My name is Kimberly Blankenstein, I’m thirty years old, and I live in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1998, when I was a teenager, I saw “Little Joe” Noyes in a group photograph within the pages of B-17′s Over Berlin: Personal Stories from the 95th Bomb Group.
There was something about his expression that I identified with, and I felt compelled to seek the answers to long forgotten questions about his fate during the war. He spoke to me silently, and somehow I answered. Due to that strange intervention, and the way the cards have continuously fallen ever since, this unexpected history project was initiated.
While studying mission diagrams showing 95th Bomb Group aircraft which were assigned to specific positions in formation, I noticed that F/O Noyes participated in an August 1943 mission, but was no longer shown on the flying roster in October 1943. I wondered if something terrible happened to him in-between those dates.
I wrote e-mails to anyone who I thought might be able to help me. Slowly I collected the pieces of Joe’s wartime puzzle. I heard from veterans of the 95th Bomb Group, and these honorable men were generous with information about their time in the Air Corps, and the wingmen who left formation forever. More details about Joe came to me from the desks of Second World War aviation historians in England, the National Archives, and a family home on Camano Island, WA.
In 2009, after living overseas, I chose to relocate to Washington State to pursue my research on Joe. While in Seattle I had the rare and blessed opportunity to get to know some of Joe’s relatives better, and I also paid a memorable visit to his grave site in the University District of Seattle. Being able to call Seattle my home for several years made me feel closer to Joe, and gave me a great understanding of the local culture and community on Queen Anne Hill.
All those years ago I was on a stubborn little quest to determine Joe’s fate during the Second World War. Over time, sharing my research has positively affected my life, and has taken me where I needed to be. I feel that’s reason enough to keep studying his war story and writing.
I continue to be involved with the 95th Bomb Group Memorials Foundation, and was honored to give a speech about “Little Joe” at their 2011 reunion.
Ideally, some day I will feel satisfied enough with all that I’ve done to publish a book about Joe’s life during the Second World War. I am open to the possibility of it being a work of fiction that is “based on a true story” but as of right now I am undecided on how to approach the topic. My book may not be a work of literary genius, but I do promise to tell Joe’s story the way it deserves to be told. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy what this small website has to offer.