While searching for information about CSI's Fellows, I discovered many were veterans. Given that CSI was founded in 1948, immediately after World War II, this was no surprise; early CSI members were adults during the war. There are many websites dedicated to one or another of the multitude of WWII units, and I found several references to people who later would become Fellows. A couple of times, I thought I would try to summarize information about all Fellows who were veterans, but I have not yet finished that project.
A few years ago, while updating Milton Potee's biography, I discovered several references to his military service. As is often the case for many WWII veterans, he mentioned nothing about his service in the autobiography he wrote for the College of Fellows, and even his obituary observed simply that "He also served in the United States Army Air Corps in WWII." As it turns out, that's a bit of an understatement, and I'd like to tell you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
Before graduating from Ames High School in 1943, Milt had already enlisted in the Army Air Forces (AAF or USAFF). He was sent to the Harlingen Army Air Field aerial gunnery school in Texas in January 1944, where he graduated as an aerial gunner with the rank of PFC (private first class). April of 1944 found him at Hamner Field, in Fresno, California, and in May he went to Muroc Army Airfield in California (renamed Edwards Air Force Base in 1950). In July 1944, he was stationed on New Guinea, in the South Pacific Theatre. He was promoted to corporal, then transferred to the 13th AAF Long Rangers, where he spent thirteen months as a tail gunner and assistant engineer in a B-24 Liberator bomber. He was promoted to technical sergeant in October 1944.
Milt's unit, the 370th Bomb Squadron, 307th Bomb Group (Heavy), 13th AAF, saw a lot of action in the South Pacific. It was based in Guadalcanal in 1943, where it attacked Japanese bases in the Solomon and Bismarck Islands, Truk, Palau, and Rabaul. Moving forward as the war progressed, it moved to New Georgia, then took part in the recapture of the Philippines, targeting Leyte, Luzon, and Japanese shipping, and took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. When Milt was discharged from the AAF in October 1945, he received five Air Medals, the Good Conduct Ribbon, the Philippine Liberation ribbon, and the Asiatic-Pacific ribbon with six battle stars. After the war, Milt maintained contact with his comrades through the 307th Bombardment Group Association, attending annual reunions and contributing to its newsletter. He appeared in a news report on KRQE 13 News in 2014, when the reunion was in Santa Fe. He shows up briefly a few times, and has a speaking part at 1:35.
Milt participated in the Veterans History Project, created by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. His video narrative, obtained by an interview with Olivia Olson, is in the Library.
Milt also helped organize, and attended, high school class reunions.
It's worth noting that Milt played a part in creating the "Book of Fellows." At the 1990 meeting of the College of Fellows, it was suggested that a "History of the Fellows" be produced to record information about Fellows, along with the accomplishments that led to Fellowship. The committee formed to pursue this task included Tom Sneary, Jorgen Graugaard, Edwin Johnson, Robert Molseed, Edwin Pairo, Everett Spurling, Howard Steinmann, and Milton Potee. The "Book of Fellows" was published until 2001, after which the biographies were moved first to the Fellows' website (www.FCSINet.org), and more recently to the CSI website, www.csiresources.org.
After leaving the Air Force in October 1945, Milt attended the University of Iowa and graduated with a BS in 1950. He was a district sales manager for Pratt & Lambert in Chicago from 1950 through 1988. Milt joined CSI in 1964 and served on several committees, and in a variety of positions, in the Chicago Chapter, and was Vice President of the Institute in FY1979. He retired in 1988 and moved to Rogers, Arkansas, where he passed away in 2018.
My thanks to the following for information about Milt's history: