“We all understood that everyone was suffering…and sacrificing together.”
Meteorology and B-17 Bombers
-An oral history of R.G. Musgrove

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Personal Profile| Audio Interview

When R. G. Musgrove was just nineteen years old, he surrendered his life as a student at the Rice Institute (now Rice University) and joined the U.S. Army Air Force. He was promptly sent to the California Institute of Technology where he studied meteorology before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Eighth Air Force. After spending six months in Marfa, Texas, Mr. Musgrove was transferred overseas to the 452nd Bomb Group base in Deopham Green, England. B-17 bombers that flew strategic bombing missions in France and Germany called the 452nd home, and it was Mr. Musgrove’s job to let the pilots know what weather conditions to expect during flight.

As second in command of the base’s weather station, Mr. Musgrove worked alongside three other officers and six enlisted men to predict the weather. He says, “[We] made the necessary observations of the weather—wind direction, speed, how many clouds there were up above us, whether it was rainy or clear. . . . These were sent to the central Air Force command, and maps were produced . . . to be used to forecast the weather because we had to brief the bomber pilots who went out . . . on missions.”

Despite the strategic importance of Mr. Musgrove’s base to Allied operations, Axis forces never directly attacked it. He reflects, “I was very fortunate during the war because we were not directly in combat. . . . We were lucky our base was never bombed by the Germans.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Musgrove was still in a war zone and had brushes with death and danger. He recalls that later in the war the Germans developed a “terrible weapon” called the V-bomb. “They were bombs that flew like an airplane. . . . It was simply aimed at England and had a certain amount of fuel in it, and when the fuel ran out, the [bomb] crashed,” Mr. Musgrove explains. Dozens sailed over the base, but just one crashed nearby, in a field hospital, killing several people.

Mr. Musgrove returned to the U.S. unscathed in 1945. “When I got out of the war, that was a happy day,” he remembers. “We were all happy to be home again and to get back to America, to our families and friends, and to go back to work . . . and start supporting our families.”

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