A few months back I was asked a question by Robert L. Mosley ( Lt Col. USAF Ret. ) regarding the A-20G at the Air Force Museum. When he was attending the 89th Attack Squadron Reunion in 1990, the aircraft showed on the tip of the vertical stabilizer the green marking of the 89th Attack Squadron which Bob served with during WWII. The A-20G is now painted as an aircraft of the 312th Bomb Group. He was curious as to when the aircraft was repainted. This led me to contact Dr. Jeff Underwood, the historian at the museum concerning the paint job. Here is his reply:

Gerry and Robert,

As we discussed on the phone, I was not here when the decision was made to repaint our A-20G.  We’ve done some research, and in 1961 the Bankers Life and Casualty Co. of Chicago donated this A-20G to the Museum.  In 1979, it was painted to represent an aircraft with the 89th.  Why that unit was chosen is unknown. Apparently, a number of individuals from various organizations made continued requests to have the aircraft repainted – each of them seems to have offered different recommendations.  In 1997, the Museum Director decided to paint the aircraft as a 312th Bomb Group, 389th Bomb Squadron.   We have no record of why that paint was chosen.

I hope this information helps.  From my personal, unscientific observations, the A-20G and its surrounding diorama attracts the attention of many visitors.

Best wishes,


Jeffery S. Underwood, Ph.D.

National Museum of the US Air Force Historian


1100 Spaatz Street

Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433-7102




Courtesy of Col. Les Shrum USAF Ret.



He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the  deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were  heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For  they knew where of he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Joe has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Veteran died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes  off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid  off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?

Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his  kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing  thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.    
For  when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran's part,
Is to clean up  all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might  say:




Lee Arbon
They Also Flew
The Enlisted Pilot Legacy, 1912-1942
ISBN 1-56098-837-1

While the history of the United States Air Force as a separate and independent component of the Department of Defense did not officially begin until September 1947, its roots went back to August 1907, when its parent, the Army, began to concern itself with aeronautics.

Understandably proud of its new status, the Air Force had to look to its future. Only recently has it begun to reflect on its earlier, humbler beginnings-beginnings that included a small number of enlisted pilots.

Those of us who served their nation as enlisted pilots, even if for a little while, have found it humbling to learn that few ever knew we served. When the term enlisted pilot, or sergeant pilot, is introduced into any appropriate conversation today, and draws only a blank response, an accounting seems overdue.

I have undertaken this writing to place the legacy of this small number of pilots into the literature, and to inform its readers that from 1912 to 1942 enlisted pilots also flew.

I have chosen to use the terms aeroplane and airplane in their contemporary context, that is, aeroplane, 1903-17, and airplane, 1917-42.

A caveat in closing: Since I am neither a writer nor a historian, my reconstruction of the sergeant pilot story, drawn from documents forty-five to eighty-two years old as well as from the recollections of individuals years after the events, is bound to be flawed by time and bias. It is, however, as careful and honest an account as I can construct. Readers who discover such flaws would do this account a favor by bringing them to the author's attention. -Lee Arbon

Source: http://www.b26.com/page/they_also_flew.htm

Obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/statesman/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=152042957

The sergeant pilot training program ended in late 1942 since the educational requirement for cadets had been lowered to that for an aviation student (high school diploma) and all students were to be appointed at graduation as flight officers or second lieutenants. The promotion of those pilots still sergeants was ordered on Nov. 17, 1942, but promotions didn't catch up with
all sergeant pilots who were overseas until 1944. Eventually, nearly all became second lieutenants. Not wanting to be mistaken as unblooded new pilots, some of these combat veterans scoured their new gold bars with dirt until they resembled those of first lieutenants. (In World War II, AAF regulations also provided for enlisted glider pilot and enlisted service pilot, but generally such pilots were flight officers or above.)




F/O Hobart R. Rankin - 8th

F/O Abraham E. Shook - 8th

F/O Dwight E. Turner - 8th

F/O Harvey O. Truesdale - 89th

F/O William R. Shrum - 8th

F/O Jack K. Harrington - 90th *

F/O Horace B. Monroe - 90th *

F/O Jay I. Shoop - 90th

F/O Harold R. Prince - 90th

F/O Urban L. Arens - 90th

F/O William O. Ruse - 90th

F/O Kenneth R. Ladd - 90th

F/O Bruce R. Bell - 89th

* Both of these officers were enlisted men based in Hawaii prior to December 7, 1941.
They both became classmates along with Dwight E. Turner at Hancock College of Aeronautics
and became Flight Officers and subsequently Lts. with the 90th Squadron while Dwight Turner (Major USAF Ret.)
was assigned to the 8th Squadron.

The Flight Officer's Act was signed into law until November 1942, it appears that Flight Officers were assigned to the 90th BS 3rd BG in May 1943.