World War II veteran's family traced his path in England

Arlington Heights family traces path of patriarch's World War II experience

 
Posted7/17/2018 8:11 AM
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  • Chuck Wayman, first row, third from left, with his crew in front of a B-17 during World War II. Wayman, a Des Plaines resident, died in 2000.

    Chuck Wayman, first row, third from left, with his crew in front of a B-17 during World War II. Wayman, a Des Plaines resident, died in 2000. Courtesy of Tim Wayman

  • A partial file record from Stalag Luft I POW camp in Barth, Germany, shows Chuck Wayman of Des Plaines, who served as an airman based in the East Anglia region of England during World War II.

    A partial file record from Stalag Luft I POW camp in Barth, Germany, shows Chuck Wayman of Des Plaines, who served as an airman based in the East Anglia region of England during World War II. Courtesy of Tim Wayman

  • Alex Wayman, son of Tim Wayman and grandson of World War II veteran Chuck Wayman, stands in front of a B-17 at Duxford's Imperial War Museum. Members of the Wayman family were on a tour hosted by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

    Alex Wayman, son of Tim Wayman and grandson of World War II veteran Chuck Wayman, stands in front of a B-17 at Duxford's Imperial War Museum. Members of the Wayman family were on a tour hosted by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Courtesy of Tim Wayman

  • Alex, Tim and Bob Wayman prepare for a Jeep ride at the 95th Bomb Group site and museum in Horham, England, where Chuck Wayman was stationed for three months before being shot down in 1944. Members of the Wayman family were on a tour hosted by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

    Alex, Tim and Bob Wayman prepare for a Jeep ride at the 95th Bomb Group site and museum in Horham, England, where Chuck Wayman was stationed for three months before being shot down in 1944. Members of the Wayman family were on a tour hosted by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Courtesy of Tim Wayman

  • Alex and Tim Wayman in front of Parish Church of St. Mary on 95th base. Chuck Wayman often visited this church while he was stationed in England during World War II.

    Alex and Tim Wayman in front of Parish Church of St. Mary on 95th base. Chuck Wayman often visited this church while he was stationed in England during World War II. Courtesy of Tim Wayman

  • From left, Tim Wayman; Commodore Charles Clarke of Royal Air Force (POW); author of "Masters of the Air" and tour guide Donald Miller; and Bob and Alex Wayman. Miller's book was selected to serve as the background for HBO's upcoming miniseries "Masters of the Air," produced by Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg.

    From left, Tim Wayman; Commodore Charles Clarke of Royal Air Force (POW); author of "Masters of the Air" and tour guide Donald Miller; and Bob and Alex Wayman. Miller's book was selected to serve as the background for HBO's upcoming miniseries "Masters of the Air," produced by Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg. Courtesy of Tim Wayman

Chuck Wayman lived in Des Plaines for 50 years until his death in 2000. During that time he made quite an impact as president of Des Plaines Elementary District 62 and the Des Plaines Lions Club, to name just a few of his accomplishments.

But it was his years as a bombardier on a B-17 during World War II, and ultimately riding out the last year of the war as a prisoner of war that he is being remembered for in a memoir being written by his son, Tim Wayman of Arlington Heights.

Tim Wayman concedes he had little interest in his father's war experience when he was growing up. But when the opportunity arose to see where he served as an airman based in the East Anglia region of England, he took it.

Last spring, Wayman, his son, Alex of Chicago, and his brother, Bob of Troy, Kansas, took a tour hosted by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

The tour centered around the "Mighty Eighth" Air Force and the 95th Bomb Group, of which Chuck Wayman had been attached, and it took them back to wartime England in 1944.

"It gave us a chance to literally retrace his steps," says Wayman, who worked in banking and IT before becoming a co-owner of AlphaGraphics in Lisle.

Chuck Wayman was drafted into the Army Air Force in 1942, and he saw becoming a bombardier as a way to become an officer, his son says. He married in 1943 in Texas, the same day he graduated bombardier school.

Wayman would be shipped out to Europe -- he made the crossing aboard the Queen Mary -- and ultimately arrive in November, 1943, in England.

He headed to an air base in Horham, a village in Suffolk County, as part of the 336th bomb squadron. His time in England turned out to be short. He would fly eight missions, only to be shot down on Jan. 11, 1944, and spend the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war.

Wayman would spend the next 16 months with other Allied airmen at Stalag Luft 1 in northern Germany before the Russians liberated them in 1945. However, in surviving the war, he beat the odds.

Tim Wayman learned that, in 1943, a flier on an American four-engine bomber flying out of England stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour. More than 70 percent of the men who flew with the Eighth Air Force became casualties.

"My dad talked a lot about the war, particularly his time in England and of the days when he was liberated," Wayman says.

The Wayman group got to see some of the places Chuck Wayman described, from the Parish Church of St. Mary, where he often went for quiet reflection, to the Red Feather Club Museum, which included a photo of his crew and plane, Heavenly Daze, to the base at Horham, where he was stationed.

"One thrill was to ride down the base's main runway that still partially exists today," Tim Wayman says. "We could only imagine the hundreds of takeoffs, landings, successes and failures that were a constant 75 years ago."

As part of the American Air Museum at Horham, they also saw a fully restored B-17G Flying Fortress, which was similar to the B-17F version that Chuck Wayman flew.

"The three of us stood in amazement as we circled this massive airplane," Tim Wayman says, "gazing up at the plexiglass nose where dad, as a bombardier, would have been stationed and targeted by enemy planes."

After the war, Chuck Wayman moved to Des Plaines, where he went on to build a career with U.S. Gypsum as a copy editor and general manager of advertising. He was a gifted writer, his son says, and he documented some of his experiences in the war and recorded oral history reflections as well, all of which Tim Wayman has included in his memoir.

As a professional in printing and graphics, Wayman has filled the 60-page book with nearly 50 images. The last chapter describes his family's historic tour of the military sites in England.

"I was thrilled to join my brother and my son on our family odyssey to England," Wayman says. "But even more importantly, I feel that the history of World War II is disappearing, so it seems important to pass information along to younger generations before it's lost forever."

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