The creation of ASHF is also a story of how the Internet can be employed in remarkable ways to bring people together, both the living and the deceased, creating a forum which fosters unique relationships, honors heroes and uses their experiences to help others.
Between 2010 and 2014 the research effort on "Sky-Scrapper" and other B-29's in the 497th Bomb Group would connect the people who formed its Board and have established the goals we are hoping to attain.
We are a unique family.
On the ASHF Board we have B-29 WWII veterans, "Sky-Scrapper" crew family members, the greatest living authority and author on the B-29. There's a former Marine who served in Afghanistan and for JPAC searching for and returning the remains of service persons gone missing back to WWII. There are Board members who have volunteered to assist in outreach or create the website and videos we will offer to enlighten and inspire. The photos below are of some of this family I am honored to know and very proud to be a part of.
ASHF was established in memory of the 497th B-29 Bomb Group in WWII. The B-29's in the 3 squadrons of the 497th were marked with an A on the tail followed by a square and then the number of that B-29 related to its squadron.
The squadrons usually had 15 to 18 B-29's attached to each. The B-29 veterans I have had the pleasure to meet from the 497th always mentioned their planes by a name or as "A Square..." . In the 1940's being referred to as square meant someone who was honest, traditional and loyal.
The service personnel we honor and assist are all of that and more!
Spring 2012 - ASHF Patron Saint Edith Maloy being video interviewed about Uncle Bob.
The timing of my curiousity was perfect. I had been an architecture and design librarian for over two decades. I had recently done research for a documentary project being developed and knew my way around databases, archives, film sources, libraries and the tools to track people down. Bob's wife, my Aunt Edith, championed the work to find out about his war service and she sent me the records he'd saved from his time in the AAF and in the Air Force Reserves. For someone who didn't talk about the war, he had kept a collection of records and photos that were invaluable in the effort I undertook.
Late June 2010 - The search begins with Bob's records and photos sent by Aunt Edith Maloy from her home in New York state. They would be scanned, restored and preserved to become part of the ASHF Archive.
An injury cut his baseball career short. After completing his Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice, Joe joined the Marines. That's Joe in full gear above on the left in Afghanistan.
US Marine Corps, First Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Feb 2008 – Mar 2010
Served as the Battalion Logistics Officer supervising the Motor Transport, Maintenance Management, Supply, Embarkation, and Ordnance sections, ensuring a high level of tactical and technical competence. This included a Combat Deployment to Afghanistan on a Police Mentoring Team. Trained and mentored the Afghan National Police by leading over 90 combat patrols
Early 1943 - Private 1st Class Sid Bolin in Amarillo, TX during Army Air Forces Technical School Training
Sid Bolin Collection ASHF Photo Archives
The photo that started it all - ASHF Photo Archives
July 17, 1945 Isley Base, Saipan "Sky-Scrapper III" crew after their final mission of the war
Right out of High School Joe signed a professional baseball contract with the Minnesota Twins and played two seasons of baseball. Joe Hamer Collection ASHF Photo Archives
ASHF also has Board members who came our way through my knowing them as friends, co workers and colleagues in the architecture trade. I met Board member Joe Hamer during a business appointment a few years back. He was involved in architectural product sales and specifications. It was during that first encounter I knew he had to be on our Board. He's not a man who talks too much about himself, but that's never stopped me from wanting to learn more. This former Marine has an amazing resume of service. Now only in his mid-thirties, he's filled his years with accomplishments. I'm hoping to convince him to let me do a video about his remarkable career for the website.
See the photos and info below about Joe Hamer.
The origins of A Square Heroes Foundation and its unique Board
by: ASHF President, Mark G. Maloy
A Square Heroes Foundation is a multi-purpose effort created by a group of individuals who came together because of a single photograph being researched in 2010.
My beloved Uncle Robert Maloy was a B-29 Bombardier in WWII. He passed away in 1994. My Uncle never spoke of his service in the war and, in fact, it was understood among the family to be almost a forbidden topic to raise with him. However, his older brother Bernard (my father) shared many of the dramatic experiences Bob had endured flying over 35 missions bombing the Japanese home islands during 1944 -1945 from his base on Saipan. These stories, told to me during my childhood, often seemed too fantastic to believe. I didn't always trust what my Dad was telling me about Bob's service history - but I remembered the stories and decades later, after both men had died, I discovered they were not only true, but even more incredible than the versions Dad had shared.
