Thursday, December 03, 2009

We Ain't Scared

The Story of Lydle Ocheltree

by David Parmer

The airman kissed his bride goodbye at Union Station in St. Louis. His Weston sweetheart, the former Mildred Blake, boarded the train for the return trip to Weston, and Lydle, his short leave nearly over, returned to the Army Air Force Base at Lambert Field to rejoin his crew. It was September 5th, 1942 and Lydle Carl Ocheltree, an Orlando boy, had to return, along with his crewmates, to base in Harlingen, Texas. Tragically, this short St. Louis honeymoon would be the last time the newlyweds would see each other.

The opening salvos of World War I were still reverberating over Europe when Lydle Ocheltree was born on August 13, 1914 to Samuel Ocheltree and Mary F. (Posey) Ocheltree of Chop Fork. Little did this rural family know that a second world war with roots in the first would take the life of this great-great-grandson of Catherine (Scott) Skinner Posey and Edward Posey, pioneers of the Oil Creek Valley.
Lydle’s father, Samuel Ocheltree was the son of John Ocheltree and Lucinda (Blake) Ocheltree, early settlers of upper Clover Fork. Samuel’s wife, Mary (Posey) Ocheltree, was the daughter of Thomas Scott Posey and Mary Elizabeth Blake. Thomas Scott was the son of William Posey and Sarah Stump Posey and his wife Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of William Blake and Elizabeth “Betsey” Riffle Blake.

left, above: Sgt. Lydle Carl Ocheltree and his bride Mildred Posey
Right: Patch of the 95th bomb group
Left: Leora (Ocheltree) Blake, Clarence Ocheltree, Lillian (Ocheltree) Heater, Lydle Ocheltree, Lula (Ocheltree) Hacker, Bacil Ocheltree.

Lydle was the second of three sons, Clarence being the oldest and Bacil the youngest. Five girls also were welcomed into the Ocheltree home: Dessie, Leora, Lula, Minnie and Lillian. The Ocheltree children attended school on Barbeque Run; however, the distance from the area high schools at Burnsville or Walkersville, coupled with poor transportation, made schooling beyond the eighth grade nearly impossible. Lydle however managed to attend high school for two years before economic hardship dictated that he find work. .
Lydle's bride Mildred was the daughter of James Berlin (Berl) Blake, an Oil Creek native, descended from Blakes, Poseys and Riffles. Her mother, Mae Cottrill, was descended from Hackers Creek area pioneers: Cottrills, Horners and Bonnetts. After the war was over in Europe, the young widow remarried to Roy Ramsburg of Clarksburg."

Pearl Harbor
The events of December 7th, 1941 had a profound impact on all of America, especially on the young men of the country. On Monday, December 8th, 1941, droves of young men arrived at military recruiting stations to enlist their services for the country. Young Lydle Ocheltree was one of those “next day volunteers.” However, because of the overwhelming number of volunteers and the limited military training facilities, Lydle was put on the “will call later” later list of the Army Air Corps. On February 17th, 1942, he received his papers as a full-fledged Army Air Corps enlistee. Lydle was in the first group of enlistees to join the military from Lewis County. During his initial processing at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio, , Lydle demonstrated exceptional aptitude in Morse code and was assigned to training as a radio operator for bomber aircraft. He received his crew training at Kirtland Airfield in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and completed the course in November 1942.

Right: First contingent of volunteers from Lewis County, Feb. 1942. Lydle Ocheltree is third from the right.
Left: The airfield at Horham, Suffolk, England.
Right, below: A B17.

We Ain’t Scared
The B-17, “We Ain’t Scared,” of the 95th Bomb Group based in Horham, Suffolk, England, was the lead bomber in the formation of 147 bombers assigned to strike targets of synthetic oil production plants in the Ruhr Valley on August 12, 1943. On this mission, in addition to the regular crew, the Eighth Bomber Command sent along three observers, Colonel Daniel Jenkins, acting as right waist gunner, Lt. Colonel Churchill Scott, acting as tail gunner, and 1st Lt. John J. Lee. The B-17 was piloted by Captain Clifford Hamilton. The Co-Pilot was Major Clifford Cole who was also the mission commander and the Navigator’s seat was held by 1st Lt. Leroy Lawson. Dropping the bombs held in the bomb bay was the duty of Bombardier 1st Lt. Virgil Jones. Tech Sergeant Lydle Ocheltree was the plane’s radio operator and the gunners were Tech Sergeant John Anderson and Staff Sergeants Claude Deverger and Cleo Gardner.

