B-24D "Calaban"
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The Hill crew and groundcrew: Front row (l-r): Edward M. Dobson, Co-Pilot, NY; (Ted) Shuler, Navigator, IL; J.E. Hill, Pilot, TX; John Pitcovick, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, OH; Ray P. Reeves, Radio Operator, TX;
Standing: Michael F. Chayka, GC, NY; John H. Christensen, GC Electrician, FL; Lester L. Schwarz, Ball Gunner, NJ; Herman Wagenfuhr, Jr., GC, Turret Spec., TX; Hubert J. Womack, Tail Gunner, TX; Clark G. Bailey, Lt. Waist Gunner, OH; Emeric J. Michalik, GC, Medic, PA; John F. Russell, Rt. Waist Gunner, IL; William J. Egan, Jr., Bombardier, IL (with clipboard)
Crew identified by Bill Egan (2005).
1944
(© 44th BG, USAAF, via Susan Shuler Pena)
Captain Clinton Edward Shuler, Navigator, 67th BS, 44th BG (H)
Hello,
my Dad was Clinton E. (Ted) Shuler, seen here at Shipdham airfield, England, 15th July 1944. I wrote this history about my Dad, who has been dead now 25 years, for display in the Arlington Public Library in honor of "Veteran's Day" for the month of November 2005 along with other memorabilia from WW I, WWII, Korea and the Viet Nam wars.
Susan Shuler Peña
Lt. Shuler began his US Army Air Force military service December 18, 1941, at Kelly Field in San Antonio, TX, as an "Aviation Cadet." On January 24th 1942, he was sent to Sikeston, MO to begin pilot training. Because of his accounting background and "too mechanical" motor skills, he was transferred to the "Air Navigation School" at Kelly Field on June 13 1942 and graduated at Hondo, TX, September 25 1942 as a "Navigator." Combat training continued and he was sent to Shipdham, England May 22, 1943. In late June 1943, his squadron was moved with a detachment to North Africa to help facilitate the invasion of Sicily. He also participated in a special air offensive low-level raid over the Polesti oil refinery in Rumania August 1, 1943 under the command of Col. Leon Johnson. The mission was flown from Benghazi, Libya, across the Mediterranean Sea to Romania and returned to Shipdham, England. It was a long mission and fuel tanks had to be modified to carry the needed fuel. When target "White 5" was reached, it was discovered another group had bombed their assignment, so a new target was quickly selected.
As the "Calaban" was flying through the fires now shooting up at Polesti, it hit a balloon cable damaging the right wing between the fuselage and #3 engine to the main spar and the tail was shot up badly. Blackened by the oil fires, most of the planes had blistered paint. They were flying under telegraph wires to avoid the German radar, flak towers and fighters, sometimes as low as 25 feet altitude, corn shucks were found in the bomb bay doors.
The "Calaban" could not make it back to England and had to land in Malta before returning to England for repairs. The 44th BG received the "Distinguished Unit Citation" for this raid. The Polesti Raid remains the most famous, most recorded and written about raid in the history of the US Army Air Force. After completing the twenty-five required missions plus one, at times as a Lead Navigator for as many as 150 bombers on a combat mission, Ted remained in England and became an advisor to the Group Navigator until July 1944. During this time he planned missions and "spent exceptionally long hours actually planning operational missions, briefing navigators and instructing navigators", a Letter of Commendation he received from USAAF HQ states. When he returned to the US he served as an instructor at the Air Navigation School in San Marcos, TX, until his release from active duty June 27, 1945. He obtained the rank of Major and remained in the US Air Force Reserve until October 1955 when he was given an Honorable Discharge from the United States Air Force.

With the Eighth AAF 'somewhere in England' 1st Lt. Clinton E. Shuler, of Des Plaines, Ill. is presented with a third Oak Leaf Cluster in addition to the Air Medal previously awarded for "exceptionally meritorious service while participating in bomber combat missions over Europe." Col. Frederick R. Dent, Jr. of Kerrville, Texas, Commanding Officer of this well known Liberator Group, presents the award which is in recognition of "the courage, coolness and skill" displayed by Lt. Clinton [Shuler] on these occasions. Lt. Clinton [Shuler] has participated in such celebrated attacks as those on Bremen and Wilhelmshaven.
"Des Plaines Journal," May 4, 1944.
- 44th Bomb Group (H) - B-24D Liberator 'Calaban' 41-24231M -
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