Presentation Date: May 26, 2016
Ralph Welsh, First Lieutenant, United States Army Air Forces
Ralph Welsh, First Lieutenant, US Army Air Forces
Ralph was born in 1920 in the small town of Outlook in northeast Montana; he had two older sisters. Their father ran the town’s grain elevator; their mother was a housewife. He attended Lignite high school and graduated at age 15 in 1935. At age 19, he landed an office job with a local mining company.
At age 21, Ralph enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Santa Ana Army Air Base, California and entered the aviation cadet program. After graduation as a Second Lieutenant, he began B-24 First Pilot training at Kirtland Air Base near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In December1943, Ralph and his B-24 crew departed Florida for England via Trinidad; Belem, Brazil; Dakar, Senegal; Marrakesh, Morocco; and Wales. At their new duty station (RAF Seething, South Norfolk) they joined the 712th Bomb Squadron, 448th Bomb Group, 20th Air Wing, 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force from December 1943 until April 1945.
During his 33 combat missions In the European Theater of Operations (ETO), Ralph’s strategic bombing targets included railroad yards, aircraft and aircraft engine manufacturing plants, a synthetic oil production plant, Hamburg and Berlin, etc.
Ralph’s military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross and The Air Medal with four Oak Leaf clusters.
In April 1945, he returned to the US on the Queen Mary which had been converted to a 15,000-man troop ship but was very uncrowded during its westbound Atlantic crossings at that time.
Ralph was discharged in the rank of First Lieutenant and used the GI Bill to attend college at Gonzaga and then Stanford majoring in economics. He graduated in 1949 and began work as an administrative assistant in a Portland, Oregon stock brokerage.
During the Korean conflict, Ralph was recalled to active duty at Geiger Field near Spokane, Washington. Assigned to a filter center, he oversaw numerous civilian volunteers who reported sightings of potentially hostile aircraft overflying the Pacific Northwest.
After the end of hostilities, he became a stockbroker with Schwabacher and Company in San Francisco and later started his own import business.
In 1956, Ralph married; the couple had four children and lives in San Francisco.
He authored a book titled “WOW”, an anthology of B-24 crews and missions flown during World War II. He is currently publishing a 400-page book called “Bombs Away”.