Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dewitt Lennon and the Swoose

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

I'm a day late with honoring Veteran's Day. I do not have many photographs of my immediate ancestors serving in uniform because generationally they missed all the American wars except the Revolution, the Civil War, and WWI. This is a photograph of my Uncle Dewitt Lennon, standing second from the right in the back row, with the crew of the Swoose, taken in Italy in 1944.

Dewitt Lennon, second from the right in the back row, with the crew of the Swoose
in Italy 1944. Kenneth G. Wiley is on the far left in the front row.

My uncle flew 57 missions as a B-17 waist gunner in Europe during WWII, earning "four awards of the Air Medal for his meritorious actions while engaged in aerial combat" (source: obituary). The Swoose was a rebuilt B-17D that was nicknamed "half swan and half goose," or Swoose. The inspiration was a quirky little song called "Alexander the Swoose" that was popular at the time (see below). She flew under the command of Frank Kurtz in both the Pacific and European theaters for the duration of the war. Today, the Swoose is the oldest surviving B-17 and the only D model in existence. It is being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Fairborn, Ohio.

Frank Kurtz named his daughter Swoosie Kurtz, who was born while he was serving during the war, after the Swoose.

"Alexander the Swoose" by Kay Kyser and his Orchestra:

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