Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Army 1
1921 1
Ohio 1

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Pictures & Records (6)

Robert lies peacefully in the Southern Arozona Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Robert lies peacefully in the Southern Arozona Veterans Memorial Cemetery
THis is the Chevron that CMSGT Shank would have worn (now obsolete)
THis is the Chevron that CMSGT Shank would have worn (now obsolete)
CMSGT Robert E Shank
CMSGT Robert E Shank
Lt. Robert E Shank, WWII B-26 Pilot with the 17th BG and during KOREA he was a Douglas A-26 Pilot-instructor. CMSgt (Ret). NOT Viet Nam.... that engraving is an error.
US AAC B-26 Pilot, Lt Robert E Shank (Shot-down/POW) Portrait in 1944.
US AAC B-26 Pilot, Lt Robert E Shank (Shot-down/POW) Portrait in 1944.
320th BG B-26 on CORSICA -319th BG.jpg
320th BG B-26 on CORSICA -319th BG.jpg
B-17 42-96002 Tail BN 45, Corsica, 17th BG.1.jpg
B-17 42-96002 Tail BN 45, Corsica, 17th BG.1.jpg

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Personal Details

Robert E Shank 1
Level of Education: 4 years of high school 1
Marital Status: Single, without dependents 1
1921 1
Ohio 1
Place: Meigs County, Ohio 1

World War II 1

Army 1
Enlistment Date:
23 Jan 1941 1
Army Branch:
Air Corps 1
Army Component:
Regular Army (including Officers, Nurses, Warrant Officers, and Enlisted Men) 1
Army Serial Number:
15016851 1
Enlistment Place:
Ft Hayes Columbus Ohio 1
Source of Army Personnel:
Civil Life 1
Actors and actresses 1
Race or Ethnicity:
White 1
Source Information:
Box Number: 0175 1
Film Reel Number: 2.32 1

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Lt Robert E Shank, B-26 Pilot 17thBG, 95thBS MTO


US AAC B-26 Pilot, Lt Robert E Shank (Shot-down/POW) Portrait in 1944.

Robert E Shank

Lt Robert E Shank was a B-26 Pilot during WWII with the 17th Bomb Group, 95th Bomb Squadron and was shot down over Bergamo, Italy on the way to the Target of Villacidro Airdrome, Italy....  It appears that Lt Robert Shank, Lt Robt. Burch, S/Sgt Nelson Clairmont, S/Sgt Warren Tupper and Sgt Samuel Tracy were all MIA and eventually "Returned to Duty". .. . . . . while Lt Vernon Morris and S/Sgt Robt. O'Donnell were KIA.

   The date was 9 August, 1944 and they were shot-down in the B-26 C-45 MO #42-107788  (On a personal note, 9 August was Lt Shank's wife Allerga's Birthday and she was pregnant with their 1st son while he was on his way to the German Stalag Luft VII-A in Germany.)

  The MIA went to Robert's father Wilbur E Shank at Letart Falls, OHIO.

World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938 - 1946;  ARMY SERIAL NUMBER 15016851  
DATE OF ENLISTMENT DAY 23  Jan. 1941 as a Pvt in the AC# Air Corps 
EDUCATION  4 years of high school  CIVILIAN OCCUPATION  Actors and actresses
MARITAL STATUS  Single, without dependents

POW;  Records of World War II Prisoners of War, created 1942 - 1947
GRADE CODE G  Second Lieutenant;   SERVICE CODE  ARMY  AC  Air Corps    AC: AIR CORPS 
STATE OF RESIDENCE  Ohio     AREA  European Theatre 
LATEST REPORT DATE: 08 June, 1945  STATUS  Returned to Military Control, Liberated or Repatriated 
DETAINING POWER GERMANY  CAMP 013  Stalag 7A Moosburg Bavaria 48-12
(Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse 48011, Work Camp 3368 Munich 48-11)  REP      
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/05/1921  DATE OF DEATH: 09/26/2004 

*****NOT Viet Nam*****Robert's Service to his Country ran into the Viet Nam era but he never served in Viet Nam******************************

... the engraving on Robert's gravestone in incorrect.  He was a B-26 Marauder Pilot during WWII in the Mediterranean Theatre based out of Sicily (Island at the toe of the mainland, S/W coast of Italy). 

