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Dana, Edward G. - T/Sgt

Modified on 2015/08/21 04:02 by adm401bga Categorized as Combat, Personnel

Service during the War

Edward G Dana joined the USAAF in 1944. As with many, he went in with the promise of becoming a pilot, only to be sent to gunnery school instead. He trained in Aurora, Co, where he also earned the Golden Gloves for boxing. He began his service to the 401st in October of 1944 and saw his first combat mission on 21 Nov, 1944, and his last on 21 March, 1945. He flew 36 missions in all and suffered no injuries, even after one of the aircraft he served on, the Hard Seventeen, crashed near Grimbergen, Belgium. After he finished his last combat mission, he stayed on as a flak gunner until the end of the War in Europe.

Recorded Missions

No Missions Found

Life before the War

Edward was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, on August 8th, 1923, and grew up in Mesa, AZ. Like many of the Greatest Generation, his family struggled to live on their farm during the Great Depression. After his father died when he was aged 16, he worked hard to pay off the debt his father left behind. He worked at the Rainbow Baking Company until he entered military service at age 21.

Life after the War

After the war, Edward returned to his job at the Bakery, met the love of his life, Noveda Elizabeth Smith, and they were married in 1946. He worked hard, raised a family of 5 children and retired in 1986. He enjoyed a good retirement and, in 1994, a renewed association with the 401st BG. In 1999, his wife was diagnosed with lymphoma, and he worked hard to see her through it. He, himself, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2003, and endured heart surgery, with his wife by his side, to correct it.

In 2004, while driving her to a doctor's appointment, his wife was killed in a car accident. He was ruled at fault and was emotionally devastated. In order to escape his pain, he returned with the 401st to England in 2005 for what he thought would be the last time. While there, he thought of his crash near Grimbergen and wanted to return there, but couldn't remember exactly where it had occurred. In 2006, he was contacted by a Belgian Aviation Historian, Frans Van Humbeek, with photos and information about the crash.

In 2007, after a week in England, he returned to Grimbergen, where he was given a Hero's Welcome by the People and Town of Grimbergen, local news media, the Belgian Air Force, American Embassy and many Belgians who served during the war or were present at the crash. This did miracles to lift Edward's spirits after the loss of his wife.

He died on February 2, 2013, after 10 years of a weakening heart. He was surrounded by his children, grand-children and great grand-children at his passing. Afterwards, he continued to receive accolades for his service from the City of Grimbergen and others who appreciated his service during the war...

Return to Grimbergen

Edward finally returned with his family to Grimbergen on May 16 of 2007. His day there began by meeting with Frans Van Humbeek and Paul Van Caesbroeck at his hotel. Edward and family were first given a tour of the Grimbergen Basilica and Abbey by Fred de Schouwer. The basilica can be seen in the distance from the crash site. Next, they taken to the field where the Hard Seventeen had crashed and was interviewed by Frans and Radio 2 Belgium. Later that morning, they were given a tour of the airfield that the Hard Seventeen was attempting to land at. At the airfield, Edward, with his son and grandson, was given a flight over the crash-site by Louis Bosman.

After lunch, Edward was taken by army and navy jeeps to the Grimbergen townhall where, unknown to him, were roughly 50 people waiting to thank him for his service. This included local television, U.S. Embassy, Belgian Air Force, the vice-mayor, many who were present at the crash as well as many many well-wishers. There, he was given a plaque from the City by the vice-mayor, allowed to sign a piece of armor from the Hard Seventeen and given a flight-suit temperature regulator from the plane.

They finished their day with dinner and a tour of the Broken Wings museum, a very unique museum dedicated to the archaeology of fallen aircraft.

Edward arrives at the Gemeentehuis
Edward arrives at the Gemeentehuis

When he arrived at the Gemeentehuis (town hall) he was greeted by roughly fifty people, including Belgian veterans, members of the Belgian Air Force, the American Embassy and a local television station.
Veterans of Many Wars
Veterans of Many Wars

All were waiting to thank Edward for his service and crashing in that field some sixty-two years earlier.
Television Coverage
Television Coverage

A local news station was there to film the event.
Surrounded by Brass
Surrounded by Brass

Edward poses with Major Scammel and Colonel Cromwell from the U.S. Embassy in Belgium (left) and with Lt. Gen. Van Caelenberge and Kol. Demortier of the Belgian Airforce. Caelenberge is the highest ranking officer and Chief of Staff of the Air force.
Present at the Crash
Present at the Crash

Mariette Van Den Bloeck and her husband (left) pose for a picture. Mariette came running out of their farm house with her father when the plane finally came to a rest.
A Little Piece of the Plane
A Little Piece of the Plane

Frans Van Humbeek watches as Edward accepts a gift from Louis Renotte. It was a small piece of the plane, a flight suit temperature regulator that helped keep him (or one of his crew-mates) warm at 30,000 feet.


As had been noted, Edward had slipped into a deep depression after the loss of his wife. After the events of 2007, his spirits were greatly lifted. This was noticed not just by his family but many others that new him before and after the accident. For this reason, Edward's children remain deeply grateful to the people of Grimbergen for helping their father to pass from this life to the next with a lighter burden than the one he carried in the years that followed her death.
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