Original U.S. WWII B-24 Liberator Bombardier Caterpillar Club Named Grouping – 345th Bomb Squadron
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Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Lieutenant Hal David Souter (ASN O-1695510) was a Bombardier assigned to the 345th Bomb Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force during Wold War Two. On June 6th, 1944 in a mission to bomb oil refineries around Ploiești, Romania his B-24 was brought down and he survived. We were able to locate the missing crew report in the National Archives, copies of which are included. He was given a battlefield commission after his safe return to the service. Because he was able to survive and make it back he was made an honorary member of the Caterpillar Club.
The Caterpillar Club is an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft. After authentication by the parachute maker, applicants receive a membership card and a distinctive lapel pin. The nationality of the person saving their life by parachute and ownership of the aircraft are not factors in determining qualification for membership; anybody who has saved their life by using a parachute after bailing out of a disabled aircraft is eligible. The requirement that the aircraft is disabled naturally excludes parachuting enthusiasts in the normal course of a recreational jump, or those involved in military training jumps. The club was founded by Leslie Irvin of the Irvin Airchute Company of Canada…