Well my computer is on the fritz at the house so I figured I get this done at work just in case its totaly dead by Memorial Day. The photos and story is about my Great Cousin Sgt. Emil E. Havelka of the 100th US Army Air Corp from WWII.
Some of the last photos taken of him alive by family on final leave/furlough before deployment to England.
Emil with all his brothers and sister
Emil on top of his favorite tractor a John Deere Model B.
Emil and part of his crew( he is second from the left)
A photo he sent home not sure its his plane or just one that he photographed?
Copy of Pilots report on the 14th mission
The 100th Heavy Bomb Group flew its last mission on April 20th, 1945 and VE Day followed on May 8th, 1945.
The photos and the subsequent meeting of Emils sister Dorthy contributed to my inspiration to write a story about Emil and have it published in the local Jarrell newspaper that was released this week just in time for Memorial Day. My research took me weeks to compile searching the internet and reading the numerous letters the family have saved.
Below is his story submitted to the Jarrell Star Ledger. It has received great attention and his story has now been submitted to the Texas Czech Historical Society for admission to their Wall Of Honor for Veterans. I have support from the town and work is underway to have a street named in his honor. I know this is a long read but I hope yall enjoy.
Jarrell Memorial Day Remembrance
SGT Emil E. Havelka
Growing up one of the first things I remember about the Grandparents farmhouse was an old photo on the right side of the living room wall. This photo depicted a soldier of someone that at the age of five I had never met or known of his existence. I finally questioned my dad one day on the identity of who it was. He told me it was his cousin Emil who had died in WWII in a bomber over Germany. I asked him many questions about him and he revealed all he knew. It was sad at my age to think that he had died but being at such an early age in my life could not even comprehend the suffering his family rendered or the sacrifice that he made as so many others of that era did.
Move forward thirty years or so. My Grandfather had passed away and on one evening I sat with my Grandmother looking thru old family photos. As I turned the pages puzzled at the B&W photos my grandma would quickly give the low down on every picture that I inquired about. When this one photograph appeared I was taken back. I had an ideal of who it was but needed verification. My grandma said it was Cousin Emil before he went to war. In the photograph was the airman Emil Havelka dressed in his US Army fatigues sitting on top of his favorite John Deere B tractor. She said to me that it was probably one of the last photos taken of him before his deployment. I asked at that time if I could have it as I cherished the photo coming from a farming family. My grandma approved and the photo went into my safe for protection where it has remained.
Pan to Christmas 2010 I receive a card from Dorothy Havelka (sister of Emil) filled with old photos of family my dad and grandfather in particular. At that time the photo of her brother came to mind and the motion was started to learn more about Emil’s story. I quickly had the photo scanned and copied. I contacted Dorothy to inquire about her brother and gave her a copy of the photo. She was really taken with my interest and at that time I asked permission to publish the photo and to do a write up about his life. This is where the story really starts.
Mr. John & Mary (Kohutek) Havelka’s son Emil Havelka was the oldest of four brothers Johnny (Army vet), Jerry (Army vet) and Teddy and one sister (Dorothy), born on the 28th of October 1925 in Cornhill, Texas. He grew up on the farm and labored and enjoyed life as any youngster in Williamson County. He was schooled at Cornhill Holy Trinity School where he was a class favorite of Sister Berhnard who made accommodations for him, as he was the only student in the 8th grade class. He attended High School in Schwertner Texas briefly before transferring to Jarrell High School. He later graduated from High School 1943 were he excelled in academics and athletics. Dorothy expressed that he was very agile, always running instead of walking. In track his specialty was the high and long jump and I was told that he was of Olympic stature. On the farm he loved the John Deere B and as he plowed you could hear him sing songs such as “Kentucky” or the “Beer Barrel Polka” over the Popping Johnny. The family lived in a two story farmhouse and his room was filled with wooden airplanes hanging from the ceiling that he had constructed. Aside from his love for family and the farm his next love was aviation which he dreamed of being a pilot. When the war broke he was too young to enlist but upon graduation he enlisted into the Army Air corp. His family pleaded with him to go to college and then enlist as an officer but he made his mind up and left for basic training at the age of 17 leaving behind family, friends, sweetheart Margie Sladecek and one mutt dog trixie.
Military life took him straight to Las Vegas Nevada stationed at now Nellis Air Force base. He went to gunnery training school for the B17 and B24 Liberators. Early on he learned one of the keys to morale was letters written too or received from home. He spoke of the intense training and the heat from the desert of Nevada. Upon graduation he was stationed in the northeast and was not able to disclose exact location but stated it was the coldest place he had ever been. At this juncture training became slower and he had more time on his hands and talked of how they spent their free time playing cards. He hated to admit his gambling addiction but said it a great way to pass the time away. He was originally assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadron were he made good friends with his entire crew, his best friend was Leroy Kubuske but before final deployment the squadron was broken up he was reassigned to the 100th Bomb Group 350th squadron. His crew was assigned a B-17 Flying Fortress named “The Big Iron Bird” and Emil was given the nickname rabbit by the crew for his blonde hair. They left the states on 7th of January 1945 and landed in Iceland where they spent their final training before leaving for England on the 21st. Emil wrote letters of his new home and how cold being 15,000 feet up was (sometimes -50 degrees). The family sent what they could, he requested wool socks and cigarettes (Lucky Strike Greens) to fill the void that the military could not supply. Emil now a Sergeant and Waist Gunner was proud of his ship and spoke well of it and the crew. On Feb 19th the red light was on and their plane number was on the board. After all the time and training tomorrow was going to be the big day, Mission 1 Nuremberg, the payload was delivered on target and his crew headed for base unscathed. Emil and his crew flew 12 more successful missions over the next month from Berlin to Munich sustaining a couple of Flak hits on two missions. The final day the final mission number 14, destination Plaken Germany and a tank factory. On that night Emils father said that his black & white mutt howled all night, he felt that something bad had happened. The letters to the family from Emil now ceased until the day the war department sent a telegram that Emil was MIA. Time for the family was spent on prayer for answers. Dorothy said that her father took it the hardest not knowing Emils fate. It was not until after the war and the only survivor the pilot Bernard Painter a POW revealed what had happened on that faithful day of March 21st 1945. In his report he told how the plane had lost engine number one due to oil failure on the super charger and left the formation of the group leaving them prey to the Germans. Five German ME 262 fighters attacked at 09:40 knocking out the second engine and putting the plane to flames. Painter called for them to bail and tried to assist but was cut off by the flames. Painter said that was the last he saw any of his crew. Three chutes were seen with two on fire by other witnesses. Emil was now classified as KIA but no body had been found. It was not until Jan. 26th 1950 that a Letter from the Department of the Army stated Emils bomber crashed near the Donates Cemetery, Freiberg, Germany, and that the remains of the crew members were recovered and buried there. The bodies were exhumed and then reburied in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. Emil is survived by his sister Dorothy Havelka of Austin Texas and brother Teddy Havelka of Jarrell Texas.