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Crew of B-29 Superfortress “Sentimental Journey“

Image Information
The crew of Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Sentimental Journey“ commanded by Captain Jack Ray poses in front of their new aircraft just off the assembly line in Wichita. In the front row, third from the left, is Sergeant George Corley Wallace Junior (August 25, 1919 – September 13, 1998). Already a politician, Wallace received his law degree in 1942 and was inducted in February 1943. While in training as a flight engineer, he contracted spinal meningitis. His resultant furlough allowed him to marry his girlfriend Lurleen in Mobile, Alabama on May 21, 1943. He continued his training while Lurleen lived with her parents in Abilene. They moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico, for B-29 training during the last three months of 1944. Wallace and his wife, the only married couple with child, were not social with the rest of the crew, avoiding the single men‘s trips to whorehouses, and mixed family weekend picnics and socials. He did use the free postage available to the military to send hundreds of postcards to remind people of his political ambitions in Alabama. During a long range training mission on April 15, 1945, Wallace had to work hard to contain a fire in the number two engine. This and the mounting combat losses over Japan exhausted and emotionally drained Wallace, who did not wish to enter combat. They received a new B-29 which Ray christened “Sentimental Journey,“ each crewmember contributing five dollars for the name to be painted on the aircraft. The crew flew “Sentimental Journey“ for the first time on June 6, 1945. Ten days later they began their long flight to their base on Tinian, Marianas, arriving on June 20. After some practice missions and “milk runs“ they faced heavy opposition (flak and fighters) for the first time during an attack on Sendai on July 9. Performing regular missions with the 20th Air Force, “Sentimental Journey‘s“ worst mission was on July 19 over Sendai. The heat from the firestorm caused a thermal depression, which forced the plane down from 20,000 to 4,000 feet, losing two engines. Flight Engineer Wallace got the engines restarted and the pilot and crew accidentally fell asleep on autopilot, drifting 150 miles off course over open ocean. Wallace was able to contain the engine‘s fuel mixture so that the aircraft lost power as it taxied to its revetment. After the crew‘s ninth mission to Saga on August 5, orders were received to return to the United States for pathfinder training. The crew, flying via military transport, arrived in the United States in time for V-J Day on August 14. Wallace refused free transport to Abilene, choosing instead an arduous three-day train trip. He refused to participate in pathfinder training, and after numerous denials, he was hospitalized in San Francisco for combat fatigue. He was severely underweight, suffered from nervous exhaustion, and never enjoyed flying again. He received a 10% disability and was honorably discharged on December 8. 1945. After the war, Wallace ran on his war record, promoting a populist and aggressive stance against civil rights. In 1968, accepting Wallace‘s third request, his running mate was General Curtiss LeMay, who commanded Wallace‘s unit as part of the 20th Air Force. LeMay was horrified by Wallace‘s anti-segregation stance and appalled that he was associated with racism; LeMay had advocated for integrating the Air Force. LeMay inflamed public opinion with his public statements stating he did not fear nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Running on the American Independent Party ticket, Wallace and LeMay carried five states and 13.5% of the popular vote, for forty-six electoral votes.
Image Filename wwii0047.jpg
Image Size 159.57 KB
Image Dimensions 500 x 378
Photographer Unknown
Photographer Title
Caption Author Jason McDonald
Date Photographed June 01, 1944
Location Topeka Army Airfield
City Topeka
State or Province Kansas
Country United States
Record Number
Status Caption ©2007, ©2024 MFA Productions LLC
Image in the Public Domain

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