99th Bomb Group Historical Society - Thunder From The South

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99th BG 416 BS Jack H. Burch Final Mission July 24, 2018
July 28, 2018
Jack Harold Burch, age 92, flew his final mission on July 24, 2018. Born February 3, 1926 in Monroe, NC he was the son of the late Julius Jasper Burch and Emma Fowler Burch. He attended Bain High School and North Carolina State University. Mr. Burch joined the Army Air Corp in December 1943 and served during World War II as a ball turret gunner on a B-17 with the 15th Air Force, 99th Bombardment Group, 416th Bomb Squadron. He flew combat missions out of Foggia Italy to destroy strategic military sites south of Berlin. His aircraft was shot down March 23, 1945 by flak on a mission to bomb the Ruhland Germany oil refinery. His B-17G #446397 crashed near Hoyerswerde, Germany. He was a member of the Walter Lea crew that included: Korupp, Love, Ondercik, Macerollo, Biehl, Marcus, Burch, Hamilton, and Willis. The Copilot was captured and became a POW, the rest of the crew evaded capture and escaped behind the Russian lines. Details can be found in the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) number 13255.

Read his obituary »
99th BG 346 BS Veteran, Alan Axtell Celebrates 100th Birthday July 5th, 2018
July 4, 2018
On behalf of the 99th Bomb Group Historical Society (BGHS) Officers, Board of Directors, and Membership, it is our honor and privilege, to recognize our 99th BG 346 BS Veteran, Alan Axtell for his service, and the celebration of his 100th birthday on July 5th, 2018.

Alan flew 12 combat missions from March 02, 1945 until April 23, 1945 as a pilot. The photo above shows a smiling Lt. Axtell after receiving his Pilot wings. Alan entered the Army Air Force in April 1942 and upon receiving his commission and wings his first assignment was as an instructor pilot helping train new crews preparing to go overseas to combat. During that time he requested combat duty and was finally given a crew and headed for combat in December 1944. The photo below is of his crew taken stateside prior to heading overseas:
Bottom Row L to R: Lts Axtell, Pilot; Boyce, Co-Pilot; Coe, Navigator; Dual, Bombardier
Top Row L to R: Sgts. Doss, Engineer; Bonanti, Radio Operator; Farnsworth, Gunner; Karper, Ball Turret Gunner; Heller, Gunner; Striebeck, Tail Gunner
The Axtell crew left the States on January 12, 1945 by ship in a convoy that took 22 days to get from Norfolk, VA to Naples, Italy. From there the Crew proceeded by a very, very slow train to Foggia and thus did not fly their first mission until March 02, 1945 to bomb the Marshalling Yards in Linz, Austria. After each combat mission, Lt. Axtell sat down and wrote a report of what happened during that mission. As paper was scarce, he wrote each report on blank pages torn from his flight log record book. See the attached file to read an exact copy of what Alan wrote for the 12 missions he completed before the War in Europe ended with the Nazi surrender and VE day. You can also see a photo of Alan celebrating his 99th birthday completing one of his major bucket list items by visiting the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, OH.

Alan is in very good health with a sharp mind and is looking forward to September 12-14, 2018 when he and other Veterans from Oregon will be traveling on an Honor Flight to visit the WWII and other Veteran Memorials in Washington, DC. You may contact and send him your best wishes at the following email: Alaxtell4246@gmail.com

Please contact us by email below if you have any news on our 99th BG Veterans or events of interest, you would like to share with our membership. We welcome your contributions for consideration for use on our website, historical archives, or for assistance with your historical research.

Gary T. Staffo
99th BGHS 2nd Vice President
Email: gary.staffo@hq.doe.gov
Remember our 99th BG Veterans During Your July 4th Celebration!
July 4, 2018
Take a minute to give thanks to each and all of the Veterans who throughout our history made our freedom possible. When I close my eyes during the fireworks, I can often hear, feel, and smell the exploding fireworks and wonder how close that comes to what those WWII 99BG bomber crews experienced as they flew through the flak during their required 50 missions over enemy territory!

THANKS!

Gary T. Staffo
2nd Vice President
99th Bomb Group Historical Society
99th BGHS Mini Reunion (?) Reading PA
June 1-3, 2018 Mid Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM) Air Show
May 23, 2018
Dear Members,

Thank you, for your help to preserve and spread the history of the 99th BG. On behalf of the 99th BGHS it is my great pleasure to inform you and provide you information, coordination, and assistance with a possible 99th BGHS Mini Reunion at the annual Mid Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM) in Reading PA during the weekend of June 1-3, 2018.

