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Ernest J. Haar
1st Lt.
Ernest Joseph Haar
(1918 - 2018)
Pilot - Haar Crew 912
Life before the War
Ernest 'Ernie' Haar was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, on 2 October 1918. He and his twin sister were the youngest of Ernest John and Christiane Haar's six children. His father served a distinguished career in law enforcement as a patrol officer and detective.
During high school Ernie played twilight league baseball (a cash paying semi-pro sport) and therefore banned from playing in any school sponsored sports. He developed a deep interest in aviation and spent many hours hiking and bicycling to Newark Airport to walk the ramp and talk with those who happened to be available on the ramp. It was there where he met Jimmy Doolittle and Frank Hawkes both of whom were well known racing pilots at the time. He also ventured to the small Droyers Point airport in Jersey City where he would visit with Clarence Chamberlin and Ruth Nichols and gawk at her beautiful Lockheed Vega aircraft with which she broke the women's aviation speed record at the time. No small wonder that Ernie's desire to become a pilot was tattooed on his mind at an early age.
After adoption of the Selective Service Act (the draft) Ernie attempted to join the US Army Air Corps but was rejected with a ruptured ear drum and provided with a six month deferment from the draft. In the meantime he continued commuting to his office clerk's job in New York City where he maintained a set of books which inadvertently determined his military assignment after being drafted into the US Army.
Into the Army
Upon being drafted into the service in July of 1941, Ernie was processed at Ft Dix, New Jersey, and then transferred to Camp Croft, South Carolina for infantry basic training. Upon completion of the course at Camp Croft, he was transferred to Ft Barrancas, an old Spanish fort adjacent to the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida. This was a small, permanently stationed coast artillery station with a Station Complement for administrative duties. Ernie was assigned to the Finance Department because he could keep a good set of books. It was a stroke of good fortune for he quickly moved in less than six months from a buck private to the grade of Technical Sergeant.
While at Pensacola he met his future wife, Emile Rimmer. She worked as the Colonel's secretary and lived on base with her uncle, who was the quartermaster sergeant. It was during this time that a US Army Air Corps recruiting team visited the station to interview candidates for the Air Corps Cadet program. Ernie volunteered, passed the exam and became an Aviation Cadet with a significant loss of pay.
Training Record
Jul 41: Inducted into the Army at Ft Dix, NJ
Basic Infantry Training: Camp Croft, SC
Station Complement: Ft Barrancas, FL
Jun 42: Accepted into Air Cadet Program, Class 43-G
Pre-Flight Ground School: Maxwell Airfield, Montgomery, AL
Primary Flight Training, PT-17s: Jackson, TN
Basic Flight Training, BT-13s: Walnut Ridge, AR
Advanced Flight Training, AT-10s: Freeman Field, Seymour, IN
30 Aug 43: Commissioned 2nd Lt., Seymour, IN, Class 43-H
B-24 Transitional Training: Maxwell Airfield, Montgomery, AL
Crew Assignment Center: Salt Lake City, UT
Crew Combat Training: Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ
492nd Bomb Group: Alamogordo, NM
Training Experience
Ernie began his cadet training with the Class of 43-G beginning with the Pre-Flight program at Maxwell Field, Alabama. Next he was sent to Jackson, Tennessee, for Primary Training followed by Basic Flight Training at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. While there he developed tonsillitis which set his training back a month putting him in the Class of 43-H. His final leg of cadet training was at Seymour, Indiana, where he took Advanced Flight Training flying the Beechcraft AT-10s. He received his commission on 30 August 1943 as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Lt Haar was transferred back to Maxwell Field for transitioning in B-24 type aircraft. While there he slipped back down to Pensecola and became engaged to his sweetheart. Following this program, he was sent to Salt Lake City for re-assignment and crew assignment. He took his new crew to Davis-Monthan Air Field in Tucson, Arizona, for operational training (Crew Combat Training School) flying B-24s. Upon completion in early January 1944, he and his crew were transferred to the 859th Squadron of the 492nd Bomb Group at Alamogordo, New Mexico, where they trained as a group.
War Experience
Upon completion of the Group's flight to England via the Southern route and additional operational orientation within England, Ernie flew his first mission on 12 May 1944 bombing a target at Zeitz just inside Poland. The initiation into combat was intimidating! The intake manifolds for the superchagers cracked on three engines and his plane UMBRIAGO became tail-end Charlie to the entire 8th Air Force. But, through improvisation, the aircraft was able to complete the mission after the bombs had been salvoed even after getting tapped with some flack on the way home.
Ernie completed his missions with the 467th Bomb Group at Rackheath and then remained there to assist in checking-out and training newly arriving replacement crews.
In December 1944 he was transferred to the 61st Troop Carrier group at Grantham, England, to teach the twin engine C-47 pilots to fly the bigger B-24 type cargo aircraft known as C-109s. It was here that he was involved in a mid-air collision the story and photos of which are in another section of this website.
After Europe
Upon returning home by air via the scary Northern route in January, Ernie spent a week with parents and rest of his family. From there he traveled to Mississippi and married Emile. They have one daughter who has given them three grandsons. Today Ernie has eight great-grand kids.
The next assignment came after being processed at the Redistribution Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for two months interrupted by a month's stay at the Rest and Recreation station in Lake Lure, North Carolina. Ernie was temporarily grounded because of eye injuries suffered in the mid-air collision and was finally transferred to the Charleston Army Air Corp Base in Charleston, South Carolina, as Assistant Director of Flight Training.
After being discharged from service, he returned to New Jersey and accepted a position as an office manager in New York City. Soon after he was sent to the corporate headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. Later, he was transferred to Washington, DC as corporate representative and retired from this company in 1978. Ernie then accepted a position in an Atlanta corporation and served there until his retirement in 1988. After spending a few more years in the business consulting profession, he finally retired full time.
Ernie Haar kept busy in various projects associated with the 492nd Bomb Group Association and the Mighty Eighth Memorial Museum at Savannah, Georgia, and assisted a number of veterans in having their stories recorded at the museum as part of their oral histories project. Ernie served as a Director of the 492nd Bomb Group Association. He passed away on February 08, 2018,
More Info
9 pictures
with the 61st Troop Carrier Group
9 pictures
Haar CCT 1106
Haar Crew 912
with the 61st Troop Carrier Group
18 Dec 44
Mission 2
12 May 44
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Page last modified Monday, August 12, 2019.