New Stamps Feature Lost WWII B-24 Bomber
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -- While most in the U.S. were celebrating Victory in Europe
day in 1945, the families of several young Americans were receiving
dreaded telegrams that told of loved ones lost in battle.
Those men were the crew of the Black Cat, the last B-24 bomber shot down
over Germany in World War II. They were being remembered Friday with a
set of U.S. postage stamps, including one featuring their airplane.
"It's a tremendous gesture, coming 60 years after that plane was shot
down," said Thomas Childers. His uncle, Howard Goodner, was the plane's
To Art Peterson of Spring Grove, Ill., the stamp is a memorial not just
to the Black Cat crew, but to all who flew B-24s in the war and to the
workers who built the bombers.
Peterson was a a baby at the time and does not remember his father,
Robert, who was a waist gunner on the plane.
The Petersons had been together only a few days when the father went
overseas. Art Peterson got to know him in later years by reading letters
sent to his mother.
"Dad treasured his family and his comrades in arms," Peterson said. "We
all need to appreciate the bravery of the airmen who paid a steep price
in blood to help preserve our freedom and democracy."
Al Perella of Joliet, Ill., agrees that "after 60 years, it is an honor"
for that crew to be remembered via a postage stamp.
When he heard his brother Jack, the plane's navigator, was missing in
action, "I wanted to fight," Perella recalled. He joined the Navy at 17,
but the war ended before he saw combat.
Childers, who teaches history at the University of Pennsylvania in
Philadelphia, published the book "Wings of Morning" in 1995, which
features letters sent between the crew of the Black Cat and their
The letters were censored and soldiers were told not to write things
that would upset their families, so many letters are bland and cheerful,
Childers said in a telephone interview.
Yet one, from his uncle, said: "Mother, I just want you to know, no boy
who has gone overseas wants to get home more than I do."
That letter was written the day after the plane's first combat mission.
A letter dated April 21, 1945 -- the day Goodner was killed -- said: "I
sure would like to see some good old Tennessee sunshine about now...but
I guess we'd better go and get this war over with."
The Black Cat is one of 10 airplanes featured in the new set of 37-cent
stamps to be issued Friday at ceremonies in Vienna, Va., and Oshkosh,
Wis. The stamps go on sale nationwide on Saturday.
Besides the B-24 Liberator, the American Advances in Aviation stamp set
* Beechcraft Bonanza, a private plane featuring a distinctive V-tail to
reduce weight and drag;
* Grumman F6F Hellcat, a World War II workhorse fighter flying from
* Boeing B-29 Superfortress long-range bomber that served in both World
War II and Korea;
* Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing, a futuristic project in the late 1940s;
* Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat, first operated in 1936;
* Ercoupe 415, designed in the mid-1930s introducing safe, practical
technologies for general aviation;
* Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, an immense, fast, rugged fighter that saw
wide use in World War II;
* Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, the first operational U.S. jet fighter;
* Boeing 247, the first modern commercial airliner.
On the Net
U.S. Postal Service: http://www.usps.com
Have you read "Wings of Mourning?". IIRC written by Walter Boyne. He did a good job of telling the story of the crew.