Read the full announcement and get detailed information for the weekend »
ATTENTION: 99th BGHS Members - Help Us Identify this 99 BG Veteran Aerial Gunner in North Africa during the period of March to October 1943?
April 16, 2018
The 99th BGHS often receives requests from our Membership, Historical researchers, family or friends, Museum curators, collectors, etc. asking our assistance to help them with a matter related to the 99th BG and its Veterans in WWII.
In reviewing this photo and based upon the National Emblem markings that show a border around the star and bars, we can make a historical factual observation that photo was taken in North Africa during the period of March to October 1943.

Thank you, for your assistance and prompt reply.

Gary T. Staffo
99th BGHS 2nd Vice President
Email: gary.staffo@hq.doe.gov
99th BGHS NEW ADDRESS EFFECTIVE January 01, 2018
January 1, 2018
Effective January 01, 2018 the new address for all 99th BGHS mail:

Gary T. Staffo
2nd Vice President
99th Bomb Group Historical Society
13764 Fleet Street
Woodbridge, VA 22191
SUPPORT The 99th Bomb Group Historical Society (BGHS) - Buy Your Christmas Gifts NOW! 99th BGHS Supply Store! Make a Donation through "The Friends of the 99th"
November 26, 2017
Dear 99th BGHS Members,

Christmas will soon be here and now is a great time to consider doing something for the 99th BGHS and for yourself, or family and friends! For those who have contacted us wishing to make a memorial financial contribution to the 99th BGHS in memory of Jerry Buckingham, please see our Friends of the 99th for details, and note on your check JAB.

Look at our 99th BGHS Supply Store list for the various 99th BG memorabilia we have for sale that perhaps you might want for yourself, or would make a great gift for family and friends! Orders received by NLT December 10, 2017 should be processed to be mailed and arrive before Christmas.

Our new design "Diamondbacks Cap" at $20 (including shipping) is one of our best selling items, second only to our oversized hard cover history book "The Diamondbacks" of which we have a limited supply left at $65 (including shipping), and they are subject to quantity and membership restrictions. NOTE: Regretfully, due to increasing postage and packaging costs, we will be increasing the price to $75 for the book "The Diamondbacks" on all orders postmarked or received after December 15, 2017.

The 99th BG Squadron patches and pins are also in demand. Several 99 BGHS members have bought multiple patches for use in the display cases honoring their 99th BG Veteran, for wear on their own A2 or Bomber jackets. We are especially honored for those purchased to be worn by family members currently serving in our Armed Forces as remembrance of their Grandfathers service in the 99th BG to protect our freedom.

Let us know how you are honoring the memory and service of your 99th BG Veteran by sending in to us photos of your display, or your story of how you remember and honor your 99th BG Veteran. I personally have purchased and donated copies of the "The Diamondbacks" to several public and service organizations in my home town including the Public Library, the Historical Society, and Veterans Post.

With the Holidays coming soon, many of you will be having company and are cleaning up, and clearing out, your homes to make room for visiting family and friends. During this process, consider donating 99th BG related items to the 99th BGHS if they no longer have a place in your home, or with other family members, or just send us high quality electronic files of the photos, letters, records, memorabilia, etc. as Friends of the 99th. If you have any questions about donations, or any other 99th BGHS matters, please contact Mr. Gary T. Staffo directly to discuss.

Best wishes to each and all for a very joyous holiday season filled with good health, good friends, and good times!
99th BGHS News - Jerry Buckingham
99th BGHS Treasurer and Database Manager
Final Mission 10/16/2017
November 5, 2017
It is with deepest sympathy and condolences that the 99th Bomb Group Historical Society (BGHS) announces that Jerry Buckingham, age 73, who served the 99th BGHS as Treasurer and Database Manager for the past 16 years, passed away peacefully at home in Cherokee Village, AR with his family on October 16, 2017 after a long battle with cancer. He was born December 29, 1942 in Muskegan, MI to the late Jerome Arthur Buckingham, Sr. and Rose (Paxson) Buckingham. Jerry is survived by his wife Amy and three children. Arrangements are incomplete at this time and you may check this Wortham Funeral Home link for updates, and to leave a message of sympathy and comfort.

You may wish to express your condolences and sympathy in writing to the Buckingham family at the address below. Recollections and photos of the memories of good times shared together at past 99th BGHS Reunions where Jerry and Amy always attended, and often opened and closed the Hospitality Room, would be welcomed.

Mrs. Jerry Buckingham
20 Flathead Drive
Cherokee Village, AR 72529


Due to the debilitating effects of his treatment, and his inability to perform his 99th BGHS functions and responsibilities, on June 15, 2017 Jerry resigned from his positions as an Officer and member of the Board of Directors. His Treasurer and Database Manager functions and responsibilities are currently being filled by Gary T. Staffo and Marty Upchurch, in Acting positions, until new volunteers apply and are considered by the Officers and Board of Directors for appointment to fill the positions. If you are interested in volunteering for either of these positions, please contact Gary or Marty for more information about the functions and responsibilities for each position. On July 25, 2017 the 99th BGHS Officers, Board of Directors, and the membership had the privilege to recognize Jerry Buckingham for all of his accomplishments, and the fellowship he personally provided for each and all of us during his service the past sixteen years as an Officer and Member of the Board of Directors of the 99th Bomb Group Historical Society (BGHS). (See the 99th BGHS Website http://www.99bombgroup.org)

During this time of challenge for the Buckingham family please keep Jerry and Amy, and their children in your thoughts and prayers. We will keep you informed on the 99th BGHS Website of the status of arrangements for services and other family wishes in honor and memory of Jerry.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this time of challenge.

For all who had the privilege to know and meet Jerry, I think this photo captures his joyous spirit and how we will want to remember him.

Jerry Buckingham, October 2005
at the 99th BGHS Reunion in Tunica, MS
The 99th Bomb Group Newsletter Archive
August 29, 2017
On behalf of the 99th Bomb Group Historical Society (BGHS) Officers, Board of Directors, and the membership it is our privilege to recognize George and Donna Coen for their contributions and donations as "Friends of the 99th" to preserve the 99th BGHS Newsletters by having them scanned in electronic format for posting on the 99th BGHS Website. George's father (George F. Coen, seen below) was one of the founders of the 99th BGHS and served for many years as the Newsletter Editor. Please take a moment and read the "Preface" by George M. Coen to get an understanding of how the 99th BGHS came about and a few of the pioneers who made it all possible. View the full archive »

George F. Coen, Tunisia, September 1943
99th BGHS Letter of Recognition and Appreciation for Jerry A. Buckingham Service
July 31, 2017
On July 25, 2017 the 99th BGHS Officers, Board of Directors, and the membership had the privilege to recognize Jerry Buckingham for all of his accomplishments, and the fellowship he personally provided for each and all of us during his service the past sixteen years as an Officer and Member of the Board of Directors of the 99th Bomb Group Historical Society (BGHS). Read More »
2nd Vice Presidents Message July 2017
July 2, 2017
Message from Gary T. Staffo thanking you for your continuing support and interest in the 99th BGHS, a request for an "emergency" point of contact for our 99th BGHS veterans, and our desire to work with you to preserve your materials and your history for posterity, and for the 99th BGHS. Read More »
Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM) World War II Air Show and Mini-Reunion
July 2, 2017
On June 7-9, 2013, the MAAM in Reading Pennsylvania held its annual World War II Air Show. Several members of the 99th BGHS were in attendance and we were privileged to have a few veterans join us. Read the Full Article »
Jerry Buckingham 99TH BGHS Treasurer Resigns Position Due To Health Challenge
July 1, 2017
Jerry Buckingham has served the 99th Bomb Group Historical Society (BGHS) as Treasurer and Database Manager for the past 16 years. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy in his continuing battle over the past few years with cancer. Due to the debilitating effects of treatment, he regrets that he is physically unable to continue to perform his 99th BGHS functions and responsibilities, and as of June 15, 2017 has resigned from his positions as an Officer and member of the Board of Directors. His Treasurer and Database Manager functions and responsibilities are currently being filled by Gary T. Staffo and Marty Upchurch, in an Acting position, until new volunteers apply and are considered by the Board of Directors for appointment to fill the positions. If you are interested in volunteering for either of these positions, please contact Gary or Marty for more information about the functions and responsibilities for each position.

During this time of challenge for the Buckingham family please keep Jerry and Amy, and their children in your thoughts and prayers. Due to the physical and emotional stress of the treatments, and travel back and forth to the medical facilities, the 99th BGHS requests you not call or email Jerry at this time, and any and all 99th BGHS matters be directed to Gary or Marty. We will keep you informed periodically on the 99th BGHS Website of the status of Jerry's battle.