  After WWII he was re-enlisted as a Douglas A-26 PILOT-Instructor in the Korean War.

INFORMATION is being supplied by Robert's proud son Bob Shank, Jr. of Tucson, AZ.  Bob is the eldest of Robert and Allegra Lee (Fadley) Shank's six children;   Robert Earl Shank, Jr.(H/R MIssile Systems),  Lowell Shank (Special OP's, AF Blue Beret, deceased),  Thomas Eric "Tom" Shank (Sgt. VN Vet),  Wayne Shank (Capt./Rural Metro Fire Dept),  brother Jan Lance Shank (Capt./ Scottsdale Fire Dept) and a daughter Allegra "Alex" Leona Shank.

     Bob Jr. served on the Board of Directors of the B-26 Marauder Historical Society (Tucson, home of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Pima Air Museum) for a while as their Executive Secretary.  Bob knows just a 'little bit' about 'airplanes' - having studied them, built and flown radio-controlled models, earned his private pilot's license at the age of 27, worked for United Airlines for 9 years, Gates Learjet for 2 years, and Hughes/Raytheon Missile Systems for 26 years ...he completely understand airplane aerodynamics!

     *** Robert Sr. must have been incredibly proud of his children, having left an enduring Legacy and continued love of Aircraft in his children and extended family. ***


CMSgt Robert Shank


CMSGT Robert E Shank;  ( Robert Shanks Title CMSgt (Retired) )

Sierra Vista Herald; Sierra Vista, Arizona on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 10:39 AM MDT
 Chief Master Sgt. Robert Earl Shank   Nov. 5, 1921 - Sept. 26, 2004
    Chief Master Sgt. Robert Earl Shank, 82, of Sierra VIsta passed away Sunday, Sept. 26, 2004.
 Robert was born in Letart Falls, Ohio on Nov. 5, 1921.   He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Allegra Lee Fadely; four sons, Robert Earl Jr., Thomas Eric, Wayne Sidney and Jan Lance; and a daughter,
Allegra (Alex) Leona;   He was preceded in death by a son, Lowell Lewis.   A career Air Force enlisted man, 1st Lt. Bob Shank became a pilot from the beginning.  After extensive training in Texas and Florida, at 21 he was ultimately assigned pilot-in-command of a seven-man B-26 bomber crew fighting in the
Mediterranean theatre out of Sardinia.
    Shot down after "delivering the pizza" over Bergamo-Seriate Aerodrome, he
survived the German Stalag Luft III and Stalag Luft VII prison camps, and was
eventually liberated by Patton's 14th Armored Division in April, 1945. He
was much decorated.    After WWII, Bob became the NCOIC of the 99th Field Maintenance Squadron,
99th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force at Westover AFB, Mass. maintaining B-52 bombers.
     Retired in June, 1963, he moved the family to Tucson, Ariz., where his wife
continued her teaching career until her retirement.    Born Again, Mother's Day, 1993, he was a member of Casas Adobes Baptist Church, Tucson, and Thunder Mountain Community Church, Sierra Vista.
     Revered for his integrity and leadership by his air crews in combat, respected by his civilian employers and much loved by family and friends, Bob Shank was a dedicated family man and loving husband.
 His favorite charities were the Marshall Foundation for Men and the Goodwill organization.
      His immediate and deeply-extended family - including great-granddaughter Salena Meske, grandchildren Sarah Leann Shank, Randee Lee Meske, Tawna LeeAnn Nicoll, Katie Lynn Shank, Amelia Marie and Joseph Daniel Shank - are forever grateful of his devotion and faithfulness.
     His long-time, next-door and faithful neighbors, Sal and Lyda Garcia, the
parents of his son-in-law and extant grandchildren, celebrate his sunny day'

Peace was his profession - and now his possession.   Arrangements entrusted to Jensen's Sierra Vista Mortuary. *********************************************

U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006   Name: Robert E Shank   Birth: 5 Nov 1921  Death: 26 Sep 2004
Military: 23 Jan 1941   Military: 30 Jun 1963

Name:   Robert E Shank   Service Info.: CMSGT US AIR FORCE WORLD WAR II, KOREA
Birth Date: 5 Nov 1921   Death Date: 26 Sep 2004   Service Start Date: 23 Jan 1941
Interment Date: 29 Sep 2004  Cemetery: Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Cemetery Address: 1300 Buffalo Soldier Trail Sierra Vista, AZ 85635


Historical notes on the TITLE ***CMSgt.***

Although the Air Force had been an independent service since 1947, the rank of Chief Master Sergeant did not come into being until the authorization of the Military Pay Act of 1958.  It wasn't until late 1958 that the title of Chief Master Sergeant (and the accompanying rank insignia) was decided upon.

The original Chief Master Sergeant rank insignia (1958–1994) consisted of 2 chevrons on top, 3 stripes in the middle, and 3 rockers on bottom.


Lt Robt. Shank, B-26 Pilot in 17th BG, 'shot-down/ POW


   Robert  was shot-down 9 August, 1944 and was taken prisoner and was placed at Stalag Luft III;  On thje way, the jeep driver in charge of Robert bought some peaches which he shared with him, as well as actually stopping at a small village and having a beer!  The Greman Guards in charge of Officers treated these men very differently than the regular Army, they respected the American pilots.  

    In January of 1945, Robert along with thousands of other men were forced to march in the snow, with little or no food, and no where near adequate clothing or shelter.... UP the mountains into Germany where they were plaaced in different camps.  Robert and other Officers were taken to Stalag Luft 7A at Mooseburg.   Patton liberated this camp in April, 1945.

DETAINING POWER GERMANY CAMP 013 Stalag 7A Moosburg Bavaria 48-12
(Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse 48011, Work Camp 3368 Munich 48-11)

1st)  Stalag Luft III

2nd)  Stalag VII-A (in full: Kriegsgefangenen-Mannschafts-Stammlager VII-A) was Germany's largest prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, located just north of the town of Moosburg in southern Bavaria. The camp covered an area of 35 hectares (86 acres). It served also as a transit camp through which prisoners, including officers, were processed on their way to other camps. At some time during the war, prisoners from every nation fighting against Germany passed through it. At the time of its liberation on 29 April 1945, there were about 80,000 prisoners in the camp, mostly from France and the Soviet Union.  Many others were billeted in Arbeitskommando working in factories, repairing railroads or on farms.

Bob Shank Jr.

Tucson, AZ

When dad signed up to join the Army Air Corps, he registered his 'false' occupation as an 'actor' (he didn't know what else to sign-up as - although he had been one on occasion in high-school and good-enough for an AAF enlistment). As he told me, years later, when he first heard, then saw, a pilot flying over his neighborhood in a biplane, he straightened-up from picking tomatos on his own dad's patch up-against the black-bottomed soil next to the Ohio River, and immediately knew that was the 'work' for him.

One of my favorite remembrances with my dad was when we went to visit the 'B-26 kiosk' at the Pima Air & Space Museum here in Tucson [there is a large, perfectly-assembled, painted and decorated, radio-controlled model of a Martin B-26 Marauder there under a plexiglass cube in one of the display hangers]. Marauder history confirms the model was built by Jack Gordon, and that he was 'specifically encouraged' by his mates NEVER TO FLY that model (lest he crash it), but to donate it instead. While tearfully admiring it - and after a touching and poignant moment - he pointed out to me how he and 5 of his crew exited that plane before it's final demise through the bomb-bay doors of the aircraft over northern Italy. Two of his crew went down with the plane, frozen in fear...

