BILL SWAIN OF THE
"GRIM REAPERS"

 

Subject:     Grim Reapers
Date:              Fri, 5 Nov 1999 19:57:59 -0600
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Sir.....My name is W.J. Swain.... My dad served with the Grim Reapers from the the summer of 42' thru the fall of 45'. He was a gunner/armorer in the 8th Squadron. I have a large amount of photo's that dad took that cover his time with the group. These photo's include both flight crews and ground crews. Many of these photo's are id'ed with the guys names and addresses but sadly many are not. I have sent copies to Ed Shook, Mike Kisckum, Chester Kulesza and ErnieCarlton with the hope that some of the people can be id'ed and possibly reunite the photo's with the people in them. If anyone out there remembers dad or could help in ID'ing the photo's please contact me at my e-mail (carlaswain@msn.com) or by phone at 918-250-8815.

Regards, Bill

 

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Subject:     Photo's
Date:             Sun, 7 Nov 1999 10:28:55 -0600
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gday Pete.....Nice to hear from you....I do have a scanner but haven't yet mastered the monster!!!!

I will do my best to send you scans of what I have. Along with the photo's I already mentioned, I also have photo's of Manila, Leyte and other cities in various stages of disarray (putting it mildly!!!) My dad talked about the beauty of Australia and often joked about freezing at night and being naked at noon because of the heat. I work for American Airlines as a Systems mechanic on Wide Body A/C (A-300, DC-10, 767) in Tulsa Oklahoma and one of my plans is to one day trace dad's travels from Charters Towers thru New Guinea and end up in Japan. Again thanks for the response and with any luck I will get you the scans in the near future.

Regards, Bill

 

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Subject:     Photo's
Date:              Mon, 8 Nov 1999 00:04:46 -0600
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gday Pete....

As a little background info on my dad, he flew as a top turret gunner in B-25's and A-20's for about a year and a half then was involved in a crash at Dobodura and was grounded. He flew all three missions to Rabaul and did see Wilkins go in. One of his good friends, "Skid" Rowe was flying with Wilkins at the time. I have a group photo of the gunners that was taken prior to the Rabaul Missions and dad has marked on the back some of the guys that didn't come back.

I have about 200 photo's all told which also includes some japanese pics that dad found in a dugout when his group moved into Hollandia. I will do my best to get you the photo's and if the scanner fails me, send me your mailing address and I'll get them to you that way!!! Time to close for now so nice talking to you the electronic way and hope to hear from you soon.

Regards, Bill

 

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Subject:   Grim Reapers.
Date:           Sat, 13 Nov 1999 11:45:20 -0600
From:          
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete

Wilkins was the only Reaper to get the Medal Of Honor. He went in at Simpson Harbor (RABAUL) during the 2 Nove 1943 ATTACK.

Will get back to you tonight!!!!

Regards, Bill

 

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Subject:    Photo's
Date:             Sat, 13 Nov 1999 20:18:48 -0600
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete,

My dad's squadron, the 8th, is having their reunion in May of next year (2000) and I'm in the process of making plans to attend. I'm taking all my dad's photo's along with some militaria that was his and some that I have collected . My dad didn't talk too much about his wartime experiences so this will probably be my only chance go talk with and learn about that period from the people who were there. Its a dam shame that the vast majority of my fellow Americans know very little about what happened in the Pacific other than MacArthur's return and Iwo Jima. What's even worse is their total lack of knowledge about the men of Australia and New Zealand and how these "cobbers" and "mates" contributed to the defeat of both Japan AND Germany. Again, let me know if I succeeded or not with the photo's so I can make arrangements to get them to you

Regards, Bill

carla01.jpg (73473 bytes) L/R : Ottis Cunnagin KIA, "Pappy" Kosiah, "Ace" Guiles, Pete Mackies KIA, Bill Swain (dad)

Photo was taken at Port Moresby in Feb '43

carla02.jpg (241560 bytes) 3rd Attack Group

 

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Subject:     More Photo's
Date:          Thu, 18 Nov 1999 17:02:07 -0600
From:         
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete

Here's a couple of photo's. "BUB'S BROTHER" was flown by James L. "TWO-GUN" Brown, whom my dad said was the best pilot in the Pacific!!!

The "?" mark on the tail was given to Brown as the squadron ran out of letters!! Mr Brown said that at the time this was only the third a/c in the USAAF that ever carried that particular marking and was proud to have it. That plane was named in reference to his brother who's nickname was "BUB" Just for the books the tail # was 39422 and the Bu # was 43-9422.

