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So….a few months ago a researcher contacted me asking for help on a project regarding a crewmember of a B17 bomber that crashed and blew up in Australia during WWII. Having been on the road for most of this year, it’s taken me till today – Veterans Day – to get back to his message…what an interesting coincidence that is…
The crewmember in question was named, Robert G. Case. Since I have the same name, the researcher thought, perhaps I’m related…?
The answer is, I’m not related, but his question inspired me to do some research of my own and what I’ve found I’ll list for you here:
On September 14, a B-17 Nicknamed "Hoomalimali", which is Hawaiian for "Kid-Em-Along" was one of nine B-17s ordered to fly from Mareeba Airfield in Queensland Australia, northward, toward Port Moresby to stage a reconnaissance mission over the Solomon Sea from the eastern tip of New Guinea to Rabaul to attack shipping.
During takeoff, the “Hoomalimali” caught fire and crashed about a half mile off the end of the runway. It burned for a short time then exploded, fully loaded with bombs and fuel, killing the entire crew.
One member of the crew was a 20 year-old corporal named, Robert G. Case, an assistant radio operator…
Reports from the day say the noise of the bombers explosion were heard as far away as Yungaburra and the shock wave affected homes in the town of Mareeba three and a half miles away.
Nine other men died with Robert G. Case that day – they are just ten of the thousands of brave men and women who served…and died…and sacrificed for our country and for the world in just that one war.
In my own research I found a picture of the gravestone for Robert G. Case. It’s in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – known as the Punchbowl – high above the sprawling city of Honolulu, Hawaii. Looking at the picture of that gravestone and seeing my name is weird… that’s “my” name.
Beyond the weirdness that gravestone is a solid reminder of the sacrifices our service men and women have made to our country – to them I say THANK YOU knowing that those two words don’t come close to saying enough.
And finally, that marker for “Robert G. Case” is an inescapable reminder of the shortness of life and the necessity to live every day as if it were our last.
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