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Harry Herbert Crosby, WWII Veteran

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Harry Herbert Crosby was born on this date in 1919 to Guy and Eva Crosby in New England, North Dakota. He later moved with his family to Oskaloosa, Iowa, where during high school, Harry played clarinet and formed an amateur dance band called “Harry Crosby and his Maroon Melodies.”

Crosby started college at the University of Iowa in 1941, but after the US entered World War II, Harry joined the Army Air Corp and was trained as a Navigator on B-17 bombers.

In 1943 he married Jean Boehner, and that same year he was sent overseas to England with the 100th Bomb Group. Due to his proficiency and skill, Harry was soon promoted to group navigator, responsible for assembling thousands of planes from various bases in England, getting them to their targets in Germany and occupied Europe, then back again. Crosby flew more than 30 missions and stayed until the war ended in Europe on May 9, 1945. Crosby had attained the rank of Lt. Colonel by the time he was released from service.

Returning to school after the war, he graduated with a MA in 1947 from the University of Iowa. Then in 1953, he received a doctorate from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Crosby taught English Composition and American Literature at the University of Iowa, and then took a faculty position at Boston University in Massachusetts. In 1960, he took two years leave to serve as director of studies for the Pakistani Air Academy at Risalpur, Pakistan. Crosby retired from Boston University in 1984. During retirement he served as director of the writing center at Harvard. He also developed curriculum at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In 1993, Harry published a World War II memoir called, “A Wing and a Prayer, a personal history of the famous Bloody Hundredth Bomb Group." The book was well received and Crosby spent several years traveling and promoting the book. He also served 25 years as editor of the 100th Bomb Group Splasher Six publication.

Harry was honored to be featured on PBS’s American Experience, “The Bombing of Germany,” in 2010. He passed away on July 28, 2010, at the age of 91.

Dakota Datebook by Scott Nelson


Harry Herbert Crosby obituary, History of the 100th Bomb Group – 100th BG Association, Book-A Wing and a Prayer by Harry Crosby.

Note: Harry Crosby will be one of the main characters in an upcoming Apple TV+ miniseries titled “Masters of the Air.” Crosby will be portrayed by actor Anthony Boyle.

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