19th Bombardment Group Stories - Master Sgt. Norman Biehn

19th Bombardment Group Stories - Master Sgt. Norman Biehn

This account of the experiences of Master Sgt. Norman Biehn originally accompanied a series of paintings by Pfc Ernest Berkowitz, who painted a series of pictures of the aircraft and men of the 19th Bombardment Group while they were all based at Dyersburg Air Force Base, Tennessee, after their exploits in the Far East. Although we don't have the paintings, the stories themselves are still of great interest. Berkowitz later went on to become succesful artist under the name Ernest Berke, mainly producing paintings of Native Americans and their horses.

Many thanks to Dennis Gagomiros for sending us these documents.

The use of camouflage by the Japs is notorious, but Master Sgt. Norman Biehn, former lumberjaok from Oregon found a way of un-covering their painstaking work. Sgt. Biehn is what Army slang terms a "static chaser" or Radioman-gunner on a B-17. His 'secret weapon" for uncovering Jap camouflage and mopping up enemy in-stallations with his guns won him the Silver Star. That "secret weapon" has turned out to be ordinary rocks!

Utilising the fact that anything thrown from a plane, no matter what the size or shape, whistles on the way down and appears to be much larger than it really is, explains Sgt. Biehn's method. During a mission over Lea, New Guinea, Norman tossed the small boulders at the Japs on the ground below, believing that they were being bombed, the Japs opened fire revealing their positione This enabled the remainder of the Fortress formation to bomb the Jap positions accurately and then, from an altitude of 200 feet Master Sgt. Biehn and his comrades proceeded to strafe with machine gun fire those positions that had not been bombed; with the added satisfaction of not being bothered with flak-fire.

Sgt. Biehn is now Chief Radioman of the 604th Bomb Squadron here at Dyersburg Air Base and it is the proud boast of the Squadron that no plane in the squadron has ever been grounded because of "radio trouble." Master Sgt. Norman Biehn add his assistants know their "static" well indeed.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 February 2021), 19th Bombardment Group Stories - Master Sgt. Norman Biehn , http://www.historyofwar.org/Pictures/pictures_19th_BG_story_05.html

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