Remembering: Victor A Reed (1921-1997)
“MZHS Hero of Air Power”
5th Army Air Force, WW2-Pacific, B24 Radio Operator, Air Medal
Victor A Reed, son of James and Rosalia Porco Reed of Byrnedale in Jay Township, was one of five sons serving Uncle Sam during World War 2. Victor’s parents, James and Rosalia Porco Reed, emigrated in 1901 and 1911 respectively from their home country of Italy. It would be interesting to know their thoughts and feelings about the War and their sons in the Services. Victor’s brothers in the service were Pfc. James A. Reed in the Army’s 12th Engineers in Europe, M/Sgt John D Reed in the 174th Field Artillery Group in Belgium, S/Sgt Albert P Reed in the Marine Corps in the South Pacific, and Pfc. Robert Reed in the Army Infantry in France. All five brothers served their country well and were able to come home and live the typical American life after the War. All were buried in St Joseph Cemetery in Force.
Having graduated from the 1939 class of Jay Township High School, Victor Reed entered the Army Air Forces on September 4, 1942, in Erie at the age of 21 years, and trained as a radio operator and aerial gunner on the B24 Liberator. He served from November, 1943, to November, 1944, on combat duty in the Far East Pacific Theater. T/Sgt Victor Reed completed 33 combat missions on the B24J named “Hot Rocks”. He was assigned to the 531st bombardment squadron (aka the Donald Duck squadron), 380th bomb group of the 5th Army Air Forces, which was known as “The Flying Circus” and also “The King of the Heavies”.
From airfields in Long Strip, of the Northern Territory in Australia, the squadron reached out to the Japanese installations in the Dutch East Indies. Upon its arrival in Australia, the 380th Bomb Group immediately began combat operations. During April and May, 1944, the 380th engaged in the most intensive and sustained operations since arrival in the Southwest Pacific, neutralizing the rear bases through which the Japanese might reinforce their air force in the Wakde-Hollandia area. From the end of May, 1944, until it moved to the Philippines in February 1945, the 380th Bomb Group concentrated on neutralizing enemy bases, installations and industrial compounds in the southern and central East Indies.
Tech Sergeant Victor Reed was awarded the Air Medal and two oak leaf clusters, various campaign medals, and victory ribbons among others. He later was stationed in Reno, Nevada with the Army Transport Command before being honorably discharged at the end of the War.
After the service Victor went to Gannon College, worked for General Electric in Erie, and then owned the Homestead Inn in Byrnedale. He was active in the local Valley American Legion Post, the VFW, and the Disabled American Veteran Chapter. A resident of his hometown of Byrnedale, Victor passed away in 1997 at 76 years of age in a Pittsburgh Veterans hospital. The Mt Zion Historical Society is proud to honor Victor as one of its “Heroes of Air Power”.
Lest we forget…..