Earl G. Williamson, Jr.
Staff Sergeant
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 12/1943 - 1945
B-17 Waist Gunner, 91st Bomb Group

Earl was born in Memphis Tennessee. His mother was Mamie Greer from Kosciusko, Mississippi. His father, born near Thomastown, Mississippi, who had been a mechanic in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and who put on air barnstorming air shows with his brother. His father flew into Vivian where a Chevrolet dealer hired him as a mechanic. The elder Williamson bought out the dealership in 1928. Earl graduated from Vivian High School in 1940, and then attended Louisiana Normal in Natchitoches. He was a champion tennis player in high school and college, lettering in the sport in both Louisiana Normal and Louisiana State University. He had transferred to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Earl joined the U.S. Army Air Forces and took basic training at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi, a place he called "Pneumonia Gulch" for the illnesses among the trainees. He later went on to gunnery school for duty aboard B-17s. He was sent to the European Theater, and was based at Bassingbourne in Scotland. He was assigned to the Ninety-First Bombardment Group, 323rd Bombardment Squadron. Eager to attain the Air Force's requirement of twenty-five missions, he volunteered with another crew for his first mission January 20, 1944 as a waist gunner. Later, the Air Force raised the requirement to thirty missions before personnel could return to America. Earl mainly flew aboard a B-17 named "Hi-Ho Silver." He also served aboard "Just Plain Lonesome" and "Wee Willie," "Sugar Blues," and "Spirit of St. Louis." The famous "Memphis Belle" was in his group. Once, in an aircraft called "Blue Dreams," the pilot crash-landed after Earl reported leaking gasoline. He recalls a raid over Schweinfurt as "probably the worst." He states that 60 out of 240 bombers were lost. Earl flew his thirtieth mission on May 20, 1944, and returned to the states aboard the SS United States in October of 1944. Earl soon returned to training, this time on the twenty-millimeter cannon, a gun used aboard the B-29. He was stationed in San Francisco, ready for duty in the Pacific when the war ended. He spent the last three months of his service fighting forest fires near San Francisco. He was seriously injured in an accident aboard a GI truck, and spent the last two weeks of his service in the hospital. He received a twenty per cent disability. Earl returned to college on the GI Bill and graduated from LSU in 1948. He married Alice Cochran in September of 1948. They would have four children, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. That year also he bought out his father in the Vivian Chevrolet dealership. He remained in the automobile business until 1985.Today he has created his own museum in the restored train depot in Vivian.