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BOMBARDIER
Sgt. Richard E. Oliver


Born in Oklahoma, Richard Oliver move to California before enlisting in 1939 to the US Army. Trained as a bombardier, he joined the crew of B-17E 41-2446 in Hawaii replacing their original bombardier. Oliver had the misfortune of being involved in two crashes that occurred on the 23rd of the month, first a B-24 off Hawaii on January 23rd, and second the force landing in the swamp on February 23rd.

After their escape, Oliver had good news: his wife had given birth to his first son while he was missing. He received the Silver Star for his role in the February 23, 1942 mission, and later, field commission. Oliver flew about 30 more missions as a bombardier in the Pacific, including the Battle of the Coral Sea. 

He then returned to the United States to train new bomber crews, lecturing and doing war bond sales for the military with his story of survival while training new bomber crews in Texas. After the war, he retired from the military.

Later, Oliver re-enlisted opting to stay in the US Army as a Master Sergeant and served a year and a half in Korea in an engineering unit. In the military, he worked in the Pentagon finally retiring a Colonel in December 1969. He lived in retirement in the San Francisco area.

Oliver passed away August 2009, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on November 10, 2009. Thanks to Karen Braughton (Oliver's daughter) for additional information.


 
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          B-17E 41-2446 art by Jack Fellows via IHRP

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