After WWII, Bob married in 1950 and raised a family. He taught history for nearly 40 years in a High School, he taught Adult Education and for many decades he also taught in a prison helping the inmates get High School diplomas. He expanded and managed a library at that facility.
Bob's grasp of history and the need to be aware of it was always compelling.
In my case and many others, it would be life-altering.
A Square 9 "Sky-Scrapper" 11/27/1944
All of our ASHF Board members bring unique talents, experiences, skill sets and a passion to serve our efforts.
Current ASHF Board of Directors:
Mark G. Maloy, President
Michele Garvin, Secretary
Chris Gardini, CFO
Board: Jean Allen, Sid Bolin, Bob Mann, Eric Egner and Joe Hamer
Delegate Board Members: Bernard Maloy, Michael Dekker and Thomas Pippin
A Square 9 "Sky-Scrapper III" early 1945
KEEP COMING BACK TO LEARN MORE FROM OUR SITE!
NEW STORIES, VIDEOS AND REFERENCE MATERIALS ARE ALWAYS BEING ADDED.
US Marine Corps, Captain, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Mar 2010 – May 2013
Served as a Team Leader for (9) recovery/investigation missions throughout the world to account for Americans still missing as a result of our Nation's past wars. Served as a Recovery Team Leader for five operations conducted within the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, one to the People’s Republic of China between July 2010 and June of 2012, One to Corsica, France from September 2012 – November 2012 and one to the Republic of the Philippines from January 2013 – February 2013.
May 2012 - Left: B-29 871st Squadron Gunner, Sid Bolin
Right: His wife, Mary Bolin ASHF Photo Archive
A Square B-29's of the 869th Squadron late 1944
Joe Hamer Collection ASHF Photo Archives
May 2012 - Left: B-29 869th Squadron Air Commander and Flight Leader, Bernie Mulloy
Right: B-29 869th Squadron Gunner, Jean Allen ASHF Photo Archives
I was introduced to the future ASHF Board member Sid Bolin at the 2012 73rd Bomb Wing Reunion by his wife Mary (whose irrepressible humor had attracted me to her instantly). The three of us became fast friends and were astounded to discover that 6 months out of the year they were living a mile from my Aunt Edith in upstate New York. Sid's contributions to ASHF have been enormous and deeply appreciated. He is in two of the videos currently on our website video section. The stories they tell reveal what a fun, brave and truly remarkable man Sid Bolin is. Mary was added as a Board Delegate in 2016. Sadly, she passed away a year later. She's with us in spirit and continues to inspire our efforts.
Armed with a "Sky-Scrapper" crew list found among his papers, I was able to locate and contact Michele Garvin, the daughter of Bob's "Sky-Scrapper" Air Commander, John Garvin. I'm near San Francisco and she is in Boston. Michele's Mom had saved an incredible collection records, photos, albums. newspaper articles and more of John Garvin's long and distinguished service in the National Guard, Army, Army Air Force and the US Air Force which he was active in until the early 1970's. Among the materials was the complete story of the 3 "Sky-Scrapper's". Michele shares the passion to put the unique stories into lasting narratives and create something important and meaningful with them. She is a gifted attorney and generously covered all the costs to incorporate ASHF and attain our 501(c)3 non profit status. She serves as ASHF Board Secretary.
Why are we called A Square Heroes Foundation?
On Memorial Day 2010, I became curious about a blurry photo of a crew next to a B-29 I was fixing up to frame. Bob was in the picture (crouching- second in from the right) and barely recognizable. I'd found it in a box of old photos at my parents home in 1978. At that time, I blew it up and sent a copy to Bob but we never discussed it.
On that 2010 Memorial Day while I was touching up the photo, I noticed the B-29 didn't have the name "Sky-Scrapper" on it as I had thought for years - but it read: "Sky-Scrapper III"
Why III, I wondered? What happened to the other two? Finding the answers began a journey that led to the formation of this Foundation.
