Several people helped me in my search for records and I want to thank them here.
Brett Stolle and Jeff Duford at the National Museum of the United States Air Force were a tremendous help. Brett, the resident archivist, set up my visit and put up with me for 6 hours on a snowy day in March. Jeff was amazing before I even met him. He told me over the phone, and in-person, how wonderful it was for him to work on my grandfather's plane restoration and exhibit. He was very helpful in the particular questions I had about the aircraft in the museum, those my grandfather would have flown, and the markings on his P-47. Thank you both very much! I would encourage everyone who enjoys this website to plan a trip the the museum in Dayton, OH. It is worth it.
Ondine Rarey, granddaughter of Captain George Rarey, was a blessing to me in several ways. First, she had interviewed my grandfather in 1995, and my family had retained a copy. When I tracked her down to get her permission for use, she offered up digitizing the master tapes for a better quality. Ours had deteriorated so I took her up on her offer and thus began our month-long saga of e-mails and purchasing of cameras. Long story short, I received copies of all of her interviewees in addition to my grandfather's. She was very patient and very helpful, so thank you Ondine!
I want to thank Winsor "Zeno" White, owner and operator of Zeno's Warbird Videos. All color footage of the 362nd Fighter Group and P-47 action shots were digitally remastered by him. It was his video on his YouTube channel uploaded a year ago that gave me the inspiration for this endeavor. That probably was not his intent, but thank you, anyway! I cannot begin to describe the surprise and elatement I felt when I saw "Uncle Joe" come walking onto the screen; it was incredible.
Although he was not able to help me when I first contacted him, John J. Zentner will hopefully get a full thank you a year from now. He had just moved out of the country and was unable to furnish me with any of his material he used for his book. He seems willing to pass on some great information, and I want to thank him for getting back with me and not just brushing off the strange message from nowhere.
I would also like to thank my uncle, Bruce Laughlin, for making himself available to get the keys to the storage unit. A trove of information was found there and I cannot wait to go through it all and tell my grandfather's (his father's) story better.
Finally, I want to thank my parents. They have been emotionally and financially supportive of me, during this project but also throughout graduate school. My mother, Janice, helped me plan my trip to the museum in Dayton, OH, let me use her points for a hotel and car, and dropped me off and picked me up at the airport. My father, Craig, drove with me to Tulsa to go through the storage unit in the rain. He sat on the cold concrete floor with his bad back while I exclaimed over and over again how much stuff I was finding. He also helped me move items around in the unit to get to hidden gems and checked the outdoor unit to see if there was anything worth my getting dirty and wet over. There may actually be more stuff there, but I can work with what I have now. He was also a great sounding board throughout the project, pointing me in certain directions and reminding me of facts and stories that have been told within the family for decades now.
I hope I have done you all proud. If not, let me know how I can change that.
Interview footage with Joseph Laughlin, Andy Andersen, Gerald Major, Robert McKee, Paul Mitchell, Gordon Larsen, and James Ashford are courtesy of Ondine Rarey Productions.
Digitally remastered color footage from World War II was purchased from http://zenoswarbirdvideos.com/. It is being used with permissions along educational grounds.
All material photographed from the National Museum of the United States Air Force is in the public domain. It is being used for educational purposes only.