in the Eighth (Originally
told in the December 2001 issue of the 8th AF News.)
Brothers Fred and Alec Hurley served on my B-24 crew
in the 577th Bomb Squadron of the 392nd Bomb Group. They attended
engineering and gunnery school together before joining us--Fred
as our engineer and Alec as assistant engineer and waist gunner.
They must have chosen to serve on the same crew, since each was
qualified as an engineer and gunner. Both were tall and slender
with distinguishing gray hair and were considerably older than the
average crew member. I don't remember the exact town they came from,
but they lived on the Georgia-Florida border, just west of Jacksonville,
near the Okefenoke swamp.
Alec finished his 25 combat missions on March 21,
1944, along with most of us. Fred, who had missed a couple of missions
due to respiratory problems during the winter, had to keep flying.
On April 11, 1944, Fred flew a mission with the Tom McNichol crew
to bomb an airfield outside Bernburg. Unfortunately, McNichol's
plane fell out of formation, turned back towards England, and was
never seen again.
The Hurley brothers were memorable men. In later years,
at national conventions and 392nd stand alone gatherings, people
would recall the two tall, gray-haired flight crew members. I'm
proud to say I was their pilot.
Alec Hurley passed away a few years ago and at the
time was living in northern Florida. He left no dependents.
The disappearance of Tom McNichol's plane was a double
tragedy for the Egan crew. Not only did we lose one of our own men,
but the Egan and McNichol crews had shared Nissan huts and were
all close friends. Tom and I knew each other well. Together, we
had taken transition training, gone to North Africa as replacement
crews for the 93rd Bomb Group, and been briefly assigned to the
389th bomb group before our final reassignment to the 392nd Bomb
Group in early September of 1943.