Veterans of Foreign Wars: Howard Pitts

World War II and the Greatest Generation

Howard Eugene Pitts, 782nd Bomb Squadron, 465th Bomb Group, 55th Bomber Wing, Fifteenth Army Air Force, European Theater of Operations

Howard E. Pitts, B-24 Flight Engineer, Pantanella Air Base, Italy, 1944

Howard E. Pitts, B-24 Flight Engineer, Pantanella Air Base, Italy, 1944

I was raised by the generation that fought World War II and I honor them. My father, my Uncle Howard, my grandmother’s brother, Uncle John, along with many others I knew are representative of this “Greatest Generation.” They are American heroes. It’s worth pointing out that if these men were perfect and didn’t suffer from the usual human shortcomings they wouldn’t be heroes, they’d just be, well, normal.

My uncle, Howard Pitts, who lives in College Grove, Tennessee, flew B24 Liberators for the US  Fifteenth Army Air Force during World War II based at Pantenella, Italy with the 55th Wing, 465th Bomb Group (Heavy), 782nd Bomb Squadron.  Between September 1944 and March 1945 he flew a total of 60 missions, 35 of which were designated combat sorties.  Howard Pitts’ “Little Friends” over Germany were sometimes the famous Red Tails of the Tuskegee Airmen, who flew escort for the Fifteenth Air Force.

465th Bomb Group Tail Markings & 15th AAF Shoulder Insginia

465th Bomb Group Tail Markings & 15th AAF Shoulder Insignia

Go here for a video of Howard’s memories found on Google Video.

Uncle Howard was Flight Engineer on the  B24 Liberator, most commonly planes known as “Myakinas” (as in, “My Aching Ass”), “No Love, No Nothin'”, and occasionally the very famous “V-Grand” (the 5000th Consolidated B24 Liberator built).

B-24, No Love, No Nothin'

B-24, No Love, No Nothin’

When not busy with the typical chores of the Flight Engineer, he was responsible for combat photography.  Flying over Blechammer Germany he took a very famous and very tragic photograph.

Uncle Howard’s plane took up the lead position for the mission and returned safely after their successful bomb run over Blechhammer.

Howard’s Crewmates

John Charlton, Pilot
Otis Scott, Co-Pilot
Harold Glasser, Bombadier
Howard Pitts, Flight Engineer
Herbert Talin, Navigator
Floyd King, Radio Operator
Wade Good, Ball Turret & Armorer
Charles Walters, Upper Gunner
Charles Iseminger, Tail Gunner
Joseph Biondo, Nose Gunner

Howard E. Pitts Official Combat Missions, 15th Army Air Force, ETO

(Howard Mission #/ 465th BG Mission #)

  1. /  81, 12-Sep-44, Wasserberg, Germany, Jet Aircraft Factory
  2. /  82, 13-Sep-44, Oswiecin, Poland, Synthetic Oil Plant
  3. /  83, 17-Sep-44, Budapest, Hungary, Cslell Oil Refinery
  4. /  84, 18-Sep-44, Szob, Hungary, Railroad Bridge
  5. /  85, 20-Sep-44, Hatvan Hungary, Marshalling Yards
  6. /  87, 23-Sep-44, Cararsa, Italy, Railroad Bridge
  7. /  88, 24-Sep-44, Scaramanga, Greece, Submarine Docks
  8. /  89, 04-Oct-44, Munich, Germany, Marshalling Yards
  9. /  90, 07-Oct-44, Ersekujvar, Hungary, Marshalling Yards
  10. /  93, 12-Oct-44, Bologna, Italy, Stores Depot
  11. /  94, 13-Oct-44, Blechammer, Germany, South Oil Refinery
  12. /  96, 17-Oct-44, Vienna, Austria, Industrial Area
  13. /  97, 20-Oct-44, Prien, Germany, Targets of Opportunity
  14. /  99, 04-Nov-44, Linz, Austria, Benzol Plant
  15. /101, 05-Nov-44, Vienna, Austria, Florisdorf Oil Refinery
  16. /103, 07-Nov-44, Isarco-Albes, Italy, Railroad Bridge
  17. /105, 16-Nov-44, Munich, Germany, West Marshalling Yards
  18. /114, 06-Dec-44, Bratislava, Hungary, Marshalling Yards
  19. /119, 15-Dec-44, Amstetten, Germany, Marshalling Yards
  20. /122, 18-Dec-44, Blechammer, Germany, North Oil Refinery
  21. /124, 20-Dec-44, Brüx, Germany, Oil Refinery
  22. /126, 27-Dec-44, Maribor Area, Yugoslavia, Marshalling Yards
  23. /128, 29-Dec-44, Verona, Italy, Marshalling Yards
  24. /131, 20-Jan-45, Linz, Austria, Marshalling Yards
  25. /136, 08-Feb-45, Vienna, Austria, Marshalling Yards
  26. /140, 14-Feb-45, Schwechat, Austria, Oil Refinery
  27. /142, 16-Feb-45, Regensburg, Germany, Airdrome
  28. /144, 19-Feb-45, Vienna, Austria, Marshalling Yards
  29. /146, 21-Feb-45, Vienna, Austria, Marshalling Yards
  30. /148, 23-Feb-45, Villach, Austria, Marshalling Yards
  31. /154, 25-Feb-45, Linz, Austria, Ordinance Depot
  32. /155, 04-Mar-45, Szombathely, Hungary, Marshalling Yards
  33. /158, 12-Mar-45, Vienna, Austria, Marshalling Yards
  34. /160, 14-Mar-45, Nove Zamky, Czechoslovokia, Marshalling Yards
  35. /163, 19-Mar-45, Muhldorf, Germany, Marshalling Yards

