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S/Sgt. Maynard M. Reese Biography-3

S/Sgt. Maynard M. Reese Biography-2

Maynard Reese: Turret Gunner

345th “Air Apaches” Bombardment Group 

The 345th Bomb Group was first activated at Columbia Army Air Base, SC, in November 1942, and were trained to fly B-25 Mitchell bombers. In April of 1943, the 345th group flow over 10,000 miles to the Pacific. After a brief stop in Australia, they set up camp at the air bases of Port Moresby, New Guinea --  becoming the first full Air Force combat group sent the Pacific in World War II. 

A Son's Tribute to His Father -- Air Apaches / 501st Squadron (Maynard's Squadron):

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The four squadrons that made up the 345th adopted nicknames; the 498th became the Falcons, the 499th, Bats Outa Hell, the 500th, Rough Raiders, and the 501st Black Panthers (Maynard's squadron).

Shortly after arriving in New Guinea their B-25's were converted to "strafers", making them a low level ground and shipping attack planes.

The Air Apaches were credited with sinking 260 enemy vessels and damaging 275 others. They destroyed 260 Japanese planes on the ground and another 107 in aerial combat.

This record came at a high cost, 712 men dead from all causes, 580 killed on flights.  The Unit was awarded four United States Distinguished Unit Citations and is one of the most decorated units of WWII.   (

Lawrence J. Hickey's "Warpath Across The Pacific" documents the entire history of the 345th, including citing Maynard Reese and the loss of "Little Stinky".

Book no.1

Pvt. Paul R. Thomer Biography-1

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Paul Thomer's Watch Returned to His Family - Sept 2023

On Sept 9, 2023, Pvt. Thomer’s watch was returned to his daughter Deborah and her four siblings, exactly 80 years after Paul purchased it. They will treasure it as a tangible memory of their courageous Dad. Semper Fi.

Pvt. Paul Thomer -- 1942 Guadalcanal Marine & His Watch

Private Paul R. Thomer (1923–1992) fought at Guadalcanal as a member of the famed 1st Marine Division. Paul was from Pittsburgh PA, and enlisted in the Marines in January 1942.

The 1st Marine Division sailed from San Francisco in June, and landed on the island of Guadalcanal on Aug 7, 1942. This was the first major US amphibious landing of World War II. The invasion ignited a ferocious struggle with Japanese forces, marked by seven major naval battles, numerous clashes ashore, and almost continuous air combat through December 1942.

The fighting at Guadalcanal took a terrible toll; the 1st Division suffered 650 killed in action and 1,278 wounded, with a further 8,580 contracting malaria and other diseases. As one Marine recalled, ”the Division suffered 100% casualties, with the dead, wounded, and those sick from malaria, dengue fever, jungle rot, malnutrition and combat fatigue… “.

Battle-weary and in poor health following the Guadalcanal campaign, the men of the First Marine Division were shipped to Melbourne Australia for nine months recuperation in January 1943. “They were greeted with warm hospitality; these 15,000 young American men found a home away from home”.

On Feb 10, 1943, Paul Thome  purchased a steel-cased wristwatch from a local Melbourne jewelry store, and had it engraved “Paul R. Thomer ~ U.S.M.C. ~ 343824 ~ Australia ~ 2-10-43”.

The 1st Division returned to  combat in the South Pacific in October 1943, leading the December offensive at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. “The action they found there has been described as the toughest man has ever endured.” In July 1944, the 1st Division returned to the US for stateside duty. Paul was honorably discharged in 1945.

In 1954, Paul married Frances Mary LaRoche in Pittsburgh; in 1962, they moved to California. Paul and Frances had five children – two sons and three daughters.  Paul died on February 16, 1992, and is buried with Frances in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, CA.

Book no.1
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