The photo of Mr. Brown in front of the B-25's #1 engine was taken before the squadron transitioned over to A-20's. If you look close, you can see how Jim got his particular nickname!! Time to close for now so till the next time

Regards,
Bill

carla07.jpg (46800 bytes) "Bub's Brother #43-9422.

Note the question mark on the tail

carla08.jpg (34267 bytes) James L. "TWO-GUN" Brown
carla09.jpg (28219 bytes) James L. "TWO-GUN" Brown

 

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Subject:     Jack Heyn
Date:             Sun, 21 Nov 1999 01:22:12 -0600
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete:

Thanks for telling Jack Heyn about me. Got a real nice note from him tonight (Sat) and sent a response right back!!

I'm working on trying out the method of sending scans that you recommended but my computer guru is out of town this weekend so I'll try to get things going during the coming week. Sorry to say that the majority of photo's I have were taken in PNG and North but some are definitely Aussie. I have a photo of a R. "Chicken" Thorndock, who flew as a gunner on a couple of A-24 (Dauntless) missions, holding a koala named "KOLA-KOLA". Also have a few of the "Bush" I definitely have to make plans to come to "The Land Down Under" now that I know somebody from there. Time to close for now but again, thanks for letting Jack know about me and giving him my e-mail address. By the way, if someone wants to contact me but doesn't have access to a computer, here's my address and phone number:

W.J. Swain
9102 E. 59th Place
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
Zip. 74145
Phone..918-250-8815

Warmest Regards, Bill

 

carla10.jpg (13889 bytes) Rulon "Chicken" Thorndock and their mascot "KOLA-KOLA.

Thorndock flew as a gunner on a couple of A-24 (Dauntless) missions.

carla11.jpg (29519 bytes) ?
carla12.jpg (32394 bytes) L/R standing at rear:  Bill Swain and Harry Kiser

Kneeling L/R:  Nick Sowka and Charles Storms

I hope those guns aren't loaded!

 

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Subject:     Photo's
Date:              Wed, 24 Nov 1999 22:29:00 -0600
From:             
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete

Here's a couple of the photo's that I believe were taken in Australia. The top photo is titled " A native Village!"

The next two are not titled and the last just says "A friendly little game"

Hope to send more photo's as I get a chance to id ones that might be from "down under".

Regards, Bill

 

carla13.jpg (34443 bytes)

A native village!

Can anyone identify the location?

carla14.jpg (28463 bytes)

Can anyone identify the location?

carla15.jpg (36559 bytes)

Can anyone identify the location?

carla16.jpg (43204 bytes)

A friendly little game

 

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Subject:   RE: Photo's
Date:           Sun, 12 Dec 1999 01:04:16 -0600
From:         
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete.....Here's some more photos for you..

carla17.jpg (65759 bytes)

The four men in front of #2 engine are: l/r Candia, Lockwood, Sounhein and Barlow.

carla18.jpg (49342 bytes)

W.N.Swain, taken at Charters Towers
1942

carla19.jpg (38953 bytes)

Melon Time!!

Standing l/r..."Skid" Rowe (KIA)(Rabaul), "Sus", Clark,

Kneeling..l/r...Brywing, Warden, Lemnon (KIA)

carla20.jpg (37870 bytes)

"The Gunners" The only men id'ed are:

front row kneeling: l/r Wright (KIA), Wooding

third row standing.. l/r 5th 6th and 7th in line - "Skid" Rowe (KIA), Harris (KIA), Lemnon (KIA)

As I have said in my earlier e-mail many of the photo's are only partially id'ed and most have no id at all. I hope that your putting these photo's on the web might bring about some contacts that will help in getting them identified. Well it's time to close for now so

Happy Holidays to you and your family.
Warmest Regards, Bill

 


 

Subject:    A-24
Date:             Sat, 17 Jun 2000 19:05:26 -0500
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete

.....Been a long time since I last sent you some pics. Here's one that Larry Hickey id'ed as the remnants of an A-24 that was  involved in a mid-air collision at Charters Towers in 1942. I don't have any other info to go with it except what Larry gave.

Bill

a-24.jpg (40290 bytes)

Wreckage of an A-24 at Charters Towers

Collision of two A-24's at Charters Towers on 5 June 1942

 


 

Subject:    A-24
Date:             Sun, 18 Jun 2000 08:18:25 -0500
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Peter > Many thanks for the piccie. So you or Larry don't know the date in 1942 or the Aircraft Serial No.?

Larry mentioned a date, but like a dummy, I forgot to write it down. I'll See if I can get a s/n for you.

Peter > What's an A-24? Should know but have forgotten. Was that a 3 BG aircraft?

Army's version of the Dauntless Dive Bomber.

