By Spc. Monica K. Smith, 3rd CAB, 3rd ID Public AffairsMay 29, 2009
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Rain didn't stop the 492nd Bombardment Group from taking their scheduled visit to Hunter Army Airfield, May 21. More than 20 members of the bomb group and their Families were in Savannah Memorial Day weekend for the annual convention of the 492nd Bombardment Group.
"We wanted to come out here because of the aviation background we have here," said Mary Barnard. "Some of them had been to Hunter before going to Europe. We want the Soldiers to realize the older generation who fought in World War II is still very interested in what the military is doing."
The group toured a hanger, which held five aircraft: Apache, Black Hawk, Chinook, Kiowa Warrior and MEDEVAC helicopters. At each aircraft were 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers who talked with the veterans and their Family Members, sharing stories and information.
"Aviation (today) is way past my expectations," said Ed Alexander, former bombardier with the bomb group. "They can do everything now. They can even fly aircraft by themselves with some guy on the ground."
As the Soldiers talked with the veterans, many said they were moved by what the former bombardier's experienced during their time in the military.
"Some of their stories were inspirational to me," said Chief Warrant Officer Joe Wicenzick, Apache pilot in Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. "Especially inspiring is their general attitude and outlook on life."
"I think Soldiers can take away the example of their camaraderie," said Chief Warrant Officer Mitch Brady, A Co., 1/3 Avn. "World War II was a long time ago and these guys are still getting together to talk about old times and keep in touch with each other."
Having lost more men and planes in a shorter period of time than any other bombardment group in the history of the U.S. Air Force, the group was given the nickname "Hard Luck Group." The group flew 67 missions during their 89 days of combat in World War II. During that short period of time, the group lost 55 planes and 520 Airmen. They were the first and only group in the European Theater of Operations to be disbanded due to high casualties.
"People always thank us for their freedom, but it starts with them," said Chief Warrant Officer Kyle Johnson, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Avn. Regt. "They're the real heroes, and it's an honor to have them here for Memorial Day weekend."