WWII B-17 Navigator shares my Birthday.

2 Lt. Earl E. Triebes (Back row center)  Photo taken 1 February 1945

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week is closest to your birthday.  Which relative has the birthday closest to yours? Many genealogy programs will let you run a birthday or calendar report so you can identify who it is.

The Person in my family tree that shares my birthday is Earl Triebes. Earl is my 2nd cousin once removed.  Earl was born to Richard Triebes and Martha Buehler on March 13, 1925 in Forest Park, Illinois.[1] Earl’s Paternal Grandmother was Augusta Desens.[2]  Augusta was the sister of my great-grandfather Carl Desens.[3]  Carl and Augusta’s father was John Desens[4] who I have written about in previous posts.  I hope this explains my relationship to Earl Triebes. 

I never knew Earl, in fact, I did know of his existence until a couple of years ago.  One of the things that I do is trace my collateral lines down to present day.  So when tracing Augusta Desens Triebes’ (my great-grandfather’s sister) line down is when I found Earl.  In researching Earl, I found that he was in the Army Air Force during World War II.[5]  Here is a transcript of a newspaper article dated 2 June 1944:

A-C Earl Triebes at San Antonio.

San Antionio

May 23, 1944

Dear Mr. Walker:

I am another of the Forest Park Fellows in service.  Since this is my first letter, I better tell you something about my training up till the present time.

To begin with I was called into the service July 1943, and sent to Miami Beach for two months of basic training.  During the month of September, I was sent to Albion College in Albion, Mich.   Here I studied such subjects as physics, trigonometry, map reading, history and English.  We also received training at a neighboring town Marshall, Mich.  After completion of my college course I was transferred to the classification center at San Antonio, Texas.  Upon completion of the tests I was classified Navigator and stared pre-flight on the 29th of February.  I finished pre-flight on the 29th of April.  We were all set to leave for our next phase of training but all the schools were filled up, so we just laid around and waited.  Confidentially, we still are waiting but before the week is over we will be at our next base. 

Well Mr. Walker, there’s not much more that I can tell you except that I would like very much if you sent me the Review and Forest Parker.  Thank you.

A/C Earl E.Triebes [6]

The next newspaper article I found was dated October 12, 1944 and included a picture of Earl.  Here is a partial transcript of that article:

Earl E. Triebes is Graduate of Aerial School.

Ellington Field, Texas, Oct 12 – From the center of navigation training has just gone another big class of aerial observers, skilled in the latest methods of military course plotting, taught at this installation of Army Air Forces Training command.

At their graduation members received silver wings as navigators and bars as second lieutenant or flight officers.

Here I am skipping a couple of paragraphs because they list awards given to members of this class and athletes.  Earl is not mentioned in these paragraphs. 

Members of the class included: Lt. Earl E. Triebes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard I. Triebes, 516 Des Plaines Ave., Forest Park.[7]

The third and final article I found was dated November 15 1945.  Here is the transcript:

Lt. Earl E. Triebes is Discharged

Santa Ana, Calif – 2nd Lt. Earl E. Triebes son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard I. Triebes, 516 Des Plaines Avenue, Forest Park, Ill., was honorably discharged today from (unreadable) base maintained by the Army Air Force.

Lt. Triebes is a veteran of 28 months of service in the Army Air Forces.  He served in the European Theater of Operations as a B-17 navigator with the 8th Air Force on 15 combat missions.

The AAF has awarded him the (unreadable) Medal with one cluster and the European Theater ribbon with two battle stars.

Brigadier General Arthur E. Easterbrook of the SAAAB declared:

“The fact that a man has served honorably with the AAF make him among the cream of the crop.  We think many of tomorrow’s leaders will spring from the outstanding young men who have made up the victorious Army Air Force.”[8]

Here is a summary of Earl’s WWII Missions:

  • 2Lt Earl E. Triebes (N) – Flew on 4 missions with 2Lt Leach (315, 317, 318, 322) and one mission with another Pilot (331). Became a Lead Crew Navigator: Flew two missions with a Deputy Lead Crew (338, 342) and eight missions with a Lead Crew (324, 328, 344, 348, 352, 354, 351, 358). Completed 15 combat missions on 11 April 1945 (Mission 358). [9]

Earl married Fern Alice Susal (date unknown).[10]  Fern Alice passed away on 1 September 1958 in Oak Park, Illinois.[11]  There is no mention of children in her obituary.[12]  Earl later married again, and I believe he had two children with his second wife.[13]  Earl passed away on 3 February 2001 in Wheaton, DuPage, Illinois.[14]

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.  Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

[2] Augusta Triebes Obiatuary, Forest Park, Illinois, The Revie and Forest Parker, 23 May 1946, Page 1.

[3]  Probate file for John Desens filed in the McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 103 Garfield Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54701.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Forest Park, Illinois, The Review and Forest Parker, 2 June 1944. Page 5.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Forest Park, Illinois, The Review and Forest Parker, 12 October 1944, Page 1.

[8] Forest Park, Illinois, The Review and Forest Parker, 15 November 1945, Page 7.

[9] From Website: http://www.303rdbg.com/358leach.html

[10] Obituary for Fern Alice Triebes, Forest Park, Illinois, The Forest Park Review, 4 September 1958, Page 13.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Found names associated with Earl Triebes in various public records data base.  They may be a second wife and children.  I choose to keep these names private as they may still be living and I do not have their permission to publish their names.

[14] Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.  Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.


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