Tri-Citians paid for a bomber in WWII. The pilot’s son has returned with his memories

A look at donated artifacts belonging to Day’s Pay B-17 bomber pilot

The family of the pilot of B-17 bomber Day’s Pay donated artifacts to Washington State University Tri-Cities Hanford History Project.
Up Next
The family of the pilot of B-17 bomber Day’s Pay donated artifacts to Washington State University Tri-Cities Hanford History Project.

Enthusiasm for buying war bonds at Hanford was flagging in 1944.

Workers had migrated from across the nation to the dust-blown, barren Eastern Washington desert for a World War II project so secret they didn’t know what they were building.

From the paychecks they earned for long days of work, they were urged to buy war bonds — another sacrifice for the war.

Workers were still buying bonds, but sales were dropping, said Robert Franklin, archivist with the Washington State Tri-Cities’ Hanford History Project.

A new campaign rekindled their enthusiasm.

“Give a day’s pay and send a bomber on its way,” they were urged.

The 44,300 workers at the Hanford Engineering Works donated enough of their pay to cover the $300,000 cost of a B-17 Flying Fortress.

On July 23, 1944, workers gathered to see it christened “Day’s Pay” at the former Hanford nuclear reservation air field before it was sent to England.

Days Pay close.JPG
Hanford workers donated a day’s pay in 1944 to purchase a B-17 bomber named “Day’s Pay” for their sacrifice. Courtesy DOE

Now a tangible bit of Day’s Pay has returned to the Tri-Cities.

For the world to enjoy

The family of Arlys “Duane” Wineinger, who flew the bomber, have donated artifacts owned by the pilot.

On Wednesday, a box was carefully unpacked at the Hanford History Project office as the late pilot’s son Wyatt Wineinger and daughter-in-law Laura Wineinger, watched.

N1D0004678 (1).jpg
Day’s Pay pilot Arlys “Duane” Wineinger, left, talks with ground crew chief Salvadore Leto at the B-17 bomber he flew. Courtesy DOE

Out first came the headset Duane wore to pilot Day’s Pay on 24 bombing missions over France, Belgium and Germany.

“I want it here for the world to enjoy,” said Wyatt, of Holcomb, Kansas.

The headset and other artifacts will be officially turned over to the history project at a public event 1 p.m. Saturday at the project office, 2892 Pauling Ave., in Richland.

Wyatt Wineinger will give a presentation on the history of Day’s Pay and the stories his late father told about the war at 6 p.m. Friday in the East Auditorium at WSU Tri-Cities.

The donated artifacts will be on display.

“It’s clear the community forged a connection with the plane,” Franklin said.

For Christmas 1944, an entire pallet of candy, cigarettes and other gifts arrived in England for Duane, his son said.

Then, and throughout the year, came cards and letters from workers at Hanford who were building the complex that would produce plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping end the war in 1945.

Local historians gather around a box in front of Wyatt Wineinger, center, inside WSU Hanford History Project offices in Richland on Wednesday. The box contains donated artifacts that belonged to Arlys “Duane” Wineinger, a World War II pilot of the B-17 named Day’s Pay. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

A stash of that mail, which Wyatt Wineinger found among his father’s belongings, is part of the donation.

“My brother, my husband, and four brother-in-laws are in the service overseas,” wrote Hanford worker Jane Jones to Duane in a Christmas letter.

Her brother was in the South Pacific, and her husband’s whereabouts were unknown, she wrote.

“God bless you for winning the war, and may you be home with you(r) family for Christmas,” she ended her letter.

Paid for by citizens

Duane took pride in the Day’s Pay, his son said, saying that the citizens had paid for it, not the government.

He had flown 12 missions in a B-24 Liberator when he was reassigned to Day’s Pay.

The crew was on edge knowing that the first bombing flight in their new B-17 would be their 13th mission.

But “that mission went off without a hitch,” Wyatt said.

Other flights were harrowing.

During one, the shrapnel was so heavy that the waist gunner “swore he could get out and walk across (it),” Wyatt said.

The bombs got so close that the crew could feel the bump in the Day’s Pay every time one blew up, as their B-17 flew in the bottom level of a four-plane formation.

Duane took it up 10 feet and “it quit jumping,” his son said.

