My father, Sgt. William Edward Crowley, (307th BG, 372nd BSqd) was killed 15 July 1944, along with the rest of the Diederich Crew and the Sylor Crew when their B-24s collided near Yap Island. My mother had told me that he had been â€œshot down by Japs on Yap Island.â€ In 2001, when I was 58 years old, Jim Kendall corrected a lifetime of misinformation. I had just read about and joined American WWII Orphans Network (AWON) that year. Right away I posted to the listserv of my new group of war orphans and introduced myself. Another member, Stan Foreman, emailed me almost immediately to suggest I call the historian of the 307th BG, Jim Kendall. (Stanâ€™s dad was also with the 372nd Bomb Squadron.) I was so nervous to call Jim at the number Stan gave me, it took me a few days. I couldnâ€™t think this important man would want to talk to me. I didnâ€™t even know what to ask him! Well, Jim was not only the 307th historian, but he told me he saw the crash! This kind man described the collision and told me there were others who also saw it but had slightly different versions of the actual cause. During our long phone conversation, he patiently helped me visualize formations, described the interior of the B-24, and helped me understand the responsibilities of the crew members. He said heâ€™d have his dutiful â€œsecretaryâ€ and love of his life (Dottie) send me copies of all he had regarding that day and that crash and about my father! I took notes furiously as he talked, even though it was all so new, I barely knew what he was talking about. Jim suggested I go to the (then) Heavy Bombers website and post a note to the forum board. He also suggested I attend the next reunion in Salt Lake City in 2002. All this happened in the space of a mere few days. I was spinning and dazed with all this new information. Stan and I did attend the 2002 reunion. Jim and Dottie, though in very high demand, took special care of us. They introduced us all around to men who served during our dadsâ€™ time (including Sam Britt) and situated us at the banquet table with them and Dr. Pat Scannon (of Bent Prop Project). Jim Kendall was my first real connection to my dad. He was the truth-teller. He gave me my start in finding more about my dad. We had more chats, and Jim always acted as if I were the only one heâ€™d ever helped. I will hold him near my heart forever. Iâ€™d like to mention here that some these men responded to my post to the Heavy Bombers site and helped make my dad â€œrealâ€ to me: Bill Cheney, Tom Wiley, Frank Klein, Jim Peters and Lewis Smith (not in that order). Now notice this full-circle scenario: My friendship with Tom Wiley led me to Pat Ranfranz in 2006. (Many of you are aware that as a result of his search for his uncleâ€™s plane, Pat now is the definitive source for information about planes lost on or near Yap Island.) You are likely also aware that he has been honored and entrusted to take over as historian of the 307th Bombardment Group. Pat now has all the documents that Jim and Dottie kept in their home all those years (a semi-load, he says). Heâ€™s created a new 307th website http://www.307bg.org
and is in the process of scanning and posting all that information on the website. No amount of thanks can express the gratitude I have for his embracing this formidable task. Last year Pat asked me to join him and his wife for their second trip to Yap Island. Through that sequence of events that began with a phone call to Jim in 2001, I was able to say hello and goodbye to my dad during a memorial service we held from a dive boat near the site of the crash. Thank you, Jim Kendall. Your love of your comrades and your safekeeping of their memories is surely an entre into a heavenly spot just for you.