WW2 - Caterpillar Club
I bought this two piece grouping back in 2002 from a local antique dealer who knew a friend of the man and told me the following: Al was a barnstormer pilot and joined the military before the war. In 1940, Lt. Bachmann took a biplane trainer to California with an unauthorized enlisted friend riding with him. They crashed into a mountain because of low visibility and his friend was killed. He was court martialed and tossed out of the military. When the war started, he re-enlisted and became part of a training crew on bombers. On a training flight down south, the bomber caught fire and all bailed out. His laminated card has the date of 10 May 44 for the jump. There is also an 8" by 10" photo that show Mr. Bachmann at an airshow in Fall River, Mass. sometime during the 1960's. He is the third from the left, civilian clothes and a tag hanging from his shirt. Worthy of more research and I will pass on all the info that I have.
I know this is not WW2 vintage, but I didn't know where else to put it. This was the first and only Naval Pilot Caterpillar Club member that I ever ran across. John William Petrick enlisted in the V-5 Aviation Cadet program on 12 April 46, then as a Midshipman he was appointed a Naval Aviator on 9 Dec 49. Lt. Petrick became a Qualified Navy Helicopter Pilot on 29 Sept. 59 and followed up by being part of Whirlybird Student Class 3-60. His Caterpillar Club card, one that I had never seen before, states that he jumped on 9 August 1961. While he was test flying an overhauled AD-6 Skyraider out of NAS Quonset Point, R.I., Lt. Petrick's AD-6 was involved in a mid-air collision with another AD-6. Both pilots bailed out of their respective aircraft, with Lt Petrick receiving critical injuries. Included in this grouping are his Navy V-5 patch, pin & card, Naval pilot wings and a pilot bracelet, bullion pilot wings, his boxed Pratt & Whitney Aircraft wing & card, 3 flight log books, photo's of him in a T-6 trainer & helicopter's, numerous cards and other paper plus a China Service Medal. I've also included his Switlik Caterpillar Club replacement certificate, wallet card and pin, plus copies of the Aircraft Accident Report and a full report as to what happened as per the investigation. This will be a nice research project for someone.
Here is a later Caterpillar Club grouping for 2LT William D. Lutgen of the 432nd FIS based out of Truax Field, Madison, Wisc. who had to jump from his F-86D after a mid-air collision with an F-89 type aircraft during simulated combat. Both pilots made successful jumps, but the Radar Observer in the F-89 hit the ground, still in his seat, and was killed. Included are Lt Lutgen's original Caterpillar Club Certificate, copies of his application for the Caterpillar Club, a replacement Caterpillar Club certificate, wallet card and Caterpillar Club pin , his jump story and initial handwritten letter to Switlik. I even got a few of his rank insignia, a ribbon bar and a neat F-86 alum. coin from North American Aviation, Inc. I've also included a huge amount of research paper which consists of copies of the MACR for the incident and copies of photographs of the crash site. Lots of information.
This grouping is to Sgt. Ronald A. Brown, a gunner on a B-24 with the 742nd Bomb Sq., 455th Bomb Gp., 15th AAF stationed at the San Giovanni Air Field, Italy. After their aircraft's controls were knocked out by enemy flak on 11 April 1945, Sgt. Brown jumped and became a POW as did the rest of the crew. Included in this grouping: his Caterpillar Club pin and certificate from Switlik Parachute Co., 2 metal & 1 cloth airgunner wings, collar brass, sgt. stripes, felt AAF patch & 3 medals and their ribbons plus a photo of him and his crew. I'm also including a copy of the MACR report which gives a little more information about the circumstances of their being brought down, a copy of his Switlik Caterpillar Club application and a replacement wallet card from Switlik. Nice grouping worthy of more research.
A set of Caterpillar Club pins as given out by the Switlik Parachute Company through the Caterpillar Club of Trenton, N.J. Both pins are black enamel over sterling silver. The larger one is marked "Metal Arts Co. Roch. NY" and measures 1 1/8 inches. The smaller one, for civilian clothes, is 11/16 inches. Super set to find.