The Crew

Our story starts with the 459th Bomb Group, a distinguished unit of the Army Air Corps flying B-24 “Liberators” out of central Italy during the Second World War. Deployed against strategic targets throughout Italy, France, the Balkans, Austria and Germany, the 459th laid waste to the industrial potential of the Nazi war machine and helped to bring about the general collapse of Germany in 1945.

We had the unique opportunity to interview the largest surviving crew from the 459th Bomb Group. Of the original eight members, seven had survived and were reunited more than 50 years after the end of their service. These American heroes graciously opened their lives to us, and the story that followed was more extraordinary than we could have ever imagined.

When they started their service, the average age of the crew was all of 19 years old, and many of them were leaving home for the very first time. And yet they embodied the quiet courage and steady resolve that exemplified the strength of the Allied forces. Final Flyby is the story of their extraordinary journey through the theater of war and a celebration of the bond that brought them back together to share in each other’s lives.

Harley Jennings Pilot
Dr. Bob Eastland Co-Pilot
Bob MacKinnon Navigator
Charles "Chick" Conner Radio Operator
Ervin "Jimmy" Johnson Flight Engineer
Roy Breedon Tail Gunner
Lorren Meador Armorer
Our Deepest Gratitude
This documentary would not have been possible without the generous support of so many individuals. You inspired us, and guided us, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Lyle McCarty Long time historian for the 459th Bomb Group, Lyle has kind enough to offer up both his time and his extensive knowledge to assist in our film. We poured through hundreds of photos and letters from the B-24 airmen and listened to his expert account of each. His book Coffee Tower published in 1997 is the definitive history of the 459th and a fantastic read for anyone wanting an intimate view of life as an airman. Harry Bell Harry served alongside Greg’s grandfather in the 459th. His stories of their time together in the service and the trouble that always seemed to find them, made us laugh until we cried. We spent many a long hour together at the hangar where he housed his plane. He taught us a great deal about friendship, service, and a love of the air. We are forever grateful. Here is a small taste of his wonderful wit and charm. Susan Elmasian As president of the 459th Bomb Group Association, Susan graciously accommodated our cameras and crew at their 2004 reunion in Washington D.C. She was a fantastic advocate for our work, providing much needed assistance with the veterans and their families. Her deep love for the 459th is a wonderful tribute to her father Soloman Elmasian who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross as a member of the 459th. The 459th Bomb Group We cannot thank you enough for opening your lives to us. This is just one story out of the many that you shared with us and we are so proud to have the opportunity to tell it. Your courage, your humility, your resolve, your lives exemplify the character of the American soldier. We shall never forget the men of the 459th.
Documenting History. Celebrating Lives.
Our mission at Flash Thunder Films is to capture poignant moments in history and render them with careful craft, paying tribute to the inspiring lives of ordinary individuals in extraordinary circumstances.
Greg Coleman As our intrepid interviewer, Greg is responsible for the candor and feeling in each of these stories. With his engaging style, he has a way of making everyone around him feel comfortable about opening up the most intimate experiences of their lives.
Jeremiah Robison Jeremiah is the technician, pouring through shots and experimenting with cuts to create the perfect journey. His obsessive focus, ensures that the craft with which we tell these stories pays proper tribute to the amazing lives of these individuals.
Alpa Vyas Alpa is the ultimate operator, keeping the creative process on track through careful and creative planning. She is able to knock down any obstacle in our path and does so while building powerful relationships with all we come across.
Ethan Hays Ethan is the voice behind Flash Thunder Films. As our writer, he skillfully blends heartfelt sentiment with insightful facts. His keen eye for mapping emotional context to the landscape of history is critical to bringing each moment into clear reflection.