S:Sgt Francis 'Bud' Owens was a waist gunner on B-17F 42-29928 when it was shot down over the Norman countryside in 1943.
The aircraft was part of 533rd Bomb Squadron, 381st Bomb Group(H), and was taking part in a raid on the Gnome-Rhone plant in le Mans on July 4th when it was attacked by Messerschmitt Bf-109s and finally crashed near the small village of la Coulonche.
Three of the crew of ten perished when the 'plane hit the ground, two of those who baled out were quickly captured. With local help, the remaining five attempted to make their way down to neutral Spain with a view to re-joining the fight against Nazism.
Four of them made it to Spain but 'Bud' Owens, a man who on many occasions had put others before himself, was to die of exposure in the Pyrenees, aged just 21. He now rests in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.
Please follow our project to honour and remember 'Bud' Owens and support it if you can. Thank you.

Monday, 21 December 2015


A bit of a slow time in terms of updates but things are progressing well. The main job at the moment is the transcription of the various film segments to aid editing the final documentary.

For now, we'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and all the best for the New Year!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


This past weekend director Jed Henry filmed several additional interviews in Pittsburgh, PA and BrightonMI with main protagonist Hayley Hulbert and her grandfather Jim Owens (Bud Owens' brother).

Amongst the momentos the family have of Bud, his dogtags.

 Jed also interviewed author Warren Carah (son of the co-pilot of Bud Owens' B-17) for our documentary "In The Footsteps of Bud Owens".

These interviews will add outstanding value and additional depth to the story. A big thank you to all involved for making this happen and we look forward to the next phase of our exciting project!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Normandy Guides

We have made tremendous progress in our fundraising efforts to bring the "In The Footsteps of Bud Owens" project to a successfull ending and will be able to start post production early next year. We would like to sincerely thank ALL our donors again with a special thank you to the Normandy WWII battlefield guide community which has offered such great support to the project from the start. 

Thank you:
- Andy Sutherland (Bayeux Shuttle)
- Paul Woodadge (D-Day Historian)
- Vanessa Letourneur (Normandy Panorama)
- Dale Booth (Dale Booth NormandyTours)
- Sylvain Kast (D-Day Experience Tours)
- Adrienne O'Donnoghue Sion (Normandy Onsite)
- René Van Oirschot (Bayeux Sightseeing Tours)
- Christophe Rault (Christophe Rault Private Tours)

 Andy Sutherland, CEO of Bayeux Shuttle at the memorial to Bud Owens and three of the crew members of his B-17 at La Coulonche. Thank you for your support Andy!!

 Paul Woodadge aka D-Day Historan with Waren Carah's book about the crash of Bud Owens' B-17 and his escape and evasion story. Thank you Paul!!

 Vanessa Letourneur, CEO of Normandy Panorama with documentary protagonist Louis Hatet, great grandson of resistant André Rougeyron. Thank you Vanessa!!

We still have some funds to raise so please don't hesitate to donate to this worthwile project.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Keith Murray

It is with great sadness that we were recently informed of the passing of Keith Murray on 28 September 2015 at the age of 96.

On September 6, 1943, 1/Lt. Keith Murray’s ship, the Bomboogie, went down returning from a raid on Stuttgart. He and four others of his crew successfully evaded capture assisted by the French.

Mr. Murray was the last survivor of the group of evaders, which included our documentary's main protagonist Bud Owens, that made the fateful Pyrenees crossing on 25 October 1943. He suffered several strokes over the years and his health unfortunatley made it impossible for him to be interviewed for the documentary. His recollections did however help us piece together the final moments of Bud Owens and two of his fellow evaders at Port d'Arinsal. Our sincerest sympathies to the Murray family and friends.

Sunday, 13 September 2015


A lot of work going on behind the scenes to help promote our great documentary project. Bud Owens great niece Hayley Hulbert was recently interviewed on NPR member station WITF-FM' s talk show "Small Talk" hosted by Scott Lamar. Click here to listen to Hayley relating her experience following her uncle Bud's footsteps and her powerful conclusion at the end...You can help support this great documentary- please click on the 'donate' button to the right. Thank you!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

"Yankee Lady"

Last weekend Geert attended the D-Day Ohio event in Conneaut, OH to help promote our documentary project. As a treat he got to see "Yankee Lady" in action. This B-17G has been painted in the markings of Bud Owens' 381st Bomber Group. She is one of only about a dozen B-17s still airworthy. Quite the scene! Photos courtesy of Ginny Swartz Shinew.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

A great article about the recent journey to film our group in the footsteps of Bud Owens for our documentary appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette yesterday. This has been a very successful first stage of the project but a lot more work still needs to be done. Please consider making a donation via Paypal to help us make it all happen. Thank you!
 Click here to read the article.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Local interest...

