Sky Diaries

War raises issues of control and discipline, propaganda and education, culture shock and cultivation of new experiences, evil and good. My father was 23 years old when he left the beaches of California for the shores of North Africa, to fly as a fighter pilot in Crew #1 of the 45th Air Squadron, U.S. Air Force, in WWII. His diaries describe a young man's coming of age and his process of transcending fear. As Captain of their B-24 bomber, the "Pink Lady", Robert Benish writes with pride in his team, whether they were dropping 40 tons of bombs on "Hitler's boys", or just flying in formation over the Mediterranean. Because of his distant relation to Czechoslavak President-in-Exile Eduard Beneš, Bob was enthusiastic about his mission to risk his life to help save his ancestor's homeland from the Nazi occupation. This exhibition, in the spring of 2009 in Plzen, (Czech Republic) marked the date of the liberation of Czechoslovakia by General Patton's troops on May 6,1945. Dozens of U.S. WWII Veterans, in uniform, attended the vernissage. My father's diaries served as inspiration for this body of work. It is dedicated to him, and the crew of the "Pink Lady".

Válka vyvolává otázky kontroly a disciplíny, propagandy a vzdělávání, kulturního šoku a rozvoje zkušeností, otázky zla a dobra. Mému otci bylo 23 let, když opustil kalifornské pláže a odešel k břehům Severní Afriky, aby jako válečný letec 1. posádky 45. letky létal za U.S. Air Force ve 2. světové válce. Jeho deníky líčí zrání mladého muže a jeho způsob překonávání strachu. Jako kapitán bombardéru B-24 „Pink Lady“ Robert Benish pyšně píše o svém týmu, ať už shazovali 40 tun bomb na „Hitlerovy kluky“ nebo jen létali ve formacích nad středomořím. Vzhledem k jeho vzdálenému příbuzenskému vztahu k československému prezidentovi v exilu, Eduardu Benešovi, byl Bob nadšen ze svého poslání riskovat život, aby zachránil před nacistickou okupací domovskou zemi svých předků. Tato výstava je věnována jemu a posádce „Pink Lady“.

Barbara Benish


"Many tales have been written about our heroes in the war, but little has been said of some of the fellows who are in there fighting every day without doing anything unusual. Crew #1 of the 415th Squadron is one instance of this. Flight Leader , Lt. R.J. Benish, "Bob" to the crew, and his crew are right in there on practically every mission, leading the rest of the .... in the squadron to the target and into the flight raising a bit of hell with some of Hitler's boys, and then safely home gain.

The other members of the crew are: Lt. Charlie Hickey, "Hick" for short, as co-pilot. Capt J.G. Kandaras, called "Kandy" by the boys, as bombadeire; Lt. .K.L. Alspaugh, or "Aussie" as navigator; Sgt. La engineer, Sgt. Winegart as radio operatoer, Sgt. Anderson as armaour., Sgt. Snyder as tail gunner, and Sgt. king as gunner and the never to be forgotten "Pink Lady" the reliable plane which gets there and back. They are a perfect working team-all out to do a job well- seeking no glory. They have been on many successful missions since arriving in this part of the world and are looking forward to many more.

One of their recent missions was that of a daylight raid on Bengayi, the "hot spot" of desert because of the many anti-aircraft batteries and enemy fighters there. A few minutes before noon an... for the raid are received and all of the crews are called together to get last minute instructions from the Squadron Commander Major Patterson. A quick lunch following and everyone is off to the planes. Another delay and Major "Pat" has gone along with a few – member one..but today his duties keep him on the ground and Capt. "Herb" Shingfer is having his first combat trip in the "Pink Lady".

Quickly the field is turned from a quiet, peaceful wheatfield into a roaring , buzzing center of activity as the big planes begin warming up their motors and taxiing to take -off positions. The "Pink Lady" and her crew, as usual, are ready, and waiting at the end of the runway. Seconds tick by as take off time approaches and then she 's off down the runway and into the air. A couple of circles are made over the field, getting the formation together.

"Bob" calls the navigation on into the phone and "Aussie" who has crowded down into the ... immediately gives him the course to fly and all planes head out to sea.

Out over the Mediterranean Sea we go, flying first a few feet above the water to prevent enemy detection. It is hot, especially in the front part of the plane as we are flying into the afternoon sun..."

~ from the WWII diaries of Capt. Robt. J. Benish (1919-1975)


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