Verlin C. Gale


December 27, 1922 October 29, 2001
384th Bombardment Group
545th Squadron

I first met Verlin in Salt Lake City, Utah in November of 1943. He was assigned as a waist gunner on our crew, and we became lifelong friends. I flew most of my combat missions with him, and always felt a sense of security with Verlin on the airplane. He was fair-skinned, blue-eyed, and with blond hair. He had been a hard working farm boy, so we had a common bond. He was quiet, calm, fearless (or at least gave that impression) and I came to depend on him to give the crew in the back of the plane a steadying influence and to keep them at their combat stations. He also watched out for Bernard Zelazoski, in the ball turret, helping him in and out of the turret. I never heard him raise his voice. Even when we were under attack from German fighters he kept his cool and calm exterior regardless of how he felt inside.

Verlin was born in Missouri and graduated from Mountain View High School in 1941. In 1942 he joined the United States Army Air Corp, and served in the 8th Air Force in Europe. He flew 34 combat missions including one to Schweinfurt, Germany, April 13, 1944, where his plane was the only one to return from the 545th Squadron. Two weeks later, April 24, 1944, he was on a mission, under fighter attack for 2 hours. From that mission, where seven planes were shot down, the 384th Bombardment Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Any 384th Bomb Group member who was with the Group at that time is entitled to wear this medal.

After the war, Verlin farmed with his brother Theryl in Conrad, Iowa. He married Thelma Davis on September 17, 1950. It was a lifetime love affair, and two girls, Jan and Gwen, blessed this union. Most of their married life was spent on a farm northeast of Maxwell, Iowa, and they moved to town in April of 2000. Verlin worked for 18 years for the Department of Transportation in Ames, Iowa, but his heart was on the farm, and up to the day he died he maintained a farm tractor.

For the past 14 years the remaining members of the crew have been getting together. Verlin Gale, James Holland, Paul Spiers, Bernard Zelazoski, and D. Bennett have been holding three and four day reunions. Like brothers, the reunions were so important. It gave us a chance to relive our youth with the fellows who had shared the adventure.

Verlin is gone. Oh, how he is missed. No day goes by without my thinking of him. He loved his wife, his children and grandchildren especially Terri, who was very close to him. He lies today in a beautiful country cemetery. There are trees, birds singing, very quiet days, and at night the wind whispers through the trees, but occasionally the silence is disturbed by the sound of a far off tractor tilling the rich Iowa farm land, and you know Verlin smiles. God bless Verlin Gale, rest in peace.

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