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Lucky Bastard Club Certificates


Paul S
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My Dad is also a member of the "Lucky Bastards"-he also (still) has his college diploma, several professional awards, and the LB certificate hanging on his bedroom wall-it shows how highly they regarded membership in that group. When he comes back from Florida in a month or so,I'll take a photo of it. He was in the 385th BG. As I recall, it looks a lot like the certificate at top center of the first photo in this thread.

 

edit: oops-I see you already have one for the 385th.

Hi Boyt,

 

I am pretty well fixed with a 385th example, so unless yours is an early version from 1943 or substantially different than the example I've posted, I'm O.K.

 

When you consider that the average 8th AAF crew completed only 15 missions and in my father's Group, the 447th, only about 1/3 of the crews completed a full tour, you can begin to understand just how much those certificates meant to the once-young men that earned one. It was both a certification of their accomplishment and a stark reminder of so many who didn't.

 

Paul

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Hi JD,

 

I checked with my local Wal-Mart while I was out just now and in their photo department they said they could scan and copy to a CD for $2.50. I would be willing to reimburse that cost to you. Places like Target or Staples could probably do it also. If your local bank or insurance man is handy, either of them could probably do the same and just email the scan file to you, rather than use any media at all. There shouldn't be any cost at either of those places.

 

If none of that works for you, I could try and work with a picture. The 459th would be a first for me...a 15th AAF unit that clearly dispels the notion that the LCB was an 8th AAF phenomena.

 

Paul

 

Paul,

I will get something for you. The CD thing will work. I'll get it done and mail it off to you. PM me your details. Don't worry about the reimbursement!

Here's a quick shot of the 459th Certificate which has since been removed from the frame and better preserved.

 

006-14.jpg

 

Just a question, since these are items from my personal collection, I'm just curious what the images will be used for?

 

Regards,

 

JD

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is unusual to see a mission listing on one of these certificates. The following list is from a very early certificate that lists missions extending back into mid 1943.

 

That second one on the list was the first Regensburg shuttle mission led by General LeMay where the bomber force continued on to land in North Africa. They lost 60 of 376 bombers on the mission...a loss of about 16% of the force. Six more days like that one, and we would have been without an Air Force. This was the story films like "Twelve O'Clock High" and "Command Decision" did a pretty good job of portraying.

 

This man flew during the time the Eighth was still trying to figure how best to attack and were taking fearful losses. Apparently they granted some relief to this crew on the second Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission in October. Veterans of that second one reported that they didn't need any navigation to find their way back home...just follow the line of burning wrecks on the ground!

 

The recipient of this certificate thought his 16th mission to Munster was his toughest.

post-3515-1268854706.jpg

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It is unusual to see a mission listing on one of these certificates. The following list is from a very early certificate that lists missions extending back into mid 1943.

 

Fascinating thread! Can you imagine how tough the 17 days between his 24th and 25th missions must have been? Most of the other missions had a day...or two...or a week in between them. But to wait nearly three weeks for your last mission, right before Christmas and not knowing if it might be your last...last...mission.

 

Dave

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Fascinating thread! Can you imagine how tough the 17 days between his 24th and 25th missions must have been? Most of the other missions had a day...or two...or a week in between them. But to wait nearly three weeks for your last mission, right before Christmas and not knowing if it might be your last...last...mission.

 

Dave

 

Dave,

 

Thanks, and you've made a good observation about the delay between those last missions.

 

Thinking about the experience those guys had led me to think of them like a flock of geese, high up, flying in close formation, with the hunters below firing away at them. I did a detailed analysis of my father's Group and their missions and noticed that there were very few days when they lost a lot of planes, but there were a lot of days when they lost one or two. While the statistics were not broadcast widely by the commanders, the kids flying those planes quickly developed a pretty good feel for what was going on...especially those who came back to a hut with empty cots that were occupied the night before.

 

I can hardly imagine the pressure on them...every mission.

 

You would be surprised how frequently a man was lost on his last mission. And there was a reason for it...members of a crew rarely reached the end of their required missions at the same time because they had either flown a differing number of orientation missions at the beginning of their tour, or had flown a fill-in mission now and then, or illness, or... What happened then was that often a man reaching his last mission would be assigned to a new crew flying one of their first missions. Due to their inexperience, new crews were lost in disproportionate numbers to the veterans. I noted one day in my father's Group where something like 8 new crews flew their first mission...to Berlin...3 of them were lost; 3 others flying their second or third mission were also lost; nearly 1/3 of the launched Group didn't come back from that one. I don't know how many guys were filling in on those lost crews that were trying to get their last mission in; however, I wager there were some.

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Here is some artwork from a storied Group in the Eighth. I think it shows how some of the guys viewed themselves and their slot in the 'big picture". Note that it was done at the Squadron level, so this may have been an unofficial, unofficial document, if you know what I mean.

post-3515-1268924327.jpg

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Looks like the 20th AAF got into the act as well. I lifted this image from a Ebay auction last week.

 

20thAAFLBCCERT.jpg

 

So we now know certificates were done in the 8th AAF, 15th AAF, and 20th AAF. In the 8th AAF obviously these were more common place, but now there are many more squadrons that may have been involved besides just those in England or even the ETO.

 

JD

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Looks like the 20th AAF got into the act as well.

 

So we now know certificates were done in the 8th AAF, 15th AAF, and 20th AAF. In the 8th AAF obviously these were more common place, but now there are many more squadrons that may have been involved besides just those in England or even the ETO.

