Photos from my Father's Album
This page contains several images, and thus may take a couple of minutes to fully display. Patience, please. I think it is worth a short wait. . .
Frederick M. Hargrave, Jr.
My Father. I believe the above photograph was taken around the time he completed his Advanced Flight Training at Pampa Army Air Field in Pampa, Texas, and was awarded his silver pilot's wings. He was awaiting assignment as an instructor, or combat pilot.
My father's family had returned to the United States from a lengthy stay in South America a few years earlier, knowing that the war in Europe would soon involve their homeland. (My father, in fact, had been present in Buenos Aires during December 1939, when the Graf Spee was destroyed by English warships just off the nearby coast of Montevideo, Uruguay.) Sympathy for the German cause was openly displayed in the streets of Buenos Aires, and the many English and German friends who composed the international Chilean community where he and his parents, brother, and sister had for so long lived were rapidly polarizing into hostile factions.
Once they were again stateside, war was not long in coming. My father was for a time blocked in his efforts to enter the service by his age, and by his mother Ruth's understandable unwillingness to give parental consent for an early enlistment. At the earliest opportunity, he and his cousin Charles I. Phipps---whose family had also been in Chile with Anaconda Copper---volunteered for service in the Army Air Corps. Dad then bided his time until he received his orders, working as a tank welder in a Detroit defense plant.
My father was ordered to active duty on 18 February, 1943, and began pre-Aviation Cadet basic training at Miami Basic Training Center No. 9, on 20 February, 1943. He was appointed to pilot training in November, 1943. Primary flight training was at Ballinger, Texas, and his basic flight training followed, at San Angelo, Texas.
Frederick Morrile Hargrave, Jr.
This photograph I believe to have been taken about the time of his appointment as Flight Officer on 4 August, 1944. He was then 20 years old. His orders of that date stated: "This appointment will continue in force for the duration of the war and six months thereafter, unless sooner terminated." Given the events of the times, that wording must have given all concerned pause for reflection. . .
The Bomber Crew
At Greenville (North Carolina) R.T.U.
click for close-up
Here, my father learned his wartime occupation.
Top (left to right): John Peterson (engineer & gunner), Joseph Padgett (tail gunner), Arthur Stasik (engineer & gunner);
Bottom (left to right): Fred M. Hargrave, Jr. (co-pilot), Arthur T. Lennon (pilot), Vernon Klassert (bombardier & navigator).
The aircraft my father flew into combat was a Mitchell B-25 bomber.
Lt. Fred M. Hargrave, Jr. at the co-pilot's controls of his Mitchell B-25, "Cufurup"
I asked about the name, "Cufurup". "Crew Under-Fed, Under-Rated, Under-Paid." My father was her co-pilot from 2 September, 1944 until 11 November, 1945. Arthur T. Lennon was then pilot. My father was pilot from 1 January, 1945 until 13 May, 1945.
He flew with the 310th Bombardment Group (M).
Over the Po River, Italy
click for detail enlargement and additional aerial photos
This photo was most likely taken by the bombardier or the tail-gunner during a quiet interval.
Over the Brenner Pass
click for detail enlargement
This photo was apparently taken by the waist gunner on the port side of my father's aircraft. Note the bombs dropping away from the far-most B-25. All of the bombers shown in my father's album bear the same distinctive horizontal tail markings. Look closely at the B-25 flying the center slot, and you can just make out the silhouette of its tail-gunner in his plexiglass bubble.
Another photo from Cufurup's port side. Note the formation's grouping into threes.
McGood Shot Down
The caption---and the photograph itself---tell all I know. I never asked my father about it, would not now, and don't recall that he ever volunteered details. This, at least, I can deduce: The tail gunner took the photograph. They were somewhere over the Italian Alps. The formation of bombers is in a hard starboard bank, desperately trying to escape the flak shells bursting in the air all around. The one bringing up the rear has not done so. The ball of flame you are looking at is a B-25 and its crew of six.
A Rough Mission
Many years ago, in what is now a ragged and crumbling album of old photographs, my father captioned this picture of himself : "Sad Sack. A rough mission." A characteristically humorous and self-deprecating comment. The eyes say much, though, about some of the times and events my father and countless other young men of his generation lived through. By the end of the war, he had flown a total of 38 missions against the enemy. By the end of the war, he was scarcely 23 years old.
I can only imagine what that must have been like.
Never once have I ever heard my father refer to himself as a courageous man. Never once have I doubted that he is.
My Father Receiving his Air Medal
Awarded 9 March, 1945, "for meritorious achievement during action over Bologna, Italy on 30 December, 1944". Shaking my father's hand is General Napp.
I believe this to be the Cufurup's engineer & gunner, John Peterson, on the right. General Napp is about to present him with a decoration.
And this gentleman, Cufurup's bombardier & navigator, Vernon Klassert.
Note the bulky flying pants, and the heavily insulated boots.
Fred and Art
My father (left) and his good friend, pilot Arthur T. Lennon, on leave together in Egypt.
Fred M. Hargrave, Jr.
Fifty years later, with a Mitchell B-25 bomber, at the Grissom Air Museum near Bunker Hill, Indiana.
After the war, my father remained in the Air Force Reserves until his eventual retirement. He retired as a Major. For many years he was in the Ready Reserves, training every summer and attending weekly reserve meetings. Happily, he was never called back to active duty. If they'd called, he would have gone.
For a number of years after the war he worked as a civilian pilot and as a flight instructor. That's how he met my mother, as a matter of fact. She was one of his students. They have been married now for over fifty years and have three sons. (I may not be the best , but I can at least lay claim to being the oldest.)
Dad was for a time the manager of the Kokomo Indiana Municipal Airport. He never lost his love for flying, but finally gave it up to meet the responsibilities inherent in being the head of a growing family. A good move, apparently, as he wound up as Vice President and General Manager of Radio Corporation of America, Puerto Rico Division. He captained the development on the island from its earliest beginnings, until it grew into two large manufacturing facilities employing hundreds of people over the years. He always got the job done, and in spite of that was universally liked. Quite a trick! Twenty years later he's still getting his Christmas cards.
Frederick M. Hargrave, Jr. passed away on Sunday, October 28, 2001. He will long be missed.
All images on this page are the property of the family of Frederick M. Hargrave, Jr. If you use them in any fashion, please be so good as to credit him, and treat them with respect.
Links to Other Army Air Force Websites
The 310th Bombardment Group
Chuck Farrow's Site
Erich Hetzel's Site
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