Sgt. Alvin Neff, Tail Gunner
Survived by his son Steve, his daughters Ann, Vicki, and Ivona, and grandchildren Jessi and Casey
Click here to read Al's non-fiction story, "Raid on Paris"
which was written only a few years before he died.
My dad, Alvin Neff, was born on March 12, 1920, in McClusky, North Dakota. His parents were German born and had left there to settle in the United States, so he was 100% German. At the age of 7, he fractured his thigh while playing on a haystack. Nevertheless, he left North Dakota at the age of 16 and "rode the rails" to Kuna, Idaho. He enrolled at Kuna High School, met my mom, Mary Green, and played the tuba in the school band.
Dad graduated from high school, and at the age of 22, returned to his home state of North Dakota to enter military service. Since he was of German descent, one might wonder how he felt about fighting them during WW2. After the war, he told my brother that he tried to focus on the fact that he was fighting the greater evil of Hitler's Germany as opposed to killing individual German people. Dad was assigned the tail gunner position, which is interesting because he was extremely claustrophobic. The combination of the German descent and the claustrophobia makes what he was able to accomplish in the war quite amazing.
One war story that Dad always told was when the Rum Boogie Crew approached the landing field after completing their 25th mission. Dad asked the pilot to radio the tower and tell them that, as a celebration, he was going to parachute out before the plane landed. Apparently the officer in charge at the time let dad know in no uncertain terms that he would be flying another 25 missions if he did such a thing!
My Dad would probably be mad about the publication of this picture of him asleep in the radio room aboard the B17 "Also Ambitious." The Rum Boogie Crew was constantly playing jokes on him. I think he thought it might reflect badly on his service, but I think it showed the deep love and caring each of the crew members had for each other.
Dad finished his 25 missions, and he and the Rum Boogie Crew returned to the states. Upon their return, the Army Air Corps had them see a psychiatrist to determine if they were mentally ready to go home on leave or to the next duty station. According to Dad, the entire crew got drunk each night after their sessions with the psychiatrist and then they would show up the next day really hungover. He said that bought them more time to be together, party, and talk about the frightening idea of separating from each other and going home alone. In September 1943, Dad was assigned to be a gunnery instructor in Texas, and on November 17, 1943, he married mom. They lived in Texas until the war was over and then returned to Boise. During their thirty year marriage, they had four children.
Dad lived in Boise and worked as an electrician or in the electrical supply field for most of his life. His two great loves during those years were golfing and skiing. Golfing with my dad was an adventure. He had quite a temper, and I saw many a club thrown at trees or other targets. He was calmer when skiing and served as a member of the Bogus Basin Ski Patrol. In the early 1970's, my parents took a ski trip to Europe. That must have been quite a trip to ski in places he had flown over during the war.
My parents had an on-again off-again relationship later in their lives. They finally divorced, and my dad moved to South Dakota where he died in 1992 from leukemia. He is buried there.
I'm dedicating this website to my dad, my mom, who everyone fondly called "Miss Kitty," my siblings, other extended family members, and friends. I want to thank everyone for their help, patience, and support. I love all you guys!
My Brother Steve Right: Graduation from Boot Camp
Below Left: Serving in Viet Nam
Below Middle: My interview with him about Dad; click to play
Below Right: Standing next to the Tail Gunner spot on a restored B17
Rum Boogie Oil Painting Presented to Dad on 12/75
Mom and Dad in Texas