From August 1944 until February 1945, a common sight on Chakulia Air Base, India, was a jeep driven by Colonel William "Butch" Blanchard, Commander of the 40th Bomb Group. Attached to the jeep's windshield, was a board on which the word SALUTE was painted in six-inch high letters. Other senior officers throughout U.S. military forces, used gimmicks as personal trademarks -- batons, braided hat bands, pearl-handled pistols, etc. Butch Blanchard's gimmick was his visible order to salute.

Colonel Blanchard seemed to be more sensitive about not being saluted than his predecessors were. He was especially concerned by what he considered to be a casual manner displayed by crew chiefs while they were working on the flight line. Many of these senior enlisted men had years of experience maintaining airplanes in safe flying condition in the States where protocol and saluting were perfectly normal on the flight line. Colonel Blanchard's concept of normal protocol and saluting was unusual.

Now the crew chiefs were in a combat theater, preparing bombers for life and death missions. They were in a very stressful, max effort endeavor to have their planes ready for scheduled flights. They often worked around the clock, in terrible weather, and without proper tools or parts, to get a job done. One could hardly expect a crew chief to stop working, climb down from a hardstand, pop to attention, and render a salute when his airplane was scheduled to takeoff on a combat mission in an hour or so. Nevertheless, Colonel Butch Blanchard publicly tongue-lashed anyone -- regardless of what they were doing -- when he thought he should have been saluted.

When Colonel Blanchard was transferred from the 40th Bomb Group in February 1945, few men of the unit were sorry to see him go. At the time of this writing, 47 years after the Colonel's departure from the group, his jeep, his salute sign, and his verbal chastisements so freely given, are recalled without pleasure by the harried crew chiefs still living today. When his name is mentioned during a reunion, memories of a negative nature comes to the minds of those who had direct contact with Colonel William "Butch" Blanchard.

* From Ira V. Matthews' Eighty-one War Stories. *