By: Michael Elmore
This series, Humanity During Conflict, allows patrons to experience the memories of airmen from the Mighty Eighth of their time spent in Europe. The airmen presented in this project were selected from the oral history collection at the Roger A. Freeman Research Center. The project consisted of six sections, with each web-page dealing with stories pertaining to a specific country or topic. Each section provides readers with a brief introduction to the airmen and their stories. Following each web-page, there is a link to a pdf that further expands upon the stories and cites the transcripts and interviews used.
Section 1: Stories from England
Earl Eugene Wassom was born in Oklahoma on September 20, 1923. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Earl waited several months before enlisting in August of 1942. Eventually graduating from flight school as a B-17 pilot, Earl and his crew made their way to Europe in July of 1944. During their time in England, the crew met a young English boy named Eddie Brighty and he managed to bond with the airmen. This friendship was cemented further when the crew surprised Eddie with a brand new bicycle for Christmas. Earl managed to track down Eddie when he and his wife revisited England in 1990 and had a brief reunion with him.
Norman Grant was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on November 6, 1920. Originally Norman wanted to enlist in the Naval Air Force after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, but he did not qualify since he did not have a college degree. While the Navy eventually lowered their requirements to join, Norman enlisted with the Army Air Force on September 2, 1942. After training, Norman was put into the 493rd Bomb Group and was deployed to England and conducted his first mission on June 6, 1944 (D-Day). During his time at the air base, Norman came to know Lord and Lady Neat as they lived in the surrounding area. Norman recounts his visit to their estate and of the “clash” of class culture during the dinner party.
To read more about Norman, Earl, and other selected airmen, click on the link below. The stories are further expanded upon and they include the page numbers and sections they can be found in the transcripts and oral histories.