by Laurence Lance
I first met Mr. Wyckoff in the spring of 1967. He was working as an engineer for Boeing in Seattle.
He, his wife Charlotte, and children Frank Jr. Marty and Mickey were living in a very nice area just off the water in Normandy Park, which is south of Seattle about 20 miles.
Mr. Wyckoff, that was the ONLY name I addressed him by, was not a tall man but had a commanding air. He was quiet and had a slight southern drawl. He was also clearly one of the most brilliant men I've ever know.
On some rare occasion I would have the chance to sit with him in his living room while I waited for his son, my best friend, to finish some task.
Typical of that generation, he almost never talked about the war, although I did know he left the service as a Major.
In all the years I knew him, which was the rest of his life, he only told me maybe three stories and I never knew about his Silver Star until he and his son were cleaning up the home after Charlotte passed away.
Mr. Wyckoff kept a number of highly polished metal aircraft tucked away on a shelf in the living room. I knew they were not available to any commercial outlet but I did not know they were for command staff of an aircraft. As a gift from the family I have his B 52 here in my study.
One day Mr. Wyckoff was watching one thing or another on television as I sat next to him. "We were once on a bombing raid and we had to fly real low to get away from the Germans. We were so low that I was able to open and close the bomb bay doors and get fresh corn into the plane. Danged commander took it all. We were all pretty mad about that."
Now Mr. Wyckoff never exaggerated, even a little so I didn't know what to do with what seemed to be a pretty tall tale. Many years later I saw the archival film of the raid over Polesti. He wasn't exaggerating and his wasn't kidding. That's where he got the Silver Star.
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Liberando: Reflections of a Reluctant Warrior
376th Bomb Group Mission History
Ten Men, A "Flying Boxcar," and A War