In Memorium - Jim O'Meara
In mid February 2004, just after my book NO SWEAT went to press, I received a call from Noreen Loper of Livonia, Michigan, sister of Jim O'Meara. She had heard that I was writing about the 19th Bomb Group in the Korean War and of the 1952 summer/fall air campaigns in particular, and that I had very recently sent a picture of Jim O'Meara and a friend, to Darold Woodcock, Radio Operator of Ralph Walt's crew. A "KORWALD" (Korean War Aircraft Loss Database) report showed that Jim had been shot down on January 29th, 1953 just a few weeks after we had left Okinawa on December 21st, 1952 and certainly just a matter of a very few days of his own probable return to the states after having already completed his required combat tour ... until Jim volunteered for another mission ... "just one more" ... his last!
I have very little information or knowledge regarding Jim since he was apparently not attached to a specific crew but had to fly with many crews as an E.C.M. Operator, that specialist who crammed himself into the rear Radar/Gunner's compartment behind the Upper Aft Turret and the "Honeybucket"( the early version of a "porta-potti") ... a Group "floater" position using equipment developed late in WW II in order to jam enemy radar- controlled searchlights , anti-aircraft guns, and enemy fighter guidance, usually flying only the very toughest and Maximum Effort Missions for which it was believed the regular crew Radio Operator functioning as the usual Crew E.C.M. operator, would either be too busy or not have the expertise to jam the latest enemy S-Band radar equipment provided to the North Koreans and Chinese by the Russians
"We hardly knew ye Jimmy!" What I do know and remember about Jim O'Meara is the grandest smile of all ... .and belatedly his wonderful similarity in appearance and delightful character to that perhaps most famous personage and celebrity of the Korean War ... .from M.A.S.H ... and if you haven't already thought it ... I give you ... RADAR O'REILLY!
Smiling Jim O'Meara was a volunteer in the very last B-29 lost in the Korean War, and perhaps the very last shot down in combat operations, shot down by Mig-15s just south of the North Korean Capitol of Pyongyang in the late night of January 29th, 1953, with a few of the crew surviving the shootdown as P.O.W.s in North Korea, and repatriated in Operation Big Switch, with no knowledge of the fate of most of the crew. I honor Jim and the 9 other O'Meara sisters and brothers he left behind to mourn this marvelous character and hero!
May there always be the Jim O'Mearas ... to volunteer in behalf of and to assist their brothers in arms. God Bless you Jim!
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