State Sen. Stanton Ganders, D-Bickleton, Circa 1950 The Ganders Family History
 Stanton Ganders
Military Service

Farmer / B-24 Bomber Crew Chief / State Senator /
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Sgt. Stanton Ganders, Army Air Corps; Topeka, Kansas

Military Service

Updated March 8, 2021

Stanton Ganders ... was working on the family wheat farm in Bickleton
when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 The day after the attack, the 28-year-old volunteered in Seattle for the U.S. Army Air Corps ... By Dec. 16, 1941 - nine days after the attack - he was officially enlisted. From April 15, 1944 to June 15, 1945, he  spent 14 months in England as ground crew chief to Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers supporting campaigns against the Nazis at Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe and Air Offensive Europe in World War II.

Stanton Ganders

Photo courtesy Steve Ganders
Stanton Ganders_Topeka Kansas
B24 Bomber Where Stanton Ganders was likely crew chief StantonAndCrew
Eighth Air Force Patch From Ganders Uniform
Photos (above) of two different B-24 Liberator Bombers, were believed to be maintained by their Army Air Corps crew chief, M/Sgt. Stanton Ganders in England to ensure their combat capability and readiness for each mission. Top plane photo provided by the Eastern Klickitat Historical Society.  Bottom photo provided by Andy Wilkinson. Visit Andy's Website at Right, Stanton Ganders with two ground crew members. Right of Stanton is believed to be George William Cromer. Photo provided by Linda Johnson.

While Stanton Ganders eyesight prevented him from becoming a pilot, he received six battle stars as a ground-based airplane maintenance crew chief supporting B-24 aircraft for heavy bombing missions for the 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division.

   He spent 14 months abroad supporting air bombardment campaigns at Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe and Air Offensive Europe - April 15, 1944 to June 15, 1945.

"Hard Luck Group"

Historian Peter Horne of Portland, Ore., said Ganders was initially assigned to the 492nd Bombartment Group, later known as the "Hard Luck Group" because it was the only group to be disbanded because of high casualties. The Hard Luck Group was based at North Pickenham, England. When it was disbanded, Ganders and perhaps at least one of the B-24 bombers he supported was reassigned to the 467th Bombartment Group (Heavy, 2nd Org), 788th Bomb Squadron, Rackheath Air Field, England.

"Rackheath Aggies"

He probably led a five-person ground crew that serviced three or four bombers based at Rackheath which was four miles east of Norwich. There were probably more than 65 Liberator bombers at Rackheath making up the 467th Bombardment Group during this period and perhaps 20 bombers in his squadron. The bomber flight crews, plus ground crews, engineers, etc. made Rackheath a churning center of up to 3,000 personnel at any one time, according to Historian Andy Wilkenson.  

The nickname of the 467th was the "Rackheath Aggies," a title that a Bickleton wheat farmer no-doubt embraced. Flight teams would run dangerous missions for three to ten months but ground crews like Ganders were generally based there for the duration of the war.

 "Pregnant Angel" and "Three Star Special"

The top photo of the airplane above, marked 986, sometimes carrying the name "Pregnant Angel" and later "III*Special" (Three-star Special) was among B-24s that Ganders serviced.  It appears likely Stanton worked on this plane as crew chief for both the 492nd and 467th Bombartment groups.
The crews of the top plane flew 78 missions in World War II for the 467th and the high-loss 492nd Bombardment Groups. We haven't found anyone that can precisely detail the origin of III* Special. Horne suggests that it may have been named after a Wisconsin Beer, Hochgreve Three Star Special Bavarian Style Lager.
The bottom photo of the plane with a natural metal finish marked "816" was generously provided in 2016 by Andy Wilkinson of Sidmouth, Devon, England. His research confirmed the 816 plane was the aircraft that flew Stanton Ganders home from the war to the United States on June 11, 1945 and was assigned to the 788th Squadron. Crew chiefs frequently flew as passengers home on the plane they had maintained. Andy maintains a web page, photo library and newsletter on the history of the 467th Bomber Group.

Rise to Master Sergeant

A local Klickitat County newspaper report (Goldendale Sentinel, correspondence probably supplied by his family) stated he was promoted from tech sergeant to staff sergeant to master sergeant
 during a two-week period in May, 1945.

Gunfire on the tarmac

Even though he was ground-based, he would later recall close calls with enemy machine gunfire. Horne said the bases that Ganders was assigned sometimes encountered attacks. "
There was a rather 'famous' incident on 22 Apr 44 when German night fighters followed the bombers home from a mission that returned during the early evening hours.  In brief, no one saw them and they got in the middle of the bombers while they were landing.  Created quite a bit of chaos and a number casualties..." Horne said. Horne  is building a research site on the 467th Bomber Group

Return to the United States

Stanton Ganders returned to the U.S. and Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut on June 11, 1945, on a B-24 Laborador Bomber* "42-50816" (no name), likely one of the planes he had served.  Later that summer, Ganders was back on the Bickleton farm for 30 days of rest and relaxation

Never Assigned to the South Pacific

He told family he expected to be reassigned to the South Pacific and the war on Japan. Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War II and he was discharged at Fort Bliss, Texas,
 (235th Army Air Force Base Unit) on Oct. 9, 1945.

He would return from Texas to his Central Washington farm, just southwest of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation where a portion of the effort to produce the war-ending atomic bomb had been underway in his absence.

Letter from Harry Truman, Nov. 30, 1944

Letter from then-U.S. Sen. Harry S. Truman, Committee on Military Affairs, to Sgt. Stanton Ganders on Nov. 30, 1944

Orders that sent Stanton Ganders back to the United States

Stanton Ganders Headstone, Masonic Cemetary

Stanton Ganders is buried near the state capitol in Olympia, WA at the Masonic Memorial Cemetery (Tumwater, WA).  At his request, the grave is marked by a US Army veteran World War II headstone.

B24 986, "III*Special" (Three-star Special, formerly nicknamed Pregnant Angel.)
Photo Courtesy of Andy Wilkinson
 and the 467th Bombardment Group Association Archive
Photo of the IIIStarSpecial

Left, the III* Special on a bombing run. (467th Bombardment Group Research Site.) Right, another photo that is likely the III* Special (42-949-86), B24H-FO-20, Perhaps in her usual parking place, Hardstand # 10 at Rackheath
Posted by Christine Herb White on May 1, 2017 from the Joe Haenn Collection.

A very special thank you to Peter Horne, Andy Wilkinson and Chris Collins, World War II researchers
 that specialize in the great history of the 467th and 492nd Bombardment Groups and graciously and enthusiastically volunteered assistance.

* Fly home date for Stanton's Liberator bomber determined from Peter Watts' book, "The 467th Bomber Group in World War II," a Schiffer Military History Book, 2005. Watts was the official Army historian at Rackheath.

Some excerpts from the Eastern Klickitat County Historical Society Newsletter, Winter 2013, with references to an article in the July 19, 1945, Goldendale Sentinel and family records including his discharge papers. Military portrait by The Hodge Studio, Topeka, Kansas

The bombers of the 467th

The 467th Bombardment Group at Take-off, Miles E. Coolidge Memorial Collection

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This page updated March 8, 2021