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Thunderbird......



Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

Thunderbird Has Done It Again: Ernie Pyle & General Dwight David Eisenhower’s Favorite World War II Story – Part 2 is the title of a book recently received at the Millinocket Historical Society. The term Thunderbird has been connected to some of the legends of Katahdin and was also the nickname of a legendary WWII plane. John Joseph Roderick Myshrall is the author of the book with the above title and his father, Millinocket native Joseph Roderick Myshrall (1920-2013) is the main subject of this book.

Upon learning of the book, we were puzzled by the reference in the title to Ernie Pyle (famous WWII journalist) and Eisenhower’s names in the title and the fact that the title stated part 2 and what did it have to do with Millinocket and Rod Myshrall. I read the book and now understand the title. Pyle’s story was Part 1.

In January of 1943, “Thunderbird” was one of twelve B-17 planes that flew out of Libya on a combat mission. Eleven of the planes returned later to base, but Thunderbird did not return for some time due to losing two engines. Ernie Pyle wrote world-wide news stories about the mission. In June of 1943, the same plane with an almost all new crew flew out on another mission (from Sicily) and the same thing happened again…two engines lost. Again, the plane did make it back to base. Rod Myshrall, tail gunner, was a crewman on the Thunderbird. This second time of losing two engines and returning to base is the reason for the new book’s title saying Part 2.

Author John Myshrall recalls stories told by his father and other relatives, gathered information from family photo albums and scrapbooks and many newspaper articles written about this plane. The book includes family history and photos for several generations of Myshralls, including a look at life for those who lived in Millinocket in earlier days. Rod went to Stearns High School where he was a three-sport athlete. He also played for the Emerson Pills. After the war came time at Colby College, marriage, family, try-outs for major league baseball and life and jobs in several places in the U. S.

The author John Myshrall contacted the museum and donated four copies of this book for the Museum Store ($30 each at museum) plus 4 photocopies of a 11” x 14” portrait in uniform of Rod Myshrall ($20 each at museum). The original charcoal portrait was done by noted Maine and world-wide artist Bettina Steinke shortly after the war. The original framed portrait hung in the Myshrall home for many years. It is now in the MHS museum’s collection, donated by the book’s author.

If there is enough interest in the book, we may be able to obtain more copies from the author! It is a great read!!



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