Lawrence Dietz: P-40 Mechanic in the Aleutians
by Doug Dietz

I recently found some photo's by my grandfather. His name was Lawrence Dietz. He was stationed in the Aleutians (Shemya) during WWII, and was a sheet metal worker who fixed the planes up after battle. Attached are some pictures he took of a P-40.

Lawrence Dietz
Sheet Metal Worker AAF 555
32nd Air Sv Sq 23rd Sv Gp
He served on Shemya (where the photos were taken) between 6 Nov 43 to 25 Nov 45.
Passed away 2005

I have attached a photo of this squadron (not sure if squadron is the proper term?) on Shemya.

Lawrence Dietz is back row far left.

Lawrence Dietz back row far right.

(Click photo to enlarge)

An interesting story of my grandfather's. I tried to confirm this story with some death records of Shemya that I found on the internet, but there was not record of this event that I could find.

A squadron of B-24's were being escorted by P-38's, coming back to Shemya. There was a ship with nurses off shore. Evidently it was not unusual for fighters to dive on and "buzz" ships to show off for the females on board (when the pilots knew there were females there). Some of the P-38's broke formation, zipped over the ship deck, pulled up just clearing the top of a cliff on the island. But on this occasion, a B-24 also broke formation with the P-38's and "buzzed" the ship. But not agile enough to clear the cliff, slammed into it as those ashore watched in horror. I don't recall exactly the crew size of the B-24 (I think it was 9 or 10), but it took them a number of days to recover all the bodies. Some still strapped in seats. He made mention that he saw many types of accidents with planes that involved horseplay. This one was by far the worse, but such things were not officially reported or they were covered up.

As told by Lawrence Dietz to myself (to the best of my recollection).

© Doug Dietz 2009