8th Squadron received them when the 27th was pulled out of the P.I.'s and merged with the 8th. (3 Bomb Group)

Bill

 


 

Subject:    Research Contact
Date:             Mon, 13 Dec 1999 09:06:03 -0600
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete.......Just a line to let you know a gentleman by the name of Scott Baker contacted me after seeing your site on the web.

Evidentally he's doing research for an article about the Battle of the Bismark Sea. He's trying to locate former Reapers who participated in that mission . I wrote back telling him that I would help in any way that I could. I expect him to probably contact Jack Heyn also. I'm pleased that your website has started to bring me contacts of any type and hopefully the contacts will grow!!

Thanks again Pete, so till the next photo delivery.

Warmest Regards, Bill

 


 

Subject:    Happy New Year!!!!!!:
Date:             Fri, 31 Dec 1999 23:32:40 -0600
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete!!!!

Happy New Year!!!!! I guess all the hypo about the millennium bug went down to tube!!!

Here's a pic of my ugly puss in the cockpit of a 767. The stare is from the fact that when this pic was taken , we were working OT doing functional checks prior to the flight crew getting the plane. Believe me when I say that after about 12+ hours in that seat you get a little tired!!

Well "ave a grog" on me and the best to you and your family in the new year.

Warmest Regards, Bill

767.jpg (37586 bytes)

 


 

Subject:     Test Photo
Date:              Thu, 6 Jan 2000 00:39:05 -0600
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Pete....Let me know if this photo comes thru ok. Sent a line to Jack about FAT CAT. Only know that it was in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea then turned into a Hack. Hoping Jack can give more info.

Bill

lc01.jpg (63478 bytes)

"Little Chief"

 


 

Subject:    Test
Date:             Thu, 13 Jan 2000 10:42:53 -0600
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Pete.....Let me know if this comes thru ok

Bill

fc01.jpg (50070 bytes)

"Fat Cat"

 


 

Subject:    Fat Cat and Little Chief
Date:             Mon, 17 Jan 2000 00:08:50 -0600
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete....

Jack sent some info to both of us about Fat Cat so that has been put to bed. As to Little Chief, I have no idea at all where, when, squadron, or even group info about it. Maybe Mike might have some info on it. Speaking of Mike, maybe you could forwarding the scans of FC and LC to him and see if the same problem exists between you two that I had. Here's another mystery plane that maybe you or one of friends down there might id.

Bill

marg.jpg (33754 bytes)

"Margie"

 


 

Subject:   OOOPS
Date:           Tue, 18 Jan 2000 16:29:20 -0600
From:         
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete.....

oops.jpg (44235 bytes)

Oops!

That little oops happened at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport back in 88'. Tried to abort t/o after a slat disagree light came on. Plane was an ex-Air New Zealand DC10-30 just 3 weeks out of Heavy Maintenance here in Tulsa. Needless to say that it ended up as a 28 million dollar aluminum scrap pile. I left the house at 4 o'clock Sat aft and didn't get home till the following Sat nite around midnight. Think I was on the clock for a total of 102 hours in that time frame. I was one tired puppy for a while.

While looking up some names, I discovered that I misspelled one of the guys name on one of the pictures that I sent you. The man's name is Ottis Cunnagin, NOT Otis Cunningham,

what I originally sent you! My dad's writing is pretty bad and my deciphering was worse. I found a couple of other pics that either Dad misspelled some of the or the AAF did!! Anyhow I would appreciate fixing my flub on your website. Here another pic of some of my buddies and me right before we went back to Tulsa. Well time to close for so till the next time,

Regards, Bill

mates.jpg (63691 bytes)

Bill's mates

 


 

Subject:     The Birds
Date:               Wed, 19 Jan 2000 18:28:11 -0600
From:             
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Pete.....

my kids flipped over the birds...We have two breeding pair of cockatiels. Two white-face males and two cinnamon females We have a English Pointer who goes nuts when the birds are out. Needless to say our home is not the most quiet house on the block!!

Bill

 


 

Subject:    Little Chief
Date:             Fri, 21 Jan 2000 19:26:15 -0600
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete.....

Was able to find some info about "Little Chief". Per one of your mate books, it seems that the Jolly Rogers reclaimed the bird from a salvage area and rebuilt it as a squadron hack!! That would explain the Jolly Roger emblem included in the nose art.

Bill

 


 

Subject:      Website contact
Date:               Fri, 3 Mar 2000 21:23:12 -0600
From:             
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Evening Pete....

Just a line to let you know I received a phone call from a Reaper's son who's dad remembers my dad.

