This Flordia Beaches To The Bering Sea project all got started when my neighbor Terry asked me what kind of plane my grandfather flew in the war. It had been over a decade since I last studied the entries in his flight log book which were now thousands of miles away at my parents house in Winnipeg, Manitoba. That recollection had become buried under the events of my own life in the last ten years, but I was determined to remember. An unanswered phone call to my Mother brought me to the good ol' internet where I started to discover information on not only his plane, but also his squadrons role in the war in Alaska.
One of the first websites that I discovered was www.rcaf111fsquadron.com. The creator of this site, Bill Eull, has put a lot of heartfelt hours and energy into researching the squadrons members both individually and as a group. Interestingly, Bill has no family associated with the squadron, he was just one man who became fascinated with their story after finding a dusty old squadron photo in an Ontario antique shop.
|111(f) Squadron, Patricia Bay, March 3rd, 1942, photo-Bill Eull|
Like so many others, Bill had no idea that the WW2 Aleutian campaign even happened. That North America had been threatened from both the east and the west. And with just a small amount of initial research, he was hooked and determined to tell their story of sacrifices and victories. It was his way of fulfilling his own deeper desire to pay honor those who served.
For a family member, like myself, it is a wonderfully emotional experience to discover the site. There on my computer screen was picture of my grandfather sitting proudly in his air force uniform. Under his photos, listed his name, rank and his accomplishments and whether or not he survived the war to which, at that point, it read "As far as I can tell, he survived the war." I immediately, as you can imagine, emailed Bill, letting him know who I was and that, luckily, my grandfather did indeed survive the war, being sure to include a few other details as well. He was happy to hear from me, as he is with all family members who contact him.
Bills quest is to honor every serviceman in the 111(f) Squadron. To date, he has been able to come up with 385 names of people who were either in the squadron or associated with it in some way. Ideally, he wants to find photos of each person and tell their service story. Remarkably he has been able to do that with 110 of the 385 (28%) men. Outstanding dedication and effort Bill!
|Bill Eull in the cockpit of a P-40 Kittyhawk owned by George Maude|
Photo by Jim Ricks, Victoria, B.C.
There are no words strong enough to express to Bill the amount of appreciation I have for his efforts in creating such a priceless gift. Thank you for bringing the faces of these brave and dedicated men into the open, and for sharing the stories of men that were never able to express it openly themselves.
Bills plight is not over, he still needs our help putting names and details to squadron photos. Please visit his sight and see if you can assist- www.rcaf111fsquadron.com
God Bless you Bill.