Major John D. Davis and crew of the Buckeye Boomerang II (42-31672), Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress

1st Lt John Donald Davis (O-800845, also listed as O-800645) was born 7 February 1916 in Bradford, Drake County, OH. He was the son of Ora Francis and Anna M (Lehman) Davis. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps 25 March 1943. He flew with the 401st Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force and became the commanding officer of the squadron from December 1944 through June 1945. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant 21 December 1943. Davis was promoted to captain 12 April 1944. Unknown date of promotion to major. Davis was discharged 12 February 1946. He died 9 August 2006 in Port Richey. FL.

Major Davis married 1st Lt. Hellen E. Pierson (Registered Nurse) U.S. Army 2 February 1946 in Poughkeepsie, NY. See: 1st Lt. Helen E. Pierson.


1st Lt. Walter Gladen (or Gladyn) Quarve was born 20 January 1916 in Fillmore, Minnesota. He was the son of Ole Knute and Alvilda (Peterson) Quarve. He married Katherine Elvira Jacobson in 1939. Quarve enlisted in the Army Air Corps 4 Feb 1941 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Quarve flew with the Lt. Richard T. Pressey crew 27 May 1944. The B-17, 42-107042 they were flying experienced problems but made it to Switzerland, escorted by Swiss planes. The plane made a safe landing with all nine crew members aboard. Three of the nine escaped and returned to duty, however, Quarve was one of the six detained in Switzerland until the end of the war (MACR 5356). He died 27 April 1993. Quarve was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, Rushford, Minnesota. Position on aircraft, Bombardier.

Allan N. Morey (O-680048) was born 21 September 1917 in Syracuse, New York. He was the son of Charles Wallace and Rosa Morey. Rosa died when Allan was about two-years-old. Her maiden name may have also been Morey. Charles may have married her sister Katherine as his second wife. Allan graduated from Central High School. He entered the Army Air Corps 1 April 1942. Morey married Betty Heindorf. He was promoted to 1st Lt. on 12 April 1944. Morey was discharged 10 October 1945. He died 2 March 2010 in New York. Position on aircraft, Copilot.

Lt Frank Irvin Varva was born 24 February 1921. He was the son of John and Anna (Liptak) Varva. He married Mary Ruth Woodyard, who also served in the Navy as a RM3 during WWII. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps 8 Sep 1941 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Varva died 2 June 1993 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was buried at Mountain View Memorial Park, Brownfield, Pennsylvania. Position on aircraft, Navigator.

S/Sgt. Robert O Duncan (35366481) Duncan’s identity was one of the more difficult cases to solve. While there is no way to be absolutely certain without a family member coming forward, circumstantial evidence leads back to the following airman. In the April 1993 issue of The Ragged Irregular: 91st Bombardment Group (H) Newsletter, George A. Parrish contributed an article on the original crew of Buckeye Boomerang. He did not supply any silver-plate evidence but did provide the 1993 residences of the crew. Duncan was listed as Gary, Indiana. Robert Owen Duncan, born 16 September 1920, was living in Gary at the time of his death 9 April 1997. Robert O. Duncan was the son of George Edward and Maud Stella (Knight) Duncan. He was born in Bloomington, Indiana and the family lived in that city from 1920 through 1940, according to the federal censuses. George died October 1937, which explains his absence from the 1940 census. Robert was buried at Valhalla Memory Gardens, Bloomington, IN. He is listed as a T/Sgt. in the U.S.. Army during WWII. On the 401st’s Dailies for 1944, R.O. Duncan’s service number was given as 35366481. It was impossible to match that number with records connecting Duncan. It simply does not show up in other records. Duncan registered with the draft 16 February 1942. He provided a residence in Bloomington but a mailing address in Gary, IN. His employer was Inland Steel in Indiana Harbor. Handwritten at the top, was a discharge date of 21 October 1945. Backtracking, Duncan enlisted 18 August 1942. Duncan returned to Bloomington High School in 1946 and earned his diploma. Position on aircraft, Waist Gunner.

