History of the 448th Bomb Squadron
from S/Sgt. Dewey A. Mitchem
Our father, Dewey A. Michem worked in the coal mines near Kimball, WV. He had a 9th grade education and was living at home. His father was also a miner. Miners were paid in 'scrip' rather than money. Typically, the only place to shop was the company store. After dad started to work in the coal mines, his mom would go to the company store and buy food and other household items, and draw against his pay, leaving dad with little on payday! So, dad always said the reason he enlisted in the army was that he got itred of not making any money. He was not quite 18 years old when he enlisted on October 26, 1942. First he was sent to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, then later to Aircraft Mechanic School at Seymour Johnson Field in North Carolina. He also went to Aerial Gunnery School in Fort Myers, Florida and he was an instructor in Idaho when he met our mother, Agnes Franklin. They were married in Ely, Nevada on October 17, 1943.
I'm not sure when and where all the pictures below were taken. Overseas, dad was decorated with the European, African, Middle Eastern Service Medal Air Medal GO 246 Hq ed 44, Good Conduct Medal AR600-68, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal GO 47 Hq 12th Air Force 45, 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal GO 49 Hq 12th Air Force 45, 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal GO 81 Hq 12th Air Force 45, 4th Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal 88 Hq 12th Air Force 45.
Dad never talked much about his war experiences but he did remember that as a gunner he could look down from the plane and see that in addition to dropping bombs on the "target," they were also dropping bombs on women and children, who he could see running in the streets. He said he flew 57 missions but we have no way of corroborating this and his personal records were destroyed in a warehouse fire. He participated in the Normandy, North Appenines, Po Valley, and Balkans air offensives and his highest rank was Staff Sergeant.
Dad was discharged on June 18, 1945 after 3 years in the army and went back to work in the coal mines in Carswell, WV. It never occurred to him to take advantage of the GI bill and go back to school. The mines had been good enough for his father so they were good enough for him.
The photos and info about Dewey Mitchem were provided by his daughter Cherryl.