It would also prove that the hardest test Uncle Bob ever gave in all of his years as a history teacher
would be about him.
I met future Board members Bernie Mulloy and Jean Allen in person in 2012 at the 73rd Bomb Wing Reunion in Washington, DC. When I introduced myself to Bernie I said, "Mr. Mulloy I'm Mr. Maloy and I think you knew my uncle." Indeed he did, and 68 years after it happened he told me about Bob's first mission over Japan with Bernie as his Air Commander piloting the B-29 A Square 11.
Everything went wrong on that first B-29 night/radar mission bombing Tokyo. Bernie's flying skills, well developed chasing German submarines in the North Atlantic before joining the B-29 Pacific effort, got Bernie's crew home on 2 engines. Bernie was part of our Board when it was being formed in early 2013. He was the father of 15 children. Bernie and I had 13 precious months after meeting sharing information through e mail. His recollections and verifications of what I was working on were invaluable. He passed away in June of 2013.
I first got to know Jean Allen through e mails and phone conversations a year before we met in person at the 73rd Bomb Wing Reunion. Jean was on the alternate crew for the B-29 "Waddy's Wagon" in Bob's squadron I was researching in 2011 and sharing videos on YouTube about.
He's been an inspiration, mentor and beloved friend to me the last 5 years. Jean seems magically connected to every story I have chased in the 497th Bomb Group. Jean flew 5 missions on" Waddy's Wagon" before it was lost with its main crew. Later he joined the crew of "Misti Cristi" and flew with them until the end of the war. That crew, led by Air Commander Jack Vetters, flew a mission on "Sky-Scrapper III" just before they took delivery of their own B-29. The difficult mission they flew using "Scrapper III" resulted in the Vetters crew all winning The Distinguished Flying Cross. Jean Allen is also going to be honored in 2017 on our Tributes section. Jean Allen served in the Army Air Force in WWII, then with the Army during the Korean War and did a tour in Vietnam! He can be seen currently on the ASHF website video page in "Two B-29 Gunner's recall life on Saipan between dangerous missions 70 years after the war"
ASHF Photo Archive
A Square 9 "Sky-Scrapper II" 2/19/1945
Books by Bob Mann
What can we say about having the premiere expert on the B-29 as a Board member of ASHF? Deeply honored, very lucky and extremely grateful barely expresses having Bob a part of our efforts. He has spent decades researching what happened to every B-29 ever built and wrote books with a wealth of vital information. I used his reference books early in my searching and eventually "met" Bob via the Internet. He joined the Board as we were getting it set up. Bob has been an incredible help with my research and has even been so kind as to send boxes of books over the last 2 years for our VA library outreach at the Martinez hospital. I finally got to meet him in person this year and had a wonderful visit. Among a number of future offerings, he's provided this website with an invaluable master list tracking thousands of B-29's.
Bob will have his own section in the website Archive tab.
May 2014 - Wichita, KS B-29 Reunion
ASHF Board members: Jean Allen (seated),
Mark Maloy (left) and Sid Bolin (right)
This photo was taken at a reunion dinner moments after Jean and Sid realized that though they were from different Squadrons, they had shared the same Quonset Hut on Saipan for 5 months in 1945.
ASHF Photo Archives
March 2016 - Pahrump, NV
ASHF Board members: Mark Maloy and Bob Mann
Above are the tail photos of the 3 "Sky-Scrapper's". The stories behind these B-29's are told in the "Sky-Scrapper" section of the website.
Spring 2012 - (Left) Michele Garvin shows Mark Maloy some of the remarkable Garvin collection covering her father's service and the stories it contains attached to the 3 "Sky-Scrappers". The materials were scanned and are part of our archives. (Right) Michele Garvin, Mark Maloy and Mary Beckman. Mary's father Charles worked on the radar used on bombers like the B-29 in WWII. After he died his incredible collection of military books was given to me. We later dedicated the library ASHF created at the Martinez, CA VA hospital in his name.