Famous B-24/PB4Y Crew Members
(A Tribute to the more "Well Known" WWII Heavy Bomber Celebrities)
If you have more info (or would like to suggest a "NEW Personality") ADD to List"
ROBERT ALTMAN (B-24 Co-Pilot)
LEAFORD BEARSKIN (B-24 Pilot)
CHUCK BEDNARIK (B-24 Waist Gunner)
LLOYD M. BENTSEN Jr.
GEORGE S. BROWN
JOHN "RED" COCHRAN
JAMES E. COUNSILMAN
(B-24 Ball Turret Gunner)
(B-24 Radio Operator/Gunner)
HERBERT (B-24 Pilot))
BEIRNE LAY Jr.
(B-24 Radio Operator/Gunner)
JACK R. SMIGHT (B-24 Navigator)
JOHN STEPHENSON (B-24 Radio
HARRY C. STUBBS
STEWART L. UDALL
JAMES C. WRIGHT, JR.
JOSEPH P. KENNEDY Jr. (PB4Y Pilot)
- Brother: John F. Kennedy
(PB4Y Gunnery Instructor)
ROBERT ALTMAN (B-24 Co- Pilot) - Producer/Director/Screenwriter
(February 20, 1925 - November 20, 2006)
Enlisted in the Army Air Forces, 1945, and served with the 307th Bomb Group.
ROBERT ALTMAN Best known Film:
Also directed the television series "Whirlybirds" (1957-1959)
LEAFORD BEARSKIN (Pilot) - Wyandotte Nation Chief
(September 11, 1921 - November 9, 2012)
United States Military Service and Training (1939-1960). Heavy Bombardment Training 1943-1944 New Guinea 90th Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force (the famous "Jolly Rogers") aircraft Commander (46 Combat missions).
Served with the 5th AF, 90th BG, 321st BS on "BIG CHIEF" 42-72774...
In September 1983, he was elected Chief of the Wyandotte Nation
CHUCK BEDNARIK (B-24 Waist Gunner) - Pro Football Player
(May 1, 1925 - March 21, 2015)
Served for the last two years of World War II, seeing action on thirty missions over Europe.
First player drafted in the 1949 National Football League draft, chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles. With the Eagles, he starred on both offense (as a center) and defense (as a linebacker). He was a member of the Eagles' NFL Championship teams in 1949 and 1960.
A tough and highly effective tackler, Bednarik is perhaps best known for sending Frank Gifford of the New York Giants into early retirement with a hit in 1960.
LLOYD M. BENTSEN Jr. (B-24 Pilot) - U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1993-94)
(February 11, 1921 - May 23, 2006)
B-24 Pilot for the 449th BG, 717th BS (June 1944 - November 1944) and rose to the rank of Major as a squadron commander in Europe for the 449th BG, 716th BS (November 1944 - February 1945).
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. He was promoted to colonel in the Air Force Reserve before completing his military service.
In the 1988 presidential election, the Democratic ticket of Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen was defeated by George Bush and Dan Quayle.
LLOYD M. BENTSEN Jr. Book:
GEORGE S. BROWN (B-24 Pilot) - Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
(August 17, 1918 - December 5, 1978)
Born: George Scratchley Brown
His first assignment after flying training was at Barksdale Field, La., where as a member of the initial cadre of the 93d Bombardment Group, he flew B-24 Liberators. Moving with the organization to Ft. Myers, Fla., he flew antisubmarine patrol.
In August 1942 he flew with the 93d Bombardment Group to England, the first B-24 Group to join the Eighth Air Force. Until April 1944, he served in various positions with the group, including commander of the 329th Bombardment Squadron, group operations and then executive officer. It was as executive officer that he took part in the famous low-level bombing raid against oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania, Aug. 1, 1943. The 93d Group was the second of five B-24 groups that raided Ploesti from a temporary base at Bengasi, Libya. The 93d group, led by its commander, flew directly into heavy defenses to hit three of the six target refineries. The lead plane and 10 others were shot down or crashed on the target. General Brown, then a major, took over the lead of the battered 93d and led it back to Bengasi. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on that mission.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Army Commendation Medal.
Promoted to full general, he was sent to Vietnam in 1968 to command the Seventh Air Force.
GEORGE S. BROWN Book:
JOHN "RED" COCHRAN (B-24 Pilot) - Pro Football Player/Coach/Scout
Click for MORE INFO
(August 2, 1922 - September 5, 2004)
Served with the 14th AF, 308th BG, 373rd BS on
"The BIG SLEEP" (V2)...
