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George L Amberg

Military

Shot down by fighters on a mission to Brunswick, which was obscured by clouds, on 21 Feb 1944 in B-17F #42-3462 'San Antonio Rose' and crashed near Utrecht, Holland. Killed in Action (KIA).

[NOTE: George Amberg’s widow, Martha Amberg (formerly Martha Strawn) married again in August 1945. My siblings and I are children of her second marriage. When my mother died in 2010, at age 90, I inherited everything pertaining to her earlier marriage that she had kept. These things include the USAAF class book, which the thumbnail photo portrait of George comes from, a few official documents, some newspaper clippings, letters, and other materials referred to below. The information I have either comes from those materials or was found through Internet research. Also, Jeroen van der Kamp, a professional historian in The Netherlands who is writing a book about the crew of San Antonio Rose, generously shared information he has found. -MSP]

George Amberg was born in Bronx, New York on March 16, 1917. His father (also named George Amberg, occupation “mason” according to census data) died in 1933. His mother, Jeanette, would later remarry. George appears to have been an only child. He attended the La Salle Academy for boys, a Catholic school, in New York City and later took classes at Columbia University in New York City without earning a degree. In the mid-to-late 1930’s he went west to New Mexico where he attended classes at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, again without taking a degree. During this period George met his soon-to-be wife, Martha Strawn, when both were students at the University. George and Martha married in February 1938 and their only child, a daughter named Jay, was born in September of that year.

George was an aspiring writer of short stories, poetry and novels. He published some short stories in regional literary journals (such as the now defunct New Mexico Quarterly), and had a number of short, observational sketch-like prose pieces in a weekly newspaper called The New Mexico Sentinel that was printed in Albuquerque during 1936-1940. The census data show George and Martha still living in Albuquerque in April 1940 and that George was employed as a typist in a government office. Sometime in 1940 or 1941 they moved to El Paso, Texas after George was hired as continuity writer and public relations officer for radio station KROD of El Paso, the local CBS affiliate. George prepared a regular on-air program called “The Radio Bookshelf” on which books were discussed. George also wrote many book reviews that were printed in the local El Paso newspapers around this time.

It can be seen from George’s correspondence that he was always trying to find ever more suitable job opportunities; especially ones that would allow him to pursue his writing ambitions. A letter dated 23 AUG 41 from RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. in Los Angeles shows George had contacted them about a “junior writer” position. A carbon copy of a letter by George dated 9 APR 42 addressed to the National Press Building in Washington, D. C. (home of the National Press Club) shows him responding to an advertisement for what sounded like a broadcast copywriter’s position. A telegram dating from April 1942 advises George that he would be hired as continuity writer for a radio station in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (WKY Radiophone Company, an NBC affiliate). On the reverse side of the telegram, in pencil, George scribbled the reply he gave to the telegraph operator. It reads: “Regret to say draft status changed yesterday. Civilian expectancy nil. Appreciate offer & request data filed for my application after release from army.”

Like many aspiring writers, George accumulated a trove of “rejection” letters. Some are signed by rather famous literary figures then working for publishers or magazines to which George had submitted manuscripts of things he was trying to get published. Among these are a 1937 note from novelist Mary McCarthy (about 5 years before the publication of her first novel) declining to accept a short story but inquiring if George was working on any longer pieces of fiction she could see; and three letters dating from 1938-39 on The New Republic letterhead signed by editor/critic/novelist/poet Malcolm Cowley, one of which offers some tough advice to George concerning a draft book review Cowley was declining to accept. On another occasion, while still in New Mexico, George evidently sent manuscripts of poems he had written to author Henry Miller in Paris, France! He received a handwritten reply from Miller that was postmarked in Paris on 31 MAR 39. (In his letter, Miller artfully explains that he is not sure what he did with George’s manuscript; he also makes a couple of suggestions about where George might try submitting things for publication and also asks questions about New Mexico which, Miller says, he was planning to visit soon. A biography of Miller I consulted said that Miller did actually stop in Albuquerque on his way to California in 1942, probably a year or so after George and Martha had moved on.)

George left behind some now rather brittle typewritten manuscripts of about two- dozen short stories, two unpublished novels he had worked on, and a couple of collections of verse along with several notebooks filled with miscellaneous jottings: literary quotations he liked, lists of publishers and literary journals he planned to target with manuscripts, and lists of books he wanted to read. His correspondence shows two literary agents agreeing to represent him on a commission basis although there is no evidence either of them succeeded in getting anything of his published. A letter from one of these agents dated 18 JUN 40, in an apparent reference to Edward J. O’Brien’s annual Best Short Stories, mentions a recent success of George’s: “I must congratulate you on the starring of your work in the new O’Brien anthology, which I have just been going over, for when one considers the number of short story writers in America, I feel that it is something of an honor.” (I have not been able to locate the story in question, or that particular O’Brien volume.)

