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Identified WWII 8th Air Force Medals & Insignia Group
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DESCRIPTION

A group of the medals, insignia, and other material, of William J. Weiland, who served as a Dead Reckoning Navigator with the 753rd Bombardment Squadron, 458th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. Weiland flew 30 combat missions in a B-24 Bomber between May of 1944 and February of 1945, when he completed his combat tour of 30 missions. The group consists of the following items:

- Two British made bullion 8th Air Force shoulder patches. One was obviously worn and later removed from a uniform, while the other is in unused condition. Both have fine age toning of the bullion.

- Five wings: British made padded Navigator wing in silver bullion on blue "Combat Crew" wool. The blue backing was trimmed around the wing to conform to the contours of the wing design when the wing was placed on the uniform. The wing was obviously worn and removed from a uniform but remains in very good condition. The fabric backing on the reverse is marked by the British producer with the designation "Gwendyr Make"; British made Navigator wing in silver bullion on a rectangular "Combat Crew" blue wool base. The wing was apparently never used. There are some moth holes in the blue wool base; a full size, 3 inch Navigator wing, maker marked by Amico and marked "Sterling", with clutch fasteners; a full size, 3 inch Navigator wing, pin back, with the shield mark of N.S. Meyer and marked "Sterling. The pin opens only to about 45 degrees, a characteristic of the wartime Meyer wings; and a full size, 3 inch, pin back Aerial Gunner wing, marked "Sterling. It seems likely that William Weiland first qualified as an air gunner before becoming a Navigator.

- Medals and ribbons, to include the European Campaign Medal, crimp brooch, and the World War II Victory Medal, slot brooch; a single ribbon bar for the U.S. Legion of Merit; and a British made ribbon bar with Phinney clutch fasteners. The ribbon bar is wider than the standard U.S. Army ribbons, being about the size of the U.S. Nay ribbons of the war. The ribbon bar carries the ribbons of the Distinguished Flying Cross; the Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters; and the European Campaign Medal with 4 campaign stars (the 458th Bomb Group earned a total of 6 campaign stars during World War II, for "Air Offensive, Europe"; "Normandy"; "Northern France"; "Rhineland"; "Ardennes-Alsace"; and "Central Europe". Given the time of Weiland's service, he would have qualified for all of the campaigns except for "Central Europe", which did not begin until March of 1945, after he had completed his tour of 30 combat missions. It's possible that Weiland simply never got around to adding a fifth campaign star to this ribbon bar.

- Weiland's Korean War Era Navigator's A-8 stop watch, marked on the back of the case as manufactured by the Aristo Import Company, Inc., pursuant to Military Specification MIL-W-6510, which was published in August of 1951. The stop watch is fully functional.

- A navigational map of western Europe, 15 1/2 by 20 inches, on which Weiland marked the 30 combat missions that he had flows with the 8th Air Force. Each of the 30 lines bears a number, and a separate key identifies each of those missions, from his first mission on 21 May, 1944, to Siracourt, France (mis-typed on the key as "Sinacourt") to his 30th and final mission on 6 February, 1945, against a synthetic oil plant in Magdeburg, Germany. The key is titled with Weiland's name and his service number of 01995831.

- Additional items in the group include a spent and deformed bullet, likely removed by Weiland after it had his his bomber; a single pin back Second Lieutenant rank bar; a single, British made, First Lieutenant rank bar; a pair of British made winged propeller officer insignia for the lapels of the officer tunic; a "Ruptured Duck" discharge pin; and a gold foil name tag with "W.J. Weiland" in black letters. The tag is 3 inches long, and was possibly intended for wear on a flight jacket.

Apparently William Weiland remained in the military following the war. He evidently retired as an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel in 1968 after 26 years of service which included service in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He died in 1999 and he is buried in the national cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi.

There is an exceptional website on the 458th Bomb Group found at www.458bg.com. On this site can be found not only the mission reports of ever one of the group's missions, but there are also several photographs of Lieutenant Weiland to be found on the site.