Late November, 1941, Clark Field, Philippine Islands…The U.S. Army Air Corps prepares for days of infamy ahead. As P-40 aircraft take to the skies, the crews of new B-17 Fortresses of the 19th Bomb Group prepare for the day’s practice missions. Mere days after this scene, Clark Field and other nearby U.S. bases would be savaged by enemy surprise attacks. Many would be taken prisoner, and some of those shown here, such as Colin Kelly and Harl Pease, would gain tragic fame. Among this gallant group were some of the first to inspire America at war, doing so much with so little, fighting with what they had.
The painting They Fought With What They Had was completed in 2001. It was commissioned by well-known aviation art collector Eugene Eisenberg, whose impressive collection of original military and aviation and maritime oil paintings is one of the world’s largest and finest. Mr. Eisenberg had a special interest in the individuals he desired to see depicted in this scene, even though not all are well-known names, and through diligent research was able to supply wartime photos of many of them to assist the artist in what was to become a mammoth 10’ by 5’ oil painting. Each person in the scene was created from the likeness of one of the men present at Clark Field at this time.
The personnel shown are as follows: 19th Bomb Group personnel shown in foreground, left to right: Lt. Henry Godman, Sgt. Meyer Levin, Sgt. James Halkyard, Lt. Joseph Bean (kneeling), Capt. Colin Kelly, Sgt. John Wallach, Sgt. J.W. DeLehanty, PFC Robert Altman, PFC W. Money (on bumper). On Jeep: Lt. William Bohnaker, Lt. Edward Jacquet, Lt. Harl Pease Jr., Lt. Jack Heinzel, Lt. Don Robins. Far Right: Capt. Emmet “Rosie” O’Donnell, Lt. Col. Gene Eubank, Gen. Lewis Brereton. P-40 pilot: Joseph Moore.
Each print has been signed by three of the following signatories:
PFC ROBERT E. ALTMAN – Radio operator in plan piloted by Capt. Colin Kelly.
EDWARD JACKFERT – B-18 Crew Chief during first attack on Clark Field.
Col. EDWARD M. JACQUET – Clark Field B-17 copilot, 47 combat missions with the 19th Bomb Group.
Lt.Col. MELVIN A. MCKENZIE – Clark Field B-17 copilot and navigator.
ROBERT PHILLIPS – Crew Chief, B-17 & other aircraft.
Col. JOHN A. WALLACH – Clark Field B-17 and later part of “Swoose” crew and fighter pilot.