Monday, July 13, 2015

USAF Uniform and Crash of B-26 in Australia

My Goodness.  I had no idea there were so many USAF servicemen and women and veterans reading this blog!  I have received more comments about our Air Force uniform in the last few weeks than any other blog for a while.

The controversy seems to be over the rank on the sleeve. Is it that of a Senior Airman or a Sergent?

Among the comments we received were: 

R. Walker, Brevet Major USAF 1952-1957 says “the three chevrons denote the rank of Airman First Class, A/1C, grade E4. This has been true since President Harry Truman separated the Army Air Corps from the army in 1948 and designated it The United State Air Force, an independent branch of the armed services.  The rank/position of Senior Airman has never existed in the USAF.”

D Dasch said he served in the Air Force 1960-1964 and the rank on this uniform is Airman First Class 9 or E-4 not Sergeant or Sr Airman.  He says the jacket is exactly like his.
"The Staff Sergeant insignia included a stripe under the star, making a total of four stripes. The jacket you are showing is that of the dress blues, which was worn underneath was light blue in color.  The other uniform we were issued was the summer uniform, which was tan short sleave shirt and pants. The work uniform was a blueish green fatigues, the belt was dark blue web belt and was worn with all the same uniform.  The reason I am so adamant about this matter, is because that is the exact (dress blue) jacket that I had worn while I was in the service.'

J Young, Gemunden, Germany, LTHS Class of 1962  said he joined the Air Force in 1966, and that our uniform pictured is like his “blues” uniform. The pocket was then on the outside, and was still that way when he got out in  1971. “The three stripe rank has always been E-3 although the “name” was not always the same. It was never Sgt while I was on active duty, at least not in the USAF but if my memory serves me right, the name during my tenure was Airman 1st Class, and changed from Airman 1st Class to Senior Airman while I was still on active Duty and the E-2(2-Stripes) received the title of A1C.

E Brumley said that when he served (1977-1981) this insignia (3 stripes with white star) would have been classified as a (buck) sergeant.  A blue star, with blue background, would have been classified as a Senior airman, but a white star would be Sergeant.  However, both Senior Airman and (Buck) Sergeant would have been the same pay grade of E-4.  

J Petty directed to  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Air_Force_enlisted_rank_insignia for current enlisted rank insignia.

So it appears that we need to  ACCURATELY date the uniform so that we can CORRECTLY  label the insignia. Thank you for all your help.   Please continue to send us your comments and any research you might find about this issue.  

(As an added benfit, when E Brumley came in to look at the uniform in question, he kindly went home and brought back his uniforms and donated all of them  to our collection.) 

In another e mail relating to the Air Force:

 M Musumeci of Mareeba, Queensland Australia  wrote  asking for information about John Aden Phipps allegedly born July 2, 1920 in Lawrence County Illinois.  He attended Campaign High School and completed 2 years of college.  At the time of his enlistment, his records stated that  was single without dependents stating his civil occupation was Actor.  He entered service as an Aviation Cadet, and enlisted in East St Louis, IL with the Air Corps on Nov 26, 1940. Mr Musumeci is writing a book about his tragic plane crash including the death of all on board on May 15, 1942 and is seeking photos, newspaper articles or relatives or other information who may be able to honor him in the book.

A B-26 Marauder, aircraft #40-1390, "Lil de Icer", of 408th Squadron, 22nd Bombardment Group, crashed on 15 May 1942 on take-off at Reid River, Australia near Townsville. Tragically, the following crew were killed in this crash:-Lt. John A. Phipps, pilot; Lt. Robert "Bud" M. Rye, pilot; Lt. James W. Currie, bombardier; S/Sgt. George H. Bullock, engineer; T/Sgt. John E. Cunningham, crew chief; Cpl. Duward R. Davis, Jr., engineer; Cpl. Joseph A. Kovach, mechanic; Lt. Jack W. Oliver, pilot (passenger)


John K found the following information in a newspaper article dated August 27, 1942.  A Hoosier World War I veteran who has lost one son in this war and has another in the Royal Canadian Air Force has enlisted in the Navy as an apprentice seaman. He is John a Phipps, 44 of Bruceville.  Phipps’s oldest son Lt. John A Phipps, Jr, 22, an army bomber pilot, was killed in action May 5 in a Far Eastern theater of war.  In training with the RCAF is William Edwards Phipps, 20. Phipps has a brother, Hillerary H Phipps, who received a medical discharge recently as a result of injuries received in the Battle of Midway. 

If you have any information to send the author please contact us and we will forward to him in Australia.