Howards’ Decorations

Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal (with Four Oak Leaf Clusters)
Army Good Conduct Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Southern France Defense Medal
American Defense Service Medal

He also received the following marksmanship badges…

Sharp Shooter – Pistol
Marksman – Rifle
Marksman – Sub Machine Gun

Howard makes his home in College Grove, Tennessee where he lives quietly with his wife, Marjorie.

Fifteenth Air Force Summary
During it’s mere 18 months existence during World War II, and largely operating out of southern Italy, the Fifteenth destroyed 6,282 enemy aircraft in the air or on the ground and dropped 303,842 tons of bombs on the enemy while racking up 148,955 heavy bomber and 87,732 fighter sorties against the Axis.  The Fifteenth lost 3,364 aircraft and 21,671 personnel killed, wounded, missing or captured.

 

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26 Responses to “Veterans of Foreign Wars: Howard Pitts”

  1. Marcellus Stromberg Jr Says:

    The V Grand was assigned to the 780th BS, it was at the same bone yard as the Memphis belle. When the history channel did a story on the Memphis Belle you could see it on the other side while they showed the nose of the Belle. My father did a couple of mission in the V Grand, but his plane was the Agony Wagon. Lt Marcellus Stromberg had 52 missions with the Agony Wagon and was the original pilot in crew 8W.

  2. Timothy Good Says:

    Not sure if any of you were lucky enough to be at the WWII Memorial in D.C. for the 70th anniversary of VE day. I live just west of D.C in the Virginia countryside and learned the planes participating in the flyover might be assembling around our area.

    At the appointed time, I went into my yard, heard a plane and caught a glimpse of a B-24 entering a cloud and then bursting out the other side. Over the next half hour or so a host of WWII aircraft filled the skies. The B-24 circled my location twice more. The last I saw of it was flying dead away with three P-51’s flying a flanking escort. Magnificent!

    My father and I, Wade Good, the crew’s ball turret gunner, toured the B-24 in the 90’s at one of the Oshkosh, WI fly-ins. It was the first time he had been aboard a B-24 since the war. Quite an emotional experience.

    I had toured the bomber in Oshkosh once before doing so with my father. During that first tour an older gentleman was standing in the bomb bay, very contemplative. I remarked, “You look like you have been here before.” He told me that he had bailed out of a B-24 during the second Polesti raid and been a POW for the duration.

    For those interested, here is the link to the recent Arsenal of Democracy Flyover. It is an excellent read:
    http://ww2flyover.org/

    Love your site and visit often just to keep up. Thanks.

  3. I ran across your website while searching for information on V-Grand. My Uncle James C Hanselman flew that aircraft on his 50th mission (or at least that’s what my dad told me). I got his copy of “780 Memoirs”. The neat thing about this flight was that his father James W Hanselman had signed the aircraft at the Convair plant in San Diego. If you are interested I have three pictures with the aircraft in the background, and my uncle, along with the negatives for them.
    Very nice website!

    • I’d love to have a digital copy of the photos and permission to use them in a blog post. If your uncle flew V-Grand my uncle may have known him.

      Thank you very much!

  4. Jason Edgell Says:

    Loved the info. My grandfather,Leonard Edgell was a top turret gunner in the 782nd bomb squadron out of pantenella, Italy. I have a pic of him and his crew in front of the liberator No Love No Nothing. He was shot down over Vienna on march 22 1945, survived as a POW. He was my hero growing up, they don’t make men like them guys anymore. Really enjoyed your info.

    • Cheri Green Says:

      I also have a photo of my dad and his crew in front of b 24 liberator no love no nothing, were there two? He was 15th airforce, 55th wing 465 th bomb group 782 nd squadron.

      • Cheri, from what I understand from my uncle, some crews did not have a specific plane only they would fly. Crews slated to fly would be assigned any plane that was available. Also, some special planes were in demand like V-Grand. Everybody wanted a turn with that plane. Crews thought they were lucky somehow. Also, planes would stay until destroyed or assigned to new crews. Crews would finish their tours and rotate back to the states as new replacement crews took over their planes.

      • Brenda Wolfe Says:

        Cheri, My father-in-law flew on the No Love No Nothing, would love to see if the group picture had him in the picture. He had taken a picture of this plan while there in Pantanella, Italy, He was in the 782nd BS, 465th BG. (Daniel H. Wolfe, ball Turret gunner)

      • My Uncle’s crew flew many different planes because they did not have an assigned bird. Sort of a “float” crew. Wade Good was the Ball Turret gunner on that crew.

