Chuck Childs aboard B1-B at Ellsworth AFB, January 9, 2014.
(Photo thanks to Bill Casper)
Maj. Bob Liebman (EAFB's SD Air and Space Museum) presents B-17 model to Chuck on December 14, 2013, at wife Grace's talk at Western Dakota Technical Institute. (photo by Ray and Josephine Cowdery)
LTC Chuck Childs (USAF ret) of Rapid City spoke on January 14, 2012, about growing up in rural North Dakota during the Great Depression and the book he wrote about that experience. "No one had any money," he remembers. "I was the 4th child from the top and had 2 younger sisters. I started riding the rails at the age of 14-16."
"Starvation was right around the corner for everyone." Being one of the youngest, and to help the family's chances for survival, Childs took to riding the rails, living in hobo jungles, always cold and hungry, working hard for small amounts of work, which he then shared with others back in the camp.
Childs saw America's steady climb into World War II, however, and when war broke outlook, he entered the Army Air Corp, working his way up to become a B-17 pilot with numerous combat missions against the Third Reich, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism. After flying in the Berlin Airlift, Childs fought in the Korean War. more
Air Force, Lt Col, 2nd Bombardment Group, 96th Squadron Enlisted, 1941 – 1961
Charles L. "Chuck" Childs of Rapid City, WWII bomber pilot and winner of two Distinguished Flying Crosses and other combat awards, is the author of I Flew the Big One: B-17, Queen of the Skies. Missions for Childs included heavily defended sites in Vienna, Blechammer, and Munich, once returning with just one engine intact. He flew against the Third Reich 50 times, bombing oil centers, ball bearing plants, marshalling yards, and Messerschmitt factories. Childs later flew in the Berlin Airlift and the Korean War, having piloted 20 different USAF planes.
Listen to Audio Interview of Chuck Childs (#1)
Hear the audio interview (#2) of WWII B-17 lead pilot Chuck Childs on SD Public Broadcasting's Dakota Midday program, Veteran's Day, 2010.
Read also Chuck Childs's 1) account of the Berlin Airlift under "Cold War" and also 2) an excerpt from his summer 2010 book on his WWII bombing missions as B-17 pilot, now published as a book: A Combat Diary of Thirty-Seven Missions through Hell.
Chuck Childs reports that in 2010 he "Had a great Berlin Airlift Reunion in Dayton, Ohio". "While there I had the honor of having lunch with the Tuskegee Airmen. They were having a reunion also and I have a friend that was a Tuskegee Pilot. He invited me to lunch and I was surprised to be with the whole group. I was the only white pilot there. I was treated royally and thanked them for flying cover for me several times. Attached is a picture of several of the pilots and myself." Childs in back row to the right.