By Kara Martinelli White
Back in March, the Oshkosh EAA Warbirds Squadron 32 asked me to be a guest speaker for their group’s monthly meeting. The talk was focused on a book I wrote about my grandpa and grandma and their letters to each other during World War II, titled My Very Dearest Anna . I had an incredibly close friendship with my grandpa and when he passed away, I inherited the letters he wrote to my grandma after he enlisted in the Air Corps. I decided to take the characters, pair them with the photos in his scrapbooks, and piece them together with the stories that he had shared with me about his time in the service. Having the opportunity to chat with the EAA Warbirds Squadron was a special evening for me to be able to recount my grandpa’s period as a tail gunner in a B-24, including some memories that I hadn’t thought of in the really long time. It was a lovely evening of chatting and laughing, and I’m thankful for the particular invitation to be a part associated with their group for that meeting.
Cut to a month later and there was a new package sitting on the kitchen table, so I asked my husband what he had ordered. He said “I didn’t order anything, it has your name on it. ” We paused for a moment and thought, “What did I order? ” After digging through a bunch of packing peanuts, some sort of gray wing was revealed… and then the rest of it. The Oshkosh EAA Warbirds Squadron had built a good giant model of one of the B-24s that will my grandpa had flown on in the Pacific, called Rough Night. They did research into every detail and made decals to match my grandpa’s squadron, typically the 380th BS, 530th BG, including not installing your ball turret. My grand daddy used to lament regarding how his B-24 models had ball turrets and that it was “just not right” because the B-24s that he flew in did not. He would be so pleased in order to see this model and this detail that went into this, especially since he was an avid model builder himself. It makes me smile every time I look at it. The model currently resides in our Hemlock Films office, with its own special shelf next to my desk. Alongside it are a few display items, like my grandpa’s rescue mirror that he carried along with him on every mission.
I’d like to give some very special thank you to be able to EAA staffer Chris Henry and the Oshkosh EAA Warbirds Squadron for making it for me. I actually can’t wait to see what else this squadron will accomplish in the future. Truly, this is absolutely one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received. I love that so much, and I know my grandpa would too.