Sunday, December 30, 2007

Purple Heart

On my trip to Miami, my mother showed me one of the medals Bill Perkins received.

His Purple Heart was in a box of memorabilia that his brother kept.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas 1944

As Christmas approaches, I thought I would post some images from Christmas time during WWII.

From Chuck Tighe's collection is this "chapel bulletin" from Christmas in France, 1944.

This is a Christmas card that was made during the war. It is from Pete Wilson's collection.

One of the guys from the 356th Fighter Squadron was able to take Pete's photo and add it to this Christmas card that he would have been able to mail back home.

I believe many of the men were able to send cards like this one home to their families!

If anyone remembers who was involved in making these cards, please let me know in an email.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Phone Interview with W. J. Laughridge

Over the last few weeks I was contacted by email from a son and a son-in-law of one of the men who was in the 354th Fighter Group.

Willie J. Laughridge was in the 356th Fighter Squadron. I had the pleasure of interviewing him by phone today. He told me some great stories about his time in WWII. He is still married to his post war bride!

Some of the men may remember him having a very big mustache back in the war. His nickname was "Lt. Moe Stache", which was painted near the cockpit on his plane.

His plane's name was "Pug Ugly Jim" (seen here in this photo).

As a joke some of the men painted "Georgia Air - lines" on the hangar in the background!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Joseph A. Kronek - Crew Chief

We had the pleasure of meeting Joseph A. Kronek and his daughter at the 2007 Reunion. He was a crew chief in the 354th Fighter Group.

(Joseph is in the middle just above the sign.)

All of the pilots we interviewed made a point of telling us how important the ground crews were for them. The pilots' lives depended on the expertise of the flight crews and especially the crew chiefs.

Joseph gave us a great interview and he let us use scans of his incredible World War II Service Record Scrapbook for our documentary. His daughter Linda sent me a cd with over 100 images from the war! All of them are great! Many feature Joseph with his crew, working on planes, traveling on a ship, standing next the train that will start their return trip to the states and many other images.

Of all the photos, this one is my favorite. He is on the left and is sharing a drink with a friend, relaxing and taking "time off from the war" (if that was possible).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

2026th Fire and Rescue Unit

The 2026th Fire and Rescue Unit was an important part of the 354th Fighter Group. This unit joined them in October of 1943 while the group was stationed at Boxted Air Base near Colchester, England.

James Blevins was one of the men who served in this Fire and Rescue Unit. His son, John Blevins, sent me an email a few months ago and I met him briefly at the reunion in Columbus. He took the time to scan several photos of the unit for me.

(James Blevins, James Flinchum, James P. Love, Ansel Burchfield and Richard Jones in France 1944.)

James Blevins was recommended for a Soldier's Medal for his actions during a fire on July 23, 1944. According to one of the documents given to me by John, a fire occurred in the Army Class III dump near Longeuville, France at 2230 hours. At the same time, an air raid by enemy aircraft was in progress.

Blevins and others from the 2026th combatted the flames and extinguished the fire in a "manner worthy of the highest commendations."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Best Birthday Gift

(With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought this would be an important posting.)

At the 2007 Reunion, I met Mark Radojits, who is the son of Tony Radojits, a pilot in the 354th Fighter Group. I had first heard of Tony from Ed Regis. Ed told us that Tony Radojits was also a former POW in Germany's Luft III.

From Mark, I have been able to learn a lot more about Tony and Luft III.

For a while, Tony was listed as MIA and his mother did not know if he was alive. She later received a telegram telling her that Tony was alive and a prisoner of war. It was very good news!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

355th Squadron Tech. Supply

This is a photo of Earl E. Sheets, Felix Militello and Patrick Reilly of the 355th Tech Supply in Nuremberg, Germany in 1945.

I met Earl E. Sheets' daughter Peggy at the 2007 354th Fighter Group Reunion. We had exchanged some emails over the last few months about her father. This is one of the photos she gave me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Photos From Norm Davis Arrive!

I just received about twenty photos from Norm Davis and his wife Miriam. They are great and will help illustrate his portion of the film. I met Norm, his wife and family at the 2007 Reunion in Columbus.

Here are two of my favorites:

Norm and Miriam in Washington, D.C. in June of 1944.

Norm "gets directions from some local French boys" in this staged photo shot for a magazine.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

From the Archives: Bob Halferty Gets Married

I had a very nice talk with Bob Halferty a few days ago. He was a pilot in the 356th Fighter Squadron. His armorer was Pete Wilson.

Bob told me about his time with the 354th Fighter Group. He got married while overseas. As luck would have it, I found this paragraph about it in my 354th Fighter Group papers.

Click on this image and to get a larger view of this document.

