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Nels Cassano
453 Bomb Squadron
323 Bomb Group

Mr. Nels Cassano was the Crew Chief for "Truman's Folly", 41-31983 323BG, 453BS, for 2 1/2 years, from 5 Nov 43 to wars end; Nels served 4 years in the USAAF. "Truman's Folly" flew 177 missions and Nels only had to change the 5 engines in 2 1/2 years - good plane, and a great crew chief! Nels would like to hear from Erdman D. Kiehm, a Korean/American pilot who flew 50 missions in the 453rd, many in "Truman's Folly". Nels would like to also hear from Robert L Sprague, another pilot that flew missions in the 453rd and many in the "Truman's Folly". Of particular interest is Donald A. Nelson, a bombardier, who flew in the right seat many times until it was time for him to crawl into the nose to release his bombs. Pilots in the 453rd bomb squadron flew combat missions without co-pilots. Nels would like to hear from any crew member or their descendants that flew in the "Truman's Folly". (Date: 2001)

I was born in Italy on February 7, 1920. Came to the United States with my parents, two sisters and one brother and went through Ellis Island in 1924. We landed in Chicago and there is where I grew up. I graduated from Hirsch High School in 1938. Worked as a chief usher for Warner Brothers. I then went to work as a brakeman on the Pennsylvania Rail Road. I joined the Air Force on October 4, 1941. Went to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, then to Jefferson Barracks. From there to Kessler Field, Mississippi, to train as an airplane mechanic. I was then sent to the Martin Factory in Baltimore and then to Ohio. On to Tampa Bay, Myrtle Beach and on to England, France, Belgium and Holland. In 1945, I had 120 points but had to wait five months in France for a ride home. It was on the Sea Porpoise to New York. Was discharged at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. I met my wife, Ronni DiFiore, in Chicago where she was in nurses training. She graduated in October, 1944 and joined the Army Nurse Corp in February, 1945. Was shipped to the Philippine Islands. She came home on an Emergency Leave in October of that year and a judge in the Court House at Akron, Ohio married us, on October 19, 1945. On December 2, 1945, we were married in Church in Chicago, Illinois. Imagine, 60 years ago! Seems like only yesterday. I spent my working life with two partners in Chicago in our heating and air-conditioning company. I was also involved in thirteen Hardee restaurants with my brother in Wisconsin for 17 years. I retired in 1982 and moved to Southern California. Love living here. Our daughter lives near us and our son is still in midwest. We have four grand children and are expecting our 1st great grand daughter the end of June.

Nelzo "Nels" Cassano

41-31983 323BG, 453BS; "TRUMAN'S FOLLY"; Code VT-D; Missions Flown 173; 5 Nov 43 to wars end

"B-26s on the line" Nelzo "Nels" Cassano

"Preflighting my ship - just count the bombs - 100 even - each bomb represents one mission" Nelzo "Nels" Cassano

"Standing: Brainard, Woods, Hoffman, Taylor
Kneeling: Newkirk, Myself" Nelzo "Nels" Cassano

"Changing engines when we were left behind - how do you like the hanger? Just one wall left!
What do you think of the wooden stand I made? Just like downtown, eh!" Nelzo "Nels" Cassano

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