The Passing of Our Greatest Generation

Thunder Bird

Thunder Bird description
Military Aviation Art
This image is the 25 foot high by 75 foot wide mural in the World War II Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Crew Members 

William D. Jakab “Jake” standing in front of a Black Widow

William D. Jakab: April 16, 1924-July 21, 1984






L to R: Richard Warren, Lyle Vincent Wade

Vincent Lyle Wade: Unknown






Standing L to R: Bill Weibel, Walt Phillips, Harod Kandarian, Cleo R. Marlowe, Bill Jakab
Squatting L to R: Richard Warren, Don Proue, Lyle Wade, Byron Smith

Cleo Randall Marlowe: October 4, 1917-October 17, 1990








Bill Weibel

William W. Weibel: ? -March 21, 2015

William W. Weibel, born in Chicago, Illinois the loving son of the late William and Hazel (nee Clegg) Weibel. Passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at his home on the Kankakee River, Wild Feather Subdivision.

Beloved husband of the late Norma Shirley (nee MacDonald); devoted father of Barbara Weibel, Linda Fritz and Nancy (Dale) Judevine; proud grandpa of Gina (Tony) Vescovi, Victoria (Alex) Theimer and Kelly Schneider; great grandpa of Dominic Vescovi; dear brother of Laura Belle (the late Larry) Byrne and caring brother in law of Kay MacDonald.

Preceded in death by his father, mother and beloved wife. A decorated Veteran of the US Air Force serving his country during WWII as a Lower Ball Turret Gunner aboard Boeing B17. As a young man William was employed as a milkman for Hunding Dairy, he later became a journeyman electrician working out of IBEW Local 176. His greatest pleasures were riding on the River on his pontoon boat and driving his Harley Davidson golf cart. Having been deeply devoted to his family, he will be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather, as well as a loyal friend and neighbor. He will be missed by his family and the community in which he lived.



Standing L to R: Bill Weibel, Walt Phillips, Harld Kandarian, Cleo R. Marlowe, Bill Jakab
Squatting L to R: Richard Warren, Don Proue, Lyle Wade, Byron Smith

Walton Phillips: Unknown








Byron K. Smith: August 11, 1917-April 13, 1992





L to R: Byron Smith, Harold Kandarian, Richard Warren

Harold Kandarian: October 23, 1917-October 19, 1998








L to R: Richard Warren, Don Proue

Don Proue: November 21, 1923-February 26, 2007


Richard W. Warren

Richard W. Warren: April 12, 1923-June 20, 2012

Richard W. Warren, 89 of Harbor Springs and formerly of San Diego, CA, died June 20, 2012 at his home. Richard was born the second child to Roscoe and Ida Cassmore Warren on April 12, 1923 at 10:30 pm. One mile east of Omer, Michigan in Arenac Township and graduated from Omer High School in 1940 as Valedictorian of 10 classmates. Dick enlisted into Reserve Corps of the Army on Dec 14, 1942 and reported for active duty on Feb 18, 1943. He served in active Federal Service in the 8th Army Air Force from June 1944 to August 1946 and flew B 17s in the 305th Bomb Group and flew missions over Europe and Reconnaissance over Africa. After returning home, he met Millie Fica of Turner, Michigan on a blind date. They were wed on May 3, 1947 in Selfridge Field, Michigan. On the GI Bill, Richard received his education first at Central Michigan, then transferred to the University of Michigan. He received his degree in Civil Engineering on February 1952, ranking 15th of 491 in all departments and 1st in a class of 84 in Civil Engineering. Dick worked as engineer for Townsend and Bottum. His first job was a Power Plant in Niles, Ohio followed by Lorrain, Ohio, Bay City, MI (Karn plant) Plymouth(gas compression plant Northville) he went on to work for Commonwealth Associates and became project manager for the building of a 5 00KV Transmission system in Arkansas, one of the first of its kind. In Jan of 1968 he lost his wife Millie to complications from hepatitis. Dick married Elsie Sellers on March 20, 1971 and moved his family to San Diego, California. Dick worked for San Diego Gas and Electric as Construction Manager. He retired in 1988. He was preceded in death by Elsie Sellers in 2002 and his sister Edythe Dundas of Bay City in 2004.

Friends During the War

H.K. Smith: Unknown


James Middledorf

Jim Middledorf: March 8, 1923-April 12, 2015

BRAZIL — James Conrad Middledorf, 92, of Brazil, died April 12, 2015, at St. Vincent Clay Hospital, following a brief illness. Jim was born in Lafayette, on March 8, 1923, the son of Herbert and Thelma (Lee) Middledorf.. He graduated from Brazil High School with the class of 1940. Following high school Jim enlisted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. Jim attended flight school in Macon, Ga. where he attained the rank of flight officer and ultimately piloted the B-17. During World War II Jim flew out of England including a rescue mission to Amsterdam and in Northern Africa. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and then he attended Purdue University. Jim worked as a Prudential Insurance salesman for 31 years. Jim was a member of the Brazil Rotary Club and Berea Christian Church. He served as a Brazil City Councilman and a Clay County Councilman.. In addition to his parents Jim was preceded in death by his brother, Col. William F. Middledorf. He married Betty Mercer on Aug. 1, 1946. They have enjoyed 68 years of marriage.



