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Donald W O'Reilly


Don was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and enlisted after Pearl Harbour. Based at Chelveston, Shipdham and then at Metfield with 491st BG he served from 1942-45 with the Military Police. “I feel blessed that they allowed me to join,” he says. “I think I am the only PFC in the 8th Air Force that flew on a B-17 and B-24!”

On D-Day Don's duty was to secure the briefing for the bomb raids behind enemy lines. Of Curtis LeMay’s visit he remembers, “My memory of Curtis LeMay is that he had a two finger cigar butt salute!”

In November 1944 Don was watching a movie on the Base the night of Britain’s largest explosion at Medfield bomb dump. The accident cost seventy lives and was “utter destruction, remarkable and scary.”


Units served with

  • 305th Bomb Group Can Do

    305th Bomb Group Can Do

    The 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), nicknamed "Can Do" was activated 1-March-1942 at Salt Lake City Air Base, Utah which was their primary training base until 11-Jun-1942 when they relocated to Geiger Field, Washington until 29-Jun-1942, then on to...

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 491st Bomb Group

    491st Bomb Group

    The 491st Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators in bombing missions over northern France and Germany from June 1944 until April 1945. Missions over Germany included bombing the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen. The Group was awarded a DUC...

Associated Place

  • Chelveston

    Military site : airfield
    Chelveston was adapted and expanded in preparation for the arrival of American forces. Rather than heavy bombers, the first aircraft to fly from its runways were C-47 Skytrains that were flown by the 60th Troop Carrier Group in July 1942. The first...

  • Metfield

    Military site : airfield
    Built during 1942-43 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, Metfield had three concrete runways, 39 pan plus 15 loop hardstandings, and two dispersed T2 hangars. It was first occupied by the 353rd Fighter Group, equipped with P-47s, from August 1943 to...

  • American Air Museum

    Other location

  • Shipdham Airfield Museum

    Other location


Event Location Date


Date Contributor Update
23 October 2018 08:55:19 Emily Changes to biography

American Air Museum text from displays

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:07:44 AAM AAM ingest

491st BG Roster / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia