During the month of February, the 543rd flag to fly atop the Old Glory Tower in the North End honors Aviation Cadet Alfred Vincent, who served in the 3701st Army Air Force (AAF) Base Unit during WWII.
Vincent entered into active duty on May 17, 1943 with the United States Army Air Force. He attended a 19-week flight training course in Amarillo, Texas, earning a rating of flight engineer. He also attended a 12-week foreign language course at Cornell University.
According to Vincent’s son, Al, his father was also stationed in San Antonio, Texas, and Altus, Oklahoma, for training and worked as a Flight Engineer on B-29 Bombers.
“The Flight Engineer’s computer might have been the most complex slide rule in history, with some six independent variables needed for a calculation of the fuel consumptions rate,” according to the website: rational-action.com/the-task-of-the-b-29-flight-engineer. The Flight Engineer “interprets instruments and adjusts engine controls so that the pilot gets exactly the power he wants and gets it economically.”
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the largest aircraft in operation during WWII, according to Wikipedia. The “four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing was flown primarily by the United States during World War II and the Korean War.” The aircraft “featured state-of-the-art technology” and including design and production, “it was the single most expensive weapons project undertaken by the United States in World War II.”
Many innovations were introduced with the B-29 Superfortress including: “a pressurized cabin, dual-wheeled, tricycle landing gear, and an analog computer-controlled fire-control system that directed four remote machine gun turrets that could be operated by a single gunner and a fire-control officer. A manned tail gun installation was semi-remote.”
While it’s predecessor, the B-17 Flying Fortress was designed for high-altitude strategic bomber roles, the B-29 “also excelled in low-altitude nighttime incendiary bombing missions. One of the B-29's final roles during World War II was carrying out the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
Vincent completed his active duty service on Dec. 8, 1945, serving a total of two years, six months and 21 days; earning the following awards: American Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
He was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, attending Hope High School and Bryant College. He lived in Glens Falls and Utica, New York, before settling in Fairhaven over 50 years ago.
After serving in the military, Vincent worked for 40 years as a manager for the Service News Co., until his retirement.
Alfred Vincent died on Dec. 14, 2010. He was the husband of the late Virginia (Andrade) Vincent, father of four sons: Alfred Vincent and his wife, Kathy, Raymond Vincent and his wife, Lourie and David Vincent and his wife Desiree, all of Fairhaven; John Vincent and his wife, Lisa of Tyngsboro; a daughter, Catherine Ginsberg and her husband, Steven of Dartmouth; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
Vincent was a member of the Couples Club in Fairhaven and enjoyed sailing, traveling and dancing.
The late Joseph Theodore, a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient began the practice of flying veterans’ flags above the Old Glory Tower 46 years ago.
Linda Ferreira, a marketing representative at Ashley Ford in New Bedford, researches the life histories of area veterans. Shaun Neary, Parts Manager of the dealership, and former Marine, raises the memorial flags on the veterans' behalf. Those who would like to honor a veteran by flying a flag at Old Glory Tower can contact Ferreira at (508) 996-5611 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.