Richard Raymond Bale

was born March 22, 1919 in Fennville, Michigan to Freda and Lawrence Bale. He graduated from Fennville, High School in 1937 and attended college for one year majoring in Business Administration.
Fennville's class of 37 was: Richard R. Bale, Kenneth L. Blanc, Margaret Jane Dickinson, William DuVall, Lucille Emerick, Evelyn Emerick, Donald Emerick, Everett Gergensen, M. Frances Haan, Jeane Hanson, Albert John Haspel, Eva A. Hoyt, Russell S. Hutchins, Donald R. Johnson, Pauline Johnson, Hamilton H. Miller, Neil Fredrick Petersen, Hazel Mae Platt, Harold Robbins, Joe Skinner Jr., Doris Jeanne Starring, Charles Stasik, Marjory Van Blois, Lorraine Rose Walter, Erma Walters, Myrtle Warner, June E. Whittaker, Jess Winne Jr., Helen O. Winslow, Virginia Mae Wright

Dick was not in the first group
over Germany but he
may have still worn this patch

Click images for Detail

Richard "DICK" Bale enlisted in the army in January of 1941, just as the United States was really getting involved in WWII. Dick first served with the Coast Artillery in Washington State until October of 1941. Attending the Academy in Colorado, Dick received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in July of 1943. He then attended bombardier school in Texas. In November 1943 he was shipped to Thurleigh, England to serve in the European-African-Middle Easter Theater with the 8th Air Force, 306th BG whose famous name was used as a theme in the 1949 movie "Twelve O'Click High".           

Image from 
In the Air Offensive against Germany, Dick flew 17 missions as bombardier in the B-17 until February of 1944 when his plane was shot down over Germany.

2nd Lieutenant Richard Bale was taken prisoner and moved to North 1 compound at "Stalag Luft 1" near Barth, Germany; located on the Baltic Sea. This Stalag was restricted to Air Force flying personnel only. One other prisoner became a life long friend, Jack Cuthbertson, who stood up for Dick at his wedding in Detroit.

On May 1, 1945 the prisoners at Barth were liberated by Russian forces. Dick was moved to "Camp Lucky Strike" near LeHarve, France to wait for transportation orders home.

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