August Mouton

August Wilson Mouton: ?- December 31, 1953

First Lieutenant Mouton was the pilot of a RB-26C Invader bomber with the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. On May 15, 1952, he on a night photo reconnaissance mission over Anju, North Korea, when his aircraft was hit by enemy fire. The crew reported damage and requested direction to the nearest friendly airfield. The plane never made it and the crew was listed as Missing in Action and was presumed dead on December 31, 1953. First Lieutenant Mouton was awarded the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal.



500 Club in the French Quarter, New Orleans
L to Right: Jim Middledorf, Ed Mauch, Richard Warren, unknown, Lyle Wade. The woman sitting is unknown.

Lawrence Edward Mauch: March 1, 1923-September 13, 1991








Kent Palfreyman

Kent B. Palfreyman: October 3, 1921-January 2014

Kent B. Palfreyman was born on October 3, 1921 to Bert and Loeen Palfreyman in Springville, Utah. Kent attended primary schools in Springville. He attended U.S.U. then enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1942. He was a pilot and attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant. He graduated from BYU in Economics.
He married Anna Marie Creer (deceased) on Aug. 16, 1949 in Spanish Fork. They are the parents of Annette, David (deceased) and Mark. He has seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Kent married Janet S. Root on July 10, 1992. He has two step-children, Janet Ann Moore and Richard L. Root. He has five step-grandchildren and nine step-great grandchildren
Kent spent his working years as the General Chairman for the Union Pacific Railroad. After retiring he enjoyed traveling, fishing, talking politics and watching the stock marker. He spent 10 years as a Provo LDS Temple worker.

L to R: Richard Warren, Arnold A. Weinrich

Arnie Weinrich:1916-November 9, 1944

Arnold Weinrich was co-pilot on B24 aircraft #44-10541 that was flying a weather reconnaissance mission over the North Sea. The aircraft developed icing problems and began to spin. The pilot eventually recovered from the spin at 700 feet but the crew, including Arnold, had already bailed out. Air/Sea rescue could not find Arnold or the rest of the crew.



Kandarian, Warren, Jakab

Don Proue, Richard Warren, Byron Smith

Don Proue, Lyle Wade Richard Warren







R. Warren, Bill and Shirley Weibel

R. Warren, Lyle Wade

Lyle Wade, Unknown, R. Warren

















Dec 23, 1946: Letter From Beryl

54 Nursery Lane


Northampton England


Hello Dick!

It was a very nice surprise to hear from you, & why you should think I would not answer I don’t know. But Im glad your still okay & in good spirits, ours I’m afraid are not so high. Northampton is lost without you Yanks at least the girls are. I’m not married & have no children (thank goodness) & I’m not likely to be married if its an English man I’m supposed to have believe meLetter From Beryl

Dick, they are all ‘WET’. & that’s not kidding. We are hoping it will be I a bit better for Xmas.  They “might” loose a little of their reserve ‘What’ How is life treating you now in Cinny St.? I guess you’re not married  but are you courting?? I was a week ago but I can’t get along with any of them for more than 3 weeks. Joan Bellamy is still as beautiful as ever, & still gets a man (correction) Mate. ahem Well I think I’ll close for now & I hope you have a nice Xmas, & thanks for the card Cheerio Be good.


Mum & Pop said to say Hello .

Did you receive the  Xmas card

Photo of Beryl

Sept. 27, 1946: Letter From Mout


September 26, 1946 EnvMilwaukee

Sept 27, 1946

one month to the day answering your letter

Hello Dick,

So time marches on and I am exactly one month to the day answering your letter.

However I assure you I haven’t had your letter that long. Maybe this time our mail will make better connections.

Well old pal, how does it feel to be a civilian again? Have you gone to work as yet? I’ve been working here with my brother for about seven weeks  now. It’s a good thing I didn’t go to Omar, I would have missed you. And boy would you have gotten an ass chewing. Ha!September 27, 1946

So you don’t care to much for California eh? I don’t think it is so wonderful either. Always did think they had the place over rated. Yet some people are happy there. I like it here my self.

Well old man, it looks like my trip to Michigan will have to wait till next summer. You see, I started work sooner than I had expected. Have seen Unger & Cerny. We all were out together one night. Cerny & I have been out together several times. Got me a little blonde here that is a slick chick.

Yes, I was in L.R. a couple of times but didn’t make it over to 16th street. So tell you the truth it completely slipped my mind. And had I thought of it, I would not have had the address. Any way, I was there late at night both times.

Say! Dick, would you send me Wade’s address. Why I don’t have it is beyond me. I have some things that belong to him . Have waited for him to write me but he never has.

Guess what Dick. When I got home from over seas there was a dear John letter waiting for me from Gaby. I hadn’t given it much thought, and the other day I got another letter asking me to forgive her. Said her mind was in a turmoil when she wrote the other one. Now how do I know which letter her mind was mixed up in . Perhaps I’ll never answer it anyway. How is Loni & Vi & Jane & Sue? Boy you really got the gals.

Say! Will you send me Don’s new address. I’ll bet he thinks I’m a hell of a guy. I’ve misplaced his address & therefore haven’t written him in the last two months or more.

How is everything in Omar? Growing steadily I suppose huh?

Dick ,I’m a single man again. However, not like I wanted to be. My wife passed away about three weeks after I got out of service.

Let me hear from you again soon.

Your friend,


If you aren’t working drop across the lake sometime. Ph. Marquette 2292 Juneau Hotel


March 8, 1946: Letter From Don Proue

March 8, 1946 Proue

Muskegon Hts. Mich

March 8, 1946


Dear Mr. and Mrs. Warren

Suppose by now you have thought I wouldn’t write again. It seems like I never find time to write and also don’t feel much in the mood for it after sitting in an office all day. It certainly is quite a change from our old fly machines.

Hope you folks all feel fine during this nasty weather. My mother has been down in bed with the flu as is many others have had.March 8, 1946 Page 1

Got a letter from one of the fellows the other day, you probably have heard Dick speak of him-“Mouton”. About all he said was that they were in Liberia now, and I can imagine it isn’t so nice. He didn’t say anything about Dick or Wade and I haven’t heard from either so you are the only one through which I hear anything about them. When does Dick expect to get home and how is he doing? Also has he made up his mind whether to stay in the army yet or not, really doubt if he wants to stay in very bad though.

I know this is very short but I must close. Again I hope you all are fine and also hope to hear from you soon with a little about the fellows.


Very Sincerely,


Don Proue

Liberty Ship Back To The United States

Going Home

We had the option of possibly flying home or taking a boat.  The problem with flying, was that nobody had any idea when we might be able to board one–but the consensus was that it could be weeks!!   So we chose to be flown to LeHarve, our Port of embarkation and within a couple of days, we were told we could board a Liberty ship, if we wished, but although we were entitled to Cabins, there wasn’t any available, so we’d have to sleep on hammocks in the hold!  Of course we could wait for the next ship and see if there were enough cabins on it!!

We climbed aboard!! We had no sooner gotten on board, when Phil Liecshe found the Captain, and asked if he had a spare cabin?  Darned if he didn’t–with 4 double bunks, right mid-ship–the best place for one, because you get the least “pitch and roll” there.  Phil immediately looked up me, Jim, Ed Mauch and a few others in our little”click” and we moved in!   Other officers we knew had to try to sleep in hammocks in the forward or aft holds and as it turned out, those we knew, asked if they could sleep in our bunks when we weren’t using them, so the bunks never got “cold”, all the way across the Atlantic!!

I’ll swear that from the time we got on board, until probably at least a half hour after we docked in New York, there was a continuous crap game!   I didn’t get into it, but Ed Mauch decided he’d make his “fortune” on his way back.  I don’t think he did, for one minute I’d run into him and he  was $1000 to $1500 ahead and then two hours later, he’d look me up and borrow a $100.   That went on all the way across.  At least he paid back each time, what he borrowed!  I think we were at sea only 6 days–it was one of the faster Liberties, and we only ran into one pretty good storm.  You can imagine the stench that caused down in the various holds.  What did I do?–I went back on the stern and stood there for some time,  for it must have been pitching up and down a good  40 feet!!  Obviously, sea or air sickness was not one of my problems and never has been!!

I remember entering New York harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty–I’ll have to admit, it looked pretty good!!

It was at that time, that I ran into a last “ditch” crap game.  Everybody was throwing in whatever miscellaneous Foreign currency they happened to have, and as I had a few odds and ends, I joined in.  I believe we each go three rolls, and the one with the highest total points, won the pot.  Darned if I didn’t win!!  I probably had over a hundred different ones, but I doubt if the total value was much over $50.

I still have a few left to this day(I gave a lot of them away thru the years to about any one that wanted any) and I also have what is left of my “short snorter”!  You’re probably asking, “What the heck is a “short snorter””??  Well, it was a “fad” of that time, that those that  traveled around and got into various Countries, to pick up various samples of their paper money and glue them together in as long a string as you could.  If you met another “short snorter” in a bar and he challenged you or you him–whoever had the shortest string of foreign money, had to buy the other guy a “snort”(drink) and he signed your “short snorter–thus the name –“short snorter”!!  Probably because of that crap game, I ended up with paper currency from countries I never got to!  (Incidentally, I’ve just been sorting thru the various currencies, I still have and found that the Navigators name I couldn’t remember, who was on my crew while on that Zeiss assignment, was one of the few that signed my “short snorter”–his name was Art Schaezler– no wonder I couldn’t remember)!