A recent article and video from the "Orne Combattante" about the ceremony at La Coulonche on 4 July 2015 in memory of Bud Owens and the 3 other members of his crew listed on the memorial there. A sincere thank you to the people of La Coulonche, Mr. Louise, Lecoq and Chochon, mayor and deputy mayors of the town, the flag bearers, the Messei band and all those present.

Click here to read the article,  and here to see a short video clip on You Tube.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Ardennes American Cemetery

Final day. We pay our respect at Bud Owens' grave at the Ardennes American Cemetery. No further comments necessary...

Pont d'Arinsal

Today we mounted Port d'Arinsal. It was a very challenging hike (11 hours!) and one can easily understand why Bud Owens and two of his fellow evaders did not make it in 1943 seen the conditions they faced. Plenty of time for our group to contemplate and meditate before recieving a wonderful welcome by the people of La Massana (wich Arinsal is part of). Please support this great project by making a donation via Paypal.

Guide Paul Williams leading the way across the snow...

Arrival in Andorrra!

Day six...

We discover the barn where Emile Delpy brought Bud Owens and the other evaders to spend their first night on their journey to Spain.

Our group, following in their footsteps, is doing well in spite of higher elevation and the added distance. Unlike the Owens party in 1943 we get lots of food and some sleep in before the third day of the hike.
Tomorrow the dreaded last day accross Port d'Arinsal (2739m/8985ft) into Andorra....Please help us fund this documentary project by making a donation if you can via Paypal. Thank you!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

From Massat to Suc...

Day 5. Our first day of hiking akong the Bud owens trail. From Massat along the Port de Lers to Suc. A lot was learned and in the evening the group met with the grandson of Emile Delpy, who guided Owens and the other airmen in 1943.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Day 4 of our documentary shoot in the footsteps of Bud Owens. The group arrived in Saint-Girons, visited the Freedom Trail Museum and met a French evader, concluding the day with a number of interviews. Tomorrow is the beginning of the 3 day hike accross the Pyrenees. Updates will depend to a certain extent on wifi access. In the meantime you can help make this documentary a reality by making a donation via Paypal.

In the train station in Toulouse after the night-train from Paris.

The Hotel Eychenne is the last remaining hotel in Saint-Girons that welcomed evaders during World war Two.

Colleen signing the registry in the Freedon Trail Museum in honour of her uncle, 'Bud' Owens...

Monday, 6 July 2015


3rd day of filming for our documentary in the footsteps of Bud Owens. Our participants discovered the story of escape and evasion in Paris and met with Michèle Agniel member of the Burgundy network. Please keep up the support for what is going to be a powerful testament of the bravery of evaders and their helpers.

Hayley Hulbert and Louis Hatet in the restaurant where Bud Owens stayed just before his transfer to Toulouse

Louis Hatet and Michèle Agniel. His great grandfather and her father were deported to the same concentration camp for helping downed airmen.

Day 2...

The second day of the Bud Owens documentary project. An early start for an historic march from Champsecret to Saint-Bomer-les-Forges. Today also marked the 72nd anniversary commemoration of the crash of Bud Owens' B-17 and a moving ceremony was filmed at La Coulonche. Later that day the group left Flers in Normandy for Paris where we will discover the next chapter of Bud's journey! Please keep supporting our project if you can via Paypal. Thank you!

Louis Hatet talking about his great grandfather, André Rougeyron

The team with local support beside the monument in la Coulonche at the end of the ceremony

Mr Doucet kindly brought along one of the oxygen tanks from the B-17, the damage caused by fire from the German fighters a sober reminder of the events of 72 years ago

Filming in Flers outside the school where 'Bud' was hidden
Just before departure for Paris.... the team with Vanessa and Russ, whose willingness to offer their invaluable help is much appreciated.

