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J.R. Ashberry of the 344th BG 494th BS

J.R. Ashberry

J.R. Ashberry

 

JR Ashberry & James Ashberry Jr. March 10, 2003

JR Ashberry & James Ashberry March 10, 2003

 

 

 

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                                                                                                                                                    (The following information about James Rufus (J.R.) Ashberry is constructed from pictures and comments sent to me by his son James Ray Ashberry.)

My dad was Lt. J.R. Ashberry.  My dad said when I was born in 1943, the Red Cross notified him that he had a new son.  He was in England at the time. He was the pilot of the B-26 named “You Cawn’t Miss It. “I do have a photo taken later than the one on this site, because there more bombs painted on the side.  I have photos and names of all the crew members also.

344th BG "You Cawnt Miss It" oftehn Flown by J.R. Ashberry.

344th BG “You Cawnt Miss It” oftehn Flown by J.R. Ashberry.

344th BG 494th BS "Cawnt Miss It" *42-95912 You Cawn’t Miss It  and crew.

344th BG 494th BS “Cawnt Miss It” *42-95912 You Cawn’t Miss It and crew.

Embry (bottom left

Embry (bottom left

Front: Thompson, Ashberry, MacMillan Back: Christian, Cianciola

Front: Thompson, Ashberry, MacMillan
Back: Christian, Cianciola

B-26 Marauder Serial NumbersCant Miss It: Built at the Glenn L Martin factory at Baltimore, Maryland as a B-26B-50-MA. Accepted by the Army Air Force on 30/11/43. Next listed at Palm Springs Army Air Field, California (ATC, probably 21st Ferry Group) from 20/12/43. Then went to the 3rd AF staging area at Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia (from 21/12/43). Assigned to the 344th BG at Hunter Field. Flown overseas to the UK via the Southern Ferry Route (Listed as Caribean Wing), departing the USA on 20/1/44. The aircraft record card then lists, SOXO A (Europe – 8th AF) on 20/1/44, and SOXO R (Europe – 8th AF) from 19/2/44. Original group aircraft assigned to Captain J R Ashberry. Sustained battle damage on 3/9/44, whilst flown by 2nd Lt. E W Covey, and landed at an allied base in France, but never returned to combat with the 344th BG. The aircraft was repaired by 19/9/44. The aircraft record card lists, GLUE 9AF CON ON ALS on 4/9/44, and, SOXO REPAIRED on 19/9/44. According to book “Marauders Francais”, this aircraft was declared war weary by the 344th BG on 3/9/44, and transferred to the French, although this is most probably wrong. The aircraft was struck from the 344th BG records, and upon repair was assigned to the 320th BG as a replacement aircraft.

I have a photo of J.R. standing outside his tent in England, and also remember seeing official orders in a folder somewhere.

J.R. Ashberry

J.R. Ashberry

J.R. Ashberry

J.R. Ashberry

J.R. Ashberry

J.R. Ashberry

I have several boxes of documents that I will take some time to study. My dad died in 2004 at age 84 of pulmonary aspiration and congestive heart failure.  In 1995, I interviewed him on audiotape cassette for over 5 hours over a 2-day period, in which he told me some things about his military experiences he had never told anyone.  We had to stop occasionally because he would break up nearly in tears when he talked about all the times God saved him and his plane.

1941Jan-Mar-J.R. w/note to Fannie on Back.  "You can keep it till you come and bring it back to me and it is yours some day I know you will do that wont you Sugar."Picture info: 1941 Jan-Mar-J.R. w/note to Fannie on Back.  “You can keep it till you come and bring it back to me and it is yours some day I know you will do that wont you Sugar.”

My dad piloted *42-95912 K9-Q  “You Cawn’t Miss It” on D-Day.  You can see from the formation diagram that my father (Ashberry) was in the same formation as Frank Carrozza (flew in 42-96265 Y5-Y under Captain Lyon)

My dad and I ran into a good friend of mine before my mom died, and my good friend was on the beach at Normandy on Day 1, and told my dad that my dad’s flight missed their main target at Omaha Beach that day.  It upset my dad, and he told me later he didn’t like that guy.  Ha-ha!  He told me later about missing the target, I think because of cloud cover, but they dropped their bombs on a secondary target.  I have a couple of my dad’s old 2-3 decades-old magazines with stories about the B-26s on that historic day, but have never read them.  My dad kept everything related to B-26s and wore a B-26 ball cap every day in later years.

One story my dad told me about how God intervened back then could have been coincidence, but Daddy (what I always called him), thought his experiences in combat and flying was nothing short of divine intervention.  After several missions in the same plane, he and the crew were told to take a different bomber.  The plane they normally flew took off down the runway the same day, and crashed on take-off due to mechanical malfunction, killing all the crew.

With the name, “Widow Maker,” and the fact that so many of these Marauders crashed or were shot down, my dad might have been right after all about God saving him on several occasions.  Without my dad, my mother and her sisters would have probably raised me in Illinois, and my brother and sister would have never been born.Here are some pictures of dad with my mother, Fannie. She was 17 when they got married and had me when she was 18.

Fannie and J.R. Ashberry. 1942 Fort Myers, Fl.

Fannie and J.R. Ashberry. 1942 Fort Myers, Fl.

1943-Fannie and James Jr.

1943-Fannie and baby James

Fanny and J.R. Ashberry. 1942 Fort Myers, Fl.

Fanny and J.R. Ashberry. 1942 Fort Myers, Fl.

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry - Wedding

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry – Wedding

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry - Wedding

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry – Wedding

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry - Wedding

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry – Wedding

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry - Wedding

J.R. and Fannie Ashberry – Wedding

Dad remained in the Air Force long after WWII.

J.R. Ashberry 1958

J.R. Ashberry 1958

J.R. Ashberry

J.R. Ashberry

1956 May: Marana AFB Tucson AZ

1956 May: Marana AFB Tucson AZ

In 2004 after my dad’s death, I found his co-pilot by phone and I asked him what kind of pilot my dad was.  He said my dad was the best “seat of your pants” pilot he had ever flown with, and saved their bacon more than once.  I will try to find my notes that I scribbled when I searched for his old crew mates.Major J.R. Ashberry  5/20/1919 - 2/4/2004Major J.R. Ashberry
5/20/1919 – 2/4/2004

Training in Texas and other locations before shipping out to the ETO.

J.R. Ashberry in trainer

J.R. Ashberry in trainer

Unknown Parade (Dad is left front inside line)

 

J.R. Ashberry with parents (Brady, Texas)J.R. Ashberry with parents (Brady, Texas)

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