Click Here to go to our 354th Archive section in our Facebook account to see this and some other documents.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Our Meeting in Early 2007 with Chuck Tighe

In January we spent an afternoon with Chuck Tighe. He showed us many photos and intriguing memorabilia from his personal collection. Among them were items from his official "Escape Kit" He still has his silk map, miniature hack saw and photos of himself that could be used in the creation of fake IDs .

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ken Dahlberg and Young Fan

I just received a great photo of Ken Dahlberg and a young fan taken during The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends Air Show. It was held a few weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio.

The boy's father found our website/blog and sent it to me. It is great! The next generation meets a legendary fighter pilot.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

D-Day Radio Broadcasts is a great website that has many great audio and video/film clips.

On the previous website I began posting radio broadcasts on June 6, 1944 - D-DAY!

Here is a link I recently found that has the complete 24 hours posted on the website.

Click on the link and then listen to them by clicking on each mp3.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Welcome to Our New 354th Documentary Blog

We have moved most of our information and photos to this blog.

For now on, all new information will be posted here instead of the original website.

We recently had a total of over 2000 separate hits since I started keeping track of how many visits we have had to that website. My renewal for that site is due in a few months and I am getting close to my posting limit, so I have started this blog.

What is great is that now a lot more people surfing will see our site. I can post unlimited video on and many photos in photo albums on I think this will make it easier to view this blog and it should load more easier for visitors to the site.

There are links in some posts that will take you to these other sites for photos and videos.

The left hand side of the blog page has a section called ONLINE RESOURCES. There are some links to other websites that will be of interest to visitors of this site. The first two on the list are the main pages of my and websites.

I want to thank my friend Stella who taught me a lot about how to set this blog up. I really learned a lot! Her blog is wellaboveaverage/ . Take a look at her posts about her life in Los Angeles.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Newest Plans For Blogging...

I am fairly new to this world of blogging. My friend Stella ( gave me a crash course about how to set up and manage blogs. That was very helpful! As you all know, I have the website For the next few days I will be transferring the website into this blog; this one ( will be easier to use and I will be able to add more media to it.

Because my WW2 project has become much more than I expected, I think the end product will now be a 2 hour documentary about the entire group called "The Heroes of the 354th Fighter Group" and a companion piece called "Angel From Hell - The Bill Perkins Story."

(You should note that the new blog is - without the word "the" before "movie".)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yesterday and Today Photos

Take a look at more photos in our "Yesterday & Today" photo gallery.

Angel's Slide Near Portage Point Lake

On our trip to Onekama, Michigan, we found the sand dune that Bill Perkins played on as a kid. It is called "Angel's Slide" because from the lake, it looks like an angel.

It is a very steep dune. I videotaped me walking up and then coming down. I did not run because it is extremely difficult to hold a camera and keeping your balance on "Angel's Slide." I am glad I made it up and down the dune. But I will never do it again. It took the breath out of me!

I just found this video on youtube where someone is running down the dune.

Check it out.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Updating This Blog...

I am attending the final reunion of the 354th Fighter Group in Columbus, Ohio next week. When I get back I will be updating this blog with all the postings from my original website.

Until then, please log onto to see all of our videos and photos from the past year.

My goal is to get everything transferred to this blog by the end of November. And then this will be the main place on the web to get update about our projects.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Flak Sequence

A sequence from our documentary that is about the dangers of German flak. Col. Arthur Owen and 1st Lt. Chuck Tighe remember their experience with flak during World War 2. Passages from Bill Perkins' 1944 war diary are featured.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Ensign Babs" Clip on Youtube

Take a look at a sequence from our film, "The Heroes of the 354th Fighter Group."

This is a story about the plane named "Ensign Babs."


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Nathan Glick - Artist

Life in the Transport Hold, Nathan <span class=Glick" style="" border="0" height="298" width="378">

Life in the Transport Hold, Nathan Glick

I recently found this image of an Ink and Watercolor Drawing by Nathan Glick. He spoke to us about this piece of artwork during our interview in Portland. If anyone has any more artwork by Nathan Glick, I would be very interested in seeing some of his other work.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Naming of the Fighter Pilots' Airplanes

"Scatterbain", "Angel From Hell" and "Roberta" were just a few of the names given to the planes of the 354th Fighter Group. "Live Bait" was flown by Clayton Kelly Gross. Later in the war his plane was passed on to Robert Ramer. Ramer renamed it "Ensign Babs"later in the war. Go to my September 15, 2007 post to see how this sequence turned out.