Capture Days Pay.JPG
Hanford workers turned out to see Day’s Pay in 1944, a B-17 Bomber that Hanford workers donated a day of pay to purchase for the war effort. Courtesy DOE

During another flight, the bombardier got up to bum a Lucky Strike cigarette off Duane. When he got back to his set, a hole had been blown through it.

The worst was when the plane was shot up so badly that Duane had to fly back to England with one of four engines.

As he got close to the English channel, he told his crew to bail out. If the plane went down in the cold water of the channel, they would not survive.

But when they learned that the pilot was staying with the Day’s Play, they refused and finished the flight with him.

The plane landed in England with just 25 gallons of fuel. Duane saved a piece of shrapnel that had gone through the fuel tank in his foot locker, his son said.

In all the flights they “never lost a crew member,” Laura said.

A lifelong interest

Duane had never been much of a student before being drafted as a soldier.

But he was told that if he could pass an aptitude test, he could get into the Army Air Corps.

So Duane studied at night with a blanket pulled over his head, keeping meticulous notes.

The family donated the notebook, with lists of aircraft for identification, definitions of terms like vertical and longitudinal axis, and a graph showing how wind and other factors affect a bomb drop.

Duane’s studying gained him his assignment as a pilot and led to a lifelong interest in research.

“He spent hours at the library researching anything,” Laura said.

Wyatt and Laura Wineinger, and historian Donald Sorenson, right, take artifacts out of a box on Wednesday at the Hanford History Project office at Washington State University in Richland. The artifacts belonged to Wyatt Wineinger’s father, Day’s Pay bomber pilot Arlys “Duane” Wineinger, and were donated by Wyatt to the Washington State University Tri-Cities Hanford History Project. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

He also became interested in astronomy and built himself a telescope, painstakingly grinding the glass to make a perfect mirror.

After leaving the military, Duane was offered a job flying cargo from Miami to South America, but that’s not the life his wife envisioned.

They settled in Kansas and farmed.

“The war taught him not to get shook up,” his son said. “He just did not get excited.”

Wyatt remembered his father calming driving into a ditch and then back onto the road when a Camaro came barreling down the road straight at his car. The near miss left his son shaking, but Duane was unperturbed.

He taught Wyatt to drive like a pilot, always planning ahead in case something went wrong.

Hanford History Project at Washington State University in Richland, Washington, has a contract to curate and care for items in the vast Hanford collection of artifacts and archival material. About 40 percent of the Hanford collection has been move

Duane considered his war assignment fortunate.

He liked the B-17, saying it flew so much better than the Liberator that “it almost flew itself.”

From the air, he took photos of the ground stretched out below as bombs were dropped and other B-17s flew in formation.

“I had the clean part of the war,” his son remembers him saying. “I didn’t have to look at people killed.”

The pilot’s commanding officer gave him a certificate of membership in the “Lucky Bastard’s Club” after he flew his last mission.

Duane died in 1987. On his head stone is a picture of Day’s Pay.

Not forgotten

The plane was scrapped in 1947 in Arizona.

But it is not forgotten in the Tri-Cities community.

The Richland High Class of 1993 raised $21,000 to pay an artist to paint a 3,200-square foot mural outside the gymnasium depicting the bomber.

Previously, the Wineinger family donated Duane’s bomber jacket to Richland High. The jacket and radioman Allen Cohen’s headgear were stolen in 1996, but later recovered at a student’s home.

They were stolen a second time in 2005 from a locked case and have not been found. The bomber jacket has “Captain Wineinger” stitched on the front.

On the back is a painting of Day’s Pay and Shoo Shoo Baby, another bomber.

The theft hasn’t stopped the family from donating more artifacts this week.

Read Next

The latest donations will be kept in the custody of the Hanford History Project and will be available for display at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes Hanford’s B Reactor.

As the box was unpacked Wednesday, out came the pilot and copilot’s flight ax from Day’s Pay. It was one of three carried on board in case the nine-member crew needed to chop their way out of the plane after a crash.

The family also included Duane’s flight goggles, his flight diary, a copy of his dog tag, his “Pilot’s Information File” textbook and photos he took.

Local historian Donald Sorenson holds Day’s Pay B‑17 bomber pilot Arlys “Duane” Wineinger’s crash ax. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

The physical items — from those used on the plane to the letters sent from the homefront — make the history specific and tangible.

“The history of this plane is woven into the community,” Franklin said.

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533; @HanfordNews