COMMENTS & NOTES
COL NEIL B. "CHICK" HARDING
100th Bomb Group (H)
USAAF Serial # 0-16930
USAF Serial # 322A.
THE 100TH REVERED COLONEL NEIL BOSWORTH. "CHICK" HARDING; COMMANDER OF THE 100TH DURING THE EARLY PHASE OF THE AIR WAR OVER EUROPE. HELD IN HIGH ESTEEM BY THE EARLY 100TH MEMBERS, CARRIED ON UNDER SEVERE PHYSICALLY DISTRESS, WAS THE COMMANDER DURING THE PERIOD THE 100TH BECAME LEGENDARY. PROBABLY NO 100TH C.O. WAS MORE RESPECTED THAN COL. CHICK HARDING. HE IS A LARGER THAN LIFE FIGURE IN 100TH HISTORY.
Date of Service: June 14, 1927 to August 1, 1957
West Point: July 2, 1923, to Jun 14, 1927
Kelly Field: Advanced Flying School-Graduated in 1928
USA: 1928-1930 Selfridge Field, Michigan
USA: Kelly Field-5 years as Instructor of Pursuit Training
Panama Canal Zone: Spent 2 years there
USA: Langley Field, Virginia, Pilot- 20th Bombardment Squadron, General HQ Air Force (Maj Gen. Frank Andrews C.O.)
Puerto Rico: In Charge of Training B-17 Pilots
Africa Dec 7, 1941 to Aug 1942 Air Transport Command (checking supply routes)
USA: Sept. 1942 C.O. Morrison Field Air Base, West Palm Beach Florida
USA: April 1, 1943-June, 1943 - First Commanding Officer of the 401st Bomb Group (H) at Fort George Wright Field in Spokane
Washington. On May 27, 1943 the Group was ordered to Geiger Field, Spokane WA. In Early June 1943 Col Harding is
relieved of command and sent to England to take over command of the 100th Bomb Group (H) at Thorpe Abbotts.
England June 26, 1943 to April 1944 (CO of 100th Bomb Group starting July 2, 1943)*
USA: May 1945 Chief of Staff, 3rd Air Force, McDill Field)
USA: Armed Forces Staff College for Six Months
Hawaii Sept 3, 1947 to Sept 30, 1949 (CO of Hickam AFB)
Peru May 27, 1953 to April 16, 1956
*In April 1944 Col Harding was sent Stateside for a gal stone operation at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. After Spending Six Weeks recuperating, he was sent to McDill Field as Chief of Staff to Gen Joseph Atkinson, HQ of the Third Air Force.
Rank Timeline: 2nd Lt Permanent Rank June 14, 1927
1st Lt Permanent Rank Sept 1, 1933
Capt Temporary Rank Mar 15, 1935
Capt Permanent Rank Jun 14, 1937
Maj Temporary Rank Jan 31, 1941
Lt Col Temporary Rank Jan 5, 1942
Col Temporary Rank Mar 1, 1942
Maj. Permanent Rank Jun 14, 1944
Col Permanent Rank Apr 2, 1948
Langley Field VA. Feb 14, 1938: AP
Six "Flying Fortress" bombers and 49 officers and men will take off from Langley Field tomorrow enroute to Miami Fla from where they will "officially depart" for Buenos Aires…The giant four-engined B-17 planes will be in charge of Lt Col Robert Olds, commanding officer of the second bombardment group, who will be at the controls of the lead bomber…Capt Neil B. Harding, Beverly W. Va., will command one of the planes.
Miami Fla. Feb 17, 1938: Six huge Army bombers on a nonstop goodwill flight from Miami to Buenos Aries. Commanded by Lt Col Robert Olds (C.O. Second Bombardment Group) took off at 12:55 am today for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Forty-nine officers and men were on the flight, their most ambitious nonstop mass formation the army has ever undertaken.
Buenos Aires, Feb 18, 1938: Five "flying fortresses" of the United States Army landed shortly after 11 a.m. EST after a record breaking one-stop (Lima, Peru) flight from Miami, Fla…The sixth plane (flown by Maj J.V. Meloy) had to stay in Lima, Peru due to propeller problems but took off at 6:20 a.m. EST to join the other five bombers in Argentina.
