|THE FINAL CHAPTER OF THE "TIGER LIL" STORY|
I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from Stewart Arrojo, who said that his step-father, Walter Lentz, was a gunner on the RB-29 shot down by Migs. This plane after much searching turned out to be "Tiger Lil", which became famous during the Korean War. It's a small world, as Stewart lives only a few miles from me. He said that he was expecting a visit from Walter on Saturday, and they would be happy to come to my home and bring newspaper clippings and other information concerning the shoot down. I had searched diligently for some time trying to locate anyone who was on that flight, without success. Now I was to personally face to face interview Walter Lentz, a gunner on that fatal flight.
Stewart and Walter arrived and after small chatter Walter showed me his album of newspaper clippings of the incident. I immediately copied all the documents in order to produce this final chapter on my website. After studying the album it became immediately obvious that this shoot down had caused political chaos in the "cold war", and I found many unusual items that required further explanation. The album was full of newspaper articles, many are used in this story. I was curious why the term "Strategic Air Command" was never used. Was the 91st SRS not a member of SAC at that time? The term 15th Air Force was never used. Was the 91stSRS not a member of the 15th at that time? Just exactly what was the 6007th Composite Group? Was it a bogus organization? I cannot find any information that it ever existed. This flight had the appearance of a "cloak and dagger" operation, as most flights did during the cold war.
After flying in the Tiger Lil during the Korean War I was always proud of the nose
art, and I personally painted most of the missions on her port side.This nose art had made her a well
known celebrity everywhere she went. I was shocked when Walter told me there was no nose art, no combat
missions, everything had been removed. He said he thought the 15th AF emblem was also removed. Why and
when was this done? It was obvious the RB did fly "very close" to Soviet territory, although
the crew denied it. Another strange happening. The crew had orders to shoot back if fired upon. I asked
Walter why, since he was the one who spotted the Migs first, did he not fire at them. He said he was
waiting for orders from the pilot. The pilot, Captain Anthony F. Fieth, received a sharp rebuke and
much criticism from his commanding officer for not returning fire.
After they left I went over all the reports which left me with more questions than answers. What was the 6007th Composite Group? Was the 91stSRS part of SAC and the 15th AF? What happened to the nose art? How did the one crewmember die? Why did the pilot not give the command to fire? Why did Walter not fire? The crew had orders to fire, why did he have to wait for the pilots O.K? Were any turrets actually removed? So the list goes on and on.
In previous stories I wrote about the "Life and Death of Tiger Lil", starting with her roll out at Boeing. This story will be the last and final chapter of this much loved aircraft. The story of the tragic ending of a great RB-29. I will always remember her as she was during the Korean war. Now just a fading memory of a great life with a great crew during the "good old days". It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.