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"There I Was...The WARTIME MEMORIES" by Bob Crouse
Oct.2010 | USA
There I Was ... The WARTIME MEMORIES of a Fledgling Birdman.
When five-year-old Robert Crouse saw a 1910 Curtis pusher biplane fly over his hometown in Tennessee, he was immediately mesmerized. After he watched the plane gently land behind the trees a short distance from his house, he informed anyone who would listen that one day he would fly a plane just like that one. In his memoir There I Was …, Crouse chronicles how his fascination with airplanes grew throughout his childhood and eventually led him on an unforgettable journey as a young airman during World War II. When Crouse was a seventeen-year-old high school senior, the United States became firmly embroiled in World War II. Although he was too young and suffered from a congenital heart condition, Crouse could hardly wait to get into uniform. As Crouse recounts the details of how he was eventually drafted in 1943 despite his medical challenges and later flew thirty-one missions in B-25s, he provides a real-life glimpse into what it was like for thousands of young men to serve their country in perilous times. There I Was … couples historical photographs with personal anecdotes and provides a captivating narrative sure to entertain World War II and airplane buffs alike. ******************************************************
A Review; Bob's "Story" is an excellent well-written true story that has you feeling as if you were actually right there. Read as his journey takes him through some tough times along with other American Fly-Boys as they learn how to deal with very real and deadly serious suituations. Learning to follow and then to lead others into COMBAT Missions and live to tell the tale. These Missions were risky, unpredictible and extremely important. There were no Missions or Target's that were not critical to the outcome of the War..... We needed every one and our boys went out and back out until all were successful. The price paid was unimaginable.
Then finding humor in the smallest amusing event, for without humor... none would have made it back. . . . . and bonding with others they barely knew for the good of the whole world. "Trust" America during WWII coined the term "Every Day Heroes". . . because there were Heroes in every suituation but not a single ONE was ordinary.
You will enjoy reading this honest account of WWII events, the coping mechanisms that our "boys" used . . . our "Every Day Heroes" and most especially learn about this extra-ordinary B-25 Pilot who invented a few of his own methods along the way to winning the war. This is a great read with an amazing account of the state of our Country when were entered the war and through the "War Years".
Barbara Ennis Connolly, WWII 57th Bomb Wing Historical Researcher. 10 Nov. 2010
Lt Bob Crouse, 310th Bomb Group, 379th BS
1944 | Corsica
Robert S Crouse was born 14 June, 1924. . . in Gibson County, Tennessee.
14 June of every year is "FLAG DAY" and Bob was born to be Patriotic ! His Enlistment Recorts show he was accepted into the Army on 3 April, 1943 at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Now, as per the CORRECT order :)
Induction and classification - Ft. Oglethorpe, GA Basic training - Miami Beach (life was tough in those days) CTD (college training) - Beloit College, Beloit, WI Classification and Pre-flight - Santa Ana, CA Primary Flight training - Claiborne Flight Academy, Wickenburg, AZ Basic Flight training - Minter Field, Bakersfield, CA Advanced Flight training - Mather Field, Sacramento, CA Overseas (Transition) training - Greenville Army Air Base, Greenville, SC The Over-seas Transition Training was a "Crash Course" at Greenville, SC in the B-25's just prior to going over-seas. (Pun intneded ;) This was the 334thBG "Aid From Above" Auxillum Ab Alto ! And they were going to need it ! Flying into the Brenner Pass on any day was no picnic and that "Aid From Above" would see them home on a Wing and a Prayer many-a-day. Most of the current generation are completely unaware that our Boys, for the most part....never climbed into a B-25 until just before they flew over ! Many also never flew in one, much less pilot her until they arrived "over-there ! They were mostly trained in B-26's, the B-25's being built were needed imm. in the Theatre, where-ever that was ! At the 334thBG, Greenville, Bob was assigned to the 310th BG that was on Corsica, however upon arrival he would then have been assigned to the squadron that needed a new pilot the most. New-bee's were buddied up with "seasoned" Combat Pilots, oddly, that could have applied to a guy who had as few as "several" Missions...... the new buddy would then learn about Combat as he flew straight into it !
334thBG, Greenville, NC - B 25's "Auxillium Ab Alto" "AID FROM ABOVE"
Many made Friends for life, but as we all too well know, many of them did not come home. All War is Hell, but the necessity of it to save the World can fire up men from every walk of life, and that includes the little-guy in the back who keeps an eye on the newest puppy while peeling potatoes and praying for ALL ships to return each and every Mission. -B
(More to come - Barbi Ennis Connolly)
"Bob" Crouse, 310thBG, 379thBS WW II B-25 Mitchells
2009 | Tenn
Bob writes his own Story :) 14 Oct. 2009.I was born on a farm just outside of Rutherford, Tenn. I was the youngest of seven, five sisters and one brother. My parents names were Alice and Charles, better known in the community as "Miss Alice and Mr. Charlie." In that part of Tenn. the cash crop was cotton. We also raised hogs, chickens, dairy and beef cattle. You see, we were pretty self sufficient. We raised most of what we ate and depended on the stores for staples and dry goods. My wife, Laverda, was my high school sweetheart and we were married in Corinth, Miss. the day before I reported for active duty in the Army. We were fortunate in that she was able to be with me while I was in Bakersfield, Sacramento and Greenville. The story of the wives of servicemen in WW II is pretty much untold. They were amazing! They would travel from base to base on their own, secure living quarters and show up at our first time off looking as beautiful as brides. The sacrifices they made were awesome and they were not recognized by the public as they should have been. They made our lives more livable with their presence. Our first child, Betty, was born while I was in Corsica. We have two boys, Dan, who was born in 1949, while I was still in the University of Tennessee. Our second son,Terry, was born in 1953, after I had been working at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. for four years. I graduated from the University of Tenn., Knoxville, in 1949 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and worked as a metallurgist at ORNL for 391/2 yrs. I was involved in the development of materials and alloys for several nuclear reactor projects and found the development of new materials extremely interesting and exciting. I retired Jan. 1, 1989, to a life of leisure, travel and church work.
