10 Years Ago - As published in the March 24 & 31, 2011 Leader
Rounding up the ‘Sheriff’s Posse’ - the story of a WWII air crew
The crew of the ‘Sheriff’s Posse’ took a break to get their picture taken during their WWII tour of duty in England . Front Row - (L to R) Robert E. Sheriff, pilot - Ohio; John D Kerr, co-pilot, Ohio; Joe Oliver, navigator, Texas; Everett Wagner, bombardier, California; Back Row - Alex Gargac, waist gunner, Ohio; Wayne Dennison, ball gunner, Maine George Jankos, radio/gunner, New Jersey; R.W. Brousseau; O.W. “Red” Farwell, tail gunner, Missouri.
The next day we boarded our new plane and headed east toward Bangor, Maine, but with electrical problems we landed in Grenier Field, New Hampshire. There we waited two weeks until repairs were made. Finally we were on our way to Goose Bay, Labrador, where the snow was so deep on each side of the runway that it looked like we had landed in a tunnel with no top. After a stop in Iceland we landed in Prestwick, Scotland.
A direct hit by anti aircraft guns usually brings a bomber down. Collisions became more common as the bomber formations grew larger. Even little errors could bring a bomber down. After take off one early morning gunners began to take their positions and as one of them passed the window overlooking the number three engine a mist was seen streaming from the main gas tank between number three engine and the fuselage.
Looking closer he saw that the gas cap was missing. Ahurried call telling the pilot to land quickly likely prevented an explosion. The exhaust from number three engine and the misty gasoline being siphoned from the wing tank: were a dangerous combination. Our pilot cut the rich mixture of gasoline, landed, got a new gas cap and we caught up with our formation. If the gunner hadn't noticed the missing gas cap the plane might have exploded or surely would have run out of gas. Either way would have brought the plane down.
Somewhere along the way, when we had our own plane again, we had the name "Sheriffs Posse" painted on the left side of the plane. We flew 12 missions in our own plane. Then one day when we had a few days off another crew flew our plane. On return from a flak filled sky they were in a line of B17's taxiing back to their dispersal area when their brakes failed and they crashed into a row of GI trucks which were waiting to return fliers to debriefing. The crash ruined the plane and probably the trucks too.
Our crew flew on 12 different planes. All but three were lost to German fighter planes or anti aircraft guns, or were so badly damaged they never flew again.
Our last mission was to bomb gasoline storage tanks beside the Elbe River at Hamburg, Germany. It had been hit earlier but our bombs made a direct hit and I still remember the concentric heat rings as they engulfed the city and then disappeared with smoke rising high behind us.
After finishing 35 missions (officially 34) we were assigned in different directions.
The ball turret gunner was assigned to ground duty guarding the base with 50 caliber machine guns. Parting with the men we went in and out of combat with was difficult for us. We had grown to like each other like brothers. After the war the Sheriff s Posse crew met for reunions in Maine, Missouri, Tennessee, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and California.
Wayne R. Dennison
91st Bomb Group
323rd Bomb Squadron World War II,
8th Air Force Ball Turret Gunner
Army Serial #31317300
30 Years Ago - As published in the March 21, 1991 Leader
Plattsburg gets a big "leap" on St. Patrick's Parade
Francis Hales, left and father Bachnak, right join the Plattsburg Frog in leading the first parade celebrating St. Patrick's in the area. Getting a jump on other communities Plattsburg held their parade on Friday, March 15th. Mr. Frog may be known better as Bob Bloss.
The Senior Citizens Center sponsored the annual event.
Surely St. Patrick is a senior citizen
One of the most active organizations in this area is the Senior Citizen's Center at Plattsburg. Proving this, they sponsored the annual St. Patrick parade in downtown Plattsburg. By the way, the convertible is a beautiful green.
50 Years Ago - As published in the March 26, 1971 Leader
Shingles and other various items were blown around Thursday evening during the wind storm, but the most damage apparently was to Bill Harper's auto. Bill's car was parked beside the home owned by Glyndon Berryman on Clay Avenue when during the evening the huge part of the tree was blown across the top, causing extensive damage.
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