I have been trying to establish the outfit with which my father served during WWII and now have some pretty strong evidence that it was the 43rd Bomb Group.
My father was Leroy “Roy” George Buchignani, army serial number 19064712.
When I began inquiring into his participation in the War I had rather little to go on. Like so many, my father said very little about his wartime experiences; from such talk I knew he was in the Pacific for virtually the whole war, served in the Army Air Corps, was a Staff Sergeant and was a photographer [I thought ‘aerial photographer’] . Also like so many, when I wrote to the National Personnel Records Center I found that his service record had been destroyed in the infamous fire of 1973. What I was left with to start my search was pretty minimal: 1. What he had mentioned himself: AAC, Staff Sergeant, photographer, in the Pacific 2. Knowledge from the Personnel Records Center that he had service from December 29, 1941 to October 26, 1945 3. Two pictures of him in uniform at and near the end of the War, which confirmed Army Air Corps Staff Sergeant, but also wings and a Distinguished Unit Citation 4. A number of personal photos that showed that he was definitely in Sydney, Brisbane, New Guinea, and possibly Okinawa, among other places 5. A photo of the nose art of a B17 belonging to the 20th Combat Mapping Squadron 6. An out the window photo that almost certainly was taken during the height of the Rabaul air battle With this rather sketchy data I thought it was possible my father was a member of the 20th Combat Matting Squadron, but Chuck Varney who created and runs their site was able to go through his personnel lists and confirm that this was not the case. Chuck however has been of enormous assistance in helping me to move further along.
For one thing, it led me to light a fire under my sister, who found that my father had made a photographic copy of his Report of Separation. Here is the pertinent parts (including their mis-spellings):
Buchignani, Leroy G Army Serial Number 19064712 Grade: S Sgt Arm of Service: AC Component: AUS Organization: 78th AF BU (AACS) [this was only for demobilization] Date of Separation 26 October 1945 Place of Separation: Sheppard Field, Texas Permanent address for mailing purposes: 2227 Yorba St, San Francisco, California Date of birth: 5 April 1920 Place of birth: Sacramento, Calif Address from which employment will be sought: Dallas, Texas Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown Height: 5' 11" Weight 200lbs Number of dependents: 0
MILITARY HISTORY Date of enlistment: 29 Dec 1941 Date of entry into active service: 29 Dec 1941 Place of entry into service: San Francisco, Calif Selective Service date: Registered Local S. S. Board No: None County and State: None Home address at time of entry into service: Box 495, Corte Madera, Calif Military Occupational Specialty and No.: Photographer 152 Military Qualification and date (i.e. infantry, aviation and marksmanship badges): None Battles and Campaigns: New Guinea Campaign; Papuan Campaign; Ryukyu Campaign Decorations: Asiatic Pacific Service Medal with 3 Bronze Battle Stars; Philippine Liberation Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge GO #21 HQ 5 AF 6 May 43 Wounds received in action: none (I have all immunization dates for smallpox, typhoid, tetanus, typhus, cholera) Service outside Continental U.S. and return Date of Departure: 18 Feb 42 Destination: Australia Date of arrival: 28 Mar 1942 Date of Departure: 16 Jan 45 Destination: USA Date of arrival: 4 Feb 45 Date of Departure: 10 May 45 Destination: SWPA Date of arrival: 30 May 45 Date of Departure: 6 Sep 45 Destination: USA Date of arrival: 26 Sep 45
Total length of service Continental: 5 months, 24 days; foreign service: 3 years, 4 months, 4 days Highest grade held: S Sgt Prior service: none Reason and authority for separation: AR 615-365 15 Dec 44 and Rr 1-1 15 Feb 45 Demobilization Service schools attended: None Education; 8 years grammar school, 2 years high school
Pay Data Longevity for pay purposes: 3 years, 9 months, 23 days; Total $300.00 This payment: $100.00 Soldier Deposit: None Travel Pay: $82.75 Total amount Name of disbursing officer: $270.11 A J Hashagan Lt Col FD No insurance
There’s a lot in this document that suggests membership in the 43rd Bomb Group.
Most significantly: 1. The Distinguished Unit Citation is the correct one for the 43rd , and the few other outfits who got this Citation can be excluded (the 3rd, 19th, and 38th) 2. His dates for leaving the CONUS and arriving in Australia exactly coincide with the famous ’40 day trip’ of the Queen Mary, upon which were the 43rd Bomb Group, 64th Bomb Squadron and 65th Bomb Squadron. It is pretty certain that he was on that voyage. 3. The campaigns listed also correspond with the 43rd, and with no other group getting this Citation
I could go on, but wondered if anyone out there might be able to help me go a bit further based on what I have presented here. In particular I was wondering whether anyone here had personnel lists for 43rd that might be checked.
Should it be established that my father was part of the 43rd, there would still remain some curious issues as to exactly what he was doing for them—but that’s another story.
Mr. Norman Buchignani After looking through all my 43rd information I can not find anything about your father and I can only say that I was only in the 43B.G. until June 6 1943 when I was sent home.... more
Dear Frank Hohmann, Thanks for your quick reply! While some outfits like the 3rd evidently did have fairly well full time 'photographers' who spent a lot of time taking still pictures with hand held... more