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Anton Newspapers Military Heroes Essay Contest: Robert Gaudiosi Remembers Father’s Commitment To ‘Flying Fortresses’

The following is the essay submitted by Bob Gaudiosi, writing about his father, Carmine Gaudiosi. This is the fourth essay to be printed in the series of essays, which were submitted by our readership for the Anton Newspapers Military Heroes Essay Contest with the American Airpower Museum of East Farmingdale and The Collings Foundation. Essay winners flew in historic aircraft stationed at the American Airpower Museum over the Labor Day weekend.

My father, Carmine Gaudiosi, served with the 390th Bombardment Group of the 8th Army Air Force during World War II. He was stationed on a B-17 base outside of Framingham, England from approximately April 1943 to his discharge in September of 1945. He was a Technical Sergeant (T/Sgt.) with responsibility for the maintenance of B-17s in the 458th Sub-Depot.

After the war, he maintained his interest in these “Flying Fortresses” and passed this on to me. As a child growing up in the late ’50s and ’60s, I never failed to watch any war movie or TV show featuring B-17s. The best of these was the television show Twelve O’Clock High. We would watch closely, trying to pick out the planes with a “Square J” on the tail, his unit. He would often add to the story from his own experiences. I always wished I could experience the same thrill that he had and spent many enjoyable hours building model B-17s.

In 1990, we found ourselves again trying to pick out the planes with a “Square J” when we watched the movie Memphis Belle. My father never lost his love of these planes that he worked on in his youth and always commented, “They always brought you home.”

On Labor Day weekend in 1996, at the age of 79, my father and I visited the American Airpower Museum because he heard that a B-17 would be displayed. It was amazing to witness joy he experienced as he viewed the plane he knew so well. He had an opportunity to talk to the pilot and was offered the chance to climb up into the co-pilot’s seat. I’m sure this was not policy, but a very kind gesture.

This man, who could barely walk due to heart ailments and arthritis, was like a kid again and jumped at the chance. To my amazement, he somehow got himself up into the plane and into the co-pilot’s seat. Dad passed away two years later and we’re thankful he was able to recapture his youth for a few moments.

On a recent trip to England, I was able to visit the airfield in Suffolk, England where he was stationed. A number of local individuals have created a museum in the former control tower and surrounding fields. Some of the buildings and portions of the runways still survive and I expected to spend an hour or two.

To my surprise, they had thoroughly researched my dad and had prepared a presentation and tour of the base detailing where he lived, where he worked and other points of interest. I spent almost six hours with them and came away with a greater connection to my dad’s experiences.