Tag Archives: 8th Air Force

WWII Film – CREW 713

We have had the son of an American airman contact us about a film he’s been making. Here are the details about this exciting film Alejandro Mena is directing in memory of his father and those who served during WW2:

CREW 713: THE MEN WHO FLEW “THE IRISHMAN’S SHANTY” is a WWII documentary film produced by Fiona Hall and directed by local Dallas filmmaker, Alejandro Mena.  Currently in production, the film is the story of Mena’s father’s B24 liberator bomber crew who flew bombing missions over Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany from their base in England in 1944.

Crew 713 Pic 3

CREW 713 was the first crew to complete a 30-mission combat tour with the bloody, violent and short-lived 492nd Bomb Group (H). The 492nd would go on to become the most devastated American heavy bomb group in WWII and was subsequently disbanded after only 89 days of combat service.  CREW 713 is Mena’s homage to his late father’s military service, a salute to the men who served in the 492nd and a glimpse into a brief window in time when the mighty 4-engine heavy bombers rained destruction down upon the Third Reich in their massive air armadas.  The producer’s goal is to educate and expand the knowledge about the Bomber Air War of WWII, specifically the contributions of the B24 Liberator bomber and the men who flew them.

Crew 713 Pic 2

The film provides a new twist on the WWII documentary genre.  CREW 713 will feature animation, re-enactments, archival footage, modern music, and interviews with 492nd veterans to tell the story of these venerable B24 liberator bomber boys.  Copies of the veteran interviews will be donated to The National Archives and to the WWII Museum in New Orleans, so that future scholars may study these men.

Crew713 Pic 1

Shanty Films LLC is still seeking sponsors to help fund the film. For more information and to contribute to their general production fund, please go to their website, www.crew713.com.

About the filmmakers:

Producer Fiona Hall served as the production manager on the 2011 Academy Award nominated film, THE ILLUSIONIST, produced by Pathe Films and directed by Sylvain Chomet.  Director Alejandro “Alex” Mena is a 20-year veteran of the Texas film and video production industry. Most recently, Mena served as director of operations for the 2014 Lone Star Film Festival & line producer on the independent film, The Last Possession.

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New 2nd Air Division E-book Collection

The 2nd Air Division Memorial Library has a new selection of e-books available! These titles are on loan through the digital library website at digitallibrary.norfolk.gov.uk.

You must also be a member of the library to borrow any of the e-books and you can join by going to Norfolk Library Joining Page.

Browse through titles such as Liberator and The Mighty Eighth in WWII

Cover of LiberatorCover of The Mighty Eighth in WWII

This new collection aims to make more of our books accessible to the public and we look forward to expanding our digital selection in the future.

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Saying Farewell to Chuck Walker

It is with great sadness we offer our deepest condolences to the family of Colonel Charles “Chuck” L. Walker who folded his wings on June 16th in Dallas, Texas.

During World War II, whilst he was stationed in the UK with the 445th Bomb Group, United States Army Air Force, at the village of Tibenham, Norfolk, Colonel Walker piloted 35 bombing missions over Nazi Germany in the B-24 ‘Liberator’.

After years of service and flying many successful missions, Colonel Walker became very active in keeping the memory and legacy of all those who had given their lives during the war. As a President of the 2nd Air Division Association, and Governor of the 2nd Air Division Memorial Trust, Colonel Walker, well in to his 90s participated in events, traveling across the pond yearly to help all those remember the past and never forget the service of those we lost. We salute you for your service and dedication. May you rest in peace.

Chuck and his wife, Dede at the Memorial Library

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Yes, Strong Men Do Cry

by Fred Becchetti (35 Missions, 445th BG, May-Sept. 1944)

     The bomb-run exhibit at the 8th Air Force Heritage Museum in Savannah, Georgia is a simple exhibit, but it made me cry.
     The exhibit consists of a film of a bomber flying its bomb run through flak, dropping its bombs on a target and pulling away.
     I sat on a bench and watched the film while all my senses were assaulted by flak bursting around the ship and by the unforgettable rattling sound of shrapnel striking the fuselage and bouncing off the plexiglass of my gun turret.
     “Bombs Away!” and the ship leaps several hundred feet in altitude from the lightening of its load.  The ship makes a sharp turn with the formation that lasts an eternity, as the flak explosions continue, with shrapnel pinging against the ship’s skin as the bombers head for home.
     The screened bomb run ends, the flak stops exploding, there is no rattle of shrapnel and I sit in silence on the museum bench and cry.
     My tears flowed from the memory of the waist gunner leaping out of a burning bomber over St. Lo without a parachute and falling, falling, falling 11,000 feet to the ground and eternity.
     I wept at the thought of the wounded B-17 in the smoke and fire over Berlin as it swooped below us in a long helpless glide while parachutes popped out “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… Can’t see any more of them.”
     The tears were for our own flight engineer, who at the advanced age of 26 experienced a deterioration of mind, nerves and body after only fifteen missions until he was grounded and sent home.
     I wept bitter tears for my best buddy, Vince Hamilton, who flew his quota of 35 missions and then, at the request of the 8th Air Force, remained in England to lend his skills in navigation, only to die in an explosion over Liverpool in a malfunctioning bomber.
     Above all, I wept for the tens of thousands of young men just out of their teens who had three to five years ripped out of their lives by the war, not to mention the tens of thousands who never came home.
     Yes, strong men do cry, and the war was something to cry about.


“Freddie” Becchetti, a Liberator bombardier, flew 35 bombing missions into Nazi Europe out of Tibenham, Norfolk in summer 1944, earning the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross.

Thank you, Fred, for continuing to share your memories with our blog readers.


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