S/Sgt. Joel Lester Ziegler (12155859) was born in 7 May 1923 in Brooklyn New York. Son of Marcus H. Ziegler and Hannah (Neuman) Ziegler. He enlisted in the Air Corps 19 October 1942 at New York City. Died 4 March 1992 in Queens, New York. Position on aircraft, Tail Gunner.

S/Sgt. Joseph Bernard Brennan (38312531) was born 8 December 1916 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the son of Bernard Flynn and Anna (Lindler) Brennan. In 1920, Joseph and his sister Thelma were living with their mother on Palethorpe Street in Philadelphia, PA. Anna listed herself as widowed. By 1930, he and his sister were living in the household with their father Brennan’s and his widowed sister. Bernard listed himself as divorced. Anna died in April of 1932 and Bernard died in May 1943, while Brennan was in service. Before the war he worked at Higgins Industries, the producers of the famous Higgins landing craft. Brennan married Jeanne Marie Wallace in New Orleans in 1940. He enlisted in the Air Corps 3 October 1942 at New Orleans, LA. He reenlisted 25 July 1946 and remained in service until 31 January 1967, serving through the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He died 25 February 1973. He was buried at Port Hudson National Cemetery, Zachary, LA. Position on aircraft, Ball turret Gunner.

On 29 March 1944 while flying with the Lt. Evans crew on the Brunswick mission in B-17, 42-97246, Brennan was captured after the plane crashed. MACR 3474

T/Sgt. Duard Keith Nowlin (18122473) was born 4 July 1924 in Wert, Oklahoma. He was the son of Jake Q. and Thelma Mae(Opperman) Nowlin. His father was a sergeant in the Army and served during WWI. Nowlin enlisted in the Air Corps 20 November 1942 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Nowlin attended radio operator’s school at Sioux Falls. He departed the U.S. 20 October and arrived in Scotland 21 October 1943. Nowlin returned to the States 25 March 1945. Discharged 14 June 1945 at Fort Bliss, TX. Nowlin married Marilyn M Coulter 10 August, 1947 in Bernalillo, NM. He died 3 March 1991. He was buried at Sunset Memorial Park, Albuquerque, NM.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, The Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal, The European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with four bronze stars. Position on aircraft, Radio Operator.

T/Sgt. George Alfred Parrish (14164428) was born 19 March 1922 in Henderson County, NC. Parrish was the son of Willis “Willie”(Coble)and Winburn Pink Parrish. HIs father served in the Army during WWI. Parrish’s grandfather, Pinkney Parrish, served in the 34th Regiment of North Carolina Infantry, CSA, during the Civil War. He married Ethel Levenia Savick 26 February 1945 at Vance, NC. Before the war he worked at Burlington Dying, Plant B in AL.

He enlisted in the Army 24 September 1942 at Camp Croft, SC. Parrish died 20 February 2016 in Burlington, NC. He was buried at Alamance Memorial Park, Burlington. His obituary stated that he flew thirty-two missions during the war. Position on aircraft, Waist Gunner.

T/Sgt. Robert Arthur Wood (37261179) was born 13 June 1914 in Sioux City, Iowa. He was the son of Charles Henry and Alice (Heckla) Wood. His mother probably died in 1918 and it appears that Charles remarried to Sarah C. Nelson in 1925. Wood was living with Frank and Mildred Bell in 1940, probably his mother’s sister. He married Thelma S. (unknown maiden name). Wood enlisted in the Air Corps 10 September 1942 at Fort Crook, Nebraska. He trained at Sheppard Field, Texas. He then entered gunnery school at Kingman, Arizona. Wood then went to Gieger Field, Washington. His fourth station was Pendleton Field, Oregon, followed by assignment to the 401st BS, in England. He departed the U.S. on 20 October 1943 and returned to the States 10 June 1944. Wood was discharged 30 April 1945. Died 16 July 1999. He was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, Colorado. Position on aircraft, Engineer.

7 November 1943, joined Squadron, AF Station 121 in Bassingbourn, England

2nd Lts. John D. Davis (P), O-800845; Allan N. Morey (CP), O-680485; Walter G. Quarve (B), O-670242; Frank L. Varva, O-683216; Sgt. Robert O. Duncan, 35366481; S/Sgt. Duard K. Nowlin, 18122473 and Sgt. George A. Parrish, 14164428.

