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sgilewicz
07-15-2005, 11:37 AM
Spotted this in today's paper and thought I'd share:

World War II fliers leave a lasting gift for revered aircraft
Friday, July 15, 2005
BY MAURA McDERMOTT Star-Ledger Staff
Paul Bangiola owes his life to Jackpot 86, the P-47 Thunderbolt airplane he flew in World War II.
On his 50th bombing mission -- May 27, 1944 -- the Army Air Corps fighter pilot swooped low to destroy German anti-aircraft cannons in Nazi-occupied Italy. Then an enemy gunner ripped into his plane.
The 20 mm cannon shells shattered his right hand, temporarily paralyzed his left arm, shot off the top of the control stick and forced Bangiola to make a crash landing 100 miles away in Corsica. He hit the ground at about 120 mph, the plane skidding across a landing strip on its belly.
The impact warped the propeller blades and snapped off a belly-mounted gas tank. But Bangiola walked away, with the help of two military rescuers.
"There's not another airplane I could have been flying that would have gotten me back alive," the 82-year-old retired Superior Court judge and former Morris Plains mayor said.
The Thunderbolt -- known as "the Jug" -- was among the Allies' hardiest and most fearsome weapons in World War II, and it inspired devotion for its ability to get pilots home safely.
So much devotion that fliers have gathered every May since 1961 for reunions as members of the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association. They keep in touch on a Web site (http://www.p47pilots.com) where they post their tales of battle, from near-death mishaps to snafus that still make them laugh.
But now, as their membership dwindles, the pilots have decided it's time to pack it in.
Bangiola, the group's president for three years, and his colleagues have held their last gathering. Attendance had fallen from 1,500 to about 130.
"The reunions weren't as much fun because you didn't see the guys you flew with," said John Rutherford, 81, the group's secretary. "A lot of guys, they were the only one from their squadron."
The group is shredding many of its records. And it is emptying out its $200,000-plus bank account, giving grants to 10 aviation museums that display P-47s.
The P-47 Thunderbolt is one of the most popular displays at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Conn., the recipient of an $18,000 gift from the group, said Michael Speciale, executive director.
The craft's "P" stood for pursuit, and it destroyed 160,000 enemy vehicles, according to the association.
The Thunderbolt "was one of the more notable weapons that helped us win World War II," said Speciale, whose museum invites retired pilots to serve as volunteer guides.

http://www.nj.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/news-0/1121403452187000.xml&coll=1 7/15/2005 NJ.com's Printer-Friendly Page Page 2 of 3
The gift is a financial boost, but more importantly, it feels like a pat on the back, Speciale said. "The people who made so many sacrifices, risked their lives to serve their country, they, in a sense, appreciate what we're doing. That's important to me," he said.
While the pilots are happy to keep their legacy alive at the museums -- no New Jersey museums were included, because none has a P-47 on display -- a few admit they're also sad as they approach the end of an era.
"I'm literally broken-hearted," said Al Rifino, 80, a retired Air Force captain and IBM manager who lives in Dunellen.
For 44 years, the annual P-47 reunions have been a time for the pilots to speak a common language, hold simple memorial services for fallen colleagues and swap the war stories they have told --and heard -- so many times, and yet never tire of.
Like the time Bangiola's superior led him on a death-defying bombing raid on a mountain rail tunnel. The airmen flew at tree level along the tracks, dropped 500-pound bombs into the tunnel and then yanked hard on their control sticks to swerve over the mountain.
"I never figured out if he liked me or hated me, wanted to kill me or make a hero of me," joked Bangiola, who earned a Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart, and whose fighter group was awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre.
And all the times the pilots performed tricks in the planes, flying them upside down.
"The war got to be more fun every year," said Rutherford, a retired physicist and former POW who lives in Ridgewood. "You wouldn't remember the bad parts."
The fighter pilots were among the war's most dashing figures, with their leather jackets and the white silk scarves they wore to keep from chafing as they swiveled around watching for enemy planes and targets.
Only the elite passed a battery of physical and mental tests to qualify for a seat in the one-man cockpits. They looked down on bomber pilots, who relied on a crew.
"The fighter pilots thought we were the best, the cream of the crop," Rutherford said. "We weren't too strict on military procedures, saluting and all that. We used to think we got all the girls."
Then he laughed a bit.
"We did," he said.
The Thunderbolt pilots didn't think much of the P-51 Mustangs some of their fellow troops flew, either.
Those planes had liquid-cooled engines that could freeze if they took a stray bullet. Not the P-47, whose air-cooled engine took cannon fire and kept the craft in the air.
"The engine would be spraying oil all over the place but it would get you home," Rutherford said.
Being a fighter pilot is a notoriously perilous occupation. The veterans saw enough colleagues killed in combat to know what it means to mourn. But this is different.
"We probably won't see these P-47 pilots again," Rutherford said. "A lot of these guys, we said goodbye to for the last time."

