The Bomber Boys                                                    Heroes Heroes Who Flew The B-17s In WW II                                                                                       


The Author's Next Book Project: 


Unblemished Honor - The Life and Times of James H. Berry. 


To learn more about this upcoming book and to see a Photo Journal of Travis L. Ayres' recent research trip to the Civil War battlefields in Arkansas, Mississippi and on:

"Reader Feedback and News" (above)



             IN MEMORY


Three "Bomber Boys" pass:


JEROME J CHART, former B-17 combat pilot, died on March 31st, 2010 in his home state of Montana.  Chart was only 21 years old when he commanded a Flying Fortress crew that flew 35 bombing missions over Germany.  Returning from a especially difficult mission over Berlin in 1945, Chart's B-17 bomber was riddled with 167 enemy flak holes.

"He was the old man," remembers Tony Teta (Chart's navigator). "He took us through some rough stuff."


* See: The Lucky Bastards



PAUL SPODAR, was barely 21 years of age when he flew his first combat mission as a B-17 waist gunner.  He survivied a ditiching in the North Sea, bailing out of burning bomber and being a POW in German Stalag 17.  After the war, Paul served in the Cleveland, Ohio Fire Department for 30 years.  He passed away on Oct 3rd, 2010.  The previous evening Paul had dined with his daughter Sharon Spodar at a Florida waterfront restaurant. She recalls, "Dad enjoyed his dinner, the sunset and his shot and a beer."


* See: Escape From Black


* See: Paul's Sentimental

           Journey (website

           hosted by Sharon



MIKE SWANA was one of the youngest B-17 pilots in the Eighth Air Force, just 20 years old.  In command of the Flying Fortress "The Stork Club" the young pilot proved to be one the 8th's best.  After the war he earned a degree in physics from Clark University. Mike died in late 2010, in Stow, Massachusetts, his hometown for most of his life.


* See: Manna From Heaven  




Read The Bomber Boys for FREE at great libraries across these:

Austin Community College
   (Austin, TX)
Bentonville Public Library
   (Bentonville, AR)
Buckley Public Library
   (Poteau, OK)
Corrales Community Library
   (Corrales, NM)
Crawfordsville District
Public Library
   (Crawfordsville, IN)
Edgewater Public Library
   (Edgewater, NJ)
Hillsdale College Mossey
   (Hillsdale, MI)
Indianola Public Library
   (Indianola, IA)
Jackson Parish Library
   (Jonesboro, LA)
Madison Public Library
   (Madison, WI)
New Port Public Library

   (New Port News, VA)

Riverside Public Library
   (Riverside, IL)

University of Arkansas  Special Collections

   (Fayetteville, AR)
Winchester Public Library
   (Winchester, MA)
Yates Community Library

   (Lyndonville, NY)

Springdale Public Library

   (Springdale, AR)

If your local library does not have
The Bomber Boys, ask them to order a copy.

"Some of the stories read like combat fiction, with dogfights and shot-up

planes and skies full of fire, at the end of which the pilot comes in on a wing 

and  a prayer."                                                      



"Ayres interviewed these men over a long period of time, presenting their       stories freshly and vividly.  Another essential read for all World War II history   buffs; highly recommended." 




" absorbing , insightful read."  



"Travis Ayres is a terrific researcher and storyteller and has written a

remarkable book about remarkable individuals...    The Bomber Boys is about 

courage,  perserverance, and survival - its a perfect example of truth

transcending fiction."



"...a well-written, thoughtful tribute...

The stories are told in a flowing, narrative style...

Very human, and therefore very moving."


                                AMERICAN BOMBER CREWS OVER EUROPE IN WW II)




"...a fascinating book about the war life of five American heroes.


George Ahern, my grandfather, was a ball turret gunner in a B-17 Flying Fort-

ress named "Torchy Tess."  Although he doesn't like to be referred to as such, along with other men who fought in WW II, he is a true American hero."

 Mr. Ayres did a magnificent job capturing the stories of these veterans.


       CHARLIE AHERN (Grandson of Bomber Boy, George Ahern)


NEWS UPDATE:  Travis L. Ayres will be pay a return visit to The National World War II Museum (New Orleans, LA) this June, to take part in the museum's anniversary events.  Check back here for the exact date and event (posting soon).  Then, make plans to come by the National WWII Museum to say "Hi" and get a signed copy of The Bomber Boys - Heroes Who Flew The B-17s in WWII.

* See Photos of the Author's 2010 Book Signing/Talk at the National WW II Museum at the bottom of this page:




Buy The  Bomber Boys at Amazon:

The Stork Club crew  (385th Bomb Group) featured in the story "Manna From 

 Heaven."  Kneeling from left to right are:  Marvin Hydecker (Bombardier),

 Robert  Valliere (Navigator), Wallace MacCafferty (Co-Pilot), Michael Swana

 (Pilot).      Standing from left to right are:  Al Hareda (Flight Engineer),

Leonard Weinstein (Radio Operator), Charles DuShane (Tail Gun/Ball Turret),

William Wells  (Waist Gunner).

Three "Bomber Boys" attended the book signing at Barnes and Noble  

 (North Haven, CT) Nov 7, 2009.  Left to right are:  George Ahern  

 (Ball Turret - 351st B.G.), Peter Scott (Waist Gunner - 384th B.G.),  

  Travis L. Ayres, and Anthony Teta (Navigator - 305th B.G.).


 (Penguin-NAL)     Five true stories of five different Flying Fortress aircrews

 who flew mission after dangerous combat mission in the sky above Germany. 

 They flew to the target for Uncle Sam and they flew back to base for

 themselves.  The airmen who came home were the first to say the

"real heroes" were the ones who did not.  But to the survivors belong

 the sometimes painful memories that must be stirred if the true stories

are to be told.

Get your copy of The Bomber Boys at:  Barnes and Noble,

Borders, Amazon.Com


 or your favorite Independent book store!  And now...

a new Hardcover Edition from The History Book Club


Read about this B-17 crew in the story - "The Belly Gunner

and Big Ben."

Marvin Walker's B-17 crew (351st B.G.)  Front row (L to R):

Marvin R. Walker (pilot), Maurice E. Joncas, Donald E. Knuepple,

Daniel Rader.      Back row:  William R. Schneider, William W. Weaver,

Charles S. Armstrong (Waist Gunner), George E. Ahern (Ball Turret),

Paul A. Schrader.

* Crewman not shown: Philip Duke (Waist Gunner).

Contact the author:    


The crew pictured above flew many different B-17s in the final months of 1944

 and the early months of 1945...including, Fancy Pantz and the legendary

Old Miss Destry, which would survive the war after completing 138 combat

 missions.   Standing (L to R):  Jerome J. Chart (Pilot),  Ceorge Wisniewski

 (Co-Pilot), Glenn B. Kelly (Bombardier), Anthony Teta (Navigator).
Kneeling (L to R):  Kenneth Hall (Radioman), John Stiles (Waist Gun?/Toggler),

Carl Robinson (Flight Engineer), William Goetz (Ball Turret Gunner),

Tom Christenson (Waist Gunner) John Cuffman (Tail Gunner).                 

Read their story, "The Lucky  Bastards Club" in The Bomber Boys

- Heroes Who Flew The B-17s In WW II. (From PENGUIN - New American Library)

National World War II 


Travis L. Ayres talks about airman Tony Teta.

Early arrivals to The Bomber Boys event in at NWW2M in New Orleans.