The 416th Bomb Group and the New England Air Museum (NEAM)
partnered to establish a Memorial Exhibit dedicated solely to the 416th.
The Museum is located at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn.
and is the largest aviation museum in the Northeastern U.S.
416th Bomb Group Memorial Exhibit Dedication
On October 6, 2012, the Memorial Exhibit for the 416th Bomb Group was dedicated at the
New England Air Museum during the annual 416th Bomb Group Reunion.
The Memorial Exhibit comprises the A-26 Invader, "Reida Rae"
that flew with the 671st and a large display recounting the history of the Group,
the aircraft and some of the important operations that the Group supported during the war.
The Dedication Ceremony was emceed by Dr. Larry N. Smith, son of Jack Smith (669th).
During the ceremonies, comments were made by several 416th Veterans; Dave Andrews (671st),
Bob Basnett (671st), Ralph Conte (669th, 670th), Roland Dullnig (668th) and Jack Sittarich (668th).
Attending their first reunion, the son and daughter of Raymond and Reida Rae Rohrdanz,
John Rohrdanz and Sue Corbit, also addressed the Group. Raymond Rohrdanz was the crew chief on "Reida Rae".
Thirteen 416th Bomb Group Veterans participated and
over 125 family members and friends were in attendance.
Col. Wayne Downing (668th, 670th, USAF Ret., second from left), on behalf of the
416th Bomb Group, presented two bronze commemorative plaques: one to the New England
Air Museum and the other to the 416th BG Archives in Missouri. The plaques are identical
to those already installed in the United States and Wethersfield, England.
The keynote address was given by former Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell.
Over 125 people attended the Dedication ceremonies and the dinner banquet.
More than 40,000 Museum visitors a year will pass by the Memorial and learn about the
history and experiences of the 416th Bomb Group in World War II. Thanks to all who
made this endeavor a reality with their moral and financial support over these last few years.
Please note that some web browsers may not support viewing these videos and/or "virtual" 360 tours.
The Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft that is the centerpiece of the Memorial Exhibit was
acquired by the New England Air Museum (NEAM) in 1971 after it was abandoned at Sikorsky
Airport in Stratford, CT by its tenth and final civilian owner. The City of Bridgeport,
who operates the airport, offered the abandoned aircraft to the museum and it was accepted.
It remained outside in the New England weather for more than 32 years before it was brought
inside the Restoration hangar for preservation work in November 2003. This work was needed
to repair corrosion damage and make the aircraft more resistant to the climate when it was returned outside.
Front Row (L-R): Carl Sgamboti (Restoration Crew Chief), Paul Mangiafico,
Bob Grzech, Joe Kellogg, Silas Smith, John Smith.
Back Row (L-R): Pete McConnell, Rick Centore, Bob Upson, Al Steinmetz, Ed Patapas.
Museum records indicated that aircraft 43-22499 was delivered to the 416th Bomb Group in
December 1944 and flew 39 Combat Missions with the 671st Bomb Squadron on tactical missions in support of the
Allied advance into Germany. It flew as an A-26C with the nose art of "Reida Rae", Fuselage code "5C-G".
To view the Missions flown, including each Flight Crew, visit the "Combat Missions Loading List Transcriptions"
page and search for Serial Number "43-22499" (without quotes).
Carl Sgamboti contacted Ralph Conte after reading his book, "Attack Bombers, We Need You!"
Carl and his wife, Maria, were invited to attend the 2004 reunion in Colorado Springs to
meet with the group and explain the work. Since that reunion, Carl has given annual updates
on the progress of the preservation and restoration work.
In mid-2009, the museum added another storage hangar which provided more space to store
restored aircraft out of the weather. At the 2009 reunion, Carl presented the NEAMís offer
to restore the aircraft and turn it into a Memorial Exhibit for the Group. The Group voted
to accept the offer and to provide the necessary funds to complete the exhibit.
Three years later, the Memorial was dedicated.
The New England Air Museum (NEAM) is owned and operated
by the Connecticut Aeronautical Historical Association, a private, non-profit educational
institution organized in 1959. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Museum depends on the
generous support from individuals and businesses to fulfill its mission.