    • Joel Serafin Says:

      My uncle, John Thomas Stricklin was a tail gunner on No Love No Nothin. I have his diary. He flew the same mission to Vienna on March 22. Not sure which B24 he flew that day. He wrote in the diary: Made our 15th today. Went to Vienna. Got all shot up. Anthony was flying lead. A went down. Brisse didn’t fly today. Flak was accurate. Lost several planes.

      I would love to have crew photos that include my uncle (765th BG, 782nd BS. His first mission was Nov 16, 1944.

      I have a picture of him in front of No Love No Nothin. Nott sure of date.

    • Joel Serafin Says:

      I just found a report on FOLD3 showing that No Love No Nothin, SN 42-52533 was shot down March 2, 1945, 20 days prior to the Vienna mission. The target was Linz, Austria. According to my uncle’s diary, he did not fly on March 2. The FOLD3 report lists all the crew members that were lost, and next of kin.

      There was a second No Love No Nothing B24 based in England. It collided with another B24 on D Day. Both crashed into the English Channel. 19 of 20 crewmen died. The other became a POW. I can probably find its report on FOLD3 as I do have its serial number

    • Joel Serafin Says:

      Not sure what happened to my earlier reply. No Love No Nothin went down on March 1, 1945. My uncle , John Thomas Stricklin was a gunner in the 782nd. He kept a diary, and has an entry for Mar 1. Also for March 22. He was on the same mission as your GF but a different plane. I will be glad to share what I learned.

  5. Bob Walter Says:

    Ken,
    I just happened upon your website while doing a search for information about the 782nd Bomb Squadron. I was overjoyed and filled with emotion to see the picture of your Uncle Howard. I remember seeing a picture or two of him in my fathers stuff. Charles Walter, the upper turret gunner, on your Uncle’s crew, is my dad. I have not been in contact with anyone in the crew since my dad passed away in 2004. I received a very nice letter from John Charlton and a copy of the book he wrote with Otis Scott, “B-24s at War.” I am in total awe about this courageous, selfless and humble generation. Thank you so much for publishing this website. I would greatly appreciate any new links you might have – the links above are no longer valid, including the video of Howard’s memories. If you are interested, I can send you digital scans of the pictures I have.
    – Bob Walter

  6. My Uncle was part of the 782nd. He was a ball gunner on the Bar Fly. If anyone has any info on him or pictures of the Bar Fly I would love to get in contact with you.

  7. All of these guys were heroes!

  8. Wallace Craig Says:

    Hope this gets to you. A friends Dad, now gone, was a photo officer in the 15th AF at Panatanella. Recently, the friend opened some of his Dad’s things and found 100’s of photos, including some of “No Love, No Nuthin’. Found you thru a google link to the plane. I’m in the process of scanning/enlarging/cleaning the photos for exhibition.

  9. Timothy Good Says:

    My father, Wade Good, was the ball-turret gunner. I thought, for accuracy’s sake, I should point out that his last name is spelled ‘Good’ and not ‘Goode’ as appears above. My father, Wade, passed away in 2007. He and my mother very much enjoyed the crew reunions. I called all the crew members when my father passed but I am pretty sure I spoke only with Howard and I got John Charlton’s voice mail who returned my call but got my voice mail.

    When my mother, Grace, passed in 2009, I sent the obituary to the address I had on file for each crew member. I received a nice note from Ms. King and and in 2010, I got a wonderful letter from John Charlton. All the other letters were returned unopened.

    I have all of my father’s service records as well as his flight case, filled with mission photos–treasured possessions.

  10. Vanessa Pitts Says:

    Mr. Pitts is my former father-in-law and I am glad to see that his service and heroism has been documented. I have always had alot of respect for him and found that he was reluctant, like many in his generation, to talk about his experiences in WWII. His grandaughters will also appreciate having this record, he is truly an example of ‘The Greatest Generation’ to be proud of.

  11. Topsy Wallace Says:

    What a guy!!! Thank you, Howard, for protecting us. We send you our love and thanks on this Veteran’s Day.

    Topsy Wallace

  12. Daniel Schuman Says:

    I am the grandson of Lt. Harry E. Schuman. He was a co-pilot on ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama’ and pilot of “Flak Hack”; both B-24’s of the 465th while stationed at Pantanella, Italy. It is nice to see what you have done for your uncle. I am in the process of reconstructing my grandfather’s medal set and also trying to obtain a leather patch set as he had on his flight jacket. Not easy! Anyway, I am unsure if I have any pictures of your uncle but will look through them all. Regards, Daniel

  13. Patricia Kollander Says:

    I’m a history professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and have been working on an oral history of Harold Glasser over the past two years. I regret to inform those who knew him that Mr. Glasser passed away on 10 July 2010 in his Highland Beach home. Here is a link to his obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/herald/obituary.aspx?n=harold-l-glasser&pid=144063945

    The oral history of Mr. Glasser is still in progress. It would be helpful if I could contact those who knew him to supply remembrances for the book.

    Many thanks in advance for your help.
    Patricia Kollander
    Professor of History

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