My father is deceased. His full
name was Raymond A. Heilman JR. but everyone called him “Bud”, he did not like
JR. He enlisted in the 11th Field Artillery Battery C in 1937 and
was stationed at Schofield from 1937 until 1940.
On March 15 of 1940 he was
Honorably Discharged from the 11th F.A. and he immediately
re-enlisted in the Army Air Corp. He did this at the same desk on the same day.
He became a member of the 11 BG H
the 42 Sq. and was now stationed at Hickam. From March 1940 until September
1945 he then served with the Army Air Corp achieving the rank of Tech. Sgt. as
an Armorer 911 (P). He was at Hickam on December 7, 1941 and then went
with the 11 BG H the 42 Sq. into the Pacific in June of 1942. During that time
he was serving both as the Armorer 911 and a waist gunner on a B-17. The crew
he flew with flew into the mountain at Hawaii trying to land in bad weather on
Easter Sunday 1942. They lost two planes that day by not turning the landing
field lights on because someone still feared Japanese would return. He had not
gone out with them or he would have been gone too.
He fought with the 42 Air Corp at Midway, Santos, Guadalcanal, and the
Solomon Islands. In the book “One Damned Island After Another” published
in 1946 it explains the 42 Sq. was the only US Military Service to be recommended
for the Presidential Unit Citation by another branch, the US Navy. They
were under the command of the Navy until they lost every B-17 they went
out with and their crews. On February 1, 1943 they sent out their last
three B-17s and one from the 72 Squadron. The three from the 42 Sq. were
shot down over the ocean; the planes and crews were never seen again. The
one from the 72 Sq. crash-landed on a beach.
My father and what was left were
brought back. He then trained the drafted replacements and enlistments at
Hickam to go back into the Pacific. There is no one left of the original
42 Sq. but I have spoken recently to three men my father trained in 1943.
My mother is struggling with cancer. Last fall she gave me all my fathers’
items and that is when I started searching for people who might have served
with him. I joined the 11 BG H Associations and Phil who is Sec./Treasurer
sold me a book they put out years ago. It is called “Grey Geese Calling”.
Phil also lost his brother on the last flight on February 1, 1943.
I was looking at the book and one
of the photos seemed familiar. I looked through my father’s things and he had a
copy but his has most of the names on the back. He had always done that; he is
“Bud” sitting in the front row with the helmet at his feet.
Gregg S. Heilman
Son of Tech Sgt. Raymond A. Heilman, JR.
11 TH Field Artillery 1937-1940
7 TH AAC 11 BG H 42 Sq. 1940-45
Hickam Survivor 12/7/1941
USAAC Armorer (P) 911
Presidential Unit Citation 1942