Spent about an hour talking with the guy and trading info. His dad arrived in the Pacific in early 42' as a mechanic and was assigned to the 27th squadron. When the squadron was evacuated back to Australia, he was trained as a gunner in A-24's due to the lack of men to man that position. Luckily he ended up not flying as the 3rd arrived, bringing trained gunners, so he went back to being a mechanic.

Again, I have the pleasure of thanking you for your website and it's helping me in finding my dad's comrades!!

Warmest Regards,
Bill

 


 

Subject:    Abney C. Hines
Date:             Sat, 4 Mar 2000 08:30:14 -0600
From:          
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Morning Pete......

Sorry about not including the Gent's name in the e-mail. Abney C. Hines is the gent's name and he comes from Tennessee.

I was contacted by his son Bob who gave me the following e-mail address:

rhines@mail.state.tn.us

Warmest Regards, Bill

 


 

Subject:    Lt. Prince
Date:             Sun, 2 Apr 2000 21:40:55 -0500
From:          
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gday Pete......

Received an email from a gent who found your website and read my emails.

His dad was trying to find out anything about his brother who was lost in action in 1944.

I sent what info I could to him and he seemed pleased. I found out from Jack Heyn that he was also contacted from the same guy.

As I have said before, I deeply appreciate your hard work in setting up your site, and for the contacts I have received because of it.

Maybe one of these days I can take out for dinner to repay you for the help that your site has given me.

Take care and extend my regards to your family.

Bill

 


 

Subject:    Charlies Trowsers Mess
Date:              Thu, 6 Apr 2000 13:09:30 -0500
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Afternoon Pete.......

In the process of getting my dad's pics ready for the reunion and found this.

Ain't much but is definitely Aussie. Back of the pic says Charters Towers Mess 42'-43'

Also found some scenery pics but not sure if their from your neck of the woods. Is there any falls in Australia that are close to CT ?

If so I have some pics of it. IF your interested in the scenery pics, drop me a line.

Bill

ct01.jpg (51162 bytes)

Charters Towers mess

 


 

Subject:      ANOTHER CONTACT!!!
Date:               Thu, 20 Apr 2000 22:40:04 -0500
From:             
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gidday Pete......

Just a quick note to let you know I received another contact today....Gent worked WITH my dad in the Armament Section.

Gents name is Bob Wheeler and said that it was thru your website that he found me.

Said he left Japan in Nov 45' and for 55 years, never heard a word or knew if anything related to the 3rd, or the 8th Squadron was going on.

Thanks again friend for everything.

I'm definately going to head down your  way so you can "ava " grog on me!!!!

Bill

 


 

Subject:     Picture
Date:              Sun, 21 May 2000 08:19:20 -0500
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Gday Pete.....

thought you might like this pic.....mechanics at CT.....Mel was with the 8th before the war.....will send the pic with the names on a separate e-mail.

Bill

----- Original Message -----
From: <cmelf@concentric.net>
To:
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>
Sent: Saturday, May 20, 2000 2:45 PM
Subject: picture

Hello Bill--I sent the picture but messed up on your address so hear goes again------

I scanned the picture we talked about at the reunion and I'm going to try and send it with this E-Mail----Your Dad is not listed in it though but maybe your friend will be able to pick out someone----I also have the names of everyone on the back of the original but I'm sending that under a separate E-Mail---When you load these E-Mails down with too many attachments it takes forever to download them--- Do you remember when your Dad joined the 8th Sqdn.?????--- I have a Christmas Menu for December 25th 1939 and December 25th 1941 that listed everyone that was in the 8th Sqdn on those dates but your Dad is not listed in either one ---I don't have the menu for December 25th 1940 as Orville Casteel and I were at Chanute Field, Ill. going through the Aircraft Mechanics Course they taught at that time---- I was looking in the 3rd Group Book I have that was put out after I left the 8th Sqdn in New Guinea , called the "REAPERS HARVEST" and there was two people listed as being Awarded the "Air medal"--- One was Cpl. William Swain who I feel sure was your Father and the other was S/SGT Andres J. Swain but their Squadrons were not listed--- This picture is quite large so will take awhile to down load---- I didn't shrink it after scanning and it looks much better than I thought it would---If the picture doesn't come through let me know and I'll mail it you--- I really enjoyed talking to you at the Reunion and let me hear from you when you have the time---Regards--- Melvin Freeman

P.S.--- I have a picture of you talking to Orville on the Flight Line at Randolph Field I'm going to send also under Separate E-Mail---

 

ct02.jpg (227175 bytes)

8th Squadron at Charters Towers
29 October 1942

ct04.jpg (26292 bytes)

Names on the photograph

 


 

Subject:     "Two Gun"
Date:              Sat, 27 May 2000 20:23:59 -0500
From:            
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Giday Pete....

thought you'd like this pic of "Two Gun" Brown wearing his A-2 (ORIGINAL!!!).