sgilewicz
07-15-2005, 11:37 AM
Spotted this in today's paper and thought I'd share:

World War II fliers leave a lasting gift for revered aircraft
Friday, July 15, 2005
BY MAURA McDERMOTT Star-Ledger Staff
Paul Bangiola owes his life to Jackpot 86, the P-47 Thunderbolt airplane he flew in World War II.
On his 50th bombing mission -- May 27, 1944 -- the Army Air Corps fighter pilot swooped low to destroy German anti-aircraft cannons in Nazi-occupied Italy. Then an enemy gunner ripped into his plane.
The 20 mm cannon shells shattered his right hand, temporarily paralyzed his left arm, shot off the top of the control stick and forced Bangiola to make a crash landing 100 miles away in Corsica. He hit the ground at about 120 mph, the plane skidding across a landing strip on its belly.
The impact warped the propeller blades and snapped off a belly-mounted gas tank. But Bangiola walked away, with the help of two military rescuers.
"There's not another airplane I could have been flying that would have gotten me back alive," the 82-year-old retired Superior Court judge and former Morris Plains mayor said.
The Thunderbolt -- known as "the Jug" -- was among the Allies' hardiest and most fearsome weapons in World War II, and it inspired devotion for its ability to get pilots home safely.
So much devotion that fliers have gathered every May since 1961 for reunions as members of the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association. They keep in touch on a Web site (http://www.p47pilots.com) where they post their tales of battle, from near-death mishaps to snafus that still make them laugh.
But now, as their membership dwindles, the pilots have decided it's time to pack it in.
Bangiola, the group's president for three years, and his colleagues have held their last gathering. Attendance had fallen from 1,500 to about 130.
"The reunions weren't as much fun because you didn't see the guys you flew with," said John Rutherford, 81, the group's secretary. "A lot of guys, they were the only one from their squadron."
The group is shredding many of its records. And it is emptying out its $200,000-plus bank account, giving grants to 10 aviation museums that display P-47s.
The P-47 Thunderbolt is one of the most popular displays at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Conn., the recipient of an $18,000 gift from the group, said Michael Speciale, executive director.
The craft's "P" stood for pursuit, and it destroyed 160,000 enemy vehicles, according to the association.
The Thunderbolt "was one of the more notable weapons that helped us win World War II," said Speciale, whose museum invites retired pilots to serve as volunteer guides.

http://www.nj.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/news-0/1121403452187000.xml&coll=1 (http://www.nj.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/news-0/1121403452187000.xml&coll=1) 7/15/2005 NJ.com's Printer-Friendly Page Page 2 of 3
The gift is a financial boost, but more importantly, it feels like a pat on the back, Speciale said. "The people who made so many sacrifices, risked their lives to serve their country, they, in a sense, appreciate what we're doing. That's important to me," he said.
While the pilots are happy to keep their legacy alive at the museums -- no New Jersey museums were included, because none has a P-47 on display -- a few admit they're also sad as they approach the end of an era.
"I'm literally broken-hearted," said Al Rifino, 80, a retired Air Force captain and IBM manager who lives in Dunellen.
For 44 years, the annual P-47 reunions have been a time for the pilots to speak a common language, hold simple memorial services for fallen colleagues and swap the war stories they have told --and heard -- so many times, and yet never tire of.
Like the time Bangiola's superior led him on a death-defying bombing raid on a mountain rail tunnel. The airmen flew at tree level along the tracks, dropped 500-pound bombs into the tunnel and then yanked hard on their control sticks to swerve over the mountain.
"I never figured out if he liked me or hated me, wanted to kill me or make a hero of me," joked Bangiola, who earned a Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart, and whose fighter group was awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre.
And all the times the pilots performed tricks in the planes, flying them upside down.
"The war got to be more fun every year," said Rutherford, a retired physicist and former POW who lives in Ridgewood. "You wouldn't remember the bad parts."
The fighter pilots were among the war's most dashing figures, with their leather jackets and the white silk scarves they wore to keep from chafing as they swiveled around watching for enemy planes and targets.
Only the elite passed a battery of physical and mental tests to qualify for a seat in the one-man cockpits. They looked down on bomber pilots, who relied on a crew.
"The fighter pilots thought we were the best, the cream of the crop," Rutherford said. "We weren't too strict on military procedures, saluting and all that. We used to think we got all the girls."
Then he laughed a bit.
"We did," he said.
The Thunderbolt pilots didn't think much of the P-51 Mustangs some of their fellow troops flew, either.
Those planes had liquid-cooled engines that could freeze if they took a stray bullet. Not the P-47, whose air-cooled engine took cannon fire and kept the craft in the air.
"The engine would be spraying oil all over the place but it would get you home," Rutherford said.
Being a fighter pilot is a notoriously perilous occupation. The veterans saw enough colleagues killed in combat to know what it means to mourn. But this is different.
"We probably won't see these P-47 pilots again," Rutherford said. "A lot of these guys, we said goodbye to for the last time."

