AWOL…WILLIAM M. KLIEN – TOP TURRET GUNNER 384TH BOMB GROUP

By William Klien Jr.

Dad Enlisted on 16 Aug ’40. After the War Broke out he was an airplane mechanic (TSgt). His unit was designated to go to England as a ground unit, but my dad wanted to fight, not repair airplanes. He went AWOL, spending a few days in New York City to be sure his unit had shipped out. He then returned to the base and turned himself in. After citing his reasons for leaving, he received no disciplinary action, and was eventually sent to gunnery school. After training, he received his assignment, being attached to the 547th Bomb Sqdn, 384th Bomb Gp (H).

He flew 35 combat missions. Thirty-three were flown on the B-17 Sleepy Lagoon and two on the Nevada Avenger. He was the top turret gunner/flight engineer on all of his missions.



384th bomb group

The Sleepy Lagoon. (Photo courtesy of 384thbombgroup.com)

His crew was supposed to stop at 25 missions, but because there was a shortage of crews, they had to complete 10 additional missions. His battle campaigns include, Air Offensive—Europe, Normandy, Northern France and the Rhineland. He received the Air medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal.



For more history on the 384th Bomb Group see:

384thbombgroup.com

For More Stories on the 384th Bomb Group See:

LEISNIG – Witness to Disaster: Sergeant Marlyn Bonacker’s Short War


For More on the Eighth Air Force Check Out:

Blood and Fears: How America’s Bomber Boys of the 8th Air Force Saved World War II


Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany


The Boys In The B-17: 8Th Air Force Combat Stories Of WWII




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