Thank you for having me! In “Dear Coach: Letters Home from WWII” I’ve compiled together a variety of the letters mom and I stumbled across in the attic written to dad, Elizabethtown College coach Ira Herr, by his athletes during WWII, with pictures, scrapbook clippings, newspaper articles and a wide variety of historical information from the time to paint a picture of what life must have been like for these small-town college men and women as not only their country went into war, but so did their friends and family. I hope you enjoy the following profile of letter writer and pilot Wib Raffensperger (featured on the cover of “Dear Coach”).
W.Wilbur (Wib) (Raffy) Raffensperger ‘43
Baseball, basketball and soccer player, Raffensperger was into every sport and would have played football too, if the college had a team. Growing up, he lived near pilots who worked at Olmsted Air Base and that may have sparked his early interest in flying. Raffensperger started flying the BT 13A – The Flying Vulture—in training, moved on to the North American AT-6 and 6A, then the B-17. He flew “Roughneck,” his B-17 across the Atlantic and then on 50 combat missions in North Africa and the Mediterranean. He served in the Tunisian and Sicilian Campaigns and participated in the first heavy bombing on Rome. Later, he would fly test missions and train pilots back in the US on the B-17 and B-24. During one intense period in North Africa, he brought Roughneck back with only one engine. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross; but wouldn’t take the offered time off in England, preferring to stay with his crew. As soon as he came home from the 50th mission, he married Marian Sipling, known as Motz. After the war, Raffensperger joined his father-in-law’s business – Sipling Brothers Garage, a Studebaker and Allis-Chalmers dealership, later buying the dealership with a friend. In the late 50s, Raffensperger entered the insurance and financial services industry as an underwriter and financial planner for Connecticut General Insurance. He then joined the trust department of Farmers First National bank, retiring in 1975.
Wib Raffensberger with crew of Roughneck located in the first row left hand side.
On a previous virtual book tour stop at WWARII.com I was able to share a letter written by Wib to my father in 1943 in which he responds to my dad’s “fatherly advice” and shares a glimpse of what life is like for him in North Africa. For more exclusive “Dear Coach: Letters Home from WWII” material stop by the official tour blog to visit both upcoming tour stops as well as past stops. Already we’ve been able to give away an excerpt, share letters, explore the importance that the “team” dynamic and much, much more!
I hope you have as enlightening of a time reading “Dear Coach” as I did writing it. Thank you again to Crystal’s Reading Room for having me!
Follow the rest of Lois Herr’s virtual book tour by stopping by her official blog to see where she’s headed next!