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Brightwood Boys, The History of the Men from the North End of
Springfield, Massachusetts, During World War II
by Christopher P. Montagna



Bert Sitek was designated as an aerial gunner to the 457th Bomb Group’s 749th squadron in Glatton, England.  He was assigned to an aircraft piloted by Captain Henry J Whitman and his crew consisting of:

Albert Gilbertson – co-pilot
Harold Patrick  -Navigator
Leonard Stoner -Bombardier
Howard Munger  - Radio Operator
William Scharnhorst - Gunner
Charles Fosson - Gunner
Kenneth McGriff – Gunner


Bert’s aircraft was a B-17G serial number 42-97904.  The crew boarded the aircraft on June 2, 1944 in Kearney, Nebraska and flew to Dow Field in Bangor, Maine.  On June 6, 1944, the crew was scheduled to depart for England from Dow Field.  As the aircrew was conducting a check of the engine, the aircraft jumped the wheel chocks and moved forward.  The crew was unable to stop the aircraft before it crashed into the airplane parked directly in front of their ship.  The aircrew transferred to another aircraft and continued to England arriving on June 7, 1944.


On June 7, 1944 Serafino “Fini” Montagna departed New York for England aboard the Queen Mary and arrived in Gourock Scotland on June 13, 1944. While in England, Serafino served as a surgical technician with the 122nd General Hospital in Bournemouth, England.  As a surgical technician, Serafino assisted in the medical care of wounded military personnel.   Several of those injured were soldiers and sailors who made landings on the shores of France during D-Day and continued to fight in the Allied advance across France.

With the landings on D-Day completed, life at the Advanced Amphibious Base at Dartmouth was becoming routine. One day, Adam Montagna met a sailor who was at the naval base on a layover from Africa.  The sailor had brought with him an African Green Monkey.  Adam was fascinated by the friendly creature, which afforded an opportunity to escape the day-to-day of military life.  Adam bought the monkey from the sailor and carried the small monkey around in his blouse. 


In September, Adam received the following commendation from Lieut. Comdr P.D. Crockett, Commander of the USNAAB:  “You are hereby commended for the exemplary manner in which you performed your duties and responsibilities in connection with the U.S. Naval Forces that participated in the great Allied amphibious assault on the Continent of Europe on 6 June 1944.”