U.S. Army 8th Air Force 3rd Bomb Division, 4th Bomb Wing
447th Bomb Group 711st Bomb Squadron, B-I7 Flying Fortress
Station # 126 Rattlesden, Suffolk, England, Spring 1944
Brief history of "Ol' Scrapiron"
Ground Crew Chief M/Sgt. William M. Truxaw, absolute best mechanic, 711th Bomb Squadron, hardstand #20. Flew 63 missions, with 27 different crews, 1st mission 6/21/1944, went down 3/23/1945 on mission to Holzwickede, Germany; Pilot name Lt. Charles H Bruckman crew had a midair collision with 34th Bomb Group B17 #338971, Pilot name Lt. Myron A Boiser.
How "0l' Scrapiron" A/C #231582 Got Its Name.
On 4/29/1944, Lt. Robert C. Stevenson, #0810250, my original Command Pilot, was killed on his 1st mission en route to Berlin, Germany, with Lt. Elmer D. Johnston Pilot, as his Co-Pilot in A/C #297501, the same A/C that I had flown my 1st mission as a toggleir 2 days previously. Our Group lost 11 - B 17s, 10 shot down and one ditched in the English Channel. Lt. Stevenson was a very kind and mild mannered man, but he was very strict. One evening a group of our Officers were out on the town having a good time when a bunch of rowdies started to hassle them. Lt Stevenson was being pushed around, he was the biggest, when they had his back against the wall, so the story goes and he had enough. He single-handedly cleaned house. Problem solved. So our other 3 Officers nicknamed him "Ol'Scrapiron", and we the other crew members were told the story later.
When Lt Dahlgran our original Co-Pilot became a Command Pilot he asked for the remaining original crew members that were left to be assigned to his new crew, my 18th mission. We flew in A/C #231582, thus we took a vote and asked M/Sgt Truxaw if his A/C had a name and he gave us permission to name her "Ol'Scrapiron". GOD BLESS Lt. Robert C. Stevenson! I, Jack D Keller, flew only 8 missions with Lt Dahlgran as my Command Pilot: 6 in (#321582), "Ol'Scrapiron", 1 in #297083 and I in #297572. It sure was nice to fly again with some of my original crew members who I had trained with, like being home again with your family, flying with strange crews was very hard!
I was on the original crew that voted and gave the name of "Ol'Scrapiron" to A/C #231582 and became the first tail gunner to serve on the newly named B-17, although there were 5 missions under her belt by other crews. In I998 at our reunion in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, I met Byron Schlag, who I found out was the last tail gunner to serve in "OI' Scrapiron". From Byron I had learned that on 3/23/1945, that "Ol' Scrapiron" was cut in two parts by another B-17 from 34th Bomb Group and he was still in the tail position. After coming to, fighting his way out of the tail, bailing out, he was wounded and captured by the Germans and remained a P.O.W. for the duration of the war, he was very lucky for the Yanks came through town and freed him shortly after being captured. He came back to the Greatest Country in this SCREWED UP WORLD, the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! May GOD BLESS, Love all you wonderful folks!
-Jack D Keller Tail Gunner Toggleir A/C #231582 "Ol'Scrapiron"
Kneeling (L-R): Lt. Abel W. Dahlgrahn, Co-Pilot; Lt. Robert C. Stevenson, Pilot, (KIA); Lt. Erwin A Smith Navigator;Lt. Gordon T. Todd, Bombardier, (wounded); Standing (L to R): T/Sgt. Kenneth L. Ramey, Gunner Radio Operator; S/Sgt. Albert A. Acuna, Gunner Waist, (wounded); T/Sgt. Lorn B. Heeb, Gunner, Engineer, Top Turret; S/Sgt. Russell T. Hatchett, Gunner, Amorer, Ball Turret; S/Sgt. Jack D. Keller Gunner, A/C Mechanic, Tail & Toggleir (wounded); S/Sgt. William Levinsky, Gunner Amorer, Waist. "Ol'Scrapiron" A/C #231582 Years 1944 & 1945.