Page 20 - MFM Nov 2014
P. 20

Reprinted by permission of Robert Stillwell

  William Daniel Bernier was born to Walter E Bernier     was assigned to a B-24 Liberator operational training
and Louise C ‘Jahn’ Bernier on November 11, 1915 in       squadron at Wendover Field, Utah. In October,
Augusta, Montana. Bernier grew up on the family ranch     1943, Bernier was ordered to Herington Field,
south of Augusta, not too far from Bowman’s Corner        Kansas, for final processing before duty overseas. He
on Flat Creek next to the Rocky Mountain front. To        was assigned to the 90th Bomb Group, 321st Bomb
his family and most of his friends he was known as        Squadron, the “Jolly Rogers”, in the Fifth Air Force.
“Laddie”.                                                 The group’s heavy bombers were distinguished by
                                                          a skull and crossed bombs painted on each B-24’s
  William joined his father’s Masonic Lodge, Augusta      rudder.
Lodge No. 54. He was initiated as an Entered Apprentice
on April 21, 1937, passed to the degree of Fellowcraft      In March, 1944, the 90th Bomber Group had
on June 2, 1937, and on June 16, 1937 he was raised to    relocated to Nadzab Air Field, a forward base on
the sublime degree of a Master Mason.                     New Guinea approximately 100 miles southeast
                                                          of enemy strongholds on that island. Bernier was
  At the time of his death in 1975 Walter Bernier         reported missing in action on April 10, 1944 after a
(William’s Father) was a 55 year member of Augusta        raid the Japanese held port at Hansa Bay. His B-24D,
Lodge.                                                    serial number 42-41188 “Hot Garters” was leading
                                                          a 60-bomber formation. Their plane went down
  William Bernier worked in the forestry industry and     after being hit by anti-aircraft fire over the city of
attended three years at Montana State University in       Madang. The aircraft veered west and plummeted
Bozeman.                                                  into the dense forest a few miles inland. At least four
                                                          of the 12 crewmen on board were able to parachute
  Three days after Japanese forces attacked Pearl         from he aircraft, according to observers, but were
Harbor, Hawaii, William Bernier at age 26 had enlisted    later reported to have died in captivity.
into the Army as a private. Bernier received basic
training in Missouri, and was later commissioned into
the Army Air Force. He graduated from the 10-week
Pbaogme 2b0ardment school at Ellington Field, Texas, and
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