World War II Air Force veteran Everett Fitchlee will share his experience as part of the 8th Air Force 390th Bombardment Group at the Niagara History Center, Thursday, March 27, at 2 p.m. Fitchlee will show film of an actual mission by the B17 bombers, made by a photographer assigned to the Bomb Group.
The 390th Bomb Group was activated in 1943, the year Fitchlee entered the Air Force. The group's air and ground troops were assigned to the 8th Air Force and dispatched to Suffolk, England, for missions over Europe from 1943-45. As part of a nine-man crew, Fitchlee flew B-17 missions over Germany and France. The B-17's, dubbed "Flying Fortresses," bombed aircraft factories, oil refineries and bridges.
Their Framlingham, England, base was constructed on farmland especially for the Bomb Group. Although the site is farmed once again, the group's control tower remains as a museum. In the U.S., the 390th Memorial Museum, devoted to the Bomb Group is located on the grounds of the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Ariz.
Born in Royalton Center, Fitchlee attained the rank of technical sergeant. He was wounded in the 390th Bomb Group's fourth mission and awarded a Purple Heart. He retired from Harrison Radiator and resides in Lockport.
The Niagara History Center is located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport.