Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Four WWII veterans earn B-17 rides

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013

Brooks Fetters, Mayor of the City of Huntington, announces plans in conjunction with the Huntington County Veterans Service Office and the Huntington County Veterans Council and two private donors to sponsor four World War II veterans to ride the B-17 Yankee Lady bomber which is visiting the Huntington Municipal Airport during Heritage Days. The event will take place today, June 21, at 2 p.m.

The veterans who will ride in the B-17 include Staff Sergeant Wilbert L. “Curly” Seibold, PFC Robert L. Randol, U.S. Army Air Corps Sergeant Dean A. Gressley and 2nd Lieutenant Don E. Baer. Seibold and Randol are both Ex-POW’s. Seibold was shot down over enemy territory in Germany and Randol was taken Prisoner of War during the Battle of the Bulge. Gressley served as an air traffic controller for the invasions in Italy and Southern France and Lieutenant Baer was a flight instructor on B-24 Liberator aircraft.

Seibold was specifically a radio operator on a B-17 bomber. While flying his 18th mission with the 8th Air Force over Germany to bomb the city of Muenster on October 5, 1944, his B-17 was hit by ground fire. The co-pilot was mortally wounded and Seibold was wounded in the leg. The crew bailed out and managed to hide from the Germans for a few hours, but was finally captured. His concentration camp was liberated in May 1945.

More than 12,700 B-17s were built between 1936 and 1945. Their strength became legendary as literally thousands returned to home bases so severely damaged by enemy fighters and anti-aircraft artillery they were barely able to fly. More than 5,000 were shot down over Europe during daylight strategic bombing raids in the historic air war. Yankee Lady is one of only nine B-17 Flying Fortresses still flying.