Dedicated to Sgt. Frank Dancey (Ball Turret Gunner) and
Col. Hank Tillman (B-17 Pilot) Service to the Army Air Corps and their Collection of 97th Bomb Group
414th Squadron History in
12th AF 97th BG 414th BS
Site Edited and Maintained by Doug Cook April 2007
From submissions through David Shelby
Photo Credits to Frank Dancey, Col. Hank Tillman, and David Shelby unless noted otherwise.
All Rights Reserved
Contacts from 97th BG and 414th Squadron Welcome!
Col. Hank Tillman, Sgt. Frank Dancey, and author David Shelby at 97th BG Reunion October, 2006
Sgt. Frank Dancey flew 50 combat missions as a ball turret gunner and all but one with Col. Hank Tillman, Jr. as pilot.
Dancey family at
Frank Dancey -
From David Shelby:
Very interesting experiences are always related by Col. Hank Tillman
during his interviews. The following is
a story that he told Feb 16, 2008. “We
Tillman receiving European Theater ribbon after arriving in Dakar, Africa
Paul Reid - Waist Gunner ( see Tillman’s letter below) and Hank Tillman – B-17 Pilot – Africa
Frank Dancey and Hank Tillman with Jocko the monkey
B-17 Sweet Adaline Crew in Rabat, Morocco July, 1943: Pilot Hank Tillman (second from right); Ball Turret Gunner Frank Dancey (far left)
Sweet Adaline 42-30307, which was named after Tillman's
mother. Frank said that they never flew this in combat and it
was transferred to another crew and renamed the "Bonnie
Sue". It was shot down by an Italian captured P-38 on
It’s hard to imagine a worse place to go to war in then the ball turret position of the B-17 Flying Fortress. Isolated from the rest of the ten man crew, the ball turret was extremely cramped quarters and required a man with a slight build.
Frank Dancey flew 50 combat missions as a ball turret gunner and all but one
with Col. Hank Tillman, Jr. as pilot. Frank and Hank were in the
414th Bomb Squadron with the 12th Air Force in North Africa. They were
eventually assigned to the 15th Air Force in Italy. The dates of
their missions were July 1943 to January 1944. They bombed Rome with Gen. Jimmy Doolittle leading the way on
Major General Jimmy Doolittle (right) Commanding General of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa. He was promoted to Major General (Two Star) in November 1942, and in March 1943 became Commanding General of the Northwest African Strategic Air Forces, a unified command of U.S. Army Air Force and Royal Air Force units. Gen. Doolittle took command of the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in November 1943 from January 1944 to September 1945. Photo credit Frank Dancey.
Pilot Hank Tillman at the controls. Photo credit Frank Dancey.
Tillman in front of P-38 fighter- Guardian Angel escorts of 97th bombers
Tillman receiving Distinguished Flying Cross from General Twining at 15 AF HQ
Gen. Jimmy Doolittle awards Tillman and others the Purple Heart. B-17 ‘Sweet Chariot’ 97th BG 414th BS
FRANK DANCEY 414th SQUADRON MISSION LOG
‘KAN-DO’ #438 Crew unknown Courtesy Col. Hank Tillman via David Shelby
B-17F-105-BO 42-30438 (97th BG, 414th BS) lost
. Oct 14, 1943 MACR973
Frank Dancey’s log records “Paul died”
Recently recounted to David Shelby: “Col. Tillman and his crew were scheduled not to fly on Oct 14, 1943. Sgt. Paul Fuchs was the Engineer and gunner with Col. Tillman and Frank Dancey's crew. Paul had accepted an additional mission on the "Kan-Do" on October 14th as Frank Dancey had done on "Ther-N-Back" so that they could get in their required missions sooner . Frank said that when the two of them showed up at the field for duty as volunteer replacement gunners, that Paul was sent to one ship and Frank to another. Sgt. Paul Fuchs was killed when the “Kan-Do” was lost in action.”
B-17 #223 “THER-N-BAK” 414th BS From Col. Wm. Ross’ Collection
Col. Tillman at home Chester MD 2006 (photo credit David Shelby)
Col. Hank Tillman’s 414th SQUADRON MISSION LOG
Col. Herman G. Tillman, Jr. Biography –
H.G. Tillman, Jr., is Chief of Staff of Tactical Air Command’s Ninth Air Force
at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Colonel
Tillman came to Ninth Air Force from South Ruislip Air Station,
Tillman was born in
World War II, he served with the 97th Bomb Group in Africa and
World War II, he served with the 82nd Fighter Group, including a
short tour in
Colonel Tillman later spent a four-year tour in the Pentagon with Headquarters, USAF, serving one year with the Manpower and Management office and three years as an operations staff officer in the Directorate of Operations.
his graduation from the Armed Forces Staff College in February 1956, Colonel
Tillman was then assigned as director of air defense with the 10th
Allied Tactical Air Force (NATO) in
completion of a course at the Military Assistance Institute in
assignment as Deputy Director of Training then took him to Tactical Air Command
(TAC) headquarters at Langley AFB,
was from his assignment at
The Southeast Asian tour of duty earned him the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, first and second Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the 10th through 15th Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal.
June 1968, Colonel Tillman was assigned as Commander of the 66th
Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at RAF Upper
Colonel Tillman arrived at Ninth Air Force to assume duty as Chief of Staff on August 16, 1971.
Colonel Tillman has amassed more than 4,000 flying hours in such aircraft as the B-17, B-24, B-25, F-51, F-80, F-86, RF-101 and the RF-4C.
is married to the former Elizabeth Brown, also of
Col. Tillman’s study