A Visit to New England & 58th Bomb Wing Memorial

I recently got home from a  visit  in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. It’s a long story that extended a short visit to 10 days, but it flew by. I had two goals: deliver my dad’s World War 2 photos and documents to  a museum archive and pick up the Unicycling Sailor at his sister’s home. I had a great time with Katie and Terry Hamric as we looked forward to Dave’s return. Eventually we retrieved Dave successfully from Logan Airport in Boston.  He had been sailing in the Caribbean and had several unplanned delays.

The 58th Bomb Wing Memoriall is housed in the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. I knew this, because I get their newsletter. My Dad, Jim Drnek, was a World War 2 vet and a member of the 58th..  He was a gunner in a B-29, based in India and on Tinian. They flew “the Hump” – over the Himalayas to refuel before continuing on bombing missions in places like, Bangkok, Saipan and Japan. I have photos, documents, and his diary. Donating items to the museum seemed a good plan to my sister and I. I communicated with the folks there and Katie and I set off cross-country  through Connecticut to deliver them.

We spent 2.5 hours with Dave Santos, a Korean Vet, who headed the crew that restored the B-29 housed at the museum.  He spends two to three days a week at the museum. He gave us the “VIP tour” and we spent most of the time in the plane. Other visitors see it from the outside. It was fascinating and very emotional for me.  Dave alternated between sharing information about the B-29s and his years of restoration and annectdotal stories of the guys that flew them. I got to sit in the gunner’s seat that my father would have occupied as a 21 year old. It made me the idea of what my father did in the war come to life and gave me even more respect for what it involved. A very fitting way to honor his memory. I think he would have approved.

 

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Dartmouth is a beautiful area on the South Coast, below the bottom of Buzzard’s Bay and not far as the crow flies from Newport, RI. We cycled, hiked, gardened, visited Newport, shopped and generally hung out and had a good time. I loved the stone walls everywhere and it felt like all the winding roads lead to water.

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6 thoughts on “A Visit to New England & 58th Bomb Wing Memorial

  1. jlpatterson@juno.com

    I’m reading this having just watched a D-Day program on PBS, so I felt a little emotional myself when I read about your nostalgic, historic trip. I’m on another war trail — trying to figure out what my ancestor did in War of 1812.I’m finding it curious that he and others were generally just local men asked to goto a “front” and guard a fort so the real military could engage the British somewhere.They needed a lot of Midwesterners for this for the various forts along the Great Lakes. Many, including my ancestor, got bounty land in Illinois for their service,so this is how many families ended up going further west in the years following. *************************FROM: Janice B. Patterson 30967 Sassafras Lane Westlake OH 44145 phone 440-835-9171 *************************

    Reply
  2. John

    I am so glad you got to do that. Really connects you to your dad and what he went through. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Carol

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Great idea to donate your dad’s memorabilia to the museum; I’m sure they appreciated it. Now you are off to Europe, right? Let me know when you return so we can get together and hear about your adventures. Carol

    Reply

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