|Elizabeth Hobbs Krenik|
WWII veteran's daughter to publish book on Tinian
By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
A DAUGHTER of a crewmember from the 505th Bombardment Group is gathering materials for a book she intends to publish relating to her father’s and other crewmembers’ personal accounts of the war on Tinian and Iwo Jima.
Garland, Texas-based Elizabeth Ann Hobbs Krenik, told Variety, “This project started with hundreds of letters my father wrote my mother during the war beginning in civilian flight training, through cadet school, their marriage, birth of their first child, on to the Pacific and including the end of the war and the journey home.”
Variety asked Krenik, whose father Richard Douglas Hobbs, was a co-pilot then later a pilot with the 505th Bombardment Group, 483rd Squadron, when she plans to have the book published, to which she replied, “That is undetermined at this point.”
She did say, “I plan to call it ‘Journey to Tinian.’”
Her father, along with other crewmembers of the 505th, were deployed to the Pacific Theater of Operations in late 1944, and were assigned to the XXI Bomber Command 313th Bombardment Wing in the Northern Mariana Islands.
They were stationed at North Field, Tinian.
Krenik said, “My father’s story is a personal one and includes a lot of photos of Tinian. These letters left me thirsty for more, and that is how I came to find Sig Ellingson’s daughter who provided his graphic and touching battle journal and additional photos.”
Krenik said Ellingson and Ellingson’s brother, Don, were good friends of her father and both served on Tinian.
She said she has been communicating with Ellingson’s daughter who is based in Tacoma, WA.
Her trip to Ota, Japan next month along with 505th Bombing Group historian, Nancy Samp — also a WWII veteran’s daughter — prompted Krenik to look for what her father and Ellingson had written about the Ota bombing in February 1945.
Ellingson’s journal, Krenik said, “began in December 1944 when the crew left for Tinian, and goes through the end of the war.”
She said, “The entire journal will be included in my book (Journey to Tinian) and includes battles on Iwo Jima as well.”
Krenik recalled the first time she read Ellingson’s journal. “It was shocking when I first read it as my father never spoke of the horrors they witnessed.”
Krenik said her father didn’t write her mother about the Ota bombing.
She said that Feb. 11, 1945 was her father’s first anniversary. “He had just gotten word of the birth of his son, so he had other things on his mind when he wrote his letters home and I believe he shielded my mother quite a bit in his letters which remained upbeat for the most part,” said Referencing Ellingson’s journal,
Krenik shared with Variety two journal entries:
“February 10 —
Mission: Ota, Japan. Worst day our squadron has ever had, lost Eddie Quay and crew, cracked and burned on take - off. That makes Mozak number 2 of my Bombardiers to go. Over the target Barnhart and Slaughter collide in mid - air cutting the empennage off from Slaughter’s ship, and the two A/C fall into flat spins. Last seen no one had bailed and they were about 10,000 going into clouds. Most of both crews given up as lost, possibly the tail gunners got out. Flight surgeons had talked Hugh Burner into taking this ride, said it would bring him back from his mental shock over the loss of his brother.
That makes Hugh Burner the 3rd man, second and last of the two brothers to go. Swanson was the other, 4th Bombardier to get it. Over target Japs pulled a smart play and forced Shroeder’s ship out of formation, then shot him down. Trick was a fighter stall dead ahead of him and these other fighters forcing him out of formation by flying between him and the formation. A dozen fighters pounced on him all at once, he didn’t have a ghost’s chance in this world.
The Bombardier here was old Jefferies, Lois will remember him, he was #5 of my boys to get it. Bahr lost an engine just short of target and broke formation. Fighters hit him hard but he managed to fly thru them and headed for Tokyo. They bombed Tokyo solo that day, Bill Moore really did a fine job that day. They lost one engine, burned up, prop turned white hot at the housing and fell off. They made it home ok.
Cash’s crew ditched and came out in good shape, job well done. Lowry ditched and he and three men in the CFC room were killed, others ok. Halloren ditched and was picked up, entire crew in good shape. Nichols ship called Tinian base that he was coming in ok for landing, that was twenty minutes from base. He and crew were never heard from since, ship must have developed sudden fire and exploded.
February 11 —
We bury the remains of Eddie Quay and crew in the U.S. Armed Forces Cemetery, Tinian Island, this morning, raining dismal cold day. Heavy hearted bunch of boys here, this has been a terrific battle toll for our squadron, we have lost half our original bunch of boys from States. At this rate two more missions should finish our entire squadron off.
Wing School continues, grace of the Lord is with us I believe.”
Ellingson’s and her father’s memoirs of the war are not all that she has been sifting through all these years.
Krenik also pored over other letters and journals. “I have also been soliciting letters and/or journals from others as well as purchasing a few. My goal is to tell the human story, the funny side, the tragic side, etc. as they wrote it at the time. It will be as unique as we all are in our life experiences including their personal thoughts, dreams, families, friends, tragic losses, gains, and hopes for the future. It is a project to honor them all and leave a living legacy for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come.”
All these years that she has been studying and reflecting on the experiences of the 505th Bombardment Group crewmembers’ experiences on Tinian, Krenik said she has yet to make the trip to Tinian.
“I have not been to Tinian, but certainly wish to do so!” she said.
Krenik’s professional background was executive administration for about 30 years including in a worldwide division of Guinness.
She said that after losing her job in the aftermath of Sept. 11, “I took a course in paralegal studies and passed with a 99.5 percent class average with the hopes of moving into that field. However just about that time, I also had some major health issues and was told that I would be unable to sit all day for this type of work. So I became a children’s entertainer (at the suggestion of my own children!). This line of work allows me a lot of ‘free time’ as well as a lot of personal satisfaction.”
As she finds satisfaction in working with the young generation, Krenik recognizes the importance of preserving knowledge of the past. “I believe it is important to preserve as much of this history as possible for generations to come. My desire is to include as many personal accounts as possible written by the men at the time.”
For Krenik, she has received “some very interesting and profound submissions, but there is always room for more.”