Memorial Day


I don’t remember much of the Second World War although I was alive for all of it. I can remember being taught some of the WWII songs, like “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Mairzy Doats.”

Most of the friends and relatives of military age went in and most returned after it was over. Not all did and the man in Bud Kerrison’s squadron who sent me the medals in the photo, was shot down and killed before I received them.


Here, I am saluting Bud Kerrison before he went overseas. He had completed bombardier training. He served in the North African Theater and flew 50 missions, from June 1943 to January, 1944. He served in The 301st Bomb Group, 352nd Squadron.

His B 17 was named by the pilot, “Spirit of Phyllis” after his girlfriend or wife and also after an earlier plane that had crash landed in England, named “Phyllis.”

Bud's plane

There is “Phyllis” after the crash landing in England.

When the war ended, the guys all came home and my parents had parties for them.


That is one of the parties in 1946. My father is behind the bar and Bud Kerrison is also behind the bar with Pat Neary who would later marry a friend of Bud’s named Frank Flanagan. Frank stayed in Chicago after that although his father had been Chief of Detectives in Philadelphia. Pat’s father was an Inspector in the Chicago PD so they were a police family. I have previously recounted the story of Frank.

Well, we all get old. Bud did too and is gone now.


There he is with his kids who are now all grown. I would love to have been able to take him up in a B 17 as I did my son for a birthday present a few years ago.

B 17 nose and Joe

There’s Joe in what had been Bud’s “office” as Dana Andrews described in in the pivotal scene of “The Best Years of Our Lives. “

13 thoughts on “Memorial Day”

  1. Those are great photos. Thanks for sharing them, and the Sledge link. When I was in my twenties, just out of the service. I worked with an guy who had been at Okinawa. He never talked much about it (most of them didn’t, I found) but I do remember him saying that they had to use gasoline to get them out of the caves, and that he was glad when it was over.

  2. “. He never talked much about it (most of them didn’t, I found) but I do remember him saying that they had to use gasoline to get them out of the caves, and that he was glad when it was over.”

    yea so what do think about islamic slpodeydopes?

  3. The Sledge book is excellent. And I read that he wrote it as sort of a carthetic exercise. Not until the 1980s when he was a professor if I remember correctly. And some of the stuff he wrote about combat has stayed with me. I think it was the losses on Okinawa that convinced Truman that he should use the bomb.

    On Bud with the B-17 I was able to board one when the Collings foundation flew in. The cat walk on that thing over the Bomb bays is may be a foot wide

    You think that within the eighth Air Force your odds of being killed or seriously wounded were one in three before you’re 21 missions were up And yet they went up again and again

    I believe that in World War II the eighth Air Force and 15th Air Force had far worse casualties then even the Marines in the Pacific.

  4. “The cat walk on that thing over the Bomb bays is may be a foot wide”

    Yes, and the bomb bay doors won’t hold your weight.

    The B 24 is even more fun. You crawl up a cat walk into the nose and past a nose wheel the size of a car that is still rotating 20 minutes after you’ve taken off. I didn’t get to take my son on that one.

    The 8th had a 25 mission limit and the 15th was 50 missions. About a 30% mortality.

    The guy in the basement photo in the white shirt was Sid White who bailed out of a B 17 and broke his femur. It took a week before he got to the POW camp and got treatment. He walked with a limp the rest of his life. He married the sister of a buddy from the POW camp and my mother stayed in touch with them until she died in 2001.

  5. You guys probably already know this but just in case you don’t, Sledge’s book, along with Leckie’s, were the basis for HBO’s The Pacific miniseries, companion to Band of Brothers.

  6. My Dad was a B-17 bombardier. We went through the Collings Foundation B-17 together, though we didn’t get to go up in it.

    He told me that the expected losses over the 25-mission quota was essentially 100%; when he finished his quota (and the five additional missions he volunteered for), they didn’t know what to do with him.

  7. My father spent the war repair LST’s – the large stationary target that were used to transport men and tanks to the beaches. And yes, they beached them selves to do it, counting on a rising tide and a backward cast anchor to pull them off again. The ships were often at the center of planning controversies because too few were built and the theater needs too wide. Churchill is often credited with their initiation.

    Though a child of the “other generation,” one that grew up with a war it despised without studying in detail, I have always believed it would have been a great joy and delight to have been able to “wear the uniform.” And I am convinced that my generation suffered from being told in school – High School and College – that WW II was too recent to study. “It’s not history yet.” So knowing neither war well, we too easily fell prey to all kinds of deceptions and half-truths.

    Had my generation understood more about the challenges and realities of WW II, we would have been much better prepared to make more valiant and wiser decisions about Vietnam. How few people today understand that Tet was a crushing defeat for the North? That it took them nearly 10 years to recover? And that in the end we starved the South of the materiel it needed to survive.

    It’s horribly simplistic to say, but just the same: It is almost as if we had got on our LST’s after the Bulge and fled to England, leaving the nascent French to their own devices.

  8. In retrospect, The Internationale, salted heavily throughout the ranks of academia, media and government were directly responsible for us not “being able to understand”. They continue to operate in multiple arenas mostly unopposed.

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