Chicago Cardinals Running Back (1947-50)
Green Bay Packers Backfield Coach (1959-66) - (1971-74)
Green Bay Packers Scout (1974-2004)
Also Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Cochran
JAMES E. COUNSILMAN (B-24 Pilot) - Swimmer/Coach
(December 27, 1920 - January 4, 2004)
Served with the 15th AF, 455th BG. Awarded the DFC when he crash-landed his shot-up B-24 at Zara, Yugoslavia.
After the war, he went to the University of Iowa where he earned his doctorate in physiology. The nickname "Doc" followed him to a coaching job at Cortland State University in New York, where he was also a professor. In 1968, at Indiana University, Doc had successfully built a team of gold medalists and world record holders including Charlie Hickcox, Jim Montgomery, and Mark Spitz.
In 1979, he swam the English Channel at age 58, and became the oldest man (at that time) to successfully complete the swim. What made the swim even more difficult, was that four years earlier, Doc had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease!
Author of several Books on Swimming
SABU DASTAGIR (B-24 Ball Turret Gunner) - Actor
(January 27, 1924 - December 2, 1963)
AKA "Toomai The Elephant Boy"
Served with the 13th AF, 307th BG, 370th BS on
"JANIE" 44-41535 ...
Indian born Sabu Dastagir was already an established American film star by the late 1930s, became a United States citizen, enlisted in the Army Air Forces, and served 40 missions as a ball turret gunner in B-24 Liberators in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
He died at the age of 39 of a heart attack.
SABU DASTAGIR Best known Film:
SABU DASTAGIR Featured in Book:
FRED FISKE (B-24 Radio Operator/Gunner) - Senior Commentator
(?? - )
Flew 30 missions over France and Germany and served under
squadron leader, Colonel Jimmy Stewart.
Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals.
Senior Commentator at WAMU 88.5 FM radio in the greater Washington D.C. area.
Also Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWRC
(??, 1920 - March 27, 1992)
Born in the Bronx, he earned a bachelor's degree from St. John's University in 1942. He then joined the Army Air Corps, serving as a Navigator. On his 50th mission, he was shot down 26 Jun 44 while bombing the oil refinery at Moosbierbaum, Austria. He was held prisoner for a year. That experience led to his first novel, "The Prisoners of Combine D" (Holt, 1957), which won an award from the American Library Association. Mr. Giovannitti won a Peabody award for his television work. He wrote, directed and produced documentaries. For NBC he produced "The American Alcoholic," "The Hill Country: LBJ's Texas," "In White-Collar America," "The Energy Crisis" and "And Who Shall Feed This World." With Fred Freed, he was co-producer of "The Decision To Drop the Bomb," and they wrote a book with the same title. For ABC, he produced "Black Business in White America" and "Walking Hard: On Juvenile Delinquency."
He was on his 50th mission when his B-24 Liberator was shot down over Austria on 26 June 1944 and became a POW for nearly a year, in Stalag Luft III's Center Compound, including the winter march to Germany and liberation in Bavaria.
Served with the 15th AF, 455th BG, 742nd BS on
LEN GIOVANNITTI Book:
DON HERBERT (B-24 Pilot) - Actor
(July 10, 1917 - June 12, 2007)
AKA "Mr. Wizard". Watch Mr. Wizard premiered on 3 Mar 51.
Flew 56 missions and participated in the invasion of Italy. When Herbert was discharged in 1945 he was captain and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
Assigned on 18 Aug 44 and served with the
15th AF, 461st BG, 767th BS and flew 42-40592 (no name).
Shown (kneeling 2nd from right) with crew #70-2...
DON HERBERT Book:
Also Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Herbert
IRVIN KERSHNER (B-24 Navigator) - Director
(April 29, 1923 - November 27, 2010)
IRVIN KERSHNER Best known Film:
BEIRNE LAY Jr. (B-24 Pilot) - Screenwriter/Producer/Author
(September 1, 1909 - May 26, 1982)
8th AF 487 BG group commander; shot down
in Europe, but evaded capture and made it back to England.
In 1942 Capt. Beirne Lay Jr. (retired as Col.) was one of the officers who helped to form the bombing arm of the USAAF – the 8th Air Force, and in 1944 he alluded capture after his B-24 was shot down in Nazi-occupied France. When he returned to America, Lay captivated audiences with his flair for storytelling and by writing highly successful screenplays that captured the spirit of his time in Europe, and the lifestyle of American pilots, without giving way to any of the “usual Hollywood errors.”
