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Charlton Dental Associates | February Newsletter in Sandy Lake

Charlton Dental Associates

390 Park Ave.
Meadville, PA 16335 

(814) 724-6890

3242 South Main Street
Sandy Lake, PA 16145

(724) 376-7161


February Newsletter
AGD Member


The crew of young men were like so many other B-17 crews, they came from all over the United States, they were in their late teens or early twenties, and they served this great country with distinction.   On February 3, 1945, this particular crew faced unbelievable adversity in the effort to accomplish a mission, the bombing of Berlin Germany.  This is the story of the Army Air Corp 350th crew of the 100th Bombing Group.  My father, Sargent William E. Charlton, was among these men.

On the morning of February 3rd the crew was awakened at 3:30 AM by the blowing of a whistle by the orderly.  His job was to wake the crews that would be involved in the mission for that day.  The briefing for the mission followed the morning meal.  The 0400 breakfast was fresh eggs, a treat these men would not experience again for a very long time.  As the ground crews prepared the planes for this bombing run, the flight crew ate.  They had to be wondering if this would be their last meal.

The B-17 was named Dixie’s Delight.  Dad was the radio operator of the flight.  He also had the responsibility of manning the right waist gun when enemy fighters were trying to shoot down their aircraft.  The waist gunners were positioned in the mid section of the plane, one on each side, and their job was to keep those German fighter planes from knocking Dixie’s Delight out of the air before they could deliver their bombs to the target.  There certainly was apprehension in the cabin of this and every one of the 1000 heavy bombers that flew that day.  Their mission was most dangerous, to bomb the airport in Berlin, Germany.

The memoirs of the mission have been recorded better than most.  While approaching Berlin the formation of bombers encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire.  The German cannon would fire shells that exploded into many smaller pieces called flak.  The flak would literally poke holes into the planes as they approached the target area.  Some aircraft were hit with direct explosions that claimed the plane and crew in an instant. Other plans were struck by the pieces of flak and either caught fire or simply could no longer maintain enough lift to remain in the air.  Many planes during this bombing run were lost and the crews had to bail out. For Dixie’s Delight, the ordinance was delivered but their #3 engine was lost due to flak hit.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Waldo Oldham, decided he would try to get his crew safely back to England on the remaining three engines.

Over the next 100 miles and approximately an hour, two of the remaining three engines began to have troubles.  With flames trailing both the damaged engines, pilot Oldham ordered his crew to abandon the ship.  Nine brave young men bailed out, all were captured by the Germans over the next 10 days and became prisoners of war.  For the remaining three months of the European WWII, the men faced the most difficult days of their young lives.  Lamentable conditions in the POW camps, little or no food, and freezing cold temperatures were just some of the challenges these guys had to deal with.  Yet all nine of them survived the war. 

Dad returned to Western Pennsylvania and married my mother.  Together they raised seven children, all of us very thankful for our father’s service and proud to remember his time in the Army.  This is the story of one crew of so many who changed the future of the United States, Europe, and the world.  At the 70 year anniversary of the Flight of Dixie’s Delight I just wanted to take the time to share this story and thank all the veterans regardless of what war or what branch of the service.  We owe so much to those men and women and enjoy many freedoms because of them.


So at the end of my little Charlton Chats I always tie the story into some dental message.  Let’s be thankful that we have a country were we can benefit from a healthcare system that keeps us fit.  This includes access to good dental health.  Service men and women often don’t have the opportunity to care for their teeth when they are in the field.  Many servicemen and women have lost teeth due to the poor conditions they face while in the field.  We don’t have that disadvantage and should be mindful of this simple freedom that is one of many earned by our military men and women for us to enjoy in the USA.  While you brush and floss your teeth, be thankful of the sacrifices made for us by so many.

Sandy Lake Dentist | February Newsletter. Dennis Charlton is a Sandy Lake Dentist.