G. Wyherek-Ball Turret Gunner #2
Updated: Feb 19
Explore the rest of this website about my dad's B-17 crew: www.rumboogiecrew.com
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George Wyherek was born in 1923 in Chicago, Illinois. After he graduated from high school, and barely 18 years old, George enlisted in the Army Air Corps. On his enlistment record,
his height was 5 feet 5 inches, and his weight was 128 pounds. He was the perfect size to be a ball turret gunner. George completed 25 missions on the Rum Boogie and then signed up for a second tour.
During one of the missions on his second tour of duty, he was hit by flak over Rennes, France and subsequently awarded the Purple Heart. On this particular mission, the plane had been attacked by 100 enemy fighters, lost an engine, its hydraulic system and one wing had been cut in half.
While serving during WW2, George took a lot of pictures. The photos are quite good considering they were taken during a war in the early 1940’s. From his ball turret location, he took pictures of B17’s flying in formation and through flak. When I first saw his B17 in flight picture, I noticed that the letters on the tail of the plane were my initials. I love that picture so much that I use it to represent my website and all my social media accounts.
George also took photos of life around the base including B17 nose art, soldiers in front of the cantina and by a volleyball net, as well as a shot of his tobacco ration card. Some of his photos are historically significant: in Paris at the Arc de Triumphe, in front of the Coliseum in Rome, and on the Isle of Capri.
Probably one of the more important pictures George took was
of the pilot of the B17 Flak Happy : 1st Lt. Edmund I Bolstad is
standing by the nose art of his plane. On October 8, 1943, Bolstad was killed in a mission over Bremen, and his body was never recovered. To see all of George's pictures, click here .
After the war, on May 7, 1957, George married Betty Mraz. They had four children: Carol, Betty Lou, Sue, and George Jr. I actually met George and his family when they visited Idaho during the 1960's. We all called him "Bunny” (my dad was very good at assigning nicknames), and I remember George being hysterically funny. He and I got along so well that everyone in my family started calling me George, a nickname that has stuck with me for most of my life. Sadly, on March 29, 1988, at the age of 64, George Wyherek died.
George's only son, George Jr, was four or five years old during that Idaho trip, but he and I for sure met. When I started searching for living relatives of the Rum Boogie crew, George Jr. was the first one I found: I connected with him on LinkedIn on March 26, 2013. It’s funny because I’m sure I didn’t even know what LinkedIn was at that point. But when it came to searching for living relatives, I would try anything. And who knows, maybe his dad’s good karma had something to do with it.