A trip back in time, by Rod Drake

The 58th Bomb Wing Association 44th Reunion was held from Monday, Sept. 11 through Sunday Sept 17, 2000 at the Hilton Wichita Airport Inn. (See photo below). The main conference room was set up to accommodate all four Bomb Groups, the 40th , 444th, 462nd and the 468th. This is the banner with insignia used by the 468th.

One of the first couples we met there was Lew and Margie Meeks. Lew has been a member of Sal's group for quite a while now. Great people! This is a photo of Lew, myself and Robert Becker. Bob was on Crew # 10 from the 792nd Squadron and one of the original bunch. Both Lew and Bob have been very helpful in providing me with information about my late father M/SGT Robert J. Drake.

Lew Meeks, Rod Drake, Bob Becker

Before the actual tour of the inside of FIFI began we took some outside photos.

This front view shows some work being done to engine #1.

A closer look at the work on #1.

FIFI and my wife Sue.



Sitting next to FIFI was another pretty lady, Diamond Lil.
What a thrill it was to be up close to these great ships.


Another view of Diamond Lil and Yingling Aircraft Hanger on the left.


The quilted and padded tunnel looking back to the CFC area.

Norden Bomb Site


When our tour of FIFI began we entered through the forward bombay doors. Our guide was a B-29 Korean Vet, Don Varnau who flew 53 missions over Korea. He was great and I was pleased to get his picture here in the co-pilots seat.

Looking at this shot of the pilots view was amazing, so many dials, toggles, pedals and it looks like some updated equipment as well.

This guide was also an original member flying with the 40th Bomb Group. He let my wife and I take a look at the inside CFC section of the plane. This was not part of the normal tour but when I explained about my dad being a right gunner, he was most obliging. However he explained that we would be sitting in the right scanners seat and not a gunner position. No matter it was still great!

Even though it wasn't the twin 50s my dad used, it was still exciting just being there looking through the scanner. The next four pictures were not taken at the reunion but are about a 58th Winger, M/SGT R.J.Drake, my Father.

This amazing photo taken in Salina in 1944 was viewed extensively by many of the members at the reunion. I brought it along to see if any of them could ID it.Most of them thought that it was of the 792nd Squadron taken just before they shipped out. My dad is the last guy on the right at the very top of the B-24.


The items in the case on the right are all authentic pieces which my dad brought home with him. I especially like the leather jacket patch of the General Billy Mitchell Group awarded to the 468th.

My dad's combat record with Hump and Combat missions from the CBI on the left and his missions from Tinian on the right. Medals and Ribbons which were recently awarded to our family on request after submitting dads discharge papers to the Veterans Affairs.

Some photos Hap Halloran took at the 58th Reunion

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rod for sharing his photos and memories of the 58th reunion with us!!

Thanks, Rod!!