Original U.S. WWII B-24 Liberator 98th Bombardment Group Named Pilot A-2 Flight Jacket - Lt. Col Robert C. Mennell

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Lt. Col (Ret) Robert C. Mennell was born in New Brighton, PA on April 9, 1921. A master mechanic and machinist, Bob was fascinated by engines beginning with his early years as an avid motorcyclist who owned his own Indian motorcycle shop prior to serving in WW II as a B-24 Liberator Bomber pilot in the 98th Bomb Group in Lecce, Italy. This continued throughout his many years as a career Air Force officer: as an instructor pilot in B-24s and B-29s stateside during the remainder of the war, as maintenance officer and B-29 flight instructor with SAC after the war, as commander of various squadrons of the Air Rescue Service in the US, England and Germany; as Chief of Maintenance in the 1611th Air Transport Wing at McGuire AFB; and prior to retirement in 1965, a tour in Vietnam as Logistical Plans Officer at the 2nd Air Division Headquarters in Saigon. He then began his second career as a Sr. Pratt & Whitney Technical Representative specializing in military jet engines at Patuxent River Naval Air Test Station in Maryland, fully retiring in 1993. His obituary can be found at this link.

From November 1st, 1943 the 98th Bombardment Group was under the Fifteenth Air Force and moved to Italy. Flying B-24 liberators it flew many long-range missions to France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania to bomb enemy heavy industries, airdromes, harbors, oil fields, and communication centers. On another raid on Ploesti on 9 July 1944, Lt. Donald Pucket sacrificed his life trying to save three of his crewmembers who could not or would not bail out of their doomed B-24. Donald Pucket was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his sacrifice.

In the summer of 1944, the 98th participated in the invasion of southern France, assisted in the Soviet advance into the Balkans, and supported the partisans and guerrillas in Yugoslavia and neighboring countries. It flew a total of 417 missions and earned a total of 15 battle streamers as well as two Presidential Unit Citations.

The group returned to the United States as the war was ending in Europe, where it trained in preparation for movement to the Pacific Theater. It was re-designated the 98th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, but the war with Japan ended before redeployment.

The exterior of this wonderful jacket bears the owners name on a leather patch stitched to the left breast that reads: R.C. MENNELL.

The jacket features an Italian made painted leather embossed 98th Bombardment Group insignia patch of a white shield with gold, a hand dropping a bomb and a laurel wreath with the FORCE FOR FREEDOM below, stitched to left breast.

The tag inside this size 38 jacket has information regarding the maker and contract. Offered in overall good condition with areas of wear. Lining appears to be period replacement as as the cuffs and waistband with a fully functional original zipper. Overall a handsome A-2 bomber pilot jacket at an affordable price!
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