Bill’s blog archive: Daily Posts

2nd LT Robert L. Schanen

Lt. Robert L. Schanen, Navigator of “Ascend Charlie”

Yesterday, I received this email from the relative of the navigator on Ascend Charlie’s final mission. Ascend Charlie was a B-17 Flying Fortress (tail #42-5903) from the 390th Bomb Group, 571st Bomb Squadron. You can read my full article on “Ascend Charlie’s” last mission here..

Dear Mr. Beigel,

I just want to thank you for the piece you wrote about the “Ascend Charlie'” crash. Lt. Schanen was my grandmother’s cousin and she speaks so fondly of him. I had always known he was killed in a plane crash, but have been told it was in Scotland. Now that I live on Oxfordshire, I intend to visit the crash site this summer, now that I know where it is, in Wales.

I was moved to tears by the story and will be calling my grandmother (who is 93) to share it with her. Thank you, thank you!

Here is a picture of Lt. Schanen for you.

It is signed only, “Dawn.”

Thank you, Dawn. It is for families like yours that I do this work, and to honor their service.



  1. Jim HammJim Hamm03-25-2016

    Bill, I’m a subscriber but haven’t used your service yet. Expect to retire soon and then will have more time.

    My story is that as a seven or eight year old boy on my way to and from school, I would pass by teenagers who hung out at a variety store. The one that I remember most was called “Squeaky.” A couple of years later I saw his picture on the front page of The Lowell Sun. My mother sadly told me that he was killed in the war. I remember quizzing her on how his eyes could be still open if he were dead.

    Moving along, about seven or eight years ago while doing some research on WWII, I turned my attention to “Squeaky.” I found only that he is buried in Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts.

    After unsuccessful attempts to find any connection in Lowell, I discovered that he was memorialized at the WWII Monument in D.C. Through this connection, I found that early in the war he survived the sinking of his ship in the Southern Atlantic but could never find the name of the ship or the date of the sinking. I also learned that he later joined the Army and lost his life with General Patton at the Battle of the Bulge. I have never been able to find any records as to when, where, or how he met his fate.

    I did this by circumventing miles of red tape, to find someone who would forward a letter from me to the unnamed individual who memorialized “Squeaky.” Months later on a Saturday morning I received a phone call from his ninety-four year old brother and his wife who told me about the ship sinking, his death at the Bulge, and his sister having his remains moved from a cemetery in France to Lowell. Unfortunately, all of the family history was kept by his sister. She has since passed away and all has been lost.

    I was also shocked to learn that it was not Squeaky who was killed in the War but his older brother William. “Squeaky”, the youngest of several brothers, was always picked on and was tagged with the nickname for his whining.

    Jim Hamm

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