26 November 1943, Bremen, Germany:

A/C 187: [Buckeye Boomerang] 2nd Lts. John D. Davis, Allan N. Morey, Frank I. Varva, Walter G. Quarve, S/Sgt. Robert A. Wood, Sgt. George A. Parrish, S/Sgt. Duard K. Nowlin, Sgts. Robert O. Duncan, Joseph B. Brennan, Rudolph NMI Malkin.

11 December 1943, Emden, Germany:

A/C 187: [Buckeye Boomerang] Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. R. A. Wood, J. B. Brennan, G. A. Parrish, R. O. Duncan, Sgt. J. L. Ziegler.

13 December 1943, Bremen, Germany:

A/C 187: [Buckeye Boomerang] Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. R. A. Wood, J. B. Brennan, Sgt. J. L. Ziegler, S/Sgts. G. A. Parrish, R. O. Duncan.

24 December 1943, Andres Airdrome, France:

A/C 771: Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgt. R. A. Wood, S/Sgt. G. A. Parrish, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. R. O. Duncan, J. B. Brennan, J. L. Ziegler. Photo: Flak bursts around B-17s over Andres 24 December 1943.

11 January 1944, Oschersleben, Germany:

A/C 187: [Buckeye Boomerang] Lts. J. D. Davis, A. M. Morey, F. R. Hedstrom, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgt. R. A. Wood, S/Sgt. G. A. Parrish, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. R. O. Duncan, A. G. Romulis, J. L. Ziegler.

Duncan was credited with downing a FW 190.

6 February 1944, Nancy-Essey Airdrome, France:

A/C 672: [Buckeye Boomerang II] Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Kersey, F. I. Varva, J. D. Pope, T/Sgts. R. A. Wood, D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. H. R. Harding, G. A. Parrish, R. G. Duncan, J. L. Ziegler.

11 February 1944, Frankfurt, Germany:

A/C 672: [Buckeye Boomerang II] Lts. J. D. Davis, P. R. Morey, F, I, Varva, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgts. R. A. Wood, D. R. Nowlin, S/Sgts. O. S. Schwab, J. B. Zeigler, G. A. Parrish, R. C. Duncan.

23 February 1944, Schweinfurt, Germany:

A/C 591: Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgt. R. A. Wood, S/Sgts. G. A. Parrish, D. K. Nowlin, R. O. Duncan, J. B. Brennan, J. L. Ziegler.

25 February 1944, Augsburg, Germany: 

A/C 578: [My Darling Also] Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgt. R. A. Wood, S/Sgt. G. A. Parrish, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. R. O. Duncan, J. B. Brennan, J. L. Ziegler. (Photo: Davis and crew on Augsburg mission)

2 March 1944, Frankfurt, Germany:

A/C 144: [Jezebel] Lts. J. D. Davis, A. W. Morey, F. I. Varva, W. G. Quarve, T/Sgt. R. A. Wood, S/Sgt. G. A. Parrish, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. R. O. Duncan, J. E. Brennan, J. L. Ziegler.

4 March 1944, Cologne, Germany:

A/C 144: [Jezebel] Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, W. C. Quarve, T/Sgt. R. A. Wood, S/Sgt. G. A. Parrish, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. R. C. Duncan, J. B. Brennan, J. L. Ziegler. (Photo: The aftermath of wartime bombing on Cologne.)

24 March 1944, Frankfurt, Germany:

A/C 083: Lts. J. D. Davis, A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, A. J. Depeder, T/Sgts. R. A. Wood, D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. J. B. Brennan, J. E. Ziegler, G. A. Parrish, R. C. Duncan.

13 April 1944, Schweinfurt, Germany:

A/C 061 [General Ike]: Lts. J. D. Davis, G. H. Heilig, Frank I. Varva, Jerome D. Pope, S/Sgt. G. A. Parrish, T/Sgt. D. K. Nowlin, S/Sgts. A. G. Romulis, R. G. Duncan, J. L. Zeigler.

