HARRYWARREN BACHUS, SR.
OCTOBER 3, 1921 -MAY 17, 2010
World War II POW and one of the Famed "Candy Bombers" of the Berlin Airlift. Dedicated family man, combat pilot, Purple Heart recipient, and lifelong Auburn football fan; Harry Warren Bachus, Sr., of Pensacola, answered the call of his Heavenly Father into eternal rest on Monday, May 17, 2010 at the Joyce Goldenberg Hospice Inpatient Residence.
He and his loving wife Faye were charter members of Emerald Coast Community Church. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend who will be dearly missed by all who knew him. Honor, integrity, and benevolence are who he was and what he taught us. He was a patriot, with Christian principles who stood for what was right and what was good in the world. He led by example... A life well lived, full of proud accomplishments, modestly acclaimed.
Pressing forward in the aftermath of D-Day, on June 29, 1944 Allied aircraft commenced Operation RAMROD which involved deep bombing missions of key German targets. Serving in the 336th Bomb Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, in England, Harry piloted a B-17G for the operation which initially targeted factories in Leipzig, Germany. The cloud cover obscured the target on the initial bombing run and the decision was made to make another pass. While ultimately proving successful, having relinquished the element of surprise, German fighters and anti-aircraft batteries did considerable damage to the formation on the second run. Many aircraft and crews were lost. Harry's plane lost two engines and was unable to maintain altitude, but he kept the crippled bomber airborne long enough for his crew to bail out over Holland.
In describing his bailout, Harry said: "There were two pops, the pop of the parachute, and the pop of me hitting the ground." Despite a badly injured right knee, and with the aid of Dutch partisans, Harry managed to evade the Germans for several weeks before being captured. Harry's teeth were knocked out and his leg was further injured during interrogations by the Gestapo at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. While there, the guards forced him to witness Jews marching to their deaths and then was told, "You're next." Thankfully, a German Luftwaffe pilot learned of an American pilot being held in the concentration camp and secured his transfer to Stalag Luft III, a POW camp for Allied officers in Western Poland. Stalag Luft III was the scene of escapes made famous by the movie "The Great Escape." In a move to prevent the advancing Russian Army from overtaking the camp, the Germans force-marched the prisoners through the snow to awaiting cattle cars. They were then transported several hundred miles south to Stalag Luft 7A at Mooseberg, near Munich. The prisoners were eventually liberated by General Patton and the Third Army. Harry recalled fondly seeing Patton himself crashing through the gates in the lead tank.
After World War II, Harry became a test pilot, fulfilling a childhood dream, and eventually returned to Germany to fly in the Berlin Airlift. Based on a "Stars and Stripes" article in 1949, Harry was one of a handful of pilots who gained fame as the "Candy Bombers". The Candy Bombers were pilots who would make low passes over the Allied sectors of Berlin and Germany, dropping candy over schools and city parks for the benefit of the children. Harry earned a footnote in Air Force history as the only pilot to "bomb" seven German cities in one day, including his old prison camp in Mooseberg, on the last mission of Operation "Little Vittles."
After his military service, Harry was a Wholesale Representative for Sinclair Refining Company in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina, a Sales Manager and Engineer for Serenity Gardens, Inc. Of Milton, Florida, and retired as a Civil Service Computer Programmer for the Naval Aerospace Medical Center, Pensacola. He also worked into his 80's as a delivery driver for Hackbarth Delivery Service.
Harry was born and raised in Birmingham, and had an early ambition to attend Alabama Polytechnic Institute (later Auburn University). He worked a number of jobs as a young man and proudly tells of having saved over $5,000, enough to pay for four years of coursework. He entered Auburn in 1941, but his studies were interrupted when he volunteered for the Army Air Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. During his flight training, Harry bought a house for his parents with the remainder of his college savings. Later in life, Harry enjoyed attending Auburn football games with his wife Faye, members of his church, and his nephew, Congressman Spencer T. Bachus III of Birmingham.
Harry was preceded in death by his parents, Spencer T. Bachus, Sr. and Eula Story Bachus of Birmingham; his brother, Spencer T. Bachus, Jr.; two sisters, Ruth MacDonald and Sarah Cox.
He is survived by his loving wife, Faye; sons, Larry "Butch" Bachus of Nashville, TN, Harry "Buddy" Bachus of Mobile, AL, Terry Wiggins of Pensacola, FL; daughters, Toni Dutton of Birmingham, AL, Kaye Hammond of La Canada, CA, Sheryl Martin of Pace, FL; sons-in-law, Randy Hammond and Jim Martin; daughters-in-law, Linda Bachus and Barbara Wiggins; thirteen grandchildren, and one great-grandaughter. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Edith Bachus; and nephew, Congressman Spencer T. Bachus, III, both of Birmingham, AL.
Visitation will be held at Faith Chapel Funeral Home South at 5:00 to 6:00pm, and for friends from 6:00 to 8:00pm, on Wednesday, May 19, 2010. Funeral services will be conducted at Emerald Coast Community Church on Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:00am by pastors Ed Anthony and Bill Amon. Active Pallbearers will be, Doug Wasserman, Ronnie Hay, Michael Hay, Robert Hay, Chris Abramowitz, Tom Eilenstein.
Internment will be at Barrancas National Cemetery at 11:45am.
Faith Chapel Funeral Home, 100 Beverly Pkwy., Pensacola, FL is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials may be made to the Joyce Goldenberg Hospice Inpatient Residence, 10075 Hillview Road, Pensacola, FL 32514.
Condolences may be placed online at fcfhs.com.
Published in Pensacola News Journal on May 19, 2010