Elmer E Robison

Elmer Robison UPL 81633 UPL 81633 Elmer Robison and his Bride to be, Miss Maxine Reasoner.



Object Number - UPL 81633 - Elmer Robison and his Bride to be, Miss Maxine Reasoner.

The Words below are written by his son Rod.
In 1940, our world was in trouble. A crazed dictator and his vicious war machine were trampling the freedoms and lives of millions. A half a world away, in the city of Indianapolis, a skinny kid named Elmer Ellsworth Robison, who later became my dad, decided to join thousands of other patriotic young American boys determined to roll up their sleeves and do something about it.

He visited a nearby Army Air Corps recruiting station, only to be turned down. “You’re too skinny, kid,” said the recruiter. “We can’t use you until you put on some weight.”

Well, that was like saying “sic ‘em” to a dog. You see, Elmer had a streak of determination steeled by a Depression-era childhood. His father had suffered a stroke during the depths of the historic economic crash, leaving him unable to speak or work for a year and drying up the family’s already meager income stream. Young Elmer used to walk the alleys following the path of the coal truck to scrounge bits of the shiny rock left behind just to bring his home a few more degrees of heat at night. He was well acquainted with hunger. He was well familiar with hard times. He relished challenges. So, when the recruiter told Elmer to bulk up or stay home, he signed up at Hofmeister’s Gym and began a weight training program that launched a lifetime of physical fitness.

As he did, Elmer took a job in Indianapolis where he met a gorgeous young lady named Maxine Reasoner. She was a church organist, so Elmer found himself attending Sunday evening services in hopes of escorting her home. Their love for each other blossomed in the ensuing months, as did his biceps, and subsequently, his chances of getting into the Army Air Forces increased. He was sworn in September 16, 1942—and just before shipping out for the European front, he presented Maxine with a sparkling engagement ring.

After rigorous flight training, Elmer Ellsworth Robison became Second Lieutenant Robison, receiving his wings as a pilot. His dream of fighting for his country was about to take flight.

His first of 30 missions during World War II was a bombing raid over Nidda Airfield in Germany. On Christmas Eve, 1944, Dad strapped himself into the cockpit of a B-17, appropriately known as The Flying Fortress, 50,000 pounds of fighting-mad steel and guns, ready to take on Hitler and his cronies. That mission and several that followed were in support of The Battle of the Bulge, the last gasp offensive of the German forces under General von Rundstedt. Over a million men fought in that great battle, and it would result in 81,000 U.S. casualties and 100,000 more on the German side during those terrible few days when good and evil clashed in a struggle to determine the future of democracy and freedom.

They say that the winter of 1944-45 was the worst in a half century. When Lt. Robison lined up his Flying Fortress that Christmas Eve, the fog was a thick blanket of white blindness that dared him to face it down. Even though it was daytime, flare pots that lined each side of the runway were his only guidance in an otherwise sightless takeoff. With the flick of a few switches, the engines roared to life and the Fortress lurched forward down the runway. Within seconds, an icy glaze covered the windshield. Forward vision was impossible.

With his left hand on the control column, Lt. Robison leaned forward, using his right hand to wipe away the glaze. The massive plane, struggling to maintain a straight trajectory with all of the snow and ice covering the runway, slid to the left. The main landing gear struck the flare pots in rapid-fire succession. The thump, thump, thump of the pots signaled trouble as they approached the final few yards of runway five miles per hour slower than the prescribed safe take-off speed.

As the end of the tarmac screamed toward him and his crew, Lt. Robison had two choices: pull up and take a chance…or crash! He rammed back the stick and the plane nosed up, staggering into the air. The remaining flares quickly disappeared from sight, leaving the aircraft enveloped in a mantle of gloom.

Seconds dragged by like minutes as the brave pilot and crew held their breath. Then, suddenly, the nose of the Flying Fortress punched through the top of the fog into a brilliant, sunlit sky, leaving a creamy white blanket below.

After dropping their bomb load over the Nazi air base, they headed back to the U.S. airfield in England, but the relentless weather forced them to divert to a different British base. Climbing down from the cockpit, the frigid cold greeted the crew. Allotted a literal handful of coal to heat their large room that night, Dad was surely reminded of those frigid childhood nights back in the States. Yet he and the crew sat around an upright piano singing into the evening.

It was Christmas Eve, after all, and they had done their duty to bring peace on Earth.

On another bombing raid, Dad’s plane was spotted by the Germans. Flak bombs exploded all around as shards of hot metal tore through the skin of the B-17. One piece shot through the narrow space between him and his co-pilot, missing them by inches before bouncing around inside the top turret and dropping to the floor. When they landed, there were 27 flak holes in the aircraft, but no one had been hit or injured.

A few years after the Allies’ victory, Dad went off to the Korean War to fight Communism. Then, in the 1960s, he was an aircraft commander of a mighty KC-135 refueling plane during the Cold War with the Soviet Union when nuclear conflict was an ever-present threat. By then, I was seven years old, and we lived on a Strategic Air Command base, its sole purpose to stand as a deterrent to an all-out atomic conflagration. At the same time, the Vietnam War was beginning to escalate. Dad’s KC-135 pulled double duty as a giant gas station in the sky that refueled bombers at 35,000 feet while maintaining a speed of 600 miles per hour. The next time you refuel your car, get a vision of that delicate job.

My Dad retired from military service in 1965


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Units served with

Unofficial emblem, 305th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment




added  connection


Info and writing from his son Rod


changed civilian to military


305th Bomb Group Roster / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

Elmer E Robison: Gallery (1 items)