Happy Birthday, Dad
Fran Perkins’ birthday is December 17, 1923. He never saw the Life Magazine cover that showed the rest of his surviving crew after the Last Flight of the Daisy Mae. Fran Perkins, would have loved to have been here to stand beside his shipmates, but he was recovering from wounds stateside along with Robert Patterson, the Waist Gunner and Radioman.
The image shown is from the cover of Life Magazine. It shows the 42nd Squadron of the 11th Bomb Group and the B-24 Bomber “Hit Parade.” The remaining heroes of the Daisy Mae, went into battle on the night of November 19, 1943 on “Hit Parade,” to help soften up the Japanese defenses at Tarawa. They were hit with flak over Betio Island, in the Tarawa Group, and Navigator Benjamin I Weiss, Flight Engineer Arvid B. Ambur, and Top Turret Gunner Thomas Wyckoff, were all wounded when shrapnel exploded from under the Navigator’s desk almost tearing Ben’s wrist off. Even though Arvid B. Ambur was wounded in the arm at the same moment, he took care of Ben’s wrist sewing it back into place.
After World War II, Ben Weiss visited Arvid at his home in Presho, South Dakota. Ben felt he needed to thank Arvid, for tending to his wounds during battle. Ben went on to meet up with Fran Perkins ten years after the Last Flight of the Daisy Mae, which fulfilled a ten year promise, and gave Fran one of the best memories of his life.
Even though it is my Dad’s birthday, Ball Turret Gunner, Staff Sergeant Francis J. Perkins Jr. , he would want to share his story about these exceptional men that he served with who are shown in this Life Magazine cover along with other members of the 42nd Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, of the 7th Army Air Force.
Other men who flew the bombing mission on “Hit Parade,” shown in the picture are, Snuffy Storts, Nose Gunner, Earl Conley, Tail Gunner, and Joe Gall, Pilot.
All of these men along with Fran Perkins and Robert Patterson who were wounded during the Last Flight of the Daisy Mae, assembled together at 11th Bomb Group Reunions, five or six times during there lives, sharing an appreciation of life with those who could understand their strong Brotherhood.
So Dad, I hope you are with your marvelous Band of Brothers shown on the cover of Life Magazine right now along with your other Brothers who didn’t make it to the picture shown above.
Salute the wind and moon the camera when the Life Photographer says “cheese.”
Happy Birthday, Dad…