Bob “Punchy” Powell

Bob Powell was born November 21, 1920 in the small coal-mining town of Wilcoe, West Virginia. After graduating from Gary High School in Gary, WV in 1938 (and becoming WV Golden Gloves boxing champion), Powell attended West Virginia University.

He entered the US Army Air Corps in January 1942 and was called to active duty as an Aviation Cadet in March. He received his primary flight training at Oxnard, California in the PT-13B Stearman aircraft.

Powell was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant Pilot Officer on Jan. 4 1943 and was transferred to England in April 1943 and assigned to RTU at Atham, UK April to August 1943 for additional training in P-47s.

Powell was then assigned to the 352nd Fighter Group at Bodney, East Anglia, UK in August, 1943 and flew 87 combat missions with the 328th Squadron, 352nd including two combat tours and 306 combat hours. Powell was credited with six enemy aircraft destroyed, two probables and seven damaged (air and ground) in support of ground forces before and after D-Day. He flew two D-Day missions over Normandy.

In December 1944, Powell returned to the US and was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. He separated from service in August 1945 and returned to West Virginia University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism in 1947. Powell was the founder of WVU’s Journaliers Society; and a member of Mountain, an honorary men’s fraternity at WVU.

After school, Powell was employed as a reporter/photographer at the Roanoke, Virginia World News in July 1947. From there, he was an Advertising Assistant for the Norfolk and Western Railway in Roanoke, VA in January 1948, and became Asst. Advertising Manager in Feb 1949.

Powell was recalled to active duty in the USAF in January 1950 and was sent to Korea to fly the P-51 Mustang in July. He was then reassigned to Wright-Patterson AFB in September 1950 as Pilot for the Air Force Exhibit Group until 1952. He separated from service in August 1954.

Powell’s many military awards include the Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters; the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters; the Presidential Unit Citation; the ETO Medal with Four Battle Stars; the French D-Day Medal; The Victory Medal and several campaign medals.

Powell is one of the founders of the 352nd Air Force Historical Society and member of the first Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Spitfire Society, the Silver Wings Fraternity and the Order of Daedalians.

He and his wife, Betty, have been married 62 years and have three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.