[...and here's where the story gets a little more interesting...]

Within this last year, April 22nd, my sister Alex in Sierra Vista, AZ (90 miles southeast of my Tucson hometown), received a mail-post from a man in the Po Valley, northern Italy. Agostino Alberti ('Ago') and his volunteer crew, had discovered the wreckage-site of our father's B-26 Marauder -- in addition to having found a now 82 year-old witness to the crash. After searching via the I-Net from abroad within the MACR (Missing Air Crew Reports) database at Maxwell AFB, Alabama - and with the assistance of two women, Barbara Connolly (Flagstaff, AZ) and her sister Patti (Cincinnati, OH), who also do 'military aircraft crash research - Ago had posted his letter to my aging and terminally-ill mother, Allegra, living in Sierra Vista under my sister and brother-in-law's care. When my sister opened the letter and read it, she was amazed. Dumb-founded. She immediately rushed to our mother's bedside to read the news to her.......... Regretably, in the meantime, our mother had just passed away in her bed. Heart-broken, my sister then called me to tell of these dramatic and incredible events. Our mom had passed away moments before hearing of Ago's find of her husband's aircraft 68 years later....

[When you hear something like that - especially as the oldest brother, and now the latest Caretaker of your remaining siblings - you have to wipe the tears from your cheeks, bolster-up your 'stones', get your act together, and perform like the man you've never been before. Believe me when I say, it's an education unto itself.]

But, as Paul Harvey is wont to say, "Here's the REST of the story!"

Within his personal note to our mother on that fateful day, Agostino had expressed within his letter to her his 'deep condolences' (all this in his very-readable English) to inform her that her husband had perished in the crash of his B-26 over Bergamo-Seriate Airfield on his crews' mission that day, August 09th, 1944 (her birthday), and that he was 'very sorry' to inform us of his death. The MACR reports he'd received from Maxwell AFB were in error...

Meanwhile, after my sister had informed me of Agostino's letter and the content within it, I quickly drafted an e-mail to him in Italy (kindly-enough within his post, he'd included his e-mail address), that our father had indeed 'escaped' the crash by bailing-out through the bomb-bay doors of his B-26, had been liberated from over a year in the German Luft-camps by Patton's army, and had, at the end of the war, gone on to live another 61 years while siring five others of my younger siblings. When Ago received my news he was, as you can guess, completely overwhelmed - and said so in his reply to me. Subsequently, I sent Ago a copy of my mom and dad's book ('Bob and Allegra - A World War II Memoir' ~privately published by Kinkos in Tucson). Upon ultimately receiving the packet by snail-mail in Italy, he was SO grateful and extended his deep friendship to me via Facebook.

Ago and I now share with each other via e-mail and FB. You can explore his incredible work by visiting his web-site at:

~Bob Shank Jr., Tucson AZ,






17th Bomb Group

On Corsica. (Please see two pictures, 1) 17th BG and 2) B-26 Tail 45.

This panel of the 17th bomber group, placed at the entrance of the airfield of puretã, the daddy of them all = the father of all, explained an important page of history of the army of the United States air. Indeed this group had been the first to bomb the city of Tokyo April 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor December 1941. First equipped with b-25 Mitchell, these planes had taken off of the door plane USS Hornet and several Of these men were found affected in corsica in 1944. Then the 17th found himself assigned to poretta from September to November 1944.
This is a superb b-26 Martin Marauder waiting at poretta (Photo courtesy of Gregory Pons)  Translation from French Historian/Island of Corsica, Dominique Taddei


B-17 Photo, Tail 45 ;

42-96003 (17th BG, 37th BS, 1st Tactical Air Force) shot down by AAA 1.5 km S of Cell am Harmersbach, Germany Dec 24, 1944. MACR 11594. 5 crew killed, one bailed out and became POW.

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