Eugene Barnum grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate NY. Having graduated college with an Agricultural degree, he was working on the family farm when the war began. He and his brother enlisted and he ended up being selected for pilot training, whilst his brother was commissioned into the Infantry.

    After graduating pilot school, he was assigned to the 56th Fighter Group being part of the original cadre of pilots arriving in England in 1943. Gene was a highly respected member of the unit and often flew as Gabby Gabreski’s wingman, before becoming a Flight Leader himself. He completed a full tour with the 56th in mid 1944 and returned home, only to volunteer for a second tour returning in July 1944. When he returned to the 56th, he learned that William had visited the unit to meet up with him. His brother was killed in action in July 1944.

    Barnum was now one of the few original pilots of the Group as more ‘green’ pilots were assigned as replacements.


Eugene E. Barnum