B-17 Nine-O-Nine

Feb 192017

Robert Brocklehurst

ABC News aired a story tonight about Bob Brocklehurst, a World War II fighter pilot.  Recently at age 96, he went up again in a P-51 Mustang, the same type of plane he flew in the Pacific Theater during World War II.  Interestingly, he wore a cap that indicated “41-G.”  I recognized that immediately as his graduating class number, meaning he graduated as a fighter pilot in 1941.  I found his picture in the AAF Collection in a class book from Kelly Field, near San Antonio, Texas.1

Second Echelon, “N” Flight, Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, 1941

Here he was as a young man above, right.  And here are some excerpts from the news story below.

Mr. Brocklehurst took control of the P-51 and performed a loop maneuver.

You can see the full video at ABC News.2

This class book also contains a profound passage, which by coincidence I admired back in 2014, when I first read it.

The purpose of a class book may be to give the men a memento of their Advance School Graduation–so, if it does–we deliver in ink, along with their other mementos, a Charge.

At this time a plan has functioned and again the result is a group of skilled men.  Yet it will not be their skill that will distinguish this class from others but their actions as individuals.

An insignia is a very shallow thing unless its meaning is so impressed on the individual that the ideal lives and the banner breathes by his actions.  Noble deeds are commendable but uncertain; everyday details of living are things which cast permanent reflections.  Heed!

This passage, “Noble deeds are commendable but uncertain; everyday details of living are things which cast permanent reflections,” and indeed, Mr. Brocklehurst’s own words in the video are worth remembering.


  1. Army Air Forces Collection, “Gig Sheet, The: Class 41-G, Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas” (item 000421), AAF Collection, http://AAFCollection.info/items/list.php?item=000421 (accessed 19 February 2017), page 41.
  2. ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=45602147 : viewed 19 February 2017.

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