world war ii: us army air force

Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope and Bette Davis - all active in efforts to support US troops during World War II - visiting the Hollywood Hall of Honor at the Hollywood Canteen, a memorial for their colleagues who have enlisted in the US military. Davis points to a photo of Clark Gable, who was a major in the US Army Air Forces.

In honor of Memorial Day: Capt. Oliver Burgess Meredith, United States Army Air Force during World War II. Photo taken at US Army Headquarters in London, June 10th, 1943. This is a photo of Burgess before his assignment to the 8th AF. Notice his Aviation Cadet wings. 

The only fan page solely dedicated to Burgess Meredith // Lovingly ran by his grandniece in attempt to keep his legacy alive.

A pilot of the 100th Fighter Squadron shows off for the camera, buzzing by a B-24 Liberator as they return from an escort mission. Although it is a myth that the Tuskegee Airmen never lost a single bomber they escorted, they nevertheless had a stellar record in defending their charges with losses well below the average for all P-51 escorts, and were quite popular with Fifteenth Air Force bomber crews.

(Collection of Frank Ambrose)

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Photos I took during an excursion into Arlington National Cemetery and Washington D.C. on Memorial Day. I wanted to visit and photograph each of the memorials as well as take time to reflect on the sacrifice the men and women of our armed forces have made throughout the years so that we may live free. It was a successful mission. I got some good shots and had the pleasure of meeting many fellow veterans while exchanging some stories.

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James Stewart was the first Hollywood star to enlist in the military when he was inducted into the Army in March 1942. Due to having a commercial pilots license, he was accepted into the Army Air Corps (the US Air Force did not yet exist). As a bomber squadron commander, he flew numerous combat missions over Germany and was promoted to colonel by the war’s end in 1945. For his bravery and the success of his missions, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and from the French Government the Croix de Guerre with Palm.

After taking some time off, he returned to Hollywood to make It’s a Wonderful Life in 1946.

Lieutenant Edwin Wright of the 404th Fighter Group shows off the damage caused by flak to his P-47 Thunderbolt. USAAF airfield near Sint-Truiden, Belgium, October 1944.

‘Lt “Lucky” Edwin Wright, just over 19 yrs. old, just returned from his 39th mission- over Munster. He got hit by flak but continued on his mission dropped his bombs, did a spot of strafing and returned. When he got back he found a hole 8ins. in diameter through his 11ins. diameter prop blade, caused by a direct hit from an ‘ack ack’ shell. If the shell had deviated an inch and a half either side, his blade would have severed and he would have been brought down. This is the 6th time that Wright has been hit by Flak and is now known as “Lucky Wright”. He has 5 and a half months of combat to his credit and 39 missions.’ - Roger LIFE

Edwin Wright flew a total of 88 missions in P-47 Thunderbolts over Europe during WWII. He left the Army in 1946 after the war and was again called up for the Korean Conflict in 1950. He retired from the US Air Force as a Major. Edwin Wright passed away in 1959, from lung cancer, age 34.

Original: Roger Freeman Collection/American Air Museum in Europe/IWM (FRE 9553)

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Women from the first all-female honor flight in the United Sates watch a Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Sept. 22, 2015, in Arlington, Va. There were 75 female veterans from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War in attendance, as well as 75 escorts, who were also female veterans or active-duty military.

(U.S. Army photo by Rachel Larue/released)

American film star Carole Landis, 24, with husband Captain Thomas C. Wallace, of the U.S. Army Air Force Eighth Fighter Command, on their wedding day in 1943.

Landis has been entertaining American troops in Britain and Captain Wallace came to England, two and a half years ago as an original member of the first Eagle Squadron. (AP Photo)

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Soviet Night Witches

The Night Witches (from the German Nachtexen) were a regiment of female military aviators, formally the 588th Night Bomber Regiment of the Soviet Air Forces.

In the summer of 1941, Col. Marina Raskova was called upon to organize a regiment of women pilots to fly night combat missions of harassment bombing. From mechanics to navigators, pilots and officers, the 588th regiment was composed entirely of women; it became the most highly decorated female unit in the Soviet Air Force, each pilot having flown over 800 missions by the end of the war and twenty-three having been awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title.

Missions were carried out against the German military from 1942 to the end of the war. The Night Witches flew in wood and canvas Polikarpov Po-2 planes; despite being obsolete and slow, the basic materials allowed for daring maneuvers and exceedingly quiet entrances. An attack technique of the night bombers was to idle the engine near the target and glide to the bomb release point, with only wind noise to reveal their location; German soldiers likened the sound to broomsticks, giving rise to the nickname. (Incidentally, the Nazis also feared and loathed them: any pilot who shot down a witch was awarded an Iron Cross.)

The Night Witches overcame challenges from within the Soviet Air Force to fly combat missions, and over time became an important force against the Nazis, flying over 23,000 sorties and said to have dropped 3,000 tons of bombs. And they did all this while decorating their planes with flowers and using their navigation pencils as lip color. [x]