedwell who has been such an extraordinary partner with me in this journey. and. it is a beautiful spoti've been there. i've walked the terrain. it is an incredibly powerful experience. host: i do want to allow audience members to ask a question to her we do that, you have been working on this now -- thinking and working on it almost your entire life. what, what, where is it now?
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what is the library of congress enabling you to do? what holes are you filling in now that you had not already pieced together? mr. jones: i'm sad to say that i'm getting my car and driving away from here tomorrow. it has been an amazing experience. but it has allowed me to add death and historical context and really a greater understanding of so many facets of my uncle's life from learning about what it was like to be a cotton farmer. in the early 1930's. and learning more about the historical context in austria soul of that country. and also the chance to go through henry arnold's personal papers which i spent my final
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days here doing, which is fascinating and sort of understanding the exercise of power in these life-and-death decisions, which, incidentally, did not affect henry hap arnold that much. it's jarring to see sort of the -- the way a senior commander can separate themselves with a loss of men like that. i cannot say enough about how just being able to think about this on a daily basis and to immerse myself in so many different aspects of it has enriched it in ways i cannot begin to explain. host: with that, we have time for a couple of questions from the audience. if anyone has any questions for gregg about the project or the men, about his work, we would be happy to take them. i believe we have a microphone.
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>> hi. did you find out any more information about the surviving crew member who parachuted and why others didn't? i know the b-24's were very cramped quarters. why didn't other people jump? so, just questions like -- or did he, were you ever able to contact him and get more information from him? mr. jones: i found him in the final years of his life. he was in the early stages of parkinson's, but i was writing him through his wife. the answers that were coming back were spot on. so, it was remarkable. clearly, these things he knew. he remember the pilot was a brown university graduate and things like that.
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i did not get any more information in that statement that he wrote in 1945 about what happened. the way he explained it -- the navigator and bombadier -- he got his parachute on. dropped through the nose wheel hatch. the pilot did not press the bailout gun. the pilot that was the commander. he did not give the order to bailout. so there is that. the other men, i think because the order had not been given, the explanation of the survivor was that the plane went into a spin and the implication was they could not get out. as my reporting on the ground determined that in fact they had tried to land at another spot, i have a police report from that other, that area where they tried to land and then circled back and tried to land in a meadow. where the crash
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occurred they were flying under control at that point but without a navigator, did that have an impact? that is a question i've always had. i'll never know. [inaudible] mr. jones: he passed away in the mid-1990's. i got to know his wife. i'm still in touch with his son. i've talked with his sons. lovely family. he went on, he left the air force but went back in and flew in korea and to vietnam and retired around 1970 from the air force. host: other questions? wait for the mic. >> this is wonderful to hear. i can't wait to read the book. one thing it calls to mind is
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just a couple days ago, i think it was the anniversary of pearl harbor, there was an article about uss oklahoma where i guess a number of servicemen had been entombed within the ship. their remains were dug up around the same time -- 1946 or 1947 or something. anyways, similarly to your story they were jumbled together. and returned to a resting place and is unsatisfactory way. just recently, and this is why it was in the post, forensic people have begun using i guess the technology that is available to identify the remains. i am wondering if anything like that has happened or if there has been any subsequent development with that gravesite? mr. jones: great question. i found one document that used the term comingled remains that
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was shared with the families. the process was never explained. i tried to go deeply into this. there was a central identification point created in europe at strasburg, france. as graves were exhumed in that process, the postwar 1946, 1947 period, they would be taken to the central identification point. my theory, i want to dig deeper into this to see if i can find documents, is i think there was such pressure, budgetary, cold war was deepening by the late 1940's this was taking, they were a year behind schedule and the whole repatriation program. the pressure was on. wrap it up. i think where you had these aircrews that offer -- and i do not mean to be callous about it -- the men who are doing this work, but i think that offered
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an easy out to say comingled remains. we can eliminate 5,6,7, 8, maybe 10 mia's right there. most of those were buried at jefferson farfan st. louis because that was a central location. no doubt in my mind after reporting i had done that this was a crew, that was the crash site i found. there just could've been much more shared with the families that i think could of spoken. i have those questions that haunted the parents to their dying days. and the surviving siblings as well. host: i think we have time for one more question if there is one. >> thank you for that and for the research. you mentioned a number of deaths
