Frederick Hellenga
Hellenga Crew
5th Air Force
90th Bomb Group
Donation made by
Marianna and Gary Hellenga
Blogs  (Updates, insights and ramblings from Alejandro Mena and his Team) . . .
Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2020 by Alejandro Mena    

Strength in Diversity

The 11 men who served under the designation, CREW 713, came from disparate backgrounds.  It was this blend of ethnicity and religious backgrounds which gave the crew their strength.  Some of the men were country boys, some were city bred. Some were college educated and some barely had a high school education. Some were Protestant and some were Catholic. They came from Italian, Irish, Scottish, German and Mexican backgrounds.  But all of them were Americans…and all of them volunteered for the Army Air Corps.  It is important to remember that point. They weren't drafted, they volunteered to join the Army Air Corps. They took an oath to defend their country, and defend it, they did.

Charles Bastien-Co-pilot on Nelson Crew #714

In today's world of political divisiveness and fragmented tribes, it would be wise to remember that all the bomber crews who served in WWII were made up of the same diversity.  CREW 713 was not unique in this, rather, they were the norm.  Crews would form up after basic training and specific secondary training was acquired.  Only after the Army Air Corps was sure that the men were going to succeed in their chosen paths were they sent to bomber school for crew training.  It was here that the camaraderie and sense of teamwork was established.  Individual crewmen were then assigned to various crews at Combat Crew Training School. Crews trained together, bunked together, went out on the town during leave and often attended Church together. They bonded together.  This bond amongst crews was important. Often, in the heat of battle, they were depending on their training and their trust of one another to get them through a tough mission. Trust was the most important thing they learned.  They learned to depend on each other.  In the words of Charles Bastien, "I was frightened, of course! But you put that aside when you take off, because you're one of ten in a plane, and you count on those people for support and they count on YOU for support, so you've got to be there for them...and that's your job and that's what you do…dammit! You have to, you know? And you can go cry later on, when you get on the ground, but you can't do it up there…you gotta bring that plane back."  That is the definition of crew and teamwork.  Pulling together for a common goal.  Sometimes, we need to remember these things as we go through our busy lives.  None of us are alone, we are all part of a team of some sort. There is strength in numbers. There is strength in diversity.

Alejandro Mena
One Comment on
Strength in Diversity
  1. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020
    Kurt L. Knutsen wrote...

    You're speaking your truth to power brother. Diversity is strength,diversity is victory .

  2. On Thursday, March 5, 2020
    Alejandro Mena wrote...

    It's how they won their War. We need to remember this.

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