"First To Fall" is the story of one spirit lost in the maelstrom of World War II. This biography chronicles William Edward Cramsie's strong Irish values, his dedication as a West Point cadet and his heroic service with the 416th Bomb Group. In searching for facts about Cramsie's life, and his tragic death, it was my good fortune to meet and bond with many people whose paths would otherwise never have crossed mine. This blog is about that path of discovery. -- Wayne G. Sayles
This past week I spent an afternoon with Ralph Conte in Columbia, Missouri. This active nonagenarian was a Bombardier/Navigator with the 669th and 670th Bomb Squadrons of the 416th Bomb Group during WWII and authored the Group history Attack Bombers We Need You. Most of his 65 combat missions were flown in the A-20 Havoc. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and numerous other U.S. and Allied Nation decorations and awards. Ralph graciously consented to sitting for a video taping session and for three hours he shared many remembrances of his days in the 416th, some delightful and some insightful—all of them interesting. At the very end of the session, Ralph reflected on the process of looking back. It was a poignant moment that I thought worth sharing now. The remainder of this interview will serve as source material, along with other interviews, photos and remembrances, for an eventual documentary about the 416th.