Col Neil "Chick" Harding was a Graduate of West Point and a famed football coach for the Army. He took over Command of the 100th Bomb Group from July 2, 1943, from Col Huglin and remained C.O. until March 7, 1944, when he was sent Stateside for gall stones. He had been suffering for weeks but simply refused to report to the medics. He arrived home in April 1944 and spent six weeks in Walter Reed hospital. He was CO at the most difficult time in the Groups History and is beloved by all who served under him. There is no official biography on Chick but he did receive the Silver Star in August 1943 for gallantry leading 24 July 43 mission to Trondheim. His partial list of missions he lead with the 100th Bomb Group are as follows:
July 4, 1943 LaPallice a/c 23307 "Skipper" (flying with Lt Swartout Crew)
July 14, 1943 Le Bourget a/c 230305 "Flak Shack" (flying with Lt Barnhill Crew)
July 24, 1943 Trondheim a/c 230061 "Just-A-Snappin" (flying with Eve Blakely Crew)
July 26, 1943 Warnemunde a/c 230047 "Sweater Girl" (flying with Mark Carnell Crew)
Aug 12, 1943 Wessling a/c 23393 Just-A-Snappin (flying with Eve Blakely Crew)
Sept. 9, 1943 Arth (Scrubbed)
Sept 27, 1943 Emden a/c 23357 Detached sevice from 482nd BG (pathfinder Crew)
Oct. 9, 1943 Marienburg a/c 230830 "M'lle Zig Zig" (flying with John Brady Crew)
Nov 13, 1943 Bremen
Feb 25, 1943 Regensburg
His personnel record shows 16 Aerial Missions and 113 Combat Hours (Europe B-17)
Comments from Gen Ira Eaker to a reporter about "his team", the 8th Air Force and Chick Harding in particular. These were comments made after the Group lost 4 aircraft , 40 men over Paris on September 3, 1943 and the spirits were low on the base….
"Well, the command officer of that Station is Col Chick Harding, who used to play football at West Point and later helped coach the team. He had to face his deflated boys when they came back. He had to get them ready for the next mission which was tougher. He did it as a grid coach would nurse a team back to health, reinspire men who had been gravely hurt by the horror of seeing their friends go down, not in defeat, but death."
List of awards and Medals include:
Silver Star (for leading July 24, 1943 mission to Trondheim, Norway,)
Distinguished Flying Cross (for supply route survey flights to Africa June 5-July 20, 1942) with OLC (for Posen mission Feb 24, 1944)
Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters
American Defense Ribbon with One Star
American Theater Ribbon w/One Star
ETO Ribbon with two Battle Stars
Mackay Trophy Ribbon
Croix de Guerre w/ Palm
Distinguished Unit Ribbon (Regensburg Mission) with OLC (Berlin Missions Mar 4,6,8, 1944)
Basically........Air Medal (do not know how many Oak Leaf Clusters.....Silver Star (I think twice but do not know for sure). DFC with Oak Leaf Clusters (do not know how many)..… Helen Harding Wynne
Here is some information provided by Chick Harding Daughter Helen:
So let us just begin and then take this up in segments...
1. I only remember Dad saying he had been on 16 missions before he was sent home with the impacted stones that almost killed him (when it all was over at Walter Reed, he weighed 115 lbs). He was more "sick" not to be with his precious 100th than he was from his near-fatal condition. I do remember it well....I was 12 at that time.
2. When WWII broke out, we were at Borinquen Field (will check sp) Puerto Rico...later Ramey AFB. Dad was immediately called to survey oil routes in Africa and was there for quite a few months after which he was named CO of Morrison AFB (FL) and we were there for about a year before he was sent to England and the 8th. As well as I can remember (but will check the best that I can ...with so many records gone south) he went immediately to the 100th upon arriving in England.
Trivia: Dad's plane's name was: "DORHELCLA" for Doris (mom...Dodie; me, Helen; and my sister Clare (ie Kay).... The two brothers were not on the scene yet.
Helen Harding Wynne
According to Christine Urich (Chicks Granddaughter) Col Harding flew the 3rd B17 out of the Boeing factory and put to rest the last one.
