|Pop stands in front of a photo of his Group's bombers.|
Today, Harold Gilbert not only impacted our lives, but the lives of others around us while we visited the Parham Airfield. Harold Gilbert, known to everyone here as “Pop,” flew a B-17 Heavy Bomber with the 549th squadron of the 385th Bomb Group during WWII. Pop participated in 26 combat missions, only two with his original crew, and acted first as a waist gunner and tail gunner, and later a ball turret gunner.
After a beautiful breakfast at the hotel, we headed straight to Parham Airfield. We were greeted by the Parham Airfield volunteers when we first arrived and were given a presentation on the 390th Bomb Group, which the museum at Parham honored. The 390th Bomb Group at Parham specifically flew B-17 plans, which Pop flew during his time in service. We were even able to see a picture of the same bomber that he flew. After the presentations, Dr. Mullinax presented the museum with a plaque thanking them for their preservation of the Parham Airfield and dedication to Veterans.
On the way to Parham Airfield, Pop realized we were very close to Great Ashfield, the town where his base was located. This being his first time back to England after his service, he had not yet been able to visit the plaque the Great Ashfield congregation presented to the 385th Bomb Group at the local church. We were able to go into Great Ashfield and find the church where the plaque was placed, and Pop was able to get out and see it for the very first time. Pop was already so filled with joy to be back in England, but to be able to go back to the town where he served and see a monument in his Bomb Group's honor only made his joyful spirit double in size.
We have already learned so much from Pop, and this was only the first official day of our trip. We are so looking forward to hearing more of Pop's stories and learning more about his days on a B-17.
|Pop visits All Saints Church in Great Ashfield.|
Nichole Russell, senior
Kirk Metzger, senior