To read more about Clayton Kelly Gross and his life in the 354th Fighter Group, go to to order his book called "Live Bait."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ted Skowronek Is Still Flying High

We met and interviewed Ted Skowronek in Arizona last weekend. He is a very fun and adventurous man. A few weeks ago, his friend Paul Cornell had contacted me through the angelfromhellthemovie website and told me about Ted. We made plans for our team to meet Ted and Paul.
Ted told us of his time in the 354th. One of his adventures was how he evaded the Germans when he crashed-landed. It was a truly amazing story.
Paul did a lot of legwork for this shoot. He had arranged with Rich Cutshall, the owner of the Anzio Landing Restaurant (located in Mesa, at the Northeast corner of Falcon Field Airport), to let us shoot inside the restaurant. The restaurant is decorated with a lot of WW2 memorabilia. It was a great place to interview Ted.

Rich Cutshall is involved with the Explorer Scouts. The young men (aged 13 and up) meet and learn how to maintain and fly airplanes.
Ted spoke to the Scouts. It is very interesting to realize that some of the Scouts were only a few years younger than Ted was when he was in the War. Rich treated us to an incredible lunch.
We met at 7 AM because Ted was planning on taking a ride on a WWII era B-25 bomber on Saturday at 9 AM. For more information about arranging a flight to ride in this B-25 , check out
Rich Cutshall had arranged with the man who runs “The B-25 Flight Experience” for one of our team to videotape Ted’s trip on the airplane. Our cameraman went up and shot some very exciting footage of Ted and the views from the B-25.

It was a great day for our documentary team. We are very grateful to everyone who made this weekend so amazing.
Although it was a fantastic weekend, it was challenging to get through it. We drove from Los Angeles to Scottsdale at 8 PM Friday night after work. We had to drive straight through because we had to meet Ted and Paul at 7 AM. We did not get to the hotel until 3 AM, so we only had a few hours sleep. Thanks to Ted, Paul, Rich, the Scouts and everyone for their help making this such a memorable trip and for putting up with our lack of sleep.
The trip was worth it!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Pete Wilson and Ray Bain

This past weekend we had the pleasure of meeting Pete Wilson and Ray Bain.
Our team traveled to New Jersey.

We arrived in Newark late Friday night. On Saturday morning we drove to meet Pete Wilson and his wife. Pete was an armorer in the 354th. He shed some new light on the ammunition and the P-51s. We are grateful that Pete had kept so much memorabilia. He also told us of his successful career as a high school coach. It was a very fun and productive meeting.

Although we wanted to spend more time with Pete and his wife, we had to get on the road.
After the interview, we drove to Philadelphia. We arrived there in the evening and spent time with some friends who live in the area.
On Sunday, Ray Bain took the four of us out to brunch at a restaurant at the golf course where he plays golf three or four times a week. It was fun getting to know him before we started the interview.

At his home we spent a few hours interviewing him about his time in WWII. He told us about his time as a POW.

He also had some great memorabilia, including his flight jacket. Ray told us the story behind the naming of his airplane. His airplane was named “Scatterbain.”
He told us that there was a very popular song in the late 1930’s called “Scatterbrain”. He had asked for the word “Scatterbrain”, but as a joke the painter painted “Scatterbain” instead. I think it is a very clever name.
On all my trips I take along an ipod with hundreds of radio shows from the 1930’s and 1940’s. I love listening to these shows right before I go to sleep. I had a feeling that somewhere on the ipod I would find a recording of the song.
It only took about an hour to locate the “Scatterbrain” song. It was on several episodes of "The Benny Goodman Show" in 1939. Click on the next icon to hear the clip.

It has been so inspiring and uplifting to meet these men and their wives. Most of these couples have been married for over 60 years. They are still so active with either working, playing golf, painting or other activities.
(It is not exaggerating to say most of these guys twice my age are in better shape than I am. I need to get to the gym.)

We flew back to Los Angeles early this morning. Luckily my boss let me have off Friday and Monday for our documentary. So it’s back to my day job tomorrow.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Will Louie and Family

April 1 - March ended up being one of the busiest months for the "Heroes" team! We had a great trip to Salt Lake City and met Will Louie of the 356th Fighter Squadron. He is the man who painted the ANGEL FROM HELL artwork on Bill Perkins' plane 63 years ago!

Our team had a wonderful time meeting Will and his family. The day after our interview, Will took us up to the top of the mountains near a local ski resort he had designed. What a view!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Our meeting with Charles Simonson

In February, we traveled to Wallkill, NY and interviewed Charles Simonson another fighter pilot of the 356th Fighter Squadron. We had a great time meeting and interviewing Charles. We learned a lot about the 354th Fighter Group.

Charles is the first man I have met and spoken to that knew Bill Perkins in the war. Bill and Charles were assigned to the same tent during the last 2 months of Bill's life.

Below is a publicity photo that was staged during the war. Charles Simonson is the pilot in the P-51.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trailer Completed!

The 10 minute trailer of our documentary is completed! And we have renamed the documentary "The Heroes of the 354th Fighter Group."

We have sent out DVD copies to all the men we interviewed.