Saturday, 4 July 2015


A fantastic first day of filming in La Coulonche, Sainte-Opportune and Champsecret, Normandy! We met some wonderful people and discovered a few amazing places revealing the events surrounding the start of Bud Owens' odyssey in France during the summer of 1943.

Walking to the site where the B-17 crashed.

To get the right shot, certain measures need to be taken...

Talking to the Duval sisters, witnesses to the crash in Val des Vees

With Mme Gandebeouf, daughter of resistant Anré Geslin.

Please continue to support our project. More updates to follow daily.... Thanks.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

This is it!

Tomorrow we start filming our documentary "In The Footsteps of Bud Owens". Please consider making a donation to this great project (contact budowens381@gmail.com or via Paypal). Your gift WILL make a difference. Not the least for the Owens family who will be able to add a final chapter to the story of their beloved uncle who gave his all during WWII.

Above are three generations of that family- Bud's brother Jim Owens, Colleen Brennan, Bud's niece, and Hayley Hulbert, Bud's great-niece. Colleen will be accompanying Hayley on this pilgrimage.

Here are a few words from Colleen:

"My father, Jim, was one of 10 Owens children, 8 years younger than Bud.
Little was known about the events following the crash of Bud’s B-17 on its return from a bombing mission to Le Mans on 4 July 1943. The Owens family was notified by the War Department that Bud was MIA. An older brother, Joe, also served in the war and spent some time after the war trying to discover anything about Bud. He met with resistant Andre Rougeyron who told Joe of the events with Bud from 4 July 1943 with the French Resistance in Normandy & Paris. After "handing-off" Bud to other resistors in Paris, Mr. Rougeyron's commitment was to other downed airmen in the Normandy area and had no idea of Bud's fate.
In January 1946, the family received a letter from the American Red Cross Home Service Department with an attached letter from Andre Rougeyron dated 22 November 1945. Mr. Rugeyron wrote that he was "very grieved" to learn of Bud's death. He "appreciated his qualities and good humour, his pluck and presence of mind; he was a swell, indeed and I mourn his death like that of a dear relative."
I've asked my father why did Uncle Bud do what he did---risk his own life on more than one occasion : during a bomb-loading accident in England, ensuring that the his semi-conscious radio operator was strapped into his parachute and released from the crippled B-17, assist another ailing escapee on the trek thru the Pyrenees at the cost of his own chance of freedom. Those standards instilled in Bud, in my father, in all of the Owens' by my grandparents and recognized in Bud by Mr. Rougeyron, are something I strive to emulate daily."

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Troy Cahoon

Please help us fund Troy Cahoon's participation in our upcoming documentary project.

Staff Sergeant Cahoon is assigned to the 381st Training Group (what once used to be Bud Owens 381st Bomber Group!) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Troy currently serves as an Instructor for the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, (ICBM) Missile Maintenance Training.

Troy was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but grew up in Gilbert Arizona. He graduated from Highland High school in 2000 and is attending college online at Trident University where he is finishing up his degree in Business Administration.
In 2006, he enlisted in the Air Force. After six weeks of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas he headed to Vandenberg Air Force for additional specialized training before he was selected to become an Instructor there.
Troy is married to Holli Cahoon they have 3 wonderful children Sebastien (7) and Manti (6) and Emree (4).
Troy is proud of his military heritage; he was named after his uncle who died in the Vietnam War. Private First Class Troy Hazard Hunter was assigned to Foxtrot Company, 2nd battalion, 3rd Marine Division when he died 07 February 1968 in Quang Nam, Vietnam. Both of Troy’s grandfather’s Bud Cahoon and Ernest Arthur Higgins (Art) served in the Military during World War II. Bud was as a Radio Operator and Radio Instructor on the B-24 bomber and took part in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. Art served in the Signal Corps in the South Pacific.
Troy is excited and humbled to be selected to be part of the Bud Owens Trail Hike, to honor an American Military Hero.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Luke Oman

Please help us fund Luke Oman’s participation in our exciting upcoming documentary project. Luke is a Captain in the United States Air Force and is assigned to the 381st Training Group (what once used to be Bud Owens 381st Bomber Group!), Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Luke currently serves as an Instructor for the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), Operations Training.

