Walter Leland Cronkite

Civilian

Object Number - UPL 6935 - War Correspondent Walter Cronkite of the United Press with a bomber crew of the 323rd Bomb Group and their B-26 Marauder (serial number 41-31951)...

War Correspondent with United Press, Cronkite was the most famous of the eight reporters sent to the European Theatre to fly with the Eighth Air Force who made up The Writing 69th. On 26 February 1943 he flew with the 303rd Bomb Group from Molesworth on a mission over Wilhelmshaven. Cronkite reportedly fired a machine gun at a German fighter aircraft during the raid, he wrote on his experience on 27 February 1943:
'American Flying Fortresses have just come back from an assignment to hell; a hell 26,000 feet above the earth, a hell of burning tracer bullets and bursting gunfire, of crippled Fortresses and burning German fighter planes, of parachuting men and others not so lucky. I have just returned with a Flying Fortress crew from Wilhelmshaven.
...
Actually the first impression of a daylight bombing mission is a hodge-podge of disconnected scenes. Things like bombs falling past you from the formation above, a crippled bomber with smoke pouring from one engine thousands of feet below. A Focke-Wulf peeling off somewhere above and plummeting down shooting its way through the formation.'

Nevertheless, the group suffered heavy losses and one of the Journalists was lost, putting a stop to War Correspondents flying on further bombing missions. Undeterred, Cronkite reported from the D-Day beachhead following the Normandy Landings and joined the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden by landing in a glider to report on the Battle of the Bulge. Following the War he reported on the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

In 1950 Cronkite joined CBS news where he became an Anchor, in this role he became known as 'The Most Trusted Man in America' famously announcing the assassination of President John F Kennedy, introducing the Beatles to the United States and reporting enthusiastically on the US Space Program. In February 1968 he travelled to Vietnam to report on location on the Tet Offensive, on his return he declared the conflict a stalemate, which supposedly prompted President Lyndon B Johnson to withdraw his campaign for re-election. He officially retired from CBS Evening News in 1981, but continued to report as a special correspondent into the 1990s.

He reflected on his experience in the Second World War:
'People take a look at my record and it sounds great. I'm embarrassed when I'm introduced for speeches and somebody takes a CBS handout and reads it, because it makes me sound like some sort of hero: the battle of the North Atlantic, the landing in Africa, the beachhead on D day, dropping with the 101st Airborne, the Battle of the Bulge. Personally, I feel I was an overweening coward in the war. I was scared to death all the time. I did everything possible to avoid getting into combat. Except the ultimate thing of not doing it. I did it. But the truth is that I did everything only once. It didn't take any great courage to do it once. If you go back and do it a second time; knowing how bad it is, that's courage.'

Connections

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Units served with

Official emblem of the 303rd Bomb Group approved 7 November 1942.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 303rd Bomb Group 360th Bomb Squadron The Writing 69th
  • Role/Job: War Correspondent
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: The Writing 69th
  • Role/Job: War Correspondent
Captain Bernard Thompson of the 387th Bomb Group and War Correspondent Gladwin Hill of the Associated Press, in the cockpit of a B-26 Marauder. Image stamped on reverse: 'Associated Press.' [stamp], 'Passed for publication 8 May 1944.' [stamp] and '319310.' [censor no.] Printed caption on reverse: 'AP War Correspondent Pays A Visit To A Marauder Base "Somewhere In England". Associated Press Photo Shows:- Left, Gladwyn Hill, A.P. War Correspondent sits in the cockpit of a Marauder, right pilot Capt. Bernar
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: The Writing 69th
  • Role/Job: War Correspondent
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: The Writing 69th
  • Role/Job: War Correspondent
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: The Writing 69th
  • Role/Job: War Correspondent

Missions

Places

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

St. Joseph, MO, USA 1916-11-04

Died

New York, NY, USA 2009-07-17

Revisions

Date29 Aug 2019 16:48:33
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

Added connections to all the writers in "The Writing 69th".

Date1 Dec 2014 11:03:15
ContributorEmily
Sources

Short bio on The Writing 69th

Obituary by CBS News

Date27 Sep 2014 18:26:57
ContributorAAM
Sources

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

Walter Leland Cronkite: Gallery (2 items)