BEIRNE LAY Jr. Books:
BEIRNE LAY Jr. Best known Film:
DELBERT MANN (B-24 Pilot) - Director
(January 30, 1920 - November 11, 2007)
Joined the Eighth Air Force, for which he completed thirty-five missions as a pilot of a B-24 bomber with the 467th BG. Later he served with the 491st BG as Intelligence Officer assisting Verle Pope, the Group Intelligence Officer.
Received Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.
Won the Academy Award in 1956 as best director for his debut feature film, Marty, which starred Ernest Borgnine.
DELBERT MANN Best known Film:
DELBERT MANN Book:
WALTER MATTHAU (B-24 Radio Operator/Gunner) - Actor/Director/Producer
(October 1, 1920 - July 1, 2000)
Born: Walter Matthow
Served as a radio
cryptographer with the 453rd Bomb Group.
SSgt Walter Matthow (not an actor at the time) served under Jimmy Stewart.
WALTER MATTHAU Aviation film:
GEORGE McGOVERN (B-24 Pilot) - United States Senator
(July 19, 1922 - October 21, 2012)
Inducted into the USAAF in 1943, sent to Europe as a B-24 Pilot (flying 35 missions). May have been on YO-YO (455th BG / 741st BS), and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Defeated by Richard M. Nixon in the 1972 presidential election.
GEORGE McGOVERN Book:
GEORGE McGOVERN Featured in:
GEORGE OLESEN (B-24 Pilot) - Cartoonist
(December, 1924 - October 15, 2013)
As a pilot of a B-24 flying "The Hump" in the Far East during WWII, he supplied a much-appreciated daily cartoon for the Officers' Mess.
From George (Himself)
"I might want to add that I actually did pencil both the daily and the Sunday Phantom. From 1962 to l984 I mainly penciled the Sunday story, and from 1984 to 1994 I penciled the daily as well the Sunday story. When Sy Barry retired in 1994, I took over and got my name on the Phantom. In June 2000 I gave up drawing the Sunday stories in order to have more leisure time, but till this day I draw the daily strip." -- George
GEORGE OLESEN Artwork:
"Little Beaver" - (Comic Book)
"Ozark Ike" - (Newspaper Sunday Comics)
"The Phantom" - (Newspaper Daily and Sunday Comics)
LEO Z. PENN (B-24 Bombardier) - Actor/Director
(August 27, 1921 - September 5, 1998)
Served with the 8th AF / 458th BG / 755th BS on "GWEN" (V1)...
Father of Sean Penn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Penn
Also Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Penn
PAUL PICERNI (B-24 Bombardier) - Actor
(December 1 1922 - January 12, 2011)
One year after enlisting in the Army Air Corps, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant Bombardier at Victorville Air Force Base in California. Flew 25 combat missions (in the China, Burma, India theater of war) and received the Air medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Was the bombardier on the plane that bombed and destroyed the real bridge made famous in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
Trained on "501" (V1)...
Served with the 10th AF, 7th BG, 493rd BS on "WANDERING WANDA" (V2)...
From Paul himself : "I was with the 493rd BS from Sep
44 until Sep 45. I was a 1st Lt Bombardier with Bob Lindquist's crew:
http://www.7thbg.org/LindquistsCrew.htm. We flew 25 combat missions and flew
gas over the "Hump" to Luliang, China. After the war I graduated from Loyola U.
in Los Angeles and became an actor in Hollywood. I made approximately 65 motion
pictures and appeared in some 500 TV shows. I starred in House of Wax, To Hell
and Back and was co-star on the TV series The Untouchables among others.
I wrote a book, recently published and it includes some of my experiences while I was with the 7th BG."
PAUL PICERNI Book:
PAUL PICERNI Best known Television Series:
PAUL PICERNI Best known Film:
CARROLL PRATT (B-24 Pilot) - Sound Engineer/Developer
(April 19, 1921 - November 11, 2010)
Carroll Holmes Pratt served with the 8th AF, 44th BG, 67th BS on "unnamed" 42-41017 (L). On 1 October 1943, 2/Lt. Carroll H. Pratt was on his 6th mission as Co-pilot with 1/Lt. Reginald L. Carpenter, flying from Oudna, Tunisia, to Wiener Neustadt, Austria, to bomb a Messerschmitt airframe plant. Became a POW and interned at Stalag Luft III. - see pages 129 and 130 of Will Lundy's "44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor and Casualties".
His Father, Carroll "Skipper" Pratt Sr., was the Chief of the Sound Department at MGM in Culver City, California at the original development of sound, and his Son, Scott Pratt, is a producer.
Won 5 Primetime Emmys. Another 10 nominations...