DxyFlyr
07-15-2005, 12:21 PM
Excellent article! Thanks for posting. I love the line about getting all the girls. It's really sad that these reunions are fading away. Man, those guys are something else.

I've got a P-38 Jock who lives down the street. When I moved in about 8 years ago I saw him walking his dog. He had a P-38 belt buckle that started a brief conversation. I didn't find out much about his career, only that he flew the 38 during WW2. He wanted to talk more about the dog. He is quite a character. A couple years later, I found him asleep in his car on my front lawn. I'm still not sure if he fell asleep before or after parking on my lawn. ;-) I'll never forget walking up to that window. I thought for sure he was dead. btw... never wake up a fighter jock from a nap. He got surly fast.

Needless to say, they took away his wheels and gave him the motorized scooter-like chair-on-the go. I've seen him cross 5 lanes of traffic in that thing! Still the fighter jock.

I tried to stop him the other day to chat about his P-38 days. I really want to know the particulars, but he's so deaf now that all he'll do is wave, nod and keep putting along.

stubby
07-15-2005, 12:39 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">The group is shredding many of its records </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I found this statement puzzling from the article. Why would the group shred records? Are the records stuff like banking info or personal stuff or historical stuff like pilot diaries or journals? Seems crazy to destroy any documents that may prove to have historical relevance.

Bearcat99
07-15-2005, 12:53 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by sgilewicz:

The group is shredding many of its records. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I think I will email them and ask them to send them to me rather than destroy them!!!!

vocatx
07-15-2005, 12:54 PM
There are some truly amazing stories to be heard from these veterans. I've known several in my life, though most have passed on now. I wish I had taken the time to write down some of the stories they told me when they were alive, so as to have them check the details.

At my last family reunion I asked all the veterans to PLEASE write down or tape their stories for posterity. I don't know if any will, but I hope they do.

I found out that one of my cousins was one of three survivors from a sunken U.S.N. submarine in the North Atlantic in WWII, and another was an electrical engineer in the first F-86 fighter wing to be deployed to Europe.

If any of you know any veterans and can get them to tell their stories, ask them if you can interview them. Once you have the interviews, contact your local museum or historical society, maybe even the local VFW, and turn the records over to them. That way the history will not be lost once these great men are gone.

woofiedog
07-16-2005, 03:03 AM
Excellent story! Thank's for posting.

A few of the Bird's of the The New England Air Museum.

Airplanes
Bleriot X1 Monoplane 1909 Republic P-47D Thunderbolt 1945
Bunce-Curtiss Pusher (homebuilt) 1912 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 1948
Sikorsky S-16 Replica 1915 Republic RC3 Seabee amphibian 1948
Fokker DR-1 Triplane Replica 1918 Lockheed F-94C Starfire 1951
Nixon Special (homebuilt) 1918 North American F-100 Super Sabre 1952
Great Lakes Sportster replica 1929 Grumman HU-16E Albatross 1953
Gee Bee Model A 1930 Martin RB-57A Canberra 1954
Laird Solution (racer) 1930 Lockheed TV-2 Shooting Star 1955
Sikorsky S-39 Amphibian 1930 Douglas A-4D-1 Skyhawk 1956
Gee Bee R-1 Supersportster Replica (racer) 1932 DeHavilland U-6A Beaver 1957
Viking Kittyhawk B-8 1933 Douglas A-3D Skywarrior 1957
Marcoux-Bromberg Special (racer) 1934 Grumman E-1B Tracer Early Warning 1957
Piper J3 Cub 1937 Republic F-105B Thunderchief 1957
Aeronca Chief 1938 Douglas F4D-1 Skyray 1958
Rearwin Cloudster 1940 Fairey Gannet AEW3 Early Warning 1958
Stearman PT-17 1941 Vought F-8 Crusader 1959
Douglas DC-3 1942 McDonnell-Douglas F-4D Phantom II 1960's
Sikorsky VS-44A 1942 SUD Caravelle VI-R Airliner 1961
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat 1943 DeHavilland C-7A Caribou 1962
Douglas A-26C Invader 1944 Kaman K-16 V-STOL (research) 1962
North American B-25 Mitchell 1944 Vought A-7D Corsair II 1970
Vought XF4U-4 Corsair 1944 Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II 1975
Boeing B-29 Superfortress 1945
Burnelli CB4-3 Loadmaster 1945



