The Loss of the Buffalo Gal

Last night I had a long conversation with my sister-in-law, Kay. We talked about the “coincidences” in life which defied explanation. There are so many instances and events in each of our lives bordering on the unbelievable. Then I woke up this morning to experience one such of these coincidences.

I started my day as usual. Got into the business of seeing how many books sold overnight, checked my banking accounts, and then went through my email. I checked my drafts folder to see what I had started and did not finish. One was an email I was going to send to friends about the story of the Buffalo Gal.

On this very day 74 years ago, the Buffalo Gal went down.

The Buffalo Gal was a B-24H Liberator bomber, serial number 42-52297. She and her crew were stationed with the 454th Bomb Group (H) at the San Giovanni Airfield – Cerignola, in Italy during World War II. The aircraft commander was a young 1st lieutenant named Devert M. Rymer. Decades later, another young Rymer by the name of Sam would start an “an alternative folk rock band.” The group from Denver, CO would go on to produce a tribute to Devert and his crew. The song, released in May 2015, is “dedicated, not only to Lt. Rymer & the crew, but to all who have served,” according to the description on the YouTube website. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5y1ztB3HtU)

It amazes me as to what you can find on the Internet. Especially about events that happened very literally a lifetime ago, for which records remain. Especially when one considers the chaos of an entire world at war.

Reading the Loss Report for the Buffalo Gal, it is easy to sense how young the crew was at the time of the event. Their names, ranks, and service numbers are listed on the report, along with the next of kin. Many of the next of kin listed were their mothers, a testament to how young these men were at the time of the war. Eight of the ten crewmembers survived the loss of the airplane, ending up as prisoners-of-war for the duration.

Everyone in that generation who went to war made incredible sacrifices to make sure we, those of us who live in a free world, would be able to maintain our way of life. This is why journalist Tom Brokaw called that group of men and women “the greatest generation,” writing a book about those in that age group, using the title of, The Greatest Generation.

I have often thought of those who were born in the 1920s as very special. They lived through a depression and were rewarded for that suffering with having to go out and fight a world war. They did not flinch, they did not balk, they did not complain or whine; they just pressed on and did what they had to do.

So now, 74 years later, I wake up and check my email, find this draft of an email I never sent out from more than two years ago. I find it precisely on the anniversary of the day Buffalo Gal went down.

As I think about all of this, the plane, the men, the war, time, space, the events of the world, I have to ask, how and why did I wake up specifically today to find this connection with Buffalo Gal, 1LT Rymer, and Sam’s song?

-30-

©2018 J. Clark

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2 Responses to The Loss of the Buffalo Gal

  1. David Hipschman says:

    Well done and great band. Maybe they’ll be playing near Katie this week while I’m out in CO.

  2. Dedra Rymer Cole says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. Devert Rymer was my father and Sam is my very talented nephew. My brother plays the trumpet on this song as well which makes this tribute even more special. Great job Treehouse Sanctum.

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