Monday, September 23, 2013

Invader Crew Comes Home

Air Force Majors James Sizemore and Howard Andre were laid to rest, side by side, at Arlington National Cemetery today.  Their remains were recovered from a hillside in Laos, where they perished over 44 years ago.

Sizemore and Andre were flying B-26K 64-17646 on a 'Barrel Roll' night interdiction mission on the evening of July 8, 1969.  Their target was troop concentrations in central Laos.  During a strafing run, their aircraft was hit by enemy fire, and crashed into a hillside. 

This was the third B-26 lost by the 609th SOS in 1969.  Operating out of Nakhon Phanom AB in Thailand, the Invaders were very effective at attacking targets on the Ho Chi Minh trail at night.

The B-26s were rebuilt A-26s that had been manufactured during World War II.  Fast (for propeller aircraft), heavily armed, and with long loiter capabilities, they were ideal aircraft for the mission, and were widely regarded as the best night interdiction aircraft during the Vietnam conflict, with the exception of the AC-130 Spectre gunships.

30 B-26Ks served in the SEA theatre, with 12 being lost to enemy fire or in operational accidents.  They were retired from combat in November of 1969.

A Hero Passes ...

Pete George, a Dallas native, passed away this past week at the age of 93.  Mr. George was a Marine, serving in China before WWII, and then in the Phillipines when the war started.  Assigned to coastal defense on Corregidor, he fought until he received serious shrapnel wounds in May of 1942.  The day after he was wounded, Corregidor fell, and he began 42 months of hell being a POW of the Japanese.

18 months were spent in a prison hospital and then the Cabanatuan prison camp.  He was then transferred to Yokkaaichi Prison Camp No. 5, where he remained until liberated in August of 1945.

Mr. George was laid to rest at the DFW National Cemetery, with full military honors.

Godspeed, Mr. George ...