COL NEIL "CHICK" HARDING STAYED IN THE AIR FORCE AFTER THE WAR, RETIRING IN 1957. OUR BELOVED CO PASSED AWAY APRIL 22 1978 AND IS BURIED IN ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY ALONG WITH HIS WIFE DORIS DALE HARDING.
(BUCKY FRAME, CHICK HARDINGS NEPHEW)
Subj: re:lost treasures ...and primarily Neil"Chick"Harding 11/29/03 Liz
Date: 12/10/2003 5:16:37 PM Pacific Standard Time
File: heroes1copy.jpg (550838 bytes) DL Time (31200 bps): < 5 minutes
Sent from the Internet (Details)
I would like to send this article that my Mom (Chick's oldest daughter- Helen Harding Wynne)mentioned in her response to:Neil"Chick"Harding - 11/29/03. I will send it in 6 jpg attachments for I do not want to take this article out of the house. The magazines were great large in those days! I believe in quoting this article for my nephew (who recently got home from Iraq)in one of our correspondences...that it was quite the moral booster! He shared it with fellow soliders-as you might with the relatives mentioned in this article. I am sure you might be able to draft this up from The Woman's Home Campanion Archives where ever they may be? ..crediting the authoress of course.
I also have an excellent book lent to me by Mom ( I have to give it back) it is a priceless piece -Jablonski, Edward,Flying Fortress,Doubleday Inc.,Garden City, NY, 1965. Based upon personal interviews, Army records and the Boeing Corp's data...Incrediable photo essays, plane blue prints, mission arial shots etc.
Please let my Mom know if you post this - she would be delighted firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally if you might post my grandfather's death date -04/22/1978. He is buried at Arlington with his wife Doris Dale.
My grandfather was much loved in and out of the "Army Air Force". We were so excited by this website, thankyou so much!
(Chick's eldest granddaughter)
Christine Wynne Urick
Did I ever tell you (think I did) that I flew with Dad. In the "olden days" dependents could go up every six months in peacetime, that is. The best of all was the trip from California to Aberdeen, MD when Dad's 17 was scheduled MATS to afford my concurrent travel back from college. I donned a flight suit and slept on parachutes in the bombay after "playing" co-pilot for a while. Had flown from Hickam to San Francisco on the MARS.
Blessings helen Harding Wynn
You just made my day and Christmas Season with this e-letter from General Mason. Was with
my folks at Aberdeen during his first tour and this was his 2nd upon return from Peru.
Married at that time, I only visited while my husband (USNA) was at sea.... thus wasn't there for Dad's retirement
as a new grandson was only days old.
You must know that Gen. Mason's remembrance of that ceremony, which had never been described to me, fills a blessed
page from the past. As on the first tour when I was just a young student nurse and whole-heartedly in love with one of Dad's crew,
do remember a return from Churchill. Had been asked what I wanted to be brought back and I said SNOW. Well Dad and Russ
did bring me a big box of snow and we had one heck of a snow-ball fight in front of the quarters that night.
Had been blessed as well to fly with Dad in those days when one could take up a dependent every six months....first flight in a
B-25 our of Ramey (then Boinquen Field)....last when he had his return flight redesignated as MATS as I had concurrent travel...to
bring me home from college in Calif. to Aberdeen....B-17....slept in the bomb-bay on top of the chutes.
So thank you again for memories Mike and Gen. Mason.
Blessings and gratitude,
Helen Harding Wynne
Sent: 12/10/2010 10:42:29 A.M. Pacific Standard Time
Subj: Memories of Col. Harding, version 2
As a very young lieutenant navigator I had the privilege of serving
under his command in 1955-1957. During that period he was commander of
the 6570th Test Group (Chemical and Ordnance) at the Aberdeen Proving
Ground, Maryland. The group consisted of a squadron at Aberdeen,
another at the nearby Army Chemical Center, Edgewood, MD, and a
detachment at the Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. Our missions were
testing of ordnance being developed for the USAF by the US Army, and
transport of special cargo related to the testing.
I was his navigator on a couple of long flights, one to Ramey AFB in
Puerto Rico, and the other to RCAF Churchill on Hudson's Bay. He was
most gracious in complimenting me for getting the headings and ETAs
correct. Even better was his insistence that all of the crew be given
the best available billets at those locations. At Churchill I was in
the VOQ next door to him.
