Bjustrom, Wayne O. (died 1945)
Posted By: Linda Ziemann, Volunteer (email)
Date: 12/17/2012 at 20:59:31
BUDDY OF WAYNE BJUSTROM WRITES OF MISSION WHEN CREW BAILED OUT
Mr. and Mrs. R. O. Bjustrom, local furniture dealers, are in receipt of a letter from a crew member of the B-17 on which Wayne served in Italy. On the day, March 20, when Wayne was reported as missing while on a mission of Jugoslavia he was serving with a crew on another B-17, and which was downed by “uncharted” flak. The writer seems to have faith in the hope that Wayne bailed out successfully from the B-17 and that he is probably a German prisoner of war in the Jugoslavia area. His letter:
ENGINE CATCHES FIRE
“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bjustrom:
I hardly know what to write or how to start. Most of all I guess you would like to know the whole story, that is as much as I know and can tell.
I wasn’t flying that day on the mission. Wayne was flying with another crew on not too rough a mission. They had dropped their bombs and were on the way home when they ran across some “uncharted” flack, probably flack guns on a rail car that had been moved there during the day. His plane was hit and one of the engines caught fire. The pilot was unable to put out the fire and it spread to a wing. At this time our formation saw some “chutes” in the air but weren’t sure as to how many did get out before the wing fell off.
SEVEN MEN OUT
A F-38 pilot who followed the plane down said seven men got out. This was all we had to go by until twenty days later when the engineer of the crew “walked back.” I felt sure he knew something of the others—but it seems he didn’t see any of the others when he hit the ground. He landed in the woods and I guess he had a better chance of getting away. His story is that he was the first to jump. He went out the nose hatch and on looking in the nose he said Wayne was fastening one side of his chute (he already had one side fastened) and he felt sure that Wayne got out of the plane a few seconds later. The engineer, on looking back, said he too saw seven “chutes” in the air when the plane lost its wing.
BELIEVES WAYNE O.K.
I’m afraid I’m a very poor writer, just stating facts, but I do hope that you both believe along with the rest of the boys here that Wayne did get out O.K. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t fly a B-17. It’s just a known fact that certain crew members are most likely to get out and others aren’t . The tail gunner, navigator and bombardier are usually the first ones out.
As to where he is now is hard to say. He could be in friendly hands waiting a chance to get back through the lines or, of course, he may be a P.W. in German hands. In either case, we do believe that he is alive and that is the most important thing.
I do hope by this letter that I have given you both as much hope as the rest of us have in Wayne’s safe return.”
~Source: Algona Upper Des Moines, May 3, 1945
CROATIA LETTER TELLS OF WAYNE BJUSTROM DEATH
Direct information from Croatia (Yugoslavia) about the death and burial of Wayne O. Bjustrom, Army Air Corps lieutenant was received last week by the young man’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. O. Bjustrom, of Algona.
The letter came via Peoria, Ill., where a relative translated it, to H. B. White, who had carried on negotiations overseas to ascertain full and complete details of the Algona Flyer’s death. It follows:
“In reply to what you ask, I shall try to make clear what I know. The priest here notified authorities in Belgrade after it happened and perhaps you already know. The boy’s belongings and information about them was field at our parish, Saint Peter’s church, Saint Peter’s Cvretecu Village, County Krizeyci, State Hrvatska.
They buried the young boys and kept their names. When no inquiries came, I wrote my cousin Anna, in Milwaukee, Wis., and asked that she try to notify the deceased’s families or relatives.
This is how it happened—Mr. Wayne O. Bjustrom and Mr. Robert Mariley were in the third plane that crashed. The bodies of the flyers were only slightly burned…the airplane was probably hit and badly damaged while still in Germany because their speed was lessening by the minute as we gazed. Then the plane left its course and separated from the other planes. That’s when we noticed the plane was smoking. A short time later the gasoline must have exploded. The plane broke in three pieces and each piece fell separately to the ground—the bodies with it. They were immediately picked up and taken to our funeral home until caskets were prepared the best we could.
Our own dead are buried in the same manner. Croatian men and women attended the burial. Father blessed the bodies and the grave. The graves are marked with wooden crosses. I should have written sooner, but the winter was cold and it was hard to walk in the village. We can send you the death certificate if you want it. When the snow melts we’ll have pictures taken of the grave and sent it to you. Most sincerely, Franje Sucec.”
~Algona Upper Des Moines, May 29, 1947
Kossuth Obituaries maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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