World War II Airmen Reunited with B-24 Liberator

5 World War II veterans (seated) of the 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy) pose with family members in front of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil” on Friday, Oct 16th. Over 50 members of the 380th Bomb Group Association toured the historic bomber at the CAF National Airbase at Dallas Executive Airport in Dallas, Texas. (Photo Credit: Konley Kelley)
5 World War II veterans (seated) of the 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy) pose with family members in front of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil” on Friday, Oct 16th.  Over 50 members of the 380th Bomb Group Association toured the historic bomber at the CAF National Airbase at Dallas Executive Airport in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Konley Kelley)
5 World War II veterans (seated) of the 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy) pose with family members in front of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil” on Friday, Oct 16th. Over 50 members of the 380th Bomb Group Association toured the historic bomber at the CAF National Airbase at Dallas Executive Airport in Dallas, Texas. (Photo Credit: Konley Kelley)

PRESS RELEASE – On Friday October 16, 2015, five veterans of the World War II-era United States Army Air Forces gathered with their families at the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) National Airbase at Dallas Executive Airport to tour Diamond Lil, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber similar to the aircraft they flew as young men on deadly missions over the Pacific Ocean.  The company, members of the 380th Bomb Group Association, were hosted by volunteers from the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron in a program that provided a deeply personal glimpse into a pivotal, but fading period in world history.“World War II history buffs are familiar with the B-24 Liberator” said Toni Rabroker, CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron member who worked with the reunion organizers, “but what most people don’t know is the Liberator was the most produced American aircraft of the Second World War and was flown worldwide by men from throughout the United States and the British Commonwealth.”
Liberators were utilized by the United States Army Air Forces, Navy, and Marines, as well as the Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force.  The aircraft was instrumental in defeating the Nazi U-boat and conducted high and low altitude bombing missions against the Axis powers around the globe.  A conservative estimate is over 250,000 men flew Liberators in combat operations during World War II.

380BombGp_medThe 380th Bombardment Group, nicknamed “The Flying Circus”, was based in Australia and the Philippines, 1943-1945.  The unit, comprised of four squadrons, flew the longest bombing missions of World War II, several exceeding 2,000 miles in unpredictable and unforgiving weather conditions.  Beginning in 1981, reunions have been held each year in cities throughout the United States.  While the number of veterans within the group has dwindled with time, the association remains committed to memorializing the service of its members, many who were still too young to purchase beer when they returned home. Visit www.380th.org for more information about the association.

For the five airmen of “The Flying Circus”, seeing Diamond Lil was the highlight of a reunion that rekindled seventy year friendships and shared memories of tropical heat, 12 hour long missions, harrowing air battles and loss.Of the 16 million men and women who served in the military during World War II, the Veterans Administration estimates 850,000 are alive today.The Liberator epitomized the Arsenal of Democracy, the collective effort of American industry to arm and supply the Allied nations during the Second World War.  Over 18,000 B-24’s were manufactured by Consolidated Vultee, Ford Motor Company, Douglas Aircraft and North American Aircraft between the years of 1939 and 1945 in factories located around the country.  The state of Texas contributed 4,700 B-24s from plants in Dallas and Ft. Worth.Diamond Lil, built in 1941, was the 25th B-24 produced by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. Purchased by the CAF in 1967, the aircraft is the oldest remaining B-24 in the world.Rabroker noted “We believe our B-24, Diamond Lil, is a treasure, but the crown jewel is our veteran’s stories that should be preserved for history and shared with families.”

About the CAF’s B-24 Liberator Diamond Lil
Diamond Lil, built in 1941, was the 25th B-24 produced by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. It is the oldest remaining B-24. Out of the over 18,000 produced, this airplane is one of only two still flying today. The CAF purchased this B-24A in 1967 and she has performed majestically before thousands of people for over 40 years. Originally configured as Diamond Lil, a transport aircraft, with markings of the 98th Bomb Group, she underwent a major restoration in 2006 with the intent of returning her back to the original bomber configuration and renamed Ol’ 927. In the winter of 2011-2012 the Squadron voted to return the name Diamond Lil to the aircraft with newly updated nose art. The airplane is maintained and operated by the volunteers of the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29/B-24 Squadron based at the Commemorative Air Force National Airbase at Dallas Executive Airport.  In the future, the B-24 will be joined by other World War II military aircraft as part of a collection to be housed at the Commemorative Air Force National Airbase.
Visit the CAF B29-B24 Squadron for more information www.cafb29b24.org/.

B-24s after an attack on Nauru in the Pacific
B-24s after an attack on Nauru in the Pacific

About the Commemorative Air Force
1957, a small group of ex-service pilots pooled their money to purchase a P-51 Mustang, beginning what is now called the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). With the addition of a pair of F8F Bearcats, the CAF became the founders of the Warbird Movement, an effort to preserve and honor our military aviation history with the rallying cry “Keep ‘Em Flying!” Now, nearly 60 years later, the CAF operates 164 flyable vintage aircraft for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations. A non-profit educational association, the CAF has more than 10,000 members and its fleet of historic aircraft is distributed among 83 units located in 25 states for care and operation. For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org or call (432) 563-1000.

7 Comments

  1. My father-in-law was a B24 Aircraft Commander. He flew missions in the Pacific Theater in 1944-45. He is now a very active 94 year old. I don´t imagine there are many men like him left.
    Dennis Dolgin

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