I still have from England a wartime  1  pound note and a  10 shilling one (that was worth half a pound). If I recall right, a pound in those days was worth between $4.25 and $4.50 American, not the roughly $1.50+ of today.  There is also a Government of Gibraltar  1 pound note; a Canadian  1 dollar with King George on it; a Netherlands  1(een) guilden and  10(tien) guilden notes; a Belgium 20 belgas or 100 franc note (Half of Belgium speaks Flemish, the other half French–I understood them both about the same–not at all!!!);  a German wartime 5 and  20 mark notes as well as a military currency 1/2 mark, a 1 mark and a 20 mark note–then worth about 5 cents a mark;   two French 2 franc, a 5 franc and a 100 franc notes (I think these were military issued to, but they don’t say so)as well a  wartime 10 franc note;  one Italian wartime 5 and 10 lire notes and  military issued 5 and 10 lire notes;  four 5  lire notes and one 1 lire note, issued by the Military Authority of Tripolitania and a 10 piastres note from Egypt.  In addition there is a 10 sen military note for Okinawa, a  wartime Indian 1 rupee note and a wartime Chinese  200 yuan note.    All of these are pretty “rumpled and ratty” from either being carried in my wallet as long as they were, or just being stored in the various places they’ve been, since then.  I suspect they’re all still good enough to be redeemed–at least any that are still worth something, but I doubt if any are in good enough shape for a “collectors” item.


When we finally docked and disembarked, we were loaded onto a troop train and taken to Camp Paterson in New Jersey. Paterson is only about 15 mile west of downtown New York City, so it wasn’t a long ride.  I spent several days in Paterson, going thru processing.  We had the usual cursory physical and final check on our records and etc.  I expect the majority of the delay in leaving there was caused by them figuring out and making arrangements for where we were to go to next, to get discharged.

Wades Mother, Dad and Sister came to New York to meet him, so we, with some of the other guys went into town a couple of times for dinner and a nite out at a night club or two.  I’m not sure who I called now,(the folks didn’t have a telephone) but I am certain that I let them know I was back in the States and would probably be discharged in a few days.

I finally got orders that I was to proceed to Camp Atterbury, Indiana and would be discharged there.   For some reason, I was made Train Commander, with responsibility for getting everyone there safely.  I suspect–don’t remember now–that there was between 300 to 500 of us.  At least, one thing I didn’t have to worry about, was someone skipping out and going AWOL (Absent With Out Leave) on me!!

It’s strange the things one remember–maybe it’s even stranger the things you don’t remember!!  It was an overnite trip to Camp Atterbury, so as Train commander, I didn’t get any sleep.   We stopped several times, to let other trains go thru on the main line; a time or two for water and what have you.  I recall posting sentries outside when we stopped–not to keep anyone from running off–but rather to make sure that anybody that did get off , got back on before we took off again.  In addition I toured the length of the train several times to make sure everything was O.K., that meals were going to be on time and etc.

The Conductor continually told me how tough it had been on the home front–everything rationed and all kind of shortages–particularly no butter or coffee!! I finally got a couple of lbs. of butter and a pound of coffee and gave it to him.  I have a feeling he “conned” the Commander of every troop train he was on!!  We arrived in Camp Atterbury, shortly before noon without incident–disembarked–reported all troops accounted for and was shown to my Quarters.  It took about three days to finish processing.  I was discharged with a promotion to 1st Lt. and given over $1600–a “fortune” in those days.

Although it was the first part of July, I had enough leave coming so that my last day of active duty was Aug. 11, 1946— almost exactly 3 and 1/2 years. I know, I hadn’t collected my pay for 2 or 3 months (didn’t need it) and then there were certain bonus’s for time in service, discharge and etc.   As soon as I could, I caught a train for Detroit, where the Folks and others met me!!! I’ve only been on a train once since then–a few years back, when for Ellie’s birthday, amongst other things, we rode the train back from San Clemente to Oceanside.

Grandpa Richard A. and Grandma Edith, had thru the years, 20 grandchildren—14 boys and 6 girls.  I was the only one that was of the right age to serve in WW II!

June 24, 1946June 30, 1946june 30, 1946 Pay VoucherJune 30, 1946 Pay Voucher page 2August 11, 1946 Certif of ServiceAugust 11, 1946 certif of service page 2August 11, 1946 separation recordAugust 11, 1946 separation record page 2November 7, 1946 Appointment for 1st Lieutenant