January 19, 2011
Del Sparrowe - WWII Veteran
Aircrew B-17C & C-47 Australia and New Guinea
|Our January 19, 2011 speaker is Del Sparrowe, is a WWII Veteran who served in the US Army Air Corps as a flight crewman and mechanic assigned to the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron which ultimately flew in the Australia – New Guinea area of the Pacific Theater. Del is also one of our most recent WWII veterans to join the Pacific Coast Air Museum as a member.|
He was trained in factory new C-47s but after arriving in the Pacific Theater, his unit was assigned older C-47s and a single B-17C Flying Fortress bomber (an unarmed/ supercharged version) converted to airlift troops from Port Moresby to Mackay, Queensland, Australia on ten day R&R visits.
While serving in Australia, Del witnessed the crash of his squadron’s B-17C which crashed after takeoff on June 14, 1943, at Bakers Creek, killing 40 on board with one survivor. This was the worst single aviation accident in the Pacific during WWII. That crash was memorialized with a stone carving that most recently was transported to the Australian Embassy in Washington DC and is waiting the selection of a site for permanent placement. There have been steps taken to place the memorial at Arlington Cemetery or nearby Fort Myers VA.
Del has crafted a model of the B-17C aircraft lost on June 14, 1943 which was a replicated in bronze and placed on the Memorial at Mackay. He will be speaking about his experiences during WWII.
Del Sparrowe BiographyDel Sparrowe was born in Berkeley, CA on April 27, 1922 and graduated from Berkeley High School. While attending his first year of college, the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on January 9th, 1942, as soon after December 7th as possible. He joined the Army because the recruiter said if he got a certain score or better on the General Classification Test they would send him to Sheppard Field, Texas, for basic training and then send him to airplane mechanics school. And that’s exactly what they did. They also sent him to Santa Monica where he spent a month at Douglas Air Craft Factory. While stationed in Santa Monica, he married his high school sweetheart (and they have celebrated their 68th anniversary).
Del joined the newly formed 46th Troop Carrier Squadron at Bowman Field, Kentucky, the middle of August, 1942, and there were only about 50 officers and enlisted men. Within a month the squadron was up and ready. He says he was going to say “up to full strength” but, as yet, the unit had very little strength. The squadron was then sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, to assist in Paratrooper Training. From eight in the morning to six at night they “jumped” troopers.
Around the first of December, 1942, his unit was given new C-47s and sent to Townsville, Australia. Shortly after arriving in Australia, the squadron’s new C-47s were taken away and the squadron was assigned some older C-47s and one B-17C that was being used as a transport. Each of the C-47s had three mechanics assigned: a crew chief, assistant crew chief and third man. The crew chief and assistant took turns flying with the plane. Since the C-47 had two engines and the B-17 had four, two crews were assigned to the Flying Fortress. The squadron flew men from Port Moresby to Mackay, Australia, and back for ten days “R & R”. On the morning of June 14th, 1943, Del witnessed the B-17 crash on take-off killing forty of the forty-one on board.
Del was returned to his squadron in Townsville and assigned to crew a C-47 again. He flew over most of Australia and all of New Guinea for eighteen months. New Guinea was marked by rather rugged flying and difficult landings. He accumulated almost 150 combat hours which led to his receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal along with other WWII decorations.
A monument commemorates the 40 American crewmembers and passengers who died June 14, 1943, when an Army Air Forces B-17C Flying Fortress aircraft crashed at Bakers Creek, Australia.
read article on Wikipedia.com
WASHINGTON — Even after a February Supreme Court decision cleared the way for its transition to a permanent U.S. home, a stone monument honoring the late Kenneth Foye Roberts of Wichita Falls and 40 other American servicemen still stands on foreign soil at the Australian Embassy.|
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, sent a letter Tuesday, urging the Secretary of the Army to move the monument to Fort Myer, Va., as soon as possible.
“Time marches on, especially for the military families left without their loved ones who perished in the Bakers Creek air crash during World War II,” the senator wrote.
The monument memorializes 40 American crewmembers and passengers who died June 14, 1943, when an Army Air Forces B-17C Flying Fortress aircraft crashed at Bakers Creek, Australia.
Roberts, the sole survivor, died in 2004 at 83 years old.
Location:Mesa Beverage Company, Inc.
3200 N. Laughlin Road. Santa Rosa, CA
Directions: From Santa Rosa, take Highway 101 North and exit at Airport Blvd. Turn left on Laughlin Road toward the museum. The Mesa building is located on the left side of the street just past the museum and Nob Hill south gate.
Don't miss the next one!
|February 16||Ray Allen WWII Veteran - B-17 Navigator 303th Bomb Group flew 35 combat missions over Europe|
|March 16||Lt Col James Warren WWII/Korea/Vietnam Veteran - Pilot & Tuskegee Airman. Author/Book sales|
|April 20||Peter Stekel, Author of Final Flight Mystery of WWII Plane Crash and the Frozen Airmen of the High Sierra. Book sales|
|May 18||Will Whiteside & Pacific Coast Air Museum Member, Reno Air Races Debrief|
|June 15||Jeane Slone, Author & Pacific Coast Air Museum Member, She Built Ships During WWII. Book sales|