Standing in the backround is Orville Casteel, and original Reaper before the war and an A-24 man.

Will send more pics in the following days which will include the Reunion .

Bill

b&o.jpg (39462 bytes)

James L. Brown - "Two Gun Brown"

 


 

Subject:    "Two-Gun" Brown
Date:             Sun, 28 May 2000 09:33:39 -0500
From:           
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Giday Pete......

".TwoGun Brown " is the pilot that flew " Bub's Brother."....... one of the photo's that I sent you a while back.

In reference to the A-2, its the same one he was issued when he joined the AAF back in 43' (not a reproduction)

Sorry about the lack of info, forgot how many contacts you receive about your website, please excuse the brain fade.

I've attached a back view of the A-2.....Japanese kanji is "Supposed" to say "Sting of Death" which was originally painted on a Strafer .

b&o1.jpg (39384 bytes)

 


 

Subject:    Glad you are back
Date:             Tue, 18 Jul 2000 21:08:57 -0500
From:          
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Pete....

thought you might like this info about Wilkin's B-25. Also the info about a crash at Dobodura.

Bill

----- Original Message -----
From: <cmelf@concentric.net>
To:
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>
Sent: Monday, July 17, 2000 2:43 AM
Subject: Glad you are back

Hi Bill----I Know you and the family had a great time on vacation and it was great that you made all those miles and returned safe and sound----Considering what the price of a gallon of gasoline is these days I'm sure glad I don't have your Gas bill to pay---- But as the old saying goes "It's only Money " and next year you can start all over----You said once you were going to try and make contact with Chester and I'm wondering if you did see him---- You mentioned going through the museum in Dayton---- I have never been there but sure would like to see it some day---but I don't know if I will ever be able to make it or not----Just have to wait and see--- You mentioned this Girl that you got an E-Mail from who's Dad was Capt. Robert Finch---- If He was ever in the 8th Sqdn., when I was I'm sorry to say I do not Remember him---If you could find out the Date he was there may help someone else to remember Him-----

I was the Crew Chief on Major Wilkins B-25 when he was the Commanding Officer of the 8th Sqdn. and it did have the Name "FIFI " painted on the Nose----- It also had painted on the left Engine Cowling the Name " Jaunita " who was the sister of a very good friend of mine before, during and after High School---- The Right Engine Cowling had the Name " Adell " painted on it also---- She was the Girl friend of the Assist. Crew Chief , Fred Faucheux who was from New Orleans, La. I know they were there since I help paint it -----When we were talking about Painting Names on the plane Major Wilkins told me FIFI was His girl Friend---- He didn't tell me but I heard Later She was an Australian Girl---- I also heard later that he had the name FIFI on the plane he flew in the 89th Sqdn. before he was Commanding officer of the 8th--- I don't remember ever actually seeing it but I did see a picture of it quite sometime later after the War--- You mentioned the Crash of a 90th Sqdn. B-25 that rolled on Take-off and Crashed----- It just so happens I was looking right at it when all that took place at Dobo.. I didn't know the names of any of the Crew but at the time I thought there was only 2 crew members aboard when it crashed --- But on test flights we always carried at least 3 crew members so you are probably right about being 3 on board if it was a test flight ---- When I first saw it it was about 100 to 150 ft in the air and had just started to Roll---- He had the Nose up at about a 20 or 25 degree angle and the engines were going full throttle and he never pulled back-on them-----He did not crash Inverted but completed the roll and had it right side up but had lost so much speed that the plane just pan-caked in with the still nose high attitude --- The wheels were up and when it hit the ground the whole thing exploded into big ball of fire and smoke---- It crashed about 2 or 3 hundred yards from where we were at --- some of the guys ran over to the crash site but I had no desire to go because I knew there would be no survivors and there was nothing I could do to help---- When I see something like that it kinda gives me a sick feeling-----

It's getting late so better shut this down and hit the sack---- Will talk to you later---

Melvin

 


 

Subject:    FAT CAT
Date:           Tue, 18 Jul 2000 21:20:38 -0500
From:         
William Swain <carlaswain@cox.net>

Pete......

Don't know if I ever sent this pic your way, but since you put ole "Fat Cat" on your site, I figured you might like it.

Bill

 

fc01.jpg (50070 bytes)

"Fat Cat"

carla21.jpg (26222 bytes)

Miami 1942 - Bill Swain on the right!!

 

carla22.jpg (56445 bytes)

Bill Swain catchin' a big one!

 

 

 

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