Helicopters
Sikorsky R-4B Hoverfly 1943 Bell UH-1B Iroquois 1962
Sikorsky S-51 1947 Gyrodyne OH-50 Pilotless Drone 1963
Kaman K-225 1949 Hughes OH-6A Cayuse 1967
Sikorsky R6/Doman conversion 1949 Sikorsky HH-52A Seaguard 1967
Sikorsky LH-34D Seabat 1958 Sikorsky CH-54B Skycrane 1969
Hiller OH-23G Raven 1959 Bell AH-1S Cobra 1971
Kaman HH-43A Huskie 1961



Experimental & Homebuilt
Benson Gyrocopter autogiro B-8M 1967 Rutan Vari-Eze 1976
Nick's Special LR-1A 1971 Hanson-Meyer Quickie 1982



Gliders & Ultralights
Chanute Herring Glider replica 1896 Zephyr Zal 1972
Mead Rhone Ranger replica 1930 Mosquito 166 Hang Glider 1980
Heath Parasol 1931 Monerai "S" (glider) 1983
Pratt-Read LNE-1 1943 Pioneer Flightstar Ultralight 1984



Missiles & Rockets
Republic JB-2 "Loon" (V-1 Buzz Bomb copy) 1945 North American AGM-28 "Hound Dog" 1960's



Lighter-than-Air
Blanchard Balloon Basket replica 1793 Chalais-Meudon Dirigible Nacelle 1918
Brooks Balloon Basket 1870 Goodyear ZNP-K (blimp car) 1942

http://www.neam.org/images/corsair_lg.jpg

http://www.neam.org/images/hellcat2_lg.jpg

http://www.neam.org/images/b25_lg.jpg

http://www.neam.org/images/fokker_lg.jpg

http://www.neam.org/images/geebee_lg.jpg

http://www.neam.org/images/hall_lg.jpg

Sorry couldn't find the P-47 photo... if I'm out that way in the near future... I'll post some camera shots.

Slater_51st
07-16-2005, 05:17 AM
Thank you very much for posting this!
It's not just the P-47 pilots who are passing on, all members of the "greatest generation" are slowly going away. However, working in a nursing home, I've been blessed with the opportunity to meet at least one WWII Lockheed test pilot(who witnessed Bong's crash, and met many famous aviation personas such as Lindbergh and Rickenbacker!!!), and I've become very close friends with an awesome man who was a Chief Aviation Machinisit's Mate aboard USS Altamaha from 1942-1944, and after that aboard the USS Sitko Bay. He has many great stories, and it's so cool to see the look in his eyes when he describes going to sea(he was an Arizona boy, til at 17 he went off and enlisted in the Navy). Oh, and by the way, he loves Corsairs http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif I also have met a USAF crew chief from Korea, one prisoner of the Japanese(who passed away a few months ago, as did the USAF crew chief), a prisoner of the Germans who is Hispanic speaks English, French, and German along with Spanish, the son of a P-38 pilot killed in WWII(he had a great big picture on his wall, his father was a Col. and killed in a training accident stateside, I believe), and a gentleman who I believe is a very distant cousin of mine(who interestingly went to my sister's college, albeit 50+ years ago).

If you ever want to meet some veterans, I would like to suggest you volunteer to go and visit at a nursing home sometime. Especially you young people. Nothing lights up an elderly person's face quicker than seeing a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young person walking up to em and saying hi. In total seriousness, this is one of the few ways to actually go out and do something worthwhile for those people who have shaped our country into how it is, whether or not they fought in any wars. To me, it is a great honor to bring a little cheer to these men and women in the last weeks, months, or years of their lives. Think about it, would you want to be alone, knowing the end is near, feeling no one cares about you? Sorry, don't mean to make you all feel guilty, but it's truly how I feel. I got very upset with a friend of mine when she blew off one of my elderly friends, and it just was not cool to disrespect people who have lived it all.

One of my great regrets is not getting better accounts from the test pilot. His wife asked for my phone number, which I gave her. However, I didn't hear from them again(he was a temporary residet, went home almost a year ago, spose I should try and give them a call eh?).

Ok, guilt trip off http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Oh, and Woofie,

The B-25 shot has the back end of the -47 in it http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

S! Slater

woofiedog
07-16-2005, 06:22 AM
Slater_51st... I miss that one by a Mile! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Found this though...

http://www.connecticut-dreaming.com/Photos/Air-Museum/air-museum-020.jpg

T_O_A_D
07-16-2005, 06:42 AM
Me too, I don't follow this act at all.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by stubby:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">The group is shredding many of its records </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I found this statement puzzling from the article. Why would the group shred records? Are the records stuff like banking info or personal stuff or historical stuff like pilot diaries or journals? Seems crazy to destroy any documents that may prove to have historical relevance. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

WarWolfe_1
07-16-2005, 06:53 AM
OooooooooooooooooooooH F4U-4..........*Drools*