Jim Stratton, Pilot
17th Bomb Group, 95th Bomb Squadron
|Mike, this first letter prompted me to write, for the first time, something of
this part of my life with Jim.
This first letter is from a man in NJ, directed to our local newspaper, seeking the whereabouts of Jim, my first husband. It is self-explanatory, pretty much:
June 7, 1989
I was in the Army Air Corps during WW2 and a member of the 17th Bomb. Group, 95th Squadron. The airplane we used was a medium bomber, a Martin B-26 Marauder. For the last 12 years we have been holding reunions and are still searching for our missing members. I have been helping in this search.
One of our missing members is James H. Stratton and the last address we have on him is Aiken, South Carolina. We have no street address. He was a member of the 95th Squadron and his serial number was 0-72XXXX.
From his serial number we know he was an officer so he could have been a pilot, a bombardier or a navigator. As part of a combat crew he probably flew overseas with his crew and airplane. The amount of time he spent overseas depended on how long it took to fly the number of missions needed to rotate home.
The 17th Bomb. Group was stationed at air bases in North Africa, Sardinia, Corsica and Dijon, France, in that order. We do not know where the Group was stationed when Stratton joined us.
I hope someone who knows James Stratton and where he now is, sees this little article and contacts me so I can get in touch with James. I want to thank this newspaper for their kindness and cooperation in this matter. Hoping to receive some good news soon. So long and take care. Joe Carciotto
Letter from Don Law, Associate Editor of our newspaper, to Mr. Carciotto in reply to his inquiry.
June 12, 1989
Dear Mr. Carciotto:
As a retired Air Force reservist -- and former B-17 navigator -- I was especially interested in your letter attempting to locate an officer named James H Stratton. Through a coincidence, I was able to locate quickly his widow, she is a friend of mine, but I did not know of her previous marriage or of the death of Mr. Stratton in a B-47 crash some years after World Was 11.
I have forwarded your letter, and I am sure you will be hearing from her.
Good luck on your reunion.
My letter to Mr. Carciotto:
June 20, 1989
Dear Mr. Carciotto,
I am grateful for your inquiry of our local newspaper and am thankful to Mr. Law for his interest in, and successfully locating me. I appreciate, too, his letter to you informing you of Jim's death.
I am sure I will be giving you far more information than you need or, perhaps, care to know, but please, may I share.
Jim joined the Army Air Force in 1943 at age 18. He graduated from pilot school in Pampa, Texas in the Spring of 1944 and left immediately for overseas, joining the 17th Bomb. Group, 95th Squadron in Sardinia, and as you wrote, advanced to Corsica and into France. He was with the Group until the end of the European war. He returned home June 13th, 1945. We were engaged for the year he was away and married on June 20th, 1945. I was with him while stationed in Frederick and Enid, Oklahoma and for short periods in Mobile, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee. Our daughter, Linda, was born June 15, 1946.
Jim left the Air Force as a reservist in December, 1946.
In January, 1947 Jim enrolled at Peabody College for pre-law, and graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1951 and became a member of the Tennessee State Bar Association.
Jim's reserve unit was called during the Korean War. With his legal education he joined OSI (Office of Special Investigation) on flying status. In OSI he schooled in various places for short periods of time, ending with FBI School in Washington in 1952. He was stationed out of Sampson AFB in Geneva, NY with offices in downtown Buffalo, NY. Our daughter, Terry, was born August 20, 1952.
In July 1953 Jim went to Korea with OSI. Nearing the end of this tour he applied and was accepted with the Strategic Air Command. He returned from Korea in September, 1954.
Jim began B-47 flight training in Waco, Texas in October, 1954 with advanced training in Wichita, Kansas in June 1955. October 1955 took him to El Paso, Texas for Wing and Crew assignments. The girls and I were with him during these assignments.
On May 4th, 1956, the entire Wing left flying non-stop to England. On May 16th, 1956 on a routine flight, they had reached an altitude of 45,000 feet when the oil pressure went down in one engine causing the accident that took Jim's life. The plane went down in the rapids at the southern most point of the English Channel, Lands End. His body was recovered. He is buried in the National Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee. Jim was 31 years old.
Linda, Terry and I left El Paso and returned home. Linda was 9, Terry 3.
I remained a widow for three years. I married a bachelor, Jean Pierre, June 20, 1959. We are blessed with two more beautiful daughters and three great sons.
Jean has never denied me to privilege of speaking of Jim and on Memorial Day each year he hangs the flag which was given to me at Jim's burial, on the front of our house, even though it has only 48 stars. I am again blessed.
Thank you for being persistent in searching for Jim. How you must all enjoy getting together. If there is anything in print on the 17th Bomb. Group, 95th Squadron, I would be happy to know of it and it certainly would be pleasing to our daughters to learn more about this part of their father's life.
Strange, the things I remember Jim mentioning from those days -- a mascot, a dog named Falstaff -- a song "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" and staying up to the wee hours of the morning enjoying orange marmalade until the flight schedule for the next day was posted. Wonder if this has meaning for anyone else.
My emotions surface and I fill with pride when I am reminded of this part of our lives that has left us with such wonderful memories. A section of my heart is reserved for the Air Force and the men of it.
God Bless you, Elizabeth
I continue to receive Christmas cards from this Mr. Carciotto and his sister, Mary. He tells me each year about their reunion. Elizabeth