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during the training. you did not focus very much on the stats on the likelihood of returning from daytime bombing runs. i imagine that those stats would be pretty depressing. i wonder if in talking to relatives and those who flew such missions whether you got a sense of their expectations for survival. how far away from suicide missions were some of these bomber runs? mr. jones: good question. in 1943, the casualty rates were high and rising. hap arnold during the fall of 1943 when there started to be some pushback on these casualty rates that, he actually made a comment to reporters thatwe're prepared to take up to 25%
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casualty rates. that did not very -- fly very well with ira aker. who did not challenge hap arnolds very often. he wrote arnold and said this is not helpful. so, in reading the letters and i have hundreds of letters from the, from all of the families. they tried to be very upbeat with the families. they were very kind. the families were following things in the papers. sent a telegram to his family saying, just wanted to let you know. i'm well. he cannot say why. he assumed they were following the papers and they knew. because of censorship, the letters will be sensitive they
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talked about military things. you cannot really get that sense of the men, but certainly there was a despondency in that fall period of 1943. the chances of coming back or something not very good. the tour was 25 missions then. i talked to some men when i was interviewing air men who said, i never doubted i would come back but others were fatalistic and said, i just got into the plane and whatever happened happened. host: i remember, i vividly remember world war ii veteran i interviewed years ago who told me he was in the army air forces and told me his commanding officer told he and two guys to step out of the line and he said look to the right and left of you. two out of three of you are not coming back.
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so, we are running out of time. the title of the talk is the legacy of this world war ii bomber crew. maybe as a concluding thought, your reflections on what the legacy of these men is. mr. jones: and i want to flash this photograph, as i quickly do that, of, this was the bombardier john mcdonagh. he was a writer. he attended cal berkeley. such tremendous promise. young death is one of the saddest things. and wartime, that is something that has always gripped me about this. i ultimately came to see the inspiring story of the resilience of the human spirit, the strength of the family members left behind.
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not all of them. some of them were damaged and never really recovered. but it, the ways they have honored and to this day continued to try to honor the memory of these men, photographs remembering them on memorial day. comments on websites or things like that. it is a powerful thing. and as heartbreaking and tragic as this was for all the families, it is something beautiful just to see the strength of the human spirit. and i think that is for me what ultimately prevails. host: i think on that we will have to stop it there. please join me in thanking gregg jones. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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you are watching american history tv on c-span 3. like us on facebook at c-span history. >> this weekend on "the presidency
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island. anyway, the construction took 8 years. $232,000, that is about $72 million today. i did the math. by the way, the real estate website zillow today now says -- [laughter] not that it is on the market, $393 million. would look the ad like, prime location, 18 acres. the amenities are pretty good, too. there is going to be in new tenant apparently about year or so. i'm not quite sure who that is going to be but a four year lease. if we like it, may be extended for another four years. so when adams moved in it was november 1, 1800, and this is
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what it looks like. this would be the south lawn here, and at the time, if you notice, there was no north portico. be added forot another quarter century. these steps of the time, again this is 1800, this was the principal entrance to the white house, going back on the south lawn. this is the north entrance here. so, that is basically what john adams saw when he moved in. he was quite pleased. >> and you can watch the entire program sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3's american history tv. >> monday night on "the uestsnicators" two g holding differing views on net neutrality. the president ceo of u.s. telecom, the company that was the first to sue the fcc over its rules on inner set service service provider
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which allow access to all contents regardless of the source. and christopher lewis, vice president for government affairs at public knowledge, who supports the fcc. politicaloined by the technology reporter. >> what we objected to was the way in which the fcc went about the over internet standards. it adopted them as regulations pursuant to common carriers. this was a 19th-century -- sort regulation, originally applied to common carriers like railroads, trucking companies and airlines. they had been repealed for all of those traditional common carriers. we don't think commentary regulation is the right form of regulation for the 21st century internet. >> we're worried about consumers, as that is what drives us. we don't want, while we want consumers to get the best they can, we want to make sure everyone has access to the great opportunities of the internet. and when you start to see a two
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tirered internet created capsse of any data monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. each week until the 2016 election, wrote to the white house rewind brings us coverage of the presidential races. up next, a look at the 2004 campaign and a concession speech by howard dean. it is best known for what became called the dean scream. thelead dwindled as caucuses approached and he finished third behind john kerry. mr. dean eventually dropped out of the race before losing the general electio


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