More than a hundred Basques served in the US Army Air Force during World War II. According to research by Sancho de Beurko Association, only in Nevada and Oregon were 40. They served in all major units and all theaters of operations. They were pilots, navigators, gunners, radio operators, mechanics, etc. At the moment, the photo sessions have focused on the 8th Air Force, but do not rule out others in the future.
As we prepare the contents of this new group (called "The Mighty Eighth") in the Fighting Basques Project, we would like to mention the following:
- Mitch Cobeaga, Frank Gamboa, Robert Jauregui, David Rementeria and Martin Segura, B-17 "Flying Fortress" pilots.
- John D. Uhart, B-24 "Liberator" pilot.
- Joseph Plaza and Paul Aznarez Transportation Command pilots.
- Richard Rementeria and Richard U. Aguirre, B-17 "Flying Fortress" navigators.
- John Michael Etchemendy, Felix Asla, Manuel Aldecoa and James Echeverria fighter pilots.
- José Maria "Joe Dudley" Echevarria, Charles Ugaldea and Carmelo Echanis B-17 "Flying Fortress" gunners and Johnny Montero B-29 "Superfortress".
July 11, 1944 Nuthampstead, England, 603rd Squadron 398th Bomb Group. Crew of the B-17 "Betty Ross", chief lieutenant Howden. First row, second from the left, the Staff Sergeant José Maria "Joe Dudley" Echevarria. A gunner turret born in Nevada who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for extraodrinary heroism (http://398th.org/).
John Michael Etchemendy. Born in Nevada, he was an outstanding student and a great pilot and leader. He had a brilliant career during World War II, flying all kinds of fighter planes. He was an instructor, squadron leader, etc. At the end of his career, with the rank of colonel, he was director of the USAF Academy at Lackland (http://www.ancestry.com/).
Manuel Aldecoa from Boise (Idaho) was a fighter P-38 pilot. He was shot down in 1943 in an aerial combat over Lille, France (Dolores Totoricagüena).
Frank Gamboa and Gloria Goitiandia on their wedding day, 1944 (https://www.basquemuseum.com/content/gamboa-gloria-goitiandia).
Frank Gamboa's crew on 1944. First row, first from the leff (https://www.basquemuseum.com/content/gamboa-gloria-goitiandia).
Lieutenant Richard U. Aguirre. Born in Illinois but raised in Mountain Home (Idaho), was a B-17 "Flying Fortress" navigator. His plane was shot down and crashed into the ocean by a night fighter Japanese in New Guinea on May 21, 1943. Her body never was recovered (http://elmorecountypress.com/Hi-Liting%20Mtn%20Home.htm).
Lavenham, Suffolk, England in early 1945, 837th Squadron 487th Bomb Group. Lieutenant Rush's crew. First row first from the right, the Staff Sergeant Carmelo Echanis. A gunner from the Jordan Valley, Oregon (http://www.487thbg.org/Photos/RushCrew.shtml).