George was inducted into the U.S. Army on 10 JUN 42 in El Paso, Texas and stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso. News articles in the Ft. Bliss army post newspaper, “The Cavalcade,” with the byline “Pvt. George Amberg” suggest he almost immediately went to work reporting and writing copy in the army public relations office there. After his induction he also wrote scripts for two radio plays: “Americans Fight for Freedom” which was done to support a war bonds drive, and “Cadet Capers” which was written to entertain new air corps cadets. He must have applied to become an aviation cadet almost immediately after being inducted. Orders dated 4 AUG 42 show he was approved for transfer to the army air corps. A letter dated 3 JUN 43 from the Army Air Force Gulf Coast Training Center documents George’s appointment as flight officer effective that date. He received flight and bombardier training at the USAAF flying school in Big Spring, Texas and at Ellington Field near Houston, Texas, and additional training at USAAF bases in Rapid City, South Dakota, Las Vegas, Nevada and Kearney, Nebraska. (It was at the Kearney base, in early December 1943, that he recorded the messages to his wife and five-year-old daughter on the “Voice of Your Man In Service” discs, the digital transfers of which can be accessed in the media file.)

George’s crew deployed to Europe (probably flying their own plane) and reached Station 119 at Horham sometime in late December 1943. George would fly a total of seven missions. The first was on 29 JAN 44 and the final one was 21 FEB 44 when he was killed in action about three weeks before—what would have been—his twenty-seventh birthday. George and Martha had one child, a girl named Jay, born September 1938, now deceased. Jay had one child, a son, who died in his 20’s of melanoma. I have no knowledge of any other surviving Amberg family members. George’s grave has been officially adopted by a Dutch citizen working through the nonprofit Foundation for Adopting Graves at the American Cemetery in Margraten, The Netherlands.

Service

Units served with

  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

  • 336th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-3462 San Antonio Rose

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 29/6/43; Dow 14/7/43; Assigned 336BS/95BG [ET-B] Horham 18/7/43; battle damaged by enemy aircraft Schweinfurt 14/10/43 with L.L. Kerr, 7RTD; Waist gunner: Robert Roy, Waist gunner: Steve Smierksi,Tail gunner: Bob Crawford (3 Prisoner...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Bronx, New York, USA 16 March 1917
Killed in Action (KIA) Zegveld, The Netherlands 21 February 1944
Died 21 February 1944
Enlisted
Buried Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, The Netherlands, L-1-19

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
22 November 2016 04:27:37 MSP Changes to biography
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MSP

Date Contributor Update
22 November 2016 04:19:37 MSP Changes to biography
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MSP

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2016 22:30:29 MSP Changes to biography
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Date Contributor Update
13 November 2016 20:29:36 MSP Changes to biography
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MSP

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2016 03:52:38 MSP Changes to biography
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MSP

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2016 03:27:41 MSP Changes to biography
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MSP

Date Contributor Update
05 July 2016 16:25:13 JvdK Changes to events
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IDPF

Date Contributor Update
27 June 2016 01:16:51 MSP Changes to media associations
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Date Contributor Update
27 June 2016 01:14:51 MSP Changes to media associations
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Date Contributor Update
27 June 2016 00:30:46 MSP Changes to media associations
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27 June 2016 00:01:07 MSP Changes to media associations
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Date Contributor Update
26 June 2016 04:27:06 MSP Changes to media associations
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26 June 2016 04:24:11 MSP Changes to media associations
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26 June 2016 04:23:41 MSP Changes to media associations
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26 June 2016 04:17:02 MSP Changes to media associations
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Date Contributor Update
26 June 2016 04:15:51 MSP Changes to media associations
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25 June 2016 09:09:12 MSP Changes to media associations
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25 June 2016 09:04:33 MSP Changes to media associations
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25 June 2016 03:33:39 MSP Changes to media associations
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25 June 2016 03:20:00 MSP Changes to media associations
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Found among personal effects inherited from airman's widow.

Date Contributor Update
21 June 2016 05:05:02 MSP Changes to media associations
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Flying School class book (class 43-8) Big Spring, Texas 1943

Date Contributor Update
11 June 2016 01:22:59 MSP Changes to awards
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www.abmc.gov

Date Contributor Update
09 June 2016 06:31:08 MSP Changes to service number
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www.abmc.gov

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:11:01 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 2424 / MACR 2424, Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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