Standing together near the runway of the former Royal Air Force and United States 8th Air Force airfield used in World War II, it is not hard for Maderans Vern and Kathy Lund to imagine a flight of B-17 heavy bombers taking off for a raid on Nazi Germany.
The couple, married for 25 years, recently returned to Thurleigh Airfield, England where Kathy’s father, George Pearson, had been assigned to the 306th Bomb Group, 423rd Squadron as a radio operator and gunner on a B-17 heavy bomber named the Vagabond Lady.
Returning to Madera after the war, Pearson worked at Gibbs Hardware and later Teco Hardware until he retired. Pearson was like many veterans and didn’t say much about his wartime experiences. Vern Lund, a pilot himself, was able to get Pearson — who became Lund’s father-in-law — to recount his war years.
Before being shipped to England, Pearson had gone through radio operator school at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and later gunnery school. He wanted to fly very badly and though he became easily airsick managed to keep it a secret through training and combat missions...