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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 11:51 pm 
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I came across this box slammed full of the memories from a WWII P47 pilot that was killed in 1944 as well as his brother in law's personal effects that was killed in 1944. THIS WAS ALL DUG OUT OF THE TRASH!
I recently came into possession of this amazing collection from a guy that was cleaning up an old house in Fort Worth after the owner had passed away. His job was to dispose of all of the "junk" left behind in the house. The new owners had thrown this box along with tons of other items in a dumpster. The guy who cleaned up the property saw this box and was able to save it.
I had set up selling my WWII replica nose art pieces at the Pate Swap Meet in FT Worth and I had the entire nose section of my Lockheed Lodestar on display. The guy walked up and said he had something for me that he wanted me to have because I looked like the kind of guy that would appreciate what he had. He handed me this heavy box full of stuff and my jaw dropped.
The box tells the story of a 22 year old pilot, Lt Thomas E. Bullington Jr. of Ft.Worth Texas. He went missing on 11 April, 1944 in New Guinea flying a P47 Thunderbolt. His remains were found a few years later and sent home. This is a complete history of his experiences from the late 1930's up until and beyond his death.
There is also the story of Lt. Rufus J. Lackland III, of Ft.Worth ,Texas, in the box. Rufus had married Bullington's sister and was killed just a few months before Bullington near Mission, Texas in an AT-6 Texan crash. He was flying a night time training mission when the cadet flying the plane crashed the AT-6 he was in, according to the letters that I have read in the box. Shortly after wards Mary Jane, Lackland's wife/Bullington's sister, went to work at Consolidated Vultee working on B24 Liberators. I found several newspaper clippings in Lackland's box on Brigadier General Lackland- the man Lackland Air Force Base was named after. Lackland's grandfather was Col. Rufus J. Lackland I. He was a famous auctioneer in the 1800's and his gavel is in the box!
There are tons of letters home from Bullington as well as letters to him from his parents. The letters are almost unbearable to read when you know the hurt that is going to come to his parents upon his death. I have a complete file that his father saved on his death , that includes the infamous Western Union telegram of his death, the pay that was received upon his death, the letters informing the parents that his body has been found etc. I even have his driver's license from the 1930's when he was 14 as well as his social security card.
One of the more interesting finds is Bullington's log book. It goes up to 5 April 1944, just a few days before he was killed. It even tells of a few crashes and early combat missions in the back. He had reserved the last page for his first Japanese kill--- it was blank. He was shot down by Japanese on April 11th 1944 near Wewak, New Guinea in his P47 " Cowtown Cyclone".
There are tons of photos and documentation in the box. It would take weeks to read it all. I find it sickening to think that all of this was pulled out of a dumpster. The stranger that brought me the box says he has Bullington's uniform at home and that he will be mailing it to me! I have never seen a collection like this have you?Image

Make sure you click on this link to the photos of the box contents. Keep in mind, these photos are only showing a small amount of the items in "the box"! It takes a few minutes to go through these photos.
http://s1122.photobucket.com/albums/l52 ... e%20story/

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Last edited by carlisle1926 on Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 5:48 am 
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Great stuff. It took a long time to get through it all. Thanks for the photobucket link. Very sad that it was initially thrown out.

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 6:47 am 
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Amazing find! So glad it has been saved!

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 7:08 am 
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Thank goodness the guy cleaning the house saved it! Sad to think that it probably happens often.

Thanks for sharing Bullington's story with us. I'd love to see more if you have the time.

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:42 pm 
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Great save and a guys history will live on.Just think of the effects that are buried in landfills all over America that were not saved because nobody in the family cared.What a shame.

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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 9:24 am 
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Great to hear that the guy had the intelligence to understand what was in front of him and to save it. Awesome, amazing, thanks for the post. :drink3:

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 6:29 am 
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I agree. Topic moved :)

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 7:21 am 
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Wow.
Can you imaguine what his sister went through, losing her new husband then her brother.

All of us here know better than most the heartbreaking losses suffered by families in the war. But to have a opersonal reminders is pretty sobering.
Yes, the war was a great period in American history, a time the country pullled together to fight a war it really wasn't prepared for. But your discovery reminds us again it wasn't all USO Shows, shiney new planes and "50 mission crush" caps.

I hope you can contact a magazine for them to do a story on Bullington's life. I's think one of the aviation magazines might be interested, and perhaps contact the Star-Telegram for a Sunday feature...it might remind families about their grandfather's (or grand uncle's) stuff and prevent it from getting thrown out. You have a great story and it needs to be told not only to the aviation history world, but the general audience as well. (I'm a PR guy, you can PM me for advise/suggestions).

And now you have the responsibility to find the items a good home to safeguard them when you're gone.

BTW: Perhaps the state historical society would be interested in Col Lackland's auction items...they deserve a good home too.

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 7:21 am 
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Delete...double post.

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 7:33 am 
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Howdy All

This story really choked me up a little

Lt. Thomas E. Bullington,Jr had been assigned and flew with the 311th FS, 58th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force

http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/p ... 75289.html

It was probably his Sister that held onto all this before she passed.

This should be put into the media, to honour those two brave men and their family. To tell their story

Lightning


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 8:30 am 
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fantastic you were able to save this bit of history. imagine over the years how much WAS thrown out by familys? :(

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:16 am 
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Lightning wrote:
Howdy All

This story really choked me up a little

Lt. Thomas E. Bullington,Jr had been assigned and flew with the 311th FS, 58th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force

http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/p ... 75289.html

It was probably his Sister that held onto all this before she passed.

This should be put into the media, to honour those two brave men and their family. To tell their story

Lightning

It appears that he wasn't shot down as the info in the "the box" led me to believe. He wrote in his log book and in his letter how great the engine was running now that it was broken in properly. Bullington also wrote of flying just below the clouds only being able to see the side of a mountain on his left and the ocean on his right. Maybe that is what finally got him- the mountain. I wish there was a way to publish all of this. It takes days to go through all of his letters. I've even found letters from his troubled younger brother Billy Bob that was in the Navy. I'm not certain what Billy Bob did, but his parents were certainly upset with his actions. I found letters from Billy Bob to his parents that had never even been opened!
I looked up the cemetery that Bullington is buried in. I was within a few blocks of it the day that I received "the box". My next step is to start tracing the remaining family down for both Bullington and Lackland. Maybe one of them will have further info.
Jason Barnett

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 10:10 pm 
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I tried looking up any kind of reunion for the 58th as suggested, but nothing has turned up. My next step is to try to find any living relatives. I'm not sure how to do so just yet. I looked up Bullington online for the FtWorth area and several names popped up. Hopefully one of them is related.
Jason Barnett

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:31 pm 
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That is a great collection. What a shame it just got tossed. I'd say we all owe that fellow that saved it a beer! 8)

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 11:38 am 
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Sadly, that happens all the time. I once found a logbook,
Navy Cross & citation, and some photos pushed to the
curb for the garbage truck because it didn't sell at a Sat
yard sale. The guy was a Helldiver pilot in VB-13 aboard
Franklin.


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