In September of 1943, a B-17 pilot named Flight Officer “Little Joe” Noyes, took to the skies over Western Europe on what would be his final mission.
When his aircraft went down somewhere over the English Channel, ten American families would be changed forever. Many years later, a teenager in Northern California discovered his photograph in a book, and thought that his life story was worth sharing.
I was that teenager.
My name is Kimberly Blankenstein and after over eighteen years of independent research, the story of Joe Noyes is an important part of my life.
I am not related in any way to Joe or the other nine men on his crew, nor am I related to anyone who served with the 95th Bomb Group. I am just an advocate for the Joe Noyes crew, who has always felt personally connected to the 1940s era, the Second World War aviation community, and our brave veterans from The Greatest Generation.
I built this website as a tribute to Joe’s short but inspiring life, and to share his story with interested people around the world. I feel that we should never be so self-absorbed with our modern lives, that we forget those who came before, who never made it home to their families.
This project of mine is also dedicated to the families of the nine other men on board the B-17F “Sittin’ Bull” whose remains were never recovered. It’s been 74 years now, and they’re still listed as being “Missing in Action.”
My heart goes out to their surviving relatives, and their descendants, and I hope that my efforts here can help them find a little closure someday. In the future I would love to have all the Joe Noyes crew families come together in one location for a little reunion.
Once upon a time I pinned up photos of the airmen from the 95th Bomb Group on my bedroom wall. Instead of the popular 1990s celebrities and band posters, I instead admired the faded black and white images of courageous Second World War aviators in their leather bomber jackets. They were so young and there were so many of them, and they were true pioneers of the sky.
Looking into their faces, I remember promising them that they would never be forgotten.
While I was employed as a programmer analyst at Boeing South Carolina, I was invited to share a Boeing related story in honor of the Boeing Centennial. I was surprised and honored when the story I submitted about Joe Noyes was published. Read what I wrote at Boeing: A Mighty Force
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
— William Butler Yeats, 1919