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14 July 2019

Memorial Day, starring Milton Potee, CSI College of Fellows, Class of 1980

Earlier this year, while doing my usual sleuthing for information about CSI Fellows, I discovered several references to Milton Potee's military service. As seems to be typical for many veterans, he mentioned nothing about his service in the autobiography he wrote for the College of Fellows, and even his obituary observed only 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, California. In July 1944, he was stationed in New Guinea and promoted to corporal, after which he was 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.

Pictures courtesy of the

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.

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.


Milt was involved in the Veterans History Project, created by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. His personal narrative, obtained by an interview with Olivia Olson, is on a DVD in the Library.

Milt also helped organize, and attended, high school class reunions.

Article courtesy of the Ames High School Alumni Association

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.

Milt Potee and Joe McGuire

My thanks to the following for information about Milt's history:
The 307th Bombardment Group Association
The Ames History Museum
The Ames High School Alumni Association
The Los Alamos Daily Post

For information about Milt's CSI activities, see his biography on the CSI Fellows' website.

This article first appeared in the June 2019 CSI College of Fellows Update, e-newsletter for the College of Fellows.

If you have historical anecdotes, photos, or documents about CSI Fellows please tell me in the comments below.

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