When I first began to seriously study my Dad’s World War II activities one of the first people I consulted was fellow Rotarian and WWII veteran Lt. Col. Monroe F. “Buddy” Stamps.
Buddy sat down with me before lunch one day in early 2009 and went through Herman’s mission diary paragraph by paragraph. He patiently explained the military terminology and abbreviations and gave me a better sense of what my Dad was writing about during those harrowing B-17 bombing raids into Nazi occupied territories.
On Memorial Day 2010 I wrote about Buddy as one of my military heroes. When World War II was over it wasn’t long before he was back in the Pacific flying in bombers during the Korean Conflict.
Buddy isn’t able to come to Rotary every week but today when I walked in there he was, just finishing lunch. In front of him was this picture of a plane on fire. I asked Buddy what kind of plane it was and he answered, a B-50. I still wasn’t sure it was his plane.
Buddy was the radio operator that day, February 2, 1952, when the B-50 crashed on the runway at Offutt Field in Omaha, Nebraska. The crew was just flying in from Hickman Field, Honolulu. They had been stationed in Tokyo, had been on missions for two years and were finally headed for home.
Newspaper accounts at the time said “the circumstances of the crash were mysterious.” Buddy said there was construction on the runway … the plane’s wheels hit the mound of dirt. According to one report, the left wing broke off, and the front part of the plane caught on fire. Seventeen men were aboard the plane. 63 fire fighters were called to the scene to rescue twelve survivors; all were injured.
Of the five men who were killed in the crash, I found that Captain Walter Irving Lawson was one of the Tuskegee Airmen. Captain Lawson was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Buddy was burned on his face and hands. I told him he recovered nicely and was now as handsome as ever. He nodded. “I was lucky.”
It was a couple years after the crash that Buddy painted this picture from a small photograph and his memory of that never-to-be-forgotten day.
When I asked Buddy if I could scan his picture for my blog his initial response was, “Someone might think I’m hot dogging.”
Not necessary, Buddy.
I’ll do the hot dogging for you.