Developer of the "Laugh Track"
JACK R. SMIGHT (B-24 Navigator) - Director/Producer
(March 9, 1926 - September 1, 2003)
Served with the 5th AF, 90th BG, 320th BS on "OLD IRON SIDES" 42-110053 ...
From the 1950s through the 1970s, he directed episodes for series such as "Naked City," "The Twilight Zone," "Route 66," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Dr. Kildare," and "McCloud."
His movies include: • Number One With a Bullet (1987) • Kaleidoscope (1966) • Harper (1966) • La Nuit du serail • The Illustrated Man • The Secret War of Harry Frigg • No Way to Treat a Lady • Fast Break • Loving Couples • Midway • Damnation Alley • Airport 1975 • I'd Rather Be Rich • Rabbit, Run • The Third Day • The Traveling Executioner
JACK R. SMIGHT Best known Film:
Also Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Smight
JOHN STEPHENSON (B-24 Radio
Operator/Gunner) - Actor/Voice Actor
(August 9, 1923 - May 15, 2015)
TSgt. John W. Stephenson was a Radioman-Gunner:
14th Air Force / 308th Bombardment Group / 374th Bomb Squadron based in China.
Some of his A/C:
42-78680 NIGHT MISSION
44-42133 MISS LACE
44-49624 ARMORED ANGEL
44-42142 MANHATTAN MAIDEN
42-73436 UBANGI BAG III
42-109967 BUZZ-Z BUGGY
He started his acting career in numerous television shows in the 1950s and into the 1970s. He also provided the voice for commercials and cartoons of the era. Here's minute and a half of John Stephenson doing "Officer Dibble" (Top Cat), "Rock Quarry" (The Flintstones), and a "German Officer" in Hogan's Heroes (6:23-7:53): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoF__Y6gTRg&feature=youtu.be&t=6m23s
JIMMY STEWART (B-24 Pilot) - Actor
(May 20, 1908 - July 2, 1997)
Joined USAAC in 1940, was initially refused entry because he was 5 pounds under the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment officer into ignoring the test. Eventually became a Colonel, 8th AF Sqn Cmdr 703 BS 445 BG, and Ops Officer 453 BG (&rt;456 BG), awarded the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and 7 battle stars. Flew B-52 and B-58 in Vietnam. In 1959, while in the USAFR, he was promoted to BrigGenl, the highest ranking actor in military history (but would not allow his war record to be used in movies or as publicity).
Served with the 8th AF, 453rd BG, 734th BS on
"MALE CALL (V2)"...
C. O. 8th AF shown with "BETTY (V3)"...
Academy Award (1940)
AFI Lifetime Achievement Award (1980)
JIMMY STEWART Book:
JIMMY STEWART Best known film:
HARRY C. STUBBS (B-24 Pilot) - Science Fiction Writer (Pen Name "Hal Clement")
(May 30, 1922 – October 29, 2003)
Upon finishing Harvard, he entered the Army Air Corps Reserve, received pilot wings and lieutenant's commission at Steward Field, New York, in March 1944. Served with the 8th AF / 458th BG (no combat missions) then transferred to the 44th BG / 68th BS.
From 18 Aug 44 through 28 Dec 44, flew 23 combat missions as Co-Pilot. Flew 2
combat missions as Pilot...
2 Jan 45 (42-50725 unnamed)
3 Jan 45 (42-50349 FLAK MAGNET)
FLAK MAGNET (V2)
Recalled to active duty in 1951, he spent eight months as a squadron executive officer at Bolling Air Force Base and sixteen months as a technical instructor at the Armed Forces Special Weapons School in Sandia Base, New Mexico. He retired from service as a full colonel in 1976.
HARRY C. STUBBS
has published a lot of books under his Pen Name "Hal
Hal Clement Books
Since 1972, he has also painted astronomical and
science-fiction art AKA "George Richard"...
It is assumed by fans that Star Trek honored Hal by naming the U.S.S. Clement in his honor.
STEWART L. UDALL (B-24 Armorer/Gunner) - Secretary of the Interior
(January 31, 1920 - March 20, 2010)
Served with the 15th AF, 454th BG, 736thd BS on "FLYIN' HOME"...
Arizona Congressman for District 2 from 1954-1961 and as Secretary of the Interior from 1961-1969 in the administrations of President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
STEWART L. UDALL has published nine books, including...
(January 14, 1914 – December 31, 1993)
Became a Lieutenant Colonel flying military commanders. He later admitted to journalists that the one career he would have liked to follow was an airline pilot. Toward the end of his service Watson worked for Major General Follett Bradley, who suggested that he should try to follow his father at IBM. Watson regularly flew Bradley, the director of lend-lease programs to the Soviet Union, to Moscow during the war. On these trips he learned Russian, which would later serve him well as the American Ambassador to the Soviet Union.