14 April 1944, Oranienburg, Germany:

A/C 061 [General Ike] (lead, comp. Grp.0 Capt. R. S. Roberts (P), Capt. J. D. Davis (CP), Capt. B. D. Moore (N), Capt. C. S. Hudson (B), T/Sgts. W. B. Neal, W. N. King, Sgt. J. York, S/Sgts. F. H. Lenke, E. A. Weaver Jr., J. H. Clifton.

1 May 1944, Troyes, France:

A/C 069: Capt. J. D. Davis, Lts. A. N. Morey, F. I. Varva, Capt. C. S. Hudson, T/Sgts. R. W. Comer, R. B. Vail, S/Sgts. S. B. Eure, C. L. Boston, J. W. Brinn, M. Pitcock, Lt. M. M. Thomsen. (Photo: Troyes, France 26 August 1944. U.S. Army Signal Corp Photograph, National World War II Museum)

9 May 1944, St. Dizier, France:

A/C 081: Capt. J. D. Davis, Lt. Col. T. R. Milton (Hq. 91st), Capt. W. F. Borealis, Lt. F. I. Varva, Capt. C. S. Hudson (Hq. 91st), T/Sgt. G. A. Parrish, S/Sgts. A. M. Tolbert, D. K. Nowlin, R. O. Duncan, R. Weaver Jr., Lt. A. N. Morey.

20 May 1944, Villacoublay, France:

A/C 061[General Ike]: Capt. Davis, Lts. F. I. Varva, M. W. Thomson, T/Sgt’s. D. E. Nowlin, G. A. Parrish, S/Sgts. G. H. Bogert, H. O. Duncan, Lt. A. N. Morey.

27 May 1944, Marshalling Area at Ludwigshaven:

Davis 061[General Ike]. No crew listed. (Photo of smoking marshalling area and chemical plant explosion, 27 May 1944.)

29 May 1944, Posen, Poland:

Davis 061[General Ike]

6 June 1944, La Havre coastal area, France:

686-PFF PILOT Capt. Davis, John G. O-900645, 2nd Lt. NAV Capt. Varva, Frank I. O-6?3216, 42-37958 LL-O PILOT Capt. McPartlin, James H. O-636109 CO-PILOT Colonel Cross, William No Ser # NAV (Name did not appear on Loading List.) BOMB (Name did not appear on Loading List.) ENG TT T/Sgt. Parrish, George14164422 Ball T S/Sgt. Rigaud, Ralph 324?3922 Radio Gun T/Sgt. Nowlin, Duard R. 6122475 Observer Capt. Dougherty, Francis W. O-333374 Observer 1st Lt. Villaces, Ralph No Ser # Change to Loading List for June 6, 1944. 43-102509 Ball Turret S/Sgt. Johnson, Lloyd G. 36742654 (Photo: Cliffs near La Harve contained several artillery and coastal gun positions. This bombing raid was in April.)

3 January 1945, Mission to Cologne:

Group formation with Maj. John. D. Davis flying in A/C 174 as Acting Commander.  P Actg. Cmdr. Maj. Davis, John D. O-800645

After Davis became the CO of the 401st, the other members of the crew continued to perform their duties. Many of the crew racked up numerous successful missions. Duncan flew with the Lt. P. G. McDuffee crew (A/C 076) on the 26 March 1944 mission to Pas De Calais, France. On D-Day, Capt. Varva flew with Captain John G. Davis. Parrish and Nowlin flew with Capt. McPartlin in A/C 958 the same day. Zielger flew with Lt. F.C. Ammann (A/C 246) on the 27 March 1944 mission to Jean D’Angely, France. On 22 May, Zielger flew with Capt. L.F. Rentmeester (A/C 911) on the mission over Kiel, Germany.He then flew with Lt. William T. Hanna (A/C 509) on the 5 June mission to Houlgate, France. Morey copiloted A/C 552 with Lt. Walter R. Langford on the Toulouse, France mission, 25 June 1944. Morey piloted A/C 883 on the 1 August 1944 mission over Chartres, France.

For more on the Davis crew, see:

http://www.91stbombgroup.com/Ragged_Irregular/RI_1993_April_V26_N2.pdf

http://www.91stbombgroup.com/Ragged_Irregular/RI_1994_Jan_V27_N1.pdf