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