For Our Boys!
At a frozen airbase not so long ago, one of the coldest and bloodiest battles in human history took place throughout the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg on the Western Front. It was known as the Battle of the Bulge. You may remember this bitter fight portrayed in the HBO series, Band Of Brothers.
As the ground battle waged on in the frozen forest of Belgium, the northern allied bomber bases in England, were socked in by bad weather. On Christmas Eve, 1944, the clouds lifted for the first time in two weeks. Though the southern fighter bases were still shut out and unable to fly cover for our bombers, the command was given to launch everything they had. History would account that during the course of that day, allied forces would coordinate a massive armada of 2,000 American B-17 and B-24 bombers, all set off to cover our boys on the ground, dug three feet down in their frozen foxholes in Ardenne forest.
Flying overhead that very day as commander of just one of those B-17 bombers was Airmail's Joe Jones' honored friend, Ret.1st Lt. Mike Quering.
As a devoted aviation artist and storyteller, and with the blessings of "Our Boys" Jones set out to produce a lasting and tangible Christmas present as a tribute to his dear WWII air veteran friend, Mike Quering, and all my boys of the Colorado chapter of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, and in honor of the spirit and memory of all the were there, not so long ago. We are joyed to share the result of his best efforts.
Among our WWII airmen is a term known as "Maximum Effort." In honor of our decorated friends of the Mighty 8th Air Force, both living and dead, Jones spent months in a 'Maximum Effort' working directly with the living 'flesh and blood' that flew each of the seven aircraft featured in his showcase illustration. Each of their stories are simply remarkable.
Working directly with Jones, Mike Quering personally shared his accounts of what happened that day, (piloting the B-17 with the Yellow tail and group (P) marking pictured) and of how he personally witnessed nineteen (19) B-17s go down that day. One hundred and ninety (190) crewmen gone in the blink of an eye. The memory for him is still very vivid, and very painful.
In the utmost respect of, and in remembrance of the millions of airmen that are tragically no longer with us to share this holiday with, we here at Airmail Greeting wish them all a Peaceful and blessed Christmas all the same!
We humbly stand as their legacy as we share a special Christmas present to some of America's very finest.
Featured are the aircraft of my treasured friends, from Left to Right --
1) Staff Sgt. Lucky McGinty - 95th Bomb Group
2) 1st Lt. Clayton Natter - 306th Bomb Group - German POW
3) Staff Sgt. John Self - 389th Bomb Group
4) 1st Lt. Mike Quering - 487th Bomb Group
5) Staff Sgt. George Meshko - 96th Bomb Group
6) 1st Lt. 'Pete' Peterson - 78th Fighter Group
7) Lt.Col James Harvey III - 306th Fighter Group -
Original Tuskegee Airman, America's First Top Gun
And Jones' honorary father.