Staff Sergeant Ray W. Dawson crewed the legendary Hag of Harderwyk B-17 42-5830 through the most harrowing period of the US Army Air Corp’s war against Germany. From August 1943 through February, 1944, Dawson flew 25 missions over Nazi Germany and occupied Europe.
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat, he returned home to his wife La Verne, whose name is painted prominently on the front of his A-2 jacket.
Hag of Harderwyk B-17F, 324th Bomb Squadron, 379th Bomb Group (H), 8th Air Force
Here’s the story, from The Troy Record:
The Hag of Harderwyk is about to ride again.
The Hag’s body is still battle-scarred and she lacks some of the devices that new Fortresses carry. But she has four new engines, and every pilot who isn’t already bound to some other ship would give a good slice of his flight pay to be assigned to her. For there is, in the Eight Air Force, a special awe about the Hag of Harderwyk.
The Fortress had no name when it flew across the Atlantic almost a year ago. Before their first combat mission, the pilot, Lt. Frank Hildebrand of Philadelphia, somewhat timidly proposed the Hag of Harderwyk. Telling of a childhood story he remembered from his native Holland.
There was once, among the fishing fleet, a smack that was named The Harderwyk. She was the most famous of them all, for her young master and his beautiful wife were brave and skillful mariners. When storms caused other ships to shuttle timidly in harbor, The Harderwyk and her fearless crew went out. Her master and his wife took fierce delight in riding the raw rough gales. One day, a horrible storm burst upon The Harderwyk, taking away her masts and shattering her sleek hull. When help arrived, only the wife was left alive. Disfiguring wounds marred her beauty permanently. For many years The Harderwyk went out again and again with the widow at the helm. As she grew old and haggard, the townsfolk ma
- ©2018 John Slemp
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