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SDPB Homefront Stories

Edward L. Vacek, 2007 

Branch of Service: U.S. Army Air Force, 381st Bomb Group
Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
Military Service: Drafted, April 1943 - September 1945

Listen to the following sections by scrolling forward to the timecode.

0:00 - Made parts for fighter planes; drafted; training; flew overseas  
5:02 - Assigned to 381st bombing group in England; 34 missions; training
10:12 - Drafted at 18; trained as a gunner; plane hit; wife's wedding dress made from parachute  
15:42 - Pearl Harbor memory
16:38 - Feelings about the U.S. being in the war  
17:55 - His crew finished the bombing tour 
19:30 - Food in military
20:20 - Based in England 
22:10 - Life after the war, worked at the dam in Pickstown 
29:48 - Brother also served in the military 

This story was recorded at an SDPB event in Wagner, SD. 

Images Provided by Edward L. Vacek 

Edward L. Vacek, 1945

September 25, 1944, photo taken the day Edward L. Vacek returned to the United States after completing 34 missions.

This picture was taken in 1944 while in training at Rapid City, SD. Edward L. Vacek is pictured front row, first gentleman on the right.

Missions completed by Edward L. Vacek

A calendar Mr. Vacek received in Rapid City before his tour of duty in WWII. He used the calendar to mark his bombing missions. Mr. Vacek's last mission is shown on Sept. 22nd, 1944.

In one mission, two of Mr. Vacek's engines were destroyed by enemy gunfire. Col. Harold J. Rau, shown in the photo, escorted Edward L. Vacek's crew to a safe landing area. Then Mr. Edwards was at a Santa Anna Hospital in California; one day, he was hitchhiking from Los Angeles to Santa Anna. A young female picked up Mr. Vacek and gave him a ride to the hospital. The Good Samaritan was Col. Harold J. Rau's wife. Mr. Vacek commented, "What are the odds?"

For more information about SDPB's educational resources 
and services contact Steven Rokusek at or at (605) 222-3422

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