This site is dedicated to all the men who served with the 394th and 416th Bomb Groups, and the 1781st and 1782nd Ordnance attached to those units, especially James Robert Cox (Bob) and Cecil R Ford, without whose memories it could not exist.

   A special thanks to Clint Jaeger of the 1782nd for helping name the men in his unit. Mr. Jaeger gave much helpful information included in the notes, adding the jobs performed by the men and the units movements. Thank you, Mr. Jaeger, for bringing the past to life for future generations to discover.

   Another special thanks goes to Victor Rueschhoff of the 1782nd. Like Clint, his contributions are too numerous to name them all, but here are some. He provided pictures, information on the bombs, memories for himself and others, and leaflets that were dropped behind enemy lines by the bomber squadron he supported. He has taken time to answer numerous questions and fill in a lot of blanks. His humor and positive attitude makes him a joy to work with. Our heartfelt thanks for your interest, energy, and work on this project.


   When the men honored here, ranging in age 18 to 44, stepped forward to serve in the early 1940’s, they had no idea where they would serve. They only knew they needed to stop Hitler’s fast-moving, evil force, to keep the word freedom on the lips of fellow Americans for generations to come.
   The heroes profiled here were lucky, insomuch as Uncle Sam needed them about 60 miles behind the front lines. They were chosen as cooks for the company, vehicle inspectors, office workers, supply truck drivers, wrecker drivers, welders, bomb handlers, pilot mates, machinist, machine gunners, and mechanics to maintain and repair the equipment (trucks, motorcycles, jeeps, tanks and airplanes).
   First came testing and class room learning in various places including Columbus, Ohio, Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Then the boys traveled by stream powered train to California to take infantry training in the desert. The desert temperatures sometimes were greater than 115 degrees. The converted tar paper horse stables that housed them at the Santa Anita Race track had no air condictioning to ease the soaring temperatures.
   After weeks of training, they again rode a train with a steam locomotive from the west coast to the east coast where they boarded ships headed for England. In England, the 1781st joined the 416th Bomb Group. They were assigned to aid the bomb group who furnished pilots and crews for bombing missions. The ground crews kept the planes in the air. Their new motto was, "Keep 'em flying". Many pilots and plane crews were either lost or taken to prison camps for the duration of the war.
   For months,the boys of the 1781st worked long daytime hours only to have their nights interrupted to take shelter behind concrete barriers attempting to avoid enemy bombs and gun fire from low flying planes at England’s air bases.
   The 1782nd also moved to England. They were assigned to the 394th Bomb Group. After duty in Wantage, England, they moved out to an air base at Boreham England, just south of Chelmsford, England. The airbase was still in the process of being finished. They too had strafing to avoid.
   One pilot of the 394th was awarded the Medal of Honor. Captain Darrell R Lindsey stayed at the controls of his burning bomber to complete the attack and to allow his crew to escape, but in doing so, he sacrificed his own life.
   As the Germans were pushed back to Germany, the boys moved forward following behind the front lines. By boat, the 1781st moved the camp towards France, crossing the English Channel where damaged planes had dropped bombs before landing. The 1782nd was shipped to Bayeux on the French coast in August after D-Day.
   After the stay in Rouen, France the 1781st eased across France, setting up camp at captured German air bases and work stations in old barns, staying for weeks at a time, pushing to the forest of Belgium. The 1782nd moved to Orleans, Cambrai and Venlo, Holland. Both units could hear the infantry bombs exploding of "The Battle of the Bulge" (December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945) That winter was the coldest in 50 years. Many days the day-time temperatures fell well below zero, at times 20 below. The nights were even colder. The tents that housed them had a tiny coal stove and only a small allotment of coke for fuel for an evening fire before going to bed. The boys who had guard duty tried to borrow fleece-lined, leather flight suits from their flight buddies.
   The whole 1782nd company thought they would have to move to the rear of the fighting because of the German advancement in Belgium. The 1781st were told the same. The Germans were pushed back so the units were not called up to help. Though it wasn’t planned, some boys of the 1782nd got caught up in the Battle of the Buldge. A few brought home battle stars, earning them the right to be called "The Fighting 1782nd".
   After the Germans were defeated, the units readied the vehicles and other supplies for duty in the Japanese theater, but the war ended before they could ship out. To finish out their tour of duty, the 1781st went to Erlanger, Germany while the 1782nd was sent to Kitzinger, Germany for occupational duty there.
   After 3 or so years serving their country, the troops were sent home on Victory ships sailing for a great land where its citizens sang and danced in the streets celebrating their continuing freedoms. The boys made their way home to their different home states at various dates and times. Most of them got to live complete and giving lives, always thinking of their homeland and fellow countrymen. The men profiled here served with honor and valor.
Legacy of Hitler's misguided ambitions - German cemetery in Cambrai, France
Captured German Flag in Cambrai, FranceGFlag
Downed German Plane - Photo contributed by Donna Ruth Brenneis7
Downed German Plane - Photo contributed by Donna Ruth Brenneis7a