A tribute to the crew of Miss Mandy


374th Bomb Squadron, 308th Bomb Group (H)
14th Air Force 'Flying Tigers'
China-Burma-India Theater in World War II


"When the Army Air Forces Headquarters in Washington tallied the bombing accuracy of every bomb group in combat, I was astonished to find that the 308th led them all."
General Claire Chennault in his Memoirs

308th BG
308th Insignia - PERCUSSUS RESURGO

PERCUSSUS = Striking
RESURGO = To appear again

"The 308th... performed some of the most accurate bombing 
of the US Army Air Forces and used the first American 
"smart bomb" called the Azon. The 308th also sustained
the highest casualty rate in the USAAF, for its missions
were long and hard, often conducted at very low level
and at night through the very heart of Japanese-
occupied territory and over their controlled sea lanes."
"The 308th flew nearly 600 combat missions under conditions
that would have been deemed impossible in Europe. At the
end of a 12,000-mile supply line, every ounce of gasoline,
every bomb, every spark plug, had to be dragged over the
hazardous, high altitude route across the mountains, along
what became known as "the Aluminum Trail" for the plane
wreckage scattered along the way. There were few radio or
navigational aids, and the weather was usually bad. Midway
through the war, crew viewed combat missions as less 
stressful than the haul over the Hump. It took about four
trips hauling supplies to be ready for one bombing mission."

Walter J. Boyne, Former Director, National Air & Space Museum
Excerpt from the Foreword in CHENNAULT'S FORGOTTEN WARRIORS
By Carroll V. Glines



CBI patch

CBI Patch


Heavy-Bomber Group of 14th Air Force Identified as 308th

   KUNMING, China, Jan. 26 (Delayed) (AP) - The United States Fourteenth Air Force's Liberator group, known unofficially as "the Liberators of China," may now be referred to publicly by its official designation, the 308th Bombardment Group. 
   The group arrived in China on March 21, 1943. Up to Jan. 1 of this year the Liberators had sunk a total of 466,800 tons of Japanese shipping, including 34,000 tons in naval vessels. It had dropped more than 3,000 tons of bombs on Japanese installations, shot down twenty-two enemy planes and probably shot down eighty-four. 
   The 308th's sea-sweeping activities produced one of the Fourteenth Air Force's greatest heroes, Maj. Horace S. Carswell Jr. of San Angelo, Tex., who died last Oct. 27 in an attempt to save his crew after an attack on a Japanese naval formation. 
   Col. John G. Armstrong of New York is the present group commander.

Flying Tigers patch

Flying Tigers

Some Decorations and Citations earned by Miss Mandy's crew


Air Medal
with 1 Oak
Leaf Cluster

Campaign with
3 Battle Stars

War Two
Victory Medal

 Battles and Campaigns 

India Burma          China Offensive          China Defensive

 Distinguished Unit Citations 

August 21, 1943

May 24, 1944 - April 28, 1945
East & South China Seas
Straights of Formosa
Gulf of Tonkin

New!  Flight Log

Thanks to Dean G. for sending a scan of what he believes to be the Flight Log for 'Miss Mandy.'  Here is his email:

"I few years ago I came into possession of a pilot's personal mission log book.  With research help from some great men on a B-24 site and the 308th facebook page, we believe the book belonged to Rae Behrens, and documents the missions him and his crew participated in.  I have scanned it into jpeg and and will send it to you if you like.

Do you have any information on him, or any living family?  The book belongs to them, and I would like it in their hands.  I would also be willing to give it to any remaining crew member.  As a last resort I will send it to one of the B-24 museums.

Thank you in advance for any assistance.  Dean G"

Click here for a PDF of the 17-page Flight Log:
Liberators of China flight log



Below is a copy of the general orders John Gillard and other members of Miss Mandy's crew received for the Distinguished Flying Cross







5 September 1945




     2.  Pursuant to authority contained in this letter, AG 200.6, Headquarters, USF., China Theater, subject: Decorations and Awards, dated 5 August 1945, and under the provisions of AR 600-45, dated 22 September 1943, the DISTINGUISHED-FLYING CROSS or the OAK-LEAF CLUSTER thereto is hereby awarded to the following named officers and enlisted men of the 308th Bombardment Group (H) for extraordinary achievement in aerial flight. They distinguished themselves while participating in 200 or more hours of combat flight from bases in India and China in heavy bombardment type aircraft. During the first portion of the periods cited they flew in attacks against enemy installations, lines of communication, supply dumps and troop concentrations, inflicting heavy damage on the enemy. In the latter part of the cited periods they carried large loads of gasoline over the "Hump", encountering the dangers of flying over rugged terrain with highly flammable cargo. The accomplishment of these officers and enlisted men reflect great credit upon themselves and are consonant to the fine traditions of the Army Air Forces. 







