Robert E. Hemmis

Recent Address: 505 Fayette Street, Washington, PA 15301
E-mail Address:
Family Info: Parents: John and Agnes; Siblings: Norman, Lewis, Max, Rhoda
Hometown: Canonsburg, PA
Date Entered Service: April 18, 1942
Service Number: 33262635
Bomb Group: 444th
Squadron: 677th
Location of Unit: Great Bend, KS
Missions Flown:
Hump Missions:
Awards: Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Offensive Japan, China Campaign, Central Burma Campaign, India-Burma Campaign, Air Combat Sumatra, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with 5 Bronze Stars, Distinguished Unit Badge, Meritorious Unit Award, AAF Tech Badge with Communications Bar, Carbine S/S
Service Schools: Scott Field, Belleville, IL Jul-Sep 1942; Radio, Telephone Mechanics Jul-Sep 1942
MOS: MOS 542 - Communications Chief
Rank Upon Discharge: Master Sergeant
Crew Type: Flight crew
Airplane Serial No.& Name:
Where You a POW?:
POW Location:
Where You a Interned?:
Internment Location:
Date Transferred from the 58th: October 12, 1945
Date Discharged: October 24, 1945
Post WWII Service:
Post WWII Civilian Occupation(s): 1/46 -- Employed in Ceramic Color Sales, BF Drakenfeld, Washington PA (same company now owned by Hercules Powder Co.); 7/77 -- Retired after 31 years in sales & service from Hercules. Sales area: Eastern Canada, Moncton NB, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit MI, Calgary and British Columbia. Sold beverage bottle colors (Coca Cola, Pepsi) Sanitary Ware Glazes, Tile Colors (all inorganic pigments); 7/77 -- rehired by Hercules to break in a ceramic engineer to replace me. After 6 months training was over, my contract ended.
Thoughts About the 58th: After radio school at Scott Field, transferred to Davis Monthan in Tucson, AZ. We trained combat crews in B-24 Liberators brought in from Long Beach CA. Transferred to Great Bend, KS for training in B-29 Superfortress, of which we had none. Used B-26's until we were ready to ship out overseas. Sailed from California, wound up 37 days later in Bombay, India. After a short session there, went to Perulia Station and later to Kharagpur near Calcutta. Finally got some B-29s. Brig. Gen Curtis LeMay Commanding Officer. After getting set up there, missions were flown over the Hump to China hauling material -- bombs, gasoline and other sundries for strikes at Japan. Very hot and tedious work with not much to show for our combined efforts. Raids on Singapore, Sumatra and other targets seemed fairly successful, but distance from the targets were too great.
The modification of the communications system on the bomber was a large task. We removed obsolete Signal Corps radios and transmitters. They took a large space in the navigator's station with the coils and other equipment . We received the Collins System -- much more compact and used a cut crystal to change frequencies as required. Radio operators were pleased with this updated equipment.
We experienced much trouble with the radio compass antenna mount on the main fuselage. Vibration in flight weakened the anchor and in some cases caused the antenna to disengage from the fuselage and was inoperative -- only hanging by the electrical wires. Received much help from engineer section to install a heavy steel mount to secure the compass antenna.
Summing up: the experience garnered in this service duty has broadened my scope in civilian life. Seeing foreign lands that I would never have seen, has been a pleasure to think about. But I don't think I'd like to repeat it at the ripe-old age of 85.
Mr Hemmis passed away June 30, 2010 in Washington, PA. He is buried at Washington Cemetery.

58th Bomb Wing Veterans Index
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