Rotary speaker Deam recalls WWII service

SIDNEY — As part of the Sidney Rotary Club’s Veterans Day observance during the meeting Nov. 12, guest speaker Bill Deam spoke about his time as a B-26 copilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

Deam said the Shelby County Ohio Draft Board comprised five individuals in 1942, his father being one of them. It was in August of that year that he, along with 81 other individuals, boarded the troop train that, on a monthly basis, transported draftees from Shelby County to basic training. Deam noted that he was sworn in as a soldier, given a physical exam and provided a $10,000 life insurance policy.

“Basic training was very difficult,” said Deam. “I was offered an opportunity to be trained as a pilot, and I took it.”

While a copilot on an Army Air Corps B-26 Marauder, Deam participated in 65 missions. He explained that the Marauder flew with a six-member crew and carried bombs that collectively weighed 4,000 pounds. The objective for many of his missions was to destroy bridges and other infrastructure assets of the enemy forces. Deam remembered one mission in particular where he and his crew had to bail out from the airplane due to poor weather conditions and being low on fuel. They had only limited visibility to navigate the aircraft and thus had to parachute out with no idea where they were or what they would find on the ground below. He and fellow crew members survived the jump. Fortunately their parachutes landed them in a small village in northern France. With the help of locals friendly to the U.S., they eventually made their way back to their unit. The memory of this experience will never to be forgotten, said 1st Lt. Deam. Incredible stories such as this were the foundation of his 30-minute presentation about life and wartime service to his country in the early to mid-1940s.

At the conclusion of his remarks and after ample time for questions and answers, Deam recieved a standing ovation.