As the bomb-laden B-17 approached the target, flak grew in intensity. In his memoirs of the mission, Major Cole noted that the number four engine was hit and disabled. Despite efforts to feather the propeller of the disabled engine, the propeller continued to turn, out of sync, and acted as a virtual brake, causing the plane move slowly through the air. Despite this grave handicap, the plane’s commander Hamilton continued on toward the target, even though the plane was an easier target than before. Shortly before reaching the target, the number one engine was also hit by the ack-ack and was disabled. Now Captain Hamilton had no choice but to turn about to England. German fighter planes habitually preyed on disabled bombers and, true to form, pounced. German Focke-Wulfs darted in and out, shooting up the crippled aircraft. The “We Ain’t Scared” gunners shortly ran out of ammunition, leaving the lumbering craft a sitting duck to the German fighter pilots. According to Major Cole, a 20 mm cannon shell pierced the fuselage behind the cockpit, ruptured the oxygen tank and exploded, setting the left wing afire. It may have been this blast, which occurred in the section of the plane occupied by the radio operator, which took the life of Orlando’s Lydle Ocheltree. At 22,000 feet Captain Hamilton ordered his crew to bail out. There was no report of Lydle leaving the aircraft as it spiraled, smoking and afire, to the ground below near Lommel, Belgium. Fate was unkind to the crew of “We Ain’t Scared” on this day. Of the mission’s 147 aircraft two were lost, one of which was “We Ain’t Scared.” Five of its crewmen failed to make it out of the plane and were killed: Lt. Colonel Scott, Captain Hamilton, and Sergeants Ocheltree, Gardner, and Deverger.

. Arlington Cemetery
He lies in a neat grave, covered with a carefully pruned carpet of green grass, and marked by a white marble tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery, overlooking the Potomac River. “Taps” is played nearly every day in this cemetery, as a tribute to those buried there long before, as well to the veteran who is being lowered into a freshly dug grave. He left no children to mourn his sacrifice and all his siblings, save one, are long gone. An American hero, a son of Orlando, winner of the Air Medal, Lydle will be remembered by us, his nieces and nephews and cousins of Orlando, who are proud and grateful for his supreme sacrifice.

Right: Arlington Cemetery
Left: Memorial at Horham, Suffolk, England
. . . .

Note 1: from David Parmer
The bomber, “We Ain’t Scared” was shot down by German fighter pilot Sander, Flt 8./ JG26 FW 190.
~ T/Sgt Lydle Ocheltree was first buried by German occupying forces at the cemetery at the Brustem, Belguim airfield which was used by German fighter planes to attack Allied bombers. After the war, Lydle was re-buried in Arlington Cemetery at the request of his widow, Mildred.
~Crewman S/Sgt Cleo who was also first buried at Brustem was moved after the war to the Ardennes-Neupre Military Cemetery. Capt. Clifford Hamilton, S/Sgt Claude Deverger, and Lt. Col. Churchill Scott who were also buried originally at Brustem were returned after the war to private cemeteries in the United States.
~1/Lt. Leroy Lawson and 1/Lt. John J. Lee were taken prisoner by German ground forces and spent the remainder of the war in Stalag Luft 3. The movie, “The Great Escape,” was based upon captives in this prisoner camp.

~ Col. Daniel Jenkins was grievously wounded and was taken prisoner by German ground forces. He died of his wounds at the Marine Hospital at Leopoldsburg.

~ 1/Lt. Virgil Jones and Major Clifford Cole evaded capture and escaped to Spain with the help of partisans and returned to England.

Note 2: from David Parmer
Lydle’s younger brother, Bacil Ocheltree, was also in the United States Army Air Force during World War II and served with the 92nd Bomber Group in Podington, England as a bomber crewman. Prior to the war, Bacil had served with the CCC in Montana. He died in August 2009 and in buried in Palmyra, Ohio.

Bacil kept a journal of each of his missions over Europe and the record is cherished by his family.

Note 3: from Donna Gloff
See also the entries on the following World War Two soldiers. There are others from Orlando whom we wish to honor in the near future. if you know of a WWII soldier from Orlando, please let us know at
* indicates that the soldier died in service.


  1. This artical which discribes the last moments of Lydle Ocheltree's plane "We Ain't Scared"
    S# 42-30194, Piloted by my grandfather
    Capt Clifford Hamilton. This cooberates other documents I have about that day in August of 1943.

  2. Steve, Thank you so much for your note. If you would like to be in touch with David Parmer, who researched and wrote this article, please send your e-mail address to

  3. Thank you for this innovative article. My brother, Alva Burton Williams was also a Radio Man stationed at this same airfield in England. He drowned while on manuevers and his remains were returned home in Oklahoma for burial..I was only seven but I vividly remember the sheriff delivering the telegram from the War Department..

    I am also an Ochiltree, my great grandmother was Frankie Ochiltree who married my Williams grandfather..

    LuRose Williams in Texas

  4. Thanks for writing, LuRose. Franky Ocheltree was my mother's 1st cousin, 4 times removed. I guess that makes us 2nd cousins, ?? times removed? If you wish to correspond, e-mail me at What is your line to Franky and when did your family leave the hills?

  5. My father was shot down Aug 17, 1943 and was taken to Beverloo Hospital (in Leopoldsburg). He was aware of Colonel Jenkins & two other Americans there - probably the two that crashed with Colonel Jenkins. Dad also thought Jenkins died there, but that is not true. A biography downloaded from the AirForce Website says he was POW until April 29, 1945. MAJOR GENERAL DANIEL WEBSTER JENKINS died March 25, 1989.