The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reports that Pentagon employee and military history enthusiast John Dodds was browsing the racks at a Washington Goodwill when his daughter called him over. Her find: an authentic WWII leather bomber jacket.
From Stars and Stripes:
The leather was a little stiff, but the jacket was still in good shape. On the back was a bearded, red-headed man with a winged helmet, along with the words 'Red Raiders' and '22nd Bomb Group.' The label inside had the model and order number. The lieutenant bars were in place on the shoulders.
The jacket even had a leather name tag sewed on the front: Robert G. Arand.
Dodds bought the jacket for $17 and then made some calls. A day later, he had 90-year-old veteran Robert Arand on the phone. Dodds told Stars and Stripes that once he spoke with Arand, he knew he wanted to return it to the veteran instead of keeping it for himself.
Arand told the paper that the jacket was most likely given away by his wife, who he thinks donated it to a Cincinnati charity sometime around 1950. The Red Raiders, Arand said, were named after a commander with red hair, Col. Richard Robinson.
Via Stars and Stripes:
Arand had flown B-25s in the United States, but flew more than 40 missions in B-24s overseas—from New Guinea, the Philippines and Okinawa. He flew the 22nd Bomb Group’s final bombing attack, a strike on the Kiangwan Airdrome in China. His last mission was a reconnaissance flight from Okinawa to Tokyo and back on Sept. 2, 1945, the day the Japanese signed the surrender in Tokyo Bay.
Arand retired from the Air Force in 1982 as a major. He has five children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He told Stars and Stripes that he's looking forward to showing the jacket to his family.
- John Dodds