THOMAS J. WATSON, JR. Book:
DAVID WESTHEIMER (B-24 Navigator) - Screen Writer/Author
(April 11, 1917 - November 8, 2005)
Personal experience inspired David Westheimer in the writing of Von Ryan's Express. The Houston-born writer had served with distinction in World War II as a B-24 navigator (Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal) and had been a prisoner of war both in Italy and in Germany. His recreation of the tension, the fear and the absurdities of the situation bring suspense and sharp humor to this amazing story of unlikely heroism.
Westheimer is the author of some 12 novels, the first of which -- Summer on the Water -- was published in 1948. A graduate of Rice University, he worked for the Houston Post before turning his attention to writing fulltime. His novels include Watching Out for Dulie, The Magic Fallacy and, in 1970, a sequel to Von Ryan's Express called Von Ryan's Return. Westheimer's 1965 novel My Sweet Charlie became a play and, in 1968, an acclaimed television film. The author continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve -- holding the rank of lieutenant colonel when Von Ryan's Express was published -- and returned to the Houston Post briefly to write a column (1984-88).
DAVID WESTHEIMER Best known film:
DAVID WESTHEIMER Books:
JAMES C. WRIGHT, JR. (B-24 Bombardier) - Speaker of the House
(December 22, 1922 - May 6, 2015)
Enlisted in the United States Army Air Force in December 1941; commissioned in 1942 and flew combat missions in the South Pacific; was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Served with the 5th AF, 380th BG, 530th BS on
Until his resignation on June 30, 1989, Speaker of the House of Representatives (One Hundredth and One Hundred First Congresses)
Also Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Wright
LOUIS ZAMPERINI (B-24 Bombardier) - 1936 Olympian/Inspirational Speaker
(January 26, 1917 - July 2, 2014)
Enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in September 1941, and earned a commission as a second lieutenant the following August. He was deployed to Hawaii.
Served with the 7th AF, 11th BG, 42nd BS on
"SUPER MAN" (41-23938)...
After "SUPER MAN"
was shot up, crew was assigned to "The GREEN HORNET"
Conducting a search for a lost aircraft and crew, mechanical difficulties caused "The GREEN HORNET" to crash into the ocean on 27 May 43, killing eight of the eleven aboard. The three survivors, with little food and no water, subsisted on captured rainwater and small fish eaten raw, and were strafed by patrolling Japanese aircraft on several occasions. One of the survivors died after forty days adrift.
LOUIS ZAMPERINI Book:
JOSEPH P. KENNEDY Jr. (PB4Y Pilot) - Elder brother of the future United States President, John F. Kennedy
(July 28, 1915 - August 12, 1944)
Son of the former United States ambassador to the United Kingdom, Joe Kennedy, Sr.
Lieutenant J. P. Kennedy, Jr. was killed while flying a Consolidated PB4Y-1 (Navy B-24) Liberator (Bureau No. 32271. Coded T-11) robot drone of United States Navy Squadron VB-110. The aircraft exploded in mid-air over Southern England.
He was Flying out of Fersfield-Winfarthing airfield near Diss in Norfolk, while on a top-secret RAF Special Air Unit mission officially called "Operation Aphrodite" (also known as "Project Anvil"). The crew consisted of only two men, himself and his Co-Pilot, Lieutenant Wilford J. Willy, USN.
Posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and the Air Medal for heroism.
Served with VB-110...
JOSEPH P. KENNEDY Jr. Featured in:
TYRONE POWER (PB4Y Pilot) - Actor
(May 15, 1914 - November 15, 1958)
Born: Tyrone Edmund Power Jr.
Served with VMR 353 in the Pacific.
He died of a heart attack while on set, brought on by having to carry Gina Lollobrigida up and down the stairs 40 times for retakes, while filming "Solomon and Sheba" in Madrid, Spain! (Well, if you have to go...)
TYRONE POWER Best known Film:
ROBERT STACK (PB4Y Gunnery Instructor) - Actor
(January 13, 1919 - May 14, 2003)
Born Robert Langford Modini.
Best known as TV's Eliot Ness. Began his acting career more than 60 years ago opposite Deanna Durbin in First Love (1939). He earned an Oscar nomination for Written on the Wind (1956), won an Emmy in 1960 as Ness in The Untouchables (1959-63), and served as host of TV's Unsolved Mysteries for an entire decade (1988-99).
ROBERT STACK Best known Film: