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James Hendricks

Jim Hendricks with his younger brother Bob and Charlie the cat

Jim and Me

by Bob Hendricks

My brother Jim was 19 years old and working for the Union Pacific Railroad in Portland, Oregon when the U.S. entered World War II. Knowing that he would probably soon be drafted into the army, probably the infantry, he decided instead to enlist in the Army Air Corps, not yet a separate branch of the services. This was because of his long standing interest in airplanes and aviation, and his feeling that he might as well be doing something he liked if he was going into service anyhow. But before he was actually sworn in, he spent a few days visiting us in New Plymouth, Idaho in early April, 1942. This great picture (below) of Jim and me with Charlie, the cat we'd brought from Mountain Home the previous year, was taken on our front steps. Jim was 19+ then, I was 12 going on 13, and Charlie was about 8. Here (below) is another picture of Jim and me with our mother Esther (then 50), probably taken the same day. This shows how much taller he was then me when he enlisted. Facetiously, I might point out "the not so close resemblance" between Jim and me in these pictures. However, although we didn't look much alike our adult voices sounded very similar on the telephone, and we had many interests in common.

Jim took his six weeks basic training at Shepherd Field, Texas - which he always maintained was tougher than anything he faced overseas - then went on to take radio (and probably radar) technician training at Scott Field, Illinois, and was shipped overseas from New York harbor that fall, landing in Oran, Algeria in November as part of the ground support force of a B-17 bomber group, first part of the 12th Air Force responsible for support of Allied armies in North Africa, and later transferred to the 15th Air Force operating from bases in southern Italy, which was responsible for strategic bombing of factories, railroad centers, refineries and similar targets in southern Germany and France, Austria, and the Balkans. After spending about a year at various bases in Algeria, his unit was moved to a base in Lucera, near Foggia, Italy (ca. Oct., 1943), where he spent the rest of his time overseas. Jim's unit, the 301st Bomb Group, 352nd Squadron was considered one of the best in the European Theater, winning two Presidential Unit Citations for their success in reaching and hitting their objectives. To see a photo of several B-17 bombers from the 301st Bomb Group during a successful raid on a ball bearing works in Turin, Italy, on July 24, 1944, showing smoke rising from the target (below). Often the returning airplanes were badly shot up during raids and ground personnel had to work long hours to get them back in service as soon as possible. This was especially true during extended air campaigns such as the one of February 1944, when a series of especially heavy raids were made over a two week period, targeting the German aircraft industry with aircraft based in both England and Italy. Jim's unit was badly shot up in a raid on the Messerschmidt plant in Regensburg, Germany, and many of its planes were out of service for up to a month afterward, so his group had to work day and night for weeks afterward making repairs. Here is a picture (below) of Jim (at left) and some of his buddies - close friend Paul Malatesta of Brooklyn with Vic Fulco in the back row, Joe Nama and Oscar Haertel in front - during a rare few days at a rest camp on the Isle of Capri in Naples Bay, Italy, not long after that difficult period. (Jim wrote us then that he'd spent a few days at a rest camp, but couldn't say where, though it was in the title of a pre-war song. We knew then exactly what he meant, the famous Isle of Capri in the Bay of Naples.) The five men in this picture shared tent #35 at their base for nearly two years. They scrounged scrap lumber for sides for the tent and had a heating stove, making it fairly comfortable in all but the worst weather. Jim was discharged a bit earlier than some, since he had actually started home under the army's point system when the European war ended in May, 1945, so was not delayed by lack of ocean transport as most GI's were. He arrived in Boise on a troop train in early June, but was stunned to discover that his kid brother (me!) had grown about six inches in his absence. I'll never forget the stricken look on Jim's face when I came running up to him and Mom at the train station. From that time on, he literally had to look up to me, and I'm sure he must have treated me with considerably more respect!

Unfortunately, I have almost no pictures of Jim and me standing together as adults (probably because one or the other of us was usually taking the pictures), but I have found this rather fuzzy one of us (below) taken by our son Todd during a visit to the Gettysburg battlefield in 1965. (I'm the guy on the left.) It will give you an idea of why Jim may have been shocked and disappointed when he saw his "little brother" after more than three years. I'm pretty sure I had gotten most of my eventual height by 1945, when I turned 16.


Jim with his mother and brother Bob


301st B-17s complete successful raid on a ball bearing works in Turin, Italy, on July 24, 1944


Jim (at left) and some of his buddies - close friend Paul Malatesta of Brooklyn with Vic Fulco in the back row, Joe Nama and Oscar Haertel in front, during a rare few days at R&R on the Isle of Capri in Naples Bay, Italy

James Hendricks

Cpl James F Hendricks was assigned to the 301st BG 352nd Squadron.


Jim Hendricks with his younger brother Bob and Charlie the cat


Jim with his mother and brother Bob


301st B-17s complete successful raid on a ball bearing works in Turin, Italy, on July 24, 1944


Jim (at left) and some of his buddies - close friend Paul Malatesta of Brooklyn with Vic Fulco in the back row, Joe Nama and Oscar Haertel in front, during a rare few days at R and R on the Isle of Capri in Naples Bay, Italy

  • Personal Album of James Hendricks
  • 2/25/1944 PUC 4/6/1943 PUC

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