2008 | USA
From Bob Crouse to Barbi Ennis Connolly (The gift of an AAC silk Scarf) June '08 Princess, I apologize for being so dilatory in thanking you for the beautiful scarf, but I've found myself somewhat distracted lately as I sit at the computer. I just became a great grandpa recently (Betty's Grandson) and I tend to get wrapped up in the pictures that seem to keep showing up in my mail.
*** That is just the kind of scarf I wish I had had when I was flying, especially in Primary. The watchword constantly repeated was, "Keep your head on a swivel" That meant to keep looking all around; back right, down right, up right, scan the instruments, up left, down left, back left, then do it all over in reverse. This instruction had an extremely important function. You never knew when the enemy or a bone-headed cadet might be bearing down on you and you didn't want to be caught concentrating on your instruments or staring straight ahead. You can imagine, all that twisting and turning would soon rub your neck raw. So you see, a good scarf was far more than a piece of apparel to make you look dashing. It served a very utilitarian purpose. Thanks again. I shall treasure it. Regards, Bob
Barbi is a 57th BW Researcher and the Historian for her own Dad/Ed's 321st BG. PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com (Additions ? Questions ?)
Bob is a very special Vet and friend to me, I love the men and enjoy recording their great stories/experiences for all time ! xo Barbi
1943 | Tenn.
Bob Crouse Story; I was drafted into the Army on 3 Apr 43, and after a week's leave to wind up personal affairs I reported to Ft. Oglethorpe, GA for classification and assignment. In 1943, the AAF pretty much had first call on any warm bodies so I was sent to Miami Beach for Basic Training, after which I was to go to air crew training as a radioman, engineer or armorer. About half way through basic I wangled an appointment to the Aviation Student program which included a short stint in college at Beloit College, WI. From there it was to Classification and Pre-Flight at Santa Ana, CA. I was classified Pilot and after Pre-Flight went to Primary Flight Training at the Claiborne Flight Academy, Wickenburg, AZ. Do you know where that is? Basic Flight Training was at Minter Field, Bakersfield, CA, where I was put into multi-engines half way through. From there our class, 44-G, entered B-25 training at Mather Field, Sacramento, CA, and was graduated 4 Aug 44. I was commissioned a 2nd Lt. After a three weeks leave at home in Rutherford, TN, I was assigned to the Greenville Army Air Base, Greenville, SC for overseas training. This was a 90 day course and was the place where I joined the air crew that I was to fly with for the rest of the war. I was rated co-pilot. We trained together, for the most part, but each of us received individualized training in our specialty. I flew the left seat(first pilot) just about as much as co-pilot. At the conclusion of this phase of my training I, with the rest of my crew, shipped to Hunter Field, Savannah, GA, pick up a brand new B-25. We were to take it, via the Southern ATC Route to the Mediterranean Theater. We actually left the U. S. from the air base at West Palm Beach, FL on 31 Dec 44. This route took us to Puerto Rico, Georgetown, British Guiana ; Belem, Brazil; Natal, Brazil; Ascension Is; Roberts Field, Liberia; Marrakech, Morocco; Oran, Nigeria; Naples, Italy, where we turned in our plane and were subsequently assigned to the 379th BS, 310th BG(M) stationed at Ghisonnaccia Gare, Corsica. I began flying combat 31 Jan 45, as co-pilot with Capt. Fitzsimmons. For my first 14 missions I flew with some to the "top guns" of the 379th, Jones, Jacobs, Allison and Shirley. On mission 15 I rejoined my crew and flew out the rest of the war(31 missions, total). Just as the war ended I was promoted to 1st Lt. and made First Pilot. Since the war was over I did not get a crew of my own but flew practice missions with whoever happened to be on the flight line. Most of our time was spent just loafing around and wondering what was going to happen next. Since the war was still hot on the other side of the world, we assumed that those of us with significant combat time would probably retrain in A-26s and be shipped to the Pacific. As it turned out, our crew was sent home earlier than some with more combat time for that very reason. We left Fano, Italy, in a battle-scarred bird on 1 Jul; 45 and retraced our route of six months earlier, arriving at Hunter Field on 10 Jul 45. From there we all scattered to our homes for a 30 day leave, and then to return to active duty and who knew what else. As it happened, I left Ft. MacPherson, GA, for Goldsboro, NC, on VJ-Day . There we reassembled and pondered our fate for three weeks. We were not encouraged to stay in the Army, although not actively discouraged. I thought about making the Army a career, but they would only guarantee about a year of active duty, and since I did not have an MOS of great interest to the Army, plus the fact that I had a five months old daughter and a high school education, I opted the take my GI Bill to the University of Tennessee and pursue a career in Chemical Engineering. This was probably the wisest decision I ever made, second to marrying my high school sweetheart the day before entering the Army, that is. After receiving my BS in Ch. E. in June, 1949, I went to work at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, and remained there until retirement on Jan. 1, 1989. We raised three children, a girl and two boys, watched them grow up and get married, have their own families giving us six grandchildren and one soon to be great grandson. All in all, my life has proceeded more successfully than I ever could have imagined 65 years ago. From age 5 I wanted to fly for the USAAF, and in high school decided I wanted to be chemical engineer and live out my life in contentment with the wife I love dearly. See how things work out when you let God have the reins? Regards, Bob (as told to Barbi Ennis Connolly, 24 April, 2008)