Hastings Street named for WW II Enid native

  • Published
  • By Jim Malachowski
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Historian
When the 380th Bombardment Group's 528th Bombardment Squadron from Biggs Field, Texas, deployed in April 1943, Enid native 1st Lt. Franklin Hastings went with them.
The group activated in November 1942 and trained with their Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" bombers in both Kansas and Colorado. The deployment took them to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and Fenton Airfield near Darwin, Australia.
On paper, the group was assigned to the 5th Air Force, but they were under the operational control of the Royal Australian Air Force from June 1943 until January 1945. The group had the unique mission of protecting the entire left flank of the Allied effort in the Southwest Pacific Theater. The entire western half of the theater included the whole of the East Indies and Dutch New Guinea within range of their bombers.
As the American crews arrived, they began training 52 Australian bomber crews on the B-24. Combat operations began in May 1943.
Lieutenant Hastings and his crew, crew number one, made a particularly good team. Missions ranged from armed reconnaissance to attacks on enemy shipping, oil refineries, dock facilities and installations. Bombing missions helped cripple Japanese resupply efforts and interdicted enemy airfields in the East Indies to reduce the threat to the Allied war effort.
In August 1943, they participated in a series of long-range strike missions on enemy oil refineries and shipping in Borneo. These missions were the longest bombing missions conducted in World War II and earned the group a Distinguished Unit Citation. They went on to fly successful missions over Rabaul, Java, New Guinea and Ceram Island.
Two days after Christmas 1943, the crew flying the bomber Queer Deer completed a strike mission against enemy shipping. It was their last required mission; they were now a combat-tour-expired crew, and their bomber was reassigned to a new crew.
Just more than a week later, the commanding officer asked Lieutenant Hastings to fly an extra mission. It was an armed reconnaissance mission over Ceram Island and the crew was very familiar with the area.
The crew picked up a new B-24 bomber, so new it did not even have a name or nose art yet, and prepared for the mission. Bad weather on Jan. 6 aborted the mission, but it was cleared for a launch the next morning.
The crew of 42-73449 on Jan. 7, 1944, consisted of command pilot Lieutenant Hastings, co-pilot 2nd Lt. Marvin Robinson, navigator 1st Lt. Frederick Estes, bomb officer 1st Lt. Raymond Gilmore, engineer Tech. Sgt. William Marshall, radio operator Tech. Sgt. Francis Moshier, gunner Staff Sgts. Arthur Miller, Joseph Allen, Peter Fink and Charles Carlson, and photographer Sgt. Thomas Guilfoyle. The bomber did not return from the mission.
The next morning, the new crew of the Queer Deer took the bomber Lieutenant Hastings and his crew had spent so much time on, out to search for the lost B-24. Air Force records indicate the bomber crashed in bad weather near New Guinea. Lieutenant Hastings was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster and Purple Heart. Hastings Street, in front of the 71st Operations Group Bldg. 672, and the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Republic of Philippines, memorialize him.