Ray Graves letter to crew of plane shot down during WW2, October 1, 1987   Save
Ray Graves letter to crew of plane shot down during WW2, October 1, 1987
Description: Letter from Ray Graves including a recollection about the B-17 that was shot down over France with himself and C. Walder Parke among those on board. Graves thanks all the crew members, addressed as "Big Dealers," for coming to their reunion, and then recounts the story in five pages. Graves was the pilot of the Flying Fortress referred to as "Mission Mistress" that day, and their crew was tasked with delivering supplies to allies in southern France. The crew consisted of Graves as pilot, Vern Kreger as co-pilot, Al Silva as bombardier, Parke as navigator, Ray Cabel as crew chief and top turret gunner, Henry Lence as radio man, Roland Attaway as ball turret gunner, Clif Eby and Norm Ratliff as waist gunners, and Manny Grant as tail gunner. Germans shelled two of their engines just past Caen, and the crew was forced to throw all non-essential materials overboard to reduce weight and stay in the air. Graves managed to find a landing strip in friendly territory, and everyone survived. Charles Walder Parke was born on July 28, 1924, and grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1942 intending to be a pilot during WWII, but spent most of his military career as a navigator on B-17 Flying Fortresses in the 94th Bombardment Group. Parke earned two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal with several Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his successful bombing missions, including some over Berlin. He is best known for being on board a B-17 which was shot down over France by German planes on June 25, 1944, during a non-combat mission. The crew managed to make an emergency landing, and everyone inside survived. After the war, Parke founded the Cleveland-based Laurel Industries Inc., which became a prominent supplier of antimony oxide to the plastics industry. He died of Lou-Gehrig’s Disease on September 15, 1996, at the age of 72. View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: MSS1510_B02F04_004_01
Subjects: 94th Bombardment Group; Recollection (Psychology); Fighter planes--Piloting; Surprise (Military science)
Places: Scottsdale (Arizona); Maricopa County (Arizona); England; France