ELWIN J. GILLARD, 12139479, Staff Sergeant, Air Corps, Aerial Gunner, 
17 December 1944 to 4 August 1945.






Colonel, G.S.C.,
Chief of Staff


s/ Henry A. Beasley
   Lieutenant Colonel, A.G.D.,
   Adjutant General



Below is a copy of the general orders John Gillard and other members of Miss Mandy's crew received for the Air Medal






20 May 1945








     4.  Pursuant to authority contained in Circular 55, U.S. Army Forces, China, Burma, and India, dated 29 May 1944, and under the provisions of AR 600-45, dated 22 September 1943, the AIR MEDAL or the OAK-LEAF CLUSTER thereto is hereby awarded to the following named officers and enlisted men of the 308th Bombardment Group (H) for meritorious achievement in aerial flight. Flying from bases in China, they completed 100 or more hours of combat flight during the periods indicated.  Although fire from hostile aircraft and enemy ground installations was encountered frequently, they carried out their missions with courageous determination.  Chief among their targets were enemy installations, lines of communication, vessels at sea and troop and supply concentrations.  Their missions ranged throughout Occupied China and over the China seas, where they inflicted heavy losses on the enemy.  Many of their flights were made through adverse weather over mountainous and poorly charted regions with a minimum of navigational aids.  The accomplishments of these officers and enlisted men reflect great credit upon themselves and upon the Army Air Forces. 







ELWIN J. GILLARD, 12139479, Staff Sergeant, Air Corps, Aerial Gunner.  
17 December 1944 to 25 March 1945. 






s/ C. L. Chennault
   Major General, U.S.A.


Army Air Force patch


Crew of Miss Mandy
Top (left to right)
Bottom (left to right)

Pilot - Rae Behrens
Co-Pilot - Kent Culbertson
Bombardier - Howard Harms
Navigator - Dave Donnan

Engineer - Bob Walton
Radio/Upper Turret - Sosthene Trichel
Ball Turret Gunner - John Gillard
Waist Gunner - Danny DeLeon
Tail Gunner - Vernon Johnson
Nose Gunner - Bob Edwards


Army Air Force patch



World War Two bombers were usually adorned with "nose art." 
Women were typically the subject of this artwork which always 
appeared near the nose of the plane.

The B-24 "MISS MANDY" was no exception. Pilot Rae Behrens wife's name 
was Mandy, so the Liberator naturally received her name and likeness.

Amanda Behrens

The "real life"
Amanda Behrens

"Miss Mandy" nose art



Army Air Force patch


Chinese soldier guarding a row of P-40's
Chinese soldier
guarding a row
of P-40 fighters
Photo: NARA

By Robert Donnan

The most dangerous 
flying in the world

   HIMALAYAS is Sanskrit for "Abode of Snow." But the Army Air Force flight routes over this mountainous region earned a new nickname during World War Two - The Aluminum Trail - due to the abundance of crashed airplanes littering the ground. Why was this flying so hazardous? 
   Stretching between India and China, over thirty peaks of the Himalayas rise above 25,000 feet. Of these, Mount Everest is the world's tallest mountain at 29,028 feet. Flight routes were charted between these peaks, but altitudes were great and the terrain inaccessible. Sometimes the altitude indicated on a flight chart wasn't accurate, leading to many shocking surprises. 
   While defending China from the Japanese invaders, one of the greatest logistical problems was getting basic war materiel into China - food, ammo and fuel. The number of supply routes was severely limited by the rugged terrain. It came down to either using the treacherous overland route - the Burma Road - or flying supplies over The Hump into China. 
   Even though flying became the preferred method of resupply, there were severe limitations due to cargo weight and shortages of airplane fuel. Fuel to power the P-40's and other planes in China was especially scarce. Therefore, some of Miss Mandy's missions involved fuel resupply from India. The bomb racks were removed and large fuel tanks were hoisted into the bombays. According to crew member John Gillard, their Liberator carried as much fuel as a tractor trailer tanker truck (considering wing tanks and bombay tanks) when it lifted off from India. 
   The first challenge with a heavy load was making it up to altitude, so the B-24 could successfully cross The Hump. Weight was such a factor, that most of the armor plate had been stripped out of Miss Mandy when she arrived in the CBI Theater so the Liberator could haul more payload. 
   After takeoff, the climate inside the airplane rapidly changed from sweltering Indian heat to thin, frigid, high-altitude air, requiring oxygen masks and sub-zero temperature clothing. Flying at these altitudes, the weather could change in a split second, with visibility dropping to zero, wings icing, severe turbulence, air pocket free falls that would wrench your stomach and perhaps worst of all, lightning strikes!  
   These lightning strikes would reveal themselves as "Saint Elmo's Fire" creating colorful frightful halos around the four propeller tips. Will the fuel explode? Are there any uncharted mountain tops we're about to fly into? Will I ever see my family again?  These are just a few of the questions the crew asked themselves while flying along The Aluminum Trail. 
   60 years later, search teams are still discovering downed US aircraft in this rugged mountain terrain known to CBI Aviators as THE HUMP  

Burma Road
Burma Road
Photo: FDR Library

B-24 production at Willow Run
B-24 production
at Willow Run
Photo: NARA


Army Air Force patch


John Gillard was the Ball Turret Gunner on Miss Mandy

John Gillard - Ball Turret Gunner

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
by Randall Jarrell

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Following WW2, John always feared thunderstorms,
remembering when lightning would strike their B-24 and create 
"St Elmo's Fire" around the prop tips. Often times they were
hauling large fuel tanks in the bombay, transporting fuel 
over the Himalayas for the air forces in China.




Yank Airforce
In China Has
Good Month

Wrecks 241 Jap
Planes, Sinks 73,950
Ship Tons in Dec.

   CHUNGKING, Jan. 6. --- (UP)
Despite the loss of bases in Eastern China, the U.S. 14th Air Force had its best month in history during December, destroying 241 Japanese aircraft and sinking 73,950 tons of merchant shipping without loss of a single plane in combat, Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault announced today.
   An additional 113,900 tons of shipping probably was sunk or damaged, he said. 
   The planes destroyed on the ground and in the air represented a substantial portion of the entire Japanese air strength in China. 
   "We struck deeper into enemy territory than ever before," Chennault said. "In short we are hitting the enemy harder, exacting a heavier toll every day. With the full support of the theater command and the Chinese we shall continue to do so." 
Chennault resented the newspaper stories printed in the United States implying that the position of the 14th Air Force was precarious. 
   "I have even seen reports that the 14th might be getting out of China," he said. "That is ludicrous. I predict that the 14th still will be operating in China when the last Jap on Chinese soil has passed through the gates of a prisoner of war camp." 

CBI veterans
Cheering U.S. veterans of the China-Burma-India campaigns arrive in New York September 27, 1945, aboard the Army transport General A. W. Greely. The men and women were members of the Flying Tigers, Merrill's Marauders, and other heroic outfits.
Photo: NARA


Claire Chennault
Major General Gilbert Cheves (left) and Major General Claire Chennault observe a typically American custom to open a softball game in China. General Chennault pitched for the "Flying Tigers", while General Cheves held down first base for the opposing team., 1945.
Photo: NARA


Army Air Force patch


374th Bomb Squadron (Heavy)

A Wombat clutching
two bombs was
the insignia
of the
374th Bomb Squadron
of the
308th Bomb Group
based in China
during World
War Two

WOMBAT insignia of the 374th Bomb Squadron


Lineage: Constituted as 374th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on January 28, 1942. Activated on April 15, 1942. Inactivated on January 6, 1946.




Manufacturer: Consolidated-Vultee
Length: 66 feet 4 inches
Wing span: 110 feet
Height: 17 feet 11 inches
Crew: 10
Speed: 300 mph

Range: 3,300 miles
Ceiling: 36,000 feet
Armament: Ten .50-caliber machine guns
Bomb load: 12,800 lbs.
Gross weight: 41,000 lbs.
Loaded weight: 56,000 lbs.

This Consolidated-built heavy bomber reached higher production than any other U. S. World War II combat aircraft. A total of 18,188 of these versatile four-engine bombers was built for the U.S. Air Corps, Navy, and Allies. The B-24 went through many modifications which added armor, power-operated gun turrets, self-sealing gasoline tanks, and armament to the original model. The B-24 was not only used as a bomber but as a tanker and transport, and although it flew in all theaters of war, it was used most in the Mediterranean and Pacific, where longer range gave it an edge over the B-17. This range made it particularly useful in the Pacific for search missions for downed airmen.  Source: "China Up and Down" by John T. Foster


Army Air Force patch


(click to enlarge photos)

374th Bomb Squadron, 308th Bomb Group in Kunming China 1943-1944
High Resolution photo

374th Bomb Squadron, Kunming China 1943-1944
Photo submitted by Gerard Trudel
Gerard's father, Joseph J. Trudel, was the navigator on the first 'Ubangi Bag'

David Donnan

Edwards and Trichel

Danny DeLeon



Edwards (L)
and Trichel




Johnson - Walton - Gillard

Kent Culbertson

Howard Harms

(L to R) Johnson - 
Walton - Gillard


Kent Culbertson
and 'Boozie'




B-24 Miss Mandy

C-47 Gooney Bird

Local scenery

Miss Mandy


Gooney Bird




Special thanks to John Gillard for help with providing documents and technical information for this webpage.


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