Monday, February 16, 2015

Military Monday: Johnson Island to Kwajalein, September 1952

My dad, Frederick H. Pape, shot this from the B-26 he was navigating on a ferrying mission during the Korean War: 

The "Capt. Hubbel's" referred to in the caption to the photograph is Loren E. Hubbell,  He was born November 30, 1919, in Menasha, Minnesota, the sixth child (and fifth son) of Iowans Byron Barsley Hubbell and Maude L. Hilton.  By the 1925 Iowa Census, the family was living in Powhatan, Iowa, with another son, and by the 1930 Census, there were two more sons.  Loren still lived with his parents on the family farm at the time of the 1940 Census, along with four of his brothers.  At the time Loren enlisted in the Army Air Corps, on December 30, 1941, he was a high school graduate working as a farm hand and living in Mallard, Iowa.  Hubbell served in the Army Air Force through January 17, 1946, with two tours of duty overseas.

A report in The Mason City [Iowa] Globe-Gazette, Monday, August 2, 1943, page 11, stated that "Lt. Loren E. Hubbell of Mallard, Iowa, was co-pilot of the [B-17] Flying FortressHappy Daze, which was knocked down miles off the German coast after last Sunday's [July 25] bombing of Kiel. While awaiting rescue at sea, he and crew members watched the burning of the German port they had bombed. The next morning fishing boats returned to port and took the crew aboard. A short time later they were sighted by a scouting Halifax. From it they got their course. Late that afternoon two air-sea rescue power-boats came out, met the survivors and returned them to England."

According to information at the American Air Museum of Britain site, enemy aircraft flak set wing on fire, ditched 30 miles off Danish coast, rescued by RAF Warwick which dropped airborne lifeboat.  Nine of ten crew members returned to duty; but one was killed in action.  At the time, Hubbell was a second lieutenant in the 94th Bomb Group in the 410th Bomb Squadron.

In a questionnaire completed about the incident for the Missing Air Crew Report (available at Fold3, for aircraft serial #42-30206), Hubbell said they bombed their secondary target, the submarine pens at Kiel.  He said that "All crew members were in the aircraft and none were injured in any way at the time the ship was landed upon the water approximately 50 miles north west of Heligoland Island. ...Sgt. [Thomas M.] Brown was presumably drowned due to his straps on his Mae West [lifejacket] having broken.  This Mae West was floating on the water and was picked up and taken back to England when the remainder of us were rescued.  I don't recall having seen him in the water."

Page 9 of the  Pocahontas Record Democrat on Thursday, November 25, 1943 had a short story titled  "Plover Man, With 8th Air Force, Gets Oak Leaf Cluster (Special from Plover)": Second Lieut. Loren E. Hubbell, who is with the 8th Air Force in England, has been awarded the Medal with the Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, according to an announcement received here Monday from the war department. Lieut. Hubbell is the son of Mr. and Mrs. B[yron B. Hubbell]..."

Hubbell returned to Mallard, Iowa, after his Army service ended (he was living there in February 1950 when he filed for the state's World War II bonus).  He enlisted in the "new" Air Force on May 4, 1951, and was released June 10, 1953, at the rank of captain.  He died January 14, 1990, and is buried at Powhatan Cemetery in Plover, Iowa.

Besides the pilots and navigators of the two other Night Intruder crews (#8 and #13) that were in Dad's survival school group, and another member of  Dad's navigator class at Ellington Air Force Base (Joe Halpin), there were 17 other pilots and navigators flying the B-26s (I'm not sure who was flying the B-29) in this ferrying mission.  I will try to write more about them in a future post.

© Amanda Pape - 2015 - click here to e-mail me.

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