It Was All Worth It!

His story.....
as told by his children.

After a few days at sea and many more chow lines, Art arrived at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. He phoned Priscilla, who immediately joined him for his thirty days of leave.

He'd made it.

Dad Returns

May 1945

Dad and Pete

Art and Pete

Roughly ten days after Art had slipped out of the prison camp, Jim Ellis, Walter LeClerc and George Kilduff were liberated from Stalag Luft I by the 8th Air Corps in modified B-17ís. Jim returned to Chandler, Texas, where he ranched until his death in 2003. Walter returned to his farm in Lyons, Kansas which he operated until he retired at age 82. Walter passed away in 2012 at age 96. George Kilduff returned to New York to raise a family of seven children. 

Archie Stinebaugh, Bruce Stone, Harold Hay, John Taylor and Howard Kramer had been captured immediately after bailing out over Schweinfurt. Along with Ralph Grooms, they were interrogated at Dulag Luft in Frankfurt and then taken by box car to Stalag Luft 6 in East Prussia. In July 1944, they were moved down the Baltic Sea in a Russian freighter to Stalag Luft 4. They were kept there until January 1945, but were then moved by box car to Stalag Luft 8 in Nuremburg where they stayed until March 1945. They were then marched 100 miles to Stalag Luft 7 at Moosberg where they were liberated on April 29, 1945. Eight days after liberation, they were transported by a C47 to Camp Lucky Strike, and were shipped back to the United States a month later.

The entire crew survived the war. Bruce Stone returned to Fredricksburg, Maryland, John Taylor to the Houston area, Archie Stinebaugh to Sherman, Texas, and Harold Hay to Florida. All are now deceased.

Art stayed in the Army for a while, transferring to the infantry. He was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington State. He learned of an opening in the US Army's Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and transferred to Hollybird Signal Corps Base in Baltimore, Maryland where he completed his training as a counter intelligence officer. He was restless, however, and soon left the Army.

He moved to Boston and went back to Quaker Oats. When he disagreed with a petty boss, he quit on the spot. For Art, civilian life would take some adjusting.

His home life, however, was progressing nicely. In addition to Pete, there were now three more children, Caral, Cheryl, and Gail.

Young Kids

Pete, Caral, Cheryl, & Gail

Art started his career in insurance sales in Boston. After a relocation to Texas, he is now retired from this profession after forty successful years.

We are a close family.

Older Kids

Gail, Cheryl, Caral, Pete, Priscilla, and Art

The 351st Airbase at Polebrook has disappeared with the exception of a few hangars that are now used as a distribution center. The town of Polebrook, largely unchanged since the war, remembers the 351st with a monument of a marble triangle, with a "J" on one side, and a brief history of the 351st on the other. Between 1943 and 1945, 175 B-17 Flying Fortresses and their crews were lost. The group destroyed 303 enemy aircraft in Arial combat.

Memorial

The 351st Bomb Group Memorial - Polebrook, England

It is our intention in telling this story to honor our father, Art Starratt, the crew of the "No Balls", and the Eighth Air Force aviators, who after flying these amazing missions over Germany quietly returned to civilian life; and whose stories are, for the most part, untold.

Art and Priscilla moved to their dream home off the 3rd fairway at Columbia Lakes, southeast of Houston after Art's retirement. They weathered many difficult times over the years and were happier and closer than most can imagine. In spite of Priscilla's double amputation from diabetes, they lived a full and independent life together until her death in March of 2001. Their son, Pete, passed away in 2002 at age 57 shortly after we five returned from a trip to Stalag Luft 1.  

Priscilla and Art

Priscilla and Art

Art in 2008

At 91 enjoying a Mediterranean cruise in 2008

Art eventually moved to Austin, Texas to be closer to his three daughters whom he shared several trips abroad with until his death at age 94. He passed away on April 23, 2012 after a brief illness, and was buried with full military honors next to Priscilla on April 27, 2012. His farewell included a 21 gun salute, the playing of "Taps", and the presentation of the American flag with the words,

"On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag as a symbol of the appreciation of your loved one's honorable and faithful service."

He was a great guy and a wonderful father. We will miss him.

Honor Guard at Grave Site

Honor Guard

Presentation of the American Flag

Presenting the Flag