I knew he was a very special person when I observed that whenever he
arrived at any USAF base, he was likely to be greeted by a general
officer with obvious warmth and respect.
At the time of his retirement ceremony, I was the adjutant of the
squadron at Aberdeen and read his retirement orders. It was an effort
to avoid breaking up during the reading, but I got through it OK.
I consder that his example was a significant factor in whatever success
I have had in both military and civilian life.
I should have written this years ago, but better late than never.
Allen S. Mason
BGEN, USAFR (Ret)
Colonel Neil Harding - Group Commanding Officer in his office at Thorpe Abbotts. (100th Photo Archives)
Col. Chick Harding and Lt. "Big" Joe Armanini, (BOM) on the Sam Barr Crew. (100th Photo Archives)
Col Neil B. "Chick" Harding, Group CO from July 1943-March 1944
Jack Kidd, Chick Harding, Gen Huglin with Mohammad
West Point Cadet Neil B. Harding.
Col Harding Family in Hawaii.
Offical USAF photo. Col Neil B. Harding
Chick Harding (2nd from Left) Robert Flesher (third from Left), and Bucky Elton (far right) are in the photo
Cigarette Case given to Chick Harding by his staff before he left the Group. Currently owned by Michael P. Faley and on display at Thorpe Abbotts Tower Museum.
Left to right: Capt Douglas (Group Bombardier), Lt. Ken Welty (Nav), Lt Col John Bennett (349th CO and Air Exe) Col Neil B. "Chick" Harding (Group CO), Maj John B. "Jack" Kidd 351st CO and Group Operations), Maj Harry Crosby (Group Navigator), Lt Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal (from the collection of Anthony Pecyk)
Col Neil B. "Chick" Harding receiving Silver Star from then Col Curtis E. LeMay, CO of 3rd Air Division.
The first recipients of the Purple Heart in the 100th Bomb Group; Col. Harding on the far right (from the photo collection of John Luckadoo).
Neil B. Harding, beside Jimmy Doolittle and Curtis LeMay (from the collection of Edmund Forkner)
Colonel Neil Harding, Group Commanding Officer, presenting Maj John Bennett the Air Medal.
Col. Harding, commander, 100th Bomb Group with the initial air metal recipients.
Col. Neil B. Harding - 100th Bomb Group combat commander
From left: Colonel Neil B. "Chick" Harding, Robert Flesher & Albert "Bucky" Elton. (100th Photo Archives)
Colonel Kessler, C.O. 13th Combat Wing, Colonel Chick Harding, C.O. 100th Bomb Group, Lt. Daniel L. Schmucker, Navigator on the Owen "Cowboy" Roane crew. (100th Photo Archives)
Group and Squadron Officers await a mission return. Extreme right, shielding eyes is the 100th's legendary Sammy Barr. The Kidd Collection.
Group Officers await mission return. On the top of the tower are from left Neil B. Harding, Group CO, and Jack Kidd Group Operations Officer. Lower are Sammy Barr with back to to camera at left, Sumner Reeder with hands on railing and Cosgrove from S-2. Kidd Collection
Officers await mission return. Kidd Collection
Photo taken at Arlington National Cemetery, courtesy of Jack O'Leary
Unidentified 100th Airmen with a gift for Adolf from the 100th beloved Combat Commander - Colonel Chick Harding. (100th Photo Archives)
From left, Magee C. Fuller, Neil B. Harding, Owen D. "Cowboy" Roane, and Robert "Red " Stuart
The original damaged image to this piece of work is a mere 93KB 'big' and only 72 dpi in resolution. Not very much to go on!The officers and pilots of the 100th BG on a bright but very cold clear day at Thorpe Abbotts, England, in the winter 1943-44. I am unsure if they are watching the planes in or out!?
Image: Richard Tallent Collection - 100th BG Association - All rights reserved.
Repair, re-balance, colourisation - Nathan Howland @HowdiColour .
Standing L-R Sam Barr with back to us, Maj Flesher, Air Exec, Capt Sumner Reeder, S-2 officers Cosgrove and Red Bowman,
Top of tower is Col Chick Harding Group CO and Maj Jack Kidd, Operations Officer
The first group of 100th Bomb Group personnel to receive the Air Medal (from the collection of John Luckadoo).