You may wish to express your best wishes in writing to the Buckingham family at the address below, for a full and speedy recovery to good health, and recall memories of good times shared together at past 99th BGHS Reunions where Jerry and Amy always attended, and often opened and closed the Hospitality Room.

Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Buckingham
20 Flathead Drive
Cherokee Village, AR 72529

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this time of challenge.
98th Bomb Wing Reunion and 99th BGHS Honor Ploesti Veterans, Shreveport Louisiana, October 2011
July 1, 2017
Thank you to Lorraine Henning Kiewiet who shared her experience and photos at a veteran reunion event. "Over a four-day period in October 2011, in a Holiday Inn on the 'Other Side of Louisiana,' I continued my journey to hear the stories that my father (James Henning 99BG 416BS) didn't tell me about being a member of a World War II Army-Air Force B-17 bomber crew. The more I hear, the more I understand why he did not want to talk about it! And the more I want to connect with these wonderful veterans and keepers of America's captivating WWII history." Read the Full Article »
Video: CMSgt Henry Sherman Fouts, USAF Ret. - Full Military Honors Funeral, Arlington National Cemetery
April 25, 2017
On January 29, 2016 Chief Master Sergeant Henry Sherman Fouts, USAF, Ret. was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. He passed away on September 3, 2015 at the age of 91. Thank you to the Fouts Family for sharing the video of his funeral. Watch on YouTube »
Update on our 99th BGHS Officers and Board of Directors
April 22, 2017
The 99th BGHS has been challenged the past few years as time has caught up with many of our 99 BG Veteran Charter Members. This challenge, especially for our 99 BG Veteran Charter Members, has especially hit hard our 99 BGHS Officers and the Board of Directors. We are proud to announce that the following members were willing to serve, and were elected by the 99th BGHS Officers and Board to fill the following positions. Learn More »
Annual membership dues
April 22, 2017
Please mail your $30 per calendar year annual dues to Gary Staffo by January 1st of each year. Mailing address can be found on the Historical Society page.
Our website reach
April 22, 2017
It's no surprise that the majority of our website traffic is from within the United States. However, you may also be interested to learn that in Q1 of 2017 6.5% of our traffic was from Italy and 2.7% was from the United Kingdom. In total, we saw traffic from over 32 international countries in Q1 of 2017.
Introducing the 99th BGHS Supply Store
April 8, 2017
If you are looking for items to proudly recognize the 99th Bomb Group, or a gift for a 99th BG Veteran, check out the items in the 99th BGHS Supply Store. We have pins, hats, patches, bumper stickers, and may create t-shirts if we have enough interest to support an order. Learn More »
Book Review: The B-17 - The Flying Forts, by Martin Caidin
April 8, 2017
If you have not read a lot about the Boeing B-17, commonly known as the "Flying Fortress," this is a good introductory book for you to read. The book is reviewed by Gary T. Staffo, 99th BGHS 2nd Vice President. Read More »
Reunion Information
January 28, 2015
The 99th BGHS is currently not sponsoring Annual Reunions. However, the 99th BGHS is interested in joining and participating with any other WWII 12th or 15th Air Force Bomb Groups who may be sponsoring a Reunion.
Announcing "Friends of the 99th"
January 28, 2015
The purpose of the Friends of the 99th is to support our efforts to further develop, preserve and share the history of the 99th BG with our membership and a wider audience. Under the umbrella of the 99th Bombardment Group Historical Society (a tax-exempt not-for-profit 501 (c)(19) Veterans organization), we are pleased to announce the formation of the Friends of the 99th to enable our members and other parties to more easily make financial and material donations to the 99th BGHS. The Friends of the 99th will provide an acknowledgment of your donation, for tax purposes and as a permanent record of your contribution. Click here to learn how to make your tax-deductible donation.
VIDEO: Interview with Henry Fouts
January 4, 2015
An interesting video interview Henry S. Fouts has been added to the Links page. Chief Master Sergeant (Ret.) Henry Fouts was an aerial gunner in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), completing 35 combat missions over Nazi occupied Europe during World War II.
BOOK: We Came to Fight a War: The Story of a B-17 Radio Gunner and His Pilot
December 29, 2014
The story of a 99th BG 346th BS Radio Gunner with the Lt. William Flynn Crew coming together and flying combat missions in 1944 and 45, with the 15th Air Force out of Tortorella, Italy, and the tragedy of a wartime injustice. Learn more in the Books section of the Information page. Available on Amazon.com.