4 area World War II vets get B-17 ride gift


Several groups and individuals got together to sponsor four World War II veterans to ride on the B-17 bomber which visited the Huntington Airport during Heritage Days this past weekend. Photo by Scott Trauner.

Four area World War II veterans enjoyed a ride on a B-17 bomber that visited the Huntington Municipal Airport as part of Huntington's Heritage Days festival.

Wilbert L. "Curly" Seibold, Robert L. Randol, Dean A. Gressley and Don E. Baer were treated to the flight on Friday, June 21, through the efforts of Mayor Brooks Fetters, the Huntington County Veterans Service Office, Huntington County Veterans Council and two private donors.

Seibold and Randol are both former prisoners of war.

Seibold served in the United States Army Air Corps as a radio operator on a B-17 bomber. During a bombing mission over Meunster, Germany, on Oct. 5, 1944, Seibold's plane was hit by ground fire, killing the pilot and wounding Seibold in the leg. The crew bailed out, was captured within a few hours and was forced to walk for more than 20 days to a concentration camp near the Poland border. The camp was liberated in May 1945.

Randol, a truck driver with the United States Army, was part of a company sent to the front lines during the Battle of the Bulge. His unit was captured on Dec. 16, 1944, in Belgium. The group was forced to walk several days until they reached Germany, then held in several different camps. They were liberated on April 21, 1945.

Gressley served as an air traffic controller for invasions in Italy and southern France as a member of the United States Army Air Corps. He was part of a unit attached to the United States Navy in North Africa and later served at Hickam Field in Hawaii.

Baer was a flight instructor on a B-24 Liberator aircraft. During his service, he flew a PT-17, AT-6, TB-24 and the B-24.

Complete caption: Several groups and individuals got together to sponsor four World War II veterans to ride on the B-17 bomber which visited the Huntington Airport during Heritage Days this past weekend. Veterans (from left) Bob Randol, Fred Johnson, Don Baer, Dean Gressley and Curley Seibold all made the flight, with Randol, Baer, Gressley and Seibold being sponsored by the Huntington County Veterans Service Office, the Huntington County Veterans Council and two private donors.