 

JD

 

I've found several Groups in the 15th that issued them, none in the 9th. In fact I've gotten a few pithy responses from veterans that all they got was a cot on a 4-deep rack aboard a troop transport home...one said he was simply given terse orders that said he was reassigned to the Zone of the Interior (USA) and told to find his own transportation! Talk about cannon fodder. Actually one of the WWII veterans that wrote about his views of military service a long time ago referred to himself and his buddies as "Chattel of the Government," James Jones, I think he was a Marine.

 

That the practice found its way to the 20th AAF is understandable because AAF staff was being removed from Europe by Fall 1944, or maybe even earlier, for reassignment to the Pacific. So, they most likely took these ideas with them along with the rest of their experience.

 

PS

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  • 1 month later...
F 106 Pilot

I try to do what I say I am going to do. Even if it takes me 14 months, kinda slow I know. Here is the 388th Lucky Bastard I Know you don't need it now, but I found it today so thought I would put it on.Sorry to be so slow. Ben

post-4101-1272678736.jpg

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Thanks for posting, Ben. That is a very nice certificate. As time permits, I do some research on the names of the signers to see if there is anything of further interest there. Often there's not, but sometimes a remarkable story develops. Thanks again for sharing.

Paul

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I'm looking for a period picture or two similar to the one below taken from the film, "Memphis Belle" for use in illustrating my work on this subject. Anyone have one to share?

post-3515-1273687218.jpg

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...
I'm looking for a period picture or two similar to the one below taken from the film, "Memphis Belle" for use in illustrating my work on this subject. Anyone have one to share?

Here is a picture I found of a gentleman who flew as a tail gunner in the 95th. It was taken during a recent reunion and conveys as well as anything I've seen, the attachment those guys developed for their Lucky Bastard Club certificates and cards...he's probably 85 or so, and that card is at least 65-years young. God bless these men...I never miss an opportunity to say something to one of them when I see them out wearing their IMAVET hats...usually at the food store.

 

For any younger readers here in this forum, if you've ever wondered what a real hero looks like, this gentleman is close enough.

post-3515-1285618395.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Hello,

 

Fantastic post, thanks everyone ! :thumbsup:

 

Here is a Lucky Bastard Club diploma I have.

Unfortunately, no name or unit.

B-17 heavy bombers in Europe, that's all I can guess.

It came with a flexible gunnery school diploma (Yuma Airfield) named to Edward P. Fortun (37098139), if it can help to find the unit ?

 

5179267639_05478208ed_b_d.jpg

 

(sorry for the quality of the picture... :crying:, it's good enough to be read, but if someone needs a better picture, I can take another one)

 

Tim

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I've seen one other certificate of this design named to a gunner in the 447th bomb group. It was apparently used at the end of the war after original supplies of their principal design and perhaps photo technicians who made the originals had gone.

 

In some ways I sense in the wording of these late war certificates a kind of relief and reflection that is absent in earlier war certificates. The earlier war certificates are worded with more bravado, as if they hadn't yet understood how dangerous their work really was.

 

A similar background image was used by the 493rd for their LBCs although the wording was much different as was the color. The 493rd was the last or one of the last bomb groups assigned to the ETO.

 

Thanks for posting...the wording is terrific.

 

 

PS

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As the son of a WWII airman and a veteran of Vietnam myself, I had the relatively unusual experience of being in close proximity to first hand opinions relating to participation in both wars. Maturing in California during the Vietnam period, I had the additional experience of the emotional intensity of resistance to our undertaking in Vietnam that was raging there.

 

As I'm sure most readers would know, Heller's Catch-22 became a huge hit with the Vietnam generation. Joseph Heller was a WWII bombardier based in Italy and was one of that war's veterans who came away from his experience not altogether supportive of what he had participated in. Catch-22 was not popular with his own WWII generation because most of them were red, white, and blue patriots like my father. However, within my generation, the prospect of forced participation in a war with murky goals and even murkier causes ignited a firestorm of protest.

 

I read the book at age 21 or thereabout and found the humor hilarious as it tended to match my sense of humor at that age. However I was disappointed with the film which did not follow the book very closely. Nevertheless, the film produced some images that I still find amusing and the picture below is one of them.

 

Yossarian, the bombardier, had come to the conclusion that his group commander was a sociopath, his targets were of no value, and the missions utterly useless in terms of strategic importance...except that he could easily get killed on any one of them. That rendered, in his mind, the performance of his duties to a matter of simple survival rather than pinpoint accuracy. It was not beyond him to release his bombs before the target and scream to the pilot, "turn--turn---turn" (and get the heck out of there). This frame shows that moment in the film. He also took his helmet off and sat on it to provide some additional protection from ground fire. Someone told him that it could help. Anyway, here is that amusing picture; I think it fits this thread.

post-3515-1290011166.jpg

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  • 3 months later...

Here's a recent find that fits the thread. It came from one of the early groups...guess the message is that they didn't get their a** shot off.

post-3515-1299458536.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

Hello,

 

I don't know if your research has been further Paul, but just in case you're still looking for a Lucky Bastard Club from the 493rd BG, here is one I've recently bought :

 

7650020980_a4541ee766_c_d.jpg

 

Made of paper, it looks like has been printed in black and white.

 

Tim

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  • 4 years later...

Before the LBC, this was the earliest version of a certificate issued by the 8th AF for completing 25 missions. I have only seen 2 of these and they are from 1943 and signed by General Eaker

 

image.jpeg

 

image.jpeg

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