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Lt. Lloyd J. Fickler,
Survived by his sons John and Ron, his daughter Donna, his niece Kathy and his Great Grandsons Airman Johnny Brownlee and Staff Sgt. Graham Brownlee
Lloyd was born on August 21, 1919, in South
Dakota, one of five children. He married
Luverne Nelson on June 28, 1942, and then
headed off to fight in World War II. He served
as flight officer and copilot of the Rum Boogie. His squadron flew missions out of Grafton Underwood, Andrews Field
and Snetterton Heath in England.
During bombing missions, the B17 bombers
flew in formations during daylight hours
and were at the mercy of German fighter
planes and intense ground fire because
supporting Allied fighters could not fly the
long distances to German targets. Lloyd and
the Rum Boogie Crew participated in the famous two part bombing raid to Regensburg, where a German airplane factory was destroyed, then continued on to North Africa (see Mission #21 on this website). His 25th and final raid was over Bordeaux France, a tiring 11 1/2 hour flight, and the longest he had made. He said the return to base was one of the happiest days of his life. He felt fortunate to complete 25 missions when so many others did not (the mortality rate of crew members on B17's in 1943 was about one in five), but also said he felt terrible that so many innocent civilians were killed in the bombing raids. The 96th Bomb Group received two Presidential Unit Citations, and Lloyd was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, a Distinguished Flying Cross, and commissioned a Lieutenant.
Lloyd returned to Webster in 1943, where he received a hometown hero’s reception, and then joined his family in California. In 1944, he was deployed as a flight instructor in the states. Later that year, he was sent to Tinian Island in the Pacific as an assistant operations manager where he watched the Enola Gay leave for Japan with the atomic bomb aboard. He was then assigned to fly to Guam where he picked up a top-secret package that contained the medals and citations for Enola Gay crew members.
After the war, Lloyd moved back to Webster where he worked many different jobs including owner/operator of a gas station. While his son John was in high school, Lloyd was the Bay County Sheriff, from 1960 to 1964. John told me his father was a very understanding person and pretty forgiving. Lloyd also served in the South Dakota National Guard for over 20 years and retired from it as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Later on, one of Lloyd's uncles, who had been in a prison camp during the war, opened up a hardware store in Garden City, Kansas. At that time Lloyd was burned out on his job as sheriff, and when offered a job in the hardware store, he accepted. He worked there until retirement. Lloyd battled colon cancer but survived six more years, eventually dying of kidney failure.
Both Lloyd and and his wife Luverne are buried in Valley View Cemetery in Garden
Airman Johnny Brownlee & Staff Sgt. Graham Brownlee
Staff Sgt. Graham Brownlee
Airman Johnny Brownlee
Meet Lloyd Fickler's great-grandsons:
Staff Sgt. Graham Brownlee, age 24, serves as a Dedicated Crew Chief on C-5 Galaxies with the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dover Air Force Base. He recently had his jet signed by the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Joanne Bass, and renamed it "Spirit of the Rum Boogie."
The black and white picture below is from when he and his fellow crewmen did a major overhaul on a C-5 cargo jet, including removing the exhaust pipe.
Airman Johnny Brownlee, age 19, is stationed at Mildenhall, England, and was a wreath-bearer at a recent Memorial Day service in Cambridge.
Johnny is named after his grandpa, Lloyd John Fickler (Jr.) and Great-Grandpa Lloyd John Fickler (Sr.).
Johnny is 19 years old, and is an Airman 1st Class in the Air Force. He serves as an Aircrew Equipment Maintainer with the 100th Air Refueling Wing stationed at RAF Mildenhall, UK.
Here is Johnny on the flightline at Mildenhall, hiking in Peaks District National Park, and playing chess with his commander.
Some Current South Dakota Ficklers
Here are excerpts from some newspaper articles which were published after Lloyd returned home, also courtesy of Kathy Sigdestad (retyped for readability). Quotes from Lloyd in the
articles reflect the American will to win and can do attitude which helped us win the war.
Lloyd Fickler Awarded D.F.C.
Flight Officer Lloyd J. Fickler of Webster was one of five South Dakota members of the Eighth Air Force, based in England to receive awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, according to an announcement Monday by the U.S. War Department.
Lt. Fickler, now returned to this country after completing 25 bombing missions over occupied Europe, is now at Dyersberg, Tenn., where he is serving as an air corps instructor.
October 7, 1943
Lt. Lloyd Fickler is home from the battle front in Europe. He said the Keil raid was the roughest one in which he has participated. The raid on Paris, in which 200 bombers took part, met the stiffest opposition with a lot of flak and German fighter planes pounding them. Five planes failed to return from that raid.
"On the whole," Lt. Fickler said, "losses of our planes are light considering the enemy defense. If the boys can keep on getting this type of equipment, they will do the job. My survival was miraculous, but I am ready to return whenever they need me. "
Lloyd Fickler Home After 25 Bomb Raids on Europe
Back from 6 months overseas during which he participated in 25 bombing raids over Hitler's Europe, Lt. Lloyd Fickler arrived home by train Tuesday afteroon.
Looking very fit despite the strain of the concentrated Flying Fortress bombing attacks in which he has taken part, Lt. Fickler talked briefly of some of his experiences and his pleasure in being home.
Among the daylight raids over Europe in which he took part, the toughest was the bombing of Kiel, a strongly protected Nazi submarine yard, Fickler said. The squadron was attacked by upwards of 200 Nazi planes. The Nazi pilots had been given orders to stop the attack at all costs and even before the Americans reached the German coast, they were attacked by droves of enemy fighters. The sky was a melee of diving, twisting planes, blazing with all their guns.
Fickler also took part in four raids over Paris, the bombing of the airplane factory at Regansberg, a shuttle flight to North Africa as well as others. He has a record of more than 700 hours in the air during these raids. He is particularly grateful that no members of the crew were lost on any of the raids.
Asked about the report that German pilots flying captured American planes had attempted to join an American raiding squadron, Fickler said it was true but Americans had been warned of such an attempt and that their own planes had secret identification marks which the enemy didn't have. "When we got the signal and opened up on them, we simply mowed them down," he said.
Both are thriving in the Air Force and are honored to carry on the legacy. Johnny won 1st place recently in a physical fitness/fundraising contest on base, and Graham emceed his Airman Leadership Course graduation, and is in the auxiliary security forces in addition to being a DCC (what is this?). They are honored and proud to be a part of, and continue the legacy of our family, which includes their father who is retired military: 10 years active duty Army and 14 years Air National Guard.
Graham was scheduled to be married but when his fiancé found out she was to be deployed to the Middle East, they decided not to wait and had a small wedding. Such are just some of ther sacrifices military personnel make in order to serve and keep all of us safe.