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Column: Contact revives war memories

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I recently engaged in a series of emails that were mind-boggling, at least for me, given my minimal modern technology knowledge.

It was initiated by my book publisher forwarding an email from a David Ingleman. The name immediately piqued my interest as the bombardier on my B-17 crew during World War II was John Ingleman.

David’s email started with, “My father is John Ingleman.” My immediate reaction: This is John’s son. I knew John had a son. However, I knew bombardier John died quite a few years ago. I was surprised his son had been able to find me and my address.

Continuing, David wrote, “My father told me stories about his relative John Raymond Ingleman.”

This shot me off on a tangent. Why would I be interested in hearing stories his father, my late bombardier, told about a John Raymond Ingleman?

With a quick subject change, he added, “I was happy to find your book.” (“My War,” written while living here in Columbus, is a story of my World War II experiences, in which John Ingleman plays a role. It will be available locally at the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum after April 5.)

This began to lift some of the fog. David must have my book. Therefore, he knew of some of the wartime capers of his father and yours truly.

He closed by asking if I wanted copies of John’s bomb tags. A cotter pin was inserted in the bomb fuse as a safety device. A tag, giving arming instructions, was attached to the cotter pin. The safety pins were replaced with a safety wire after the bombs were loaded into the aircraft. When the bombs dropped, the safety wire stayed attached to the airplane and the bomb fuse became live. We used the tags as a loose leaf record of each mission. I still have 35 of them.

I replied to David’s email accepting his offer and including comments about his father and mother.

Shortly came a reply with copies of the bomb tags and more surprises. Such as, bombardier John was not known as John in the family. He was known as Raymond, his middle name

The revelations continued. Bombardier John was not David’s father; he was David’s grandfather’s cousin. David said that his grandfather’s name was Milton. (I bet it was John Milton.) David’s father is John Bruce Ingleman. Incidentally, bombardier John’s son is John Alan.

Are you still with me? Just think how it would have been in Champaign, Ill., growing up near the Inglemans. “John did it!” could have been a frequent cry with the guilty party never identified.

In my email thanking David for sending the bomb tags, my curiosity finally got the better of me and I asked, “How did you read my book, as an e-book, hardback, etc.?”

The answer was a real surprise.

“Well, I didn’t really read your book. At least, not yet. I found your description of John Ingleman while doing genealogy research on Google Books. I skimmed the preview of your book on Google Books and on and determined your J.R. Ingleman was also my J.R. Ingleman. That is when I emailed you.”

This called for a reality check with my son, Gary, to ask, “Is that really possible?” His answer was a dismissive, “Oh, yes, that’s done all the time. Nothing to it.”

Seventy years ago we tooled around the skies of Europe smug with the thought that in the airplane’s nose we had a bombsight containing one of the first practical computers. In addition, in whispered voices, we conversed about a thing called radar.

We did not know it, but we had just entered technology’s kindergarten.

John C. Walter, a Cummins Inc. retiree, is a member of a panel of community writers whose opinions appear weekly in The Republic. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be reached by email at

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