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May 18, 2012 > Open House revives WWII memories

Open House revives WWII memories

Submitted By Noemi Dostal

An Open House was held at Hayward Executive Airport on May 12. Visitors enjoyed a display of classic aircraft, warbirds, corporate jets and helicopters; exhibits by the Federal Aviation Authority and others; free plane rides for kids in private aircraft; and met Tuskegee Airmen.

Additionally, the Experimental Aircraft Association's B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" was available for ground tours and flights. Proceeds benefited the EAA and Vintage Aircraft Association Chapter 29 which provides an annual scholarship to a young person between 15 and 21 years of age for flight training toward a pilot certificate.

The B-17 bomber flew Bay Area skies on May 7, 2012 with two veterans aboard. Fremont born-and-bred Art Kimber flew 39 combat missions, between January 1945 and May 1945, over northern Italy with the 89th Bombardment Squadron, 340th Bomb Group, 12th Air Force as a B-25 pilot/co-pilot. His squadron's job was to disrupt the supply lines between Italy and Germany and came to be known as "The Dental Squadron" because of their "bridge work." Initially based on Corsica, Kimber's squadron moved its base to Rimini as the battle-lines moved northwards.

"By this stage of the War, the Luftwaffe was a spent force so our main concern was flak over enemy territory. The anti-aircraft gunners had several years' experience and were very accurate," explained Kimber. "They got very close to us... and we didn't enjoy that," he added pensively. "We were lucky. The worst damage was a battery being shot out."

When the War in Europe was over, he re-trained to fly the A-26 Invader prior to deployment to the Pacific Theater but the use of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended hostilities before he took up his posting. Kimber was discharged as a First Lieutenant on October 30, 1945.

Interestingly, Kimber did not wait to be drafted, thinking it would be fun to join one of his high school friends, who had received the draft, doing so on March 31, 1943. Early in their training, they went their separate ways and were reunited unexpectedly on Corsica where Bob Hunt was an armorer.

Veteran Wayne Springsteen hails from Idaho and enlisted in the USAF in 1944. Thankfully, the War ended before he completed his training. Once he obtained his pilot's license and was discharged from the military, he flew search-and-rescue missions for the Civil Air Patrol. He also repaired M2 Browning .50 caliber machine guns. He has flown recreationally for almost 45 years. When he moved to Fremont in 1958, he used the airport where Orchard Supply now stands and another next to Dixon Landing. Springsteen's flight aboard the B-17 bomber on May 7, 2012 was his first since 1945.

For information about EAA Vintage Aircraft Chapter 29's Young Eagles Program and scholarship, visit www.VAA29.org or call (510) 703-1466.


Photo Caption: Art Kimber in 2012, aged 87.

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