Luke was born in Ocala, Florida and spent his younger years growing up in Mukwonago, Wisconsin and Valparaiso, Indiana. Luke attended Indiana State University, where he graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. In 2007, he earned his commissioning, as a 2d Lieutenant, in the United States Air Force as a distinguished graduate from Detachment 218, Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). In 2013, he earned his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University.
Luke is married to Kate Oman (née Jenkins) and has a beautiful 3 year old daughter Olivia. He has a deep heritage in the United States Military, having relatives that have fought in almost all major U.S. conflicts to include the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War II, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.
Luke is extremely honored to be a part of this project and can think of no better way to pay respect to “The Great Generation” than walking in the footsteps of an American Hero like SSgt Bud Owens. He also hopes to gain a better understanding of what some of his relatives lived through to provide the freedom that at times this world takes for granted.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Sam Soderberg

We are happy to have Sam Soderberg participate in our documentary project!

Sam is an Economics student at the University of Wisconsin. He has a natural love for the outdoors and all things recreational and spent much of his childhood in the woods or on the river near his home. From a very young age he knew he wanted to become a pilot, and he was willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to attain that goal. In January of his senior year of high school, after weighing the best paths to become a pilot, he enlisted in the Wisconsin Air National Guard at the 128th Air Control Squadron in Camp Douglas, WI. During his freshman year at UW, Sam received news from his squadron that he would be deployed in the coming fall. Although this would be a large obstacle in his path to a degree, he willingly took on the mission. He left on November 11th, 2012 to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates and spent the next six months there in a deployed environment serving as a satellite and radio communications airman. Sam will be acting as an assistant to our film maker Jed Henry during our upcoming journey. Please consider making a donation to help Sam be part of this great adventure!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Louis Hatet

We are excited to have Louis Hatet patricipate in our documentary in the footsteps of Bud Owens.

18 year old Louis is the great grandson of André Rougeyron (below), one of the resistants who came to the rescue of our young American aviator in the summer of 1943 and post-war mayor of the town of Domfront In Normandy. Rougeyron would aid several more allied pilots until his arrest and subsequent deportation to Buchenwald concentration camp.

Louis is thrilled to be a part of our project. He currently lives in Le Mans and will be attending college at the ISEG in Nantes in pursuit of a bachelor degree in Marketing and Communication.Louis is an avid tennis and soccer player, loves to travel and has a genuine interest in history. He will be joining Bud Owens' great niece Hayley Hulbert in our adventure this summer. If you would like to help Louis make this commemorative journey this summer, please consider making a small donation. Thank you!

Thursday, 28 May 2015


Geert had a very productive trip to Paris in preparation for our day of filming there in July in the footsteps of Bud Owens, including a wonderful meeting with historian Claire Andrieu, expert on escape and evasion in Paris, who has provided us with some valuable contacts and tips. Of course we visited the locations where Bud Owens spent in all over a month before leaving for the Pyrenees where his life ended tragically on 25 October 1945.

"Chez Jeannette" at 21 rue du Faubourg Saint Martin where Bud Owens stayed one night is now a Chinese restaurant.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day we remember Bud Owens and the principles he fought an died for. After surviving the crash of his B-17 on 4 July 1943, saving the life of his radio operator in the process, he had only one goal in mind: escape from Nazi occupied France and return to the free world. Following a 4 month journey he would die, just a few miles of his objective, from exposure and exhaustion, after carrying a fellow evader for 8 hours in the midst of a snowstorm high up in the Pyrenees mountains. Help us preserve his story which reveals the true meaning of sacrifice and reminds us of what some were willing to do for their and our freedom. Thank you.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Recon Productions

We are very excited and lucky to have Jed Henry of Recon Productions on board for the "In the Footsteps of Bud Owens" project. Jed is an Emmy award winning photojournalist, videographer, and a director of photography. With a background in news and investigative journalism, his 17 year career has focused on finding compelling and fascinating stories to tell. His work can be seen on all of the major networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, History Channel, and the Sportsman Channel, just to name a few. He has worked on network news programs, documentaries, corporate videos, reality shows, and much more. He has a genuine interest and passion about WWII history which motivated him to team up with us for this project. Jed's latest WWII documentary "Honoring a Commitment: The Story of Pfc. Lawrence Gordon" will air live this afternoon at 4PM EST and can be seen here: http://www.heritage.org/events/2015/05/pfc-gordon

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Hayley Hulbert

We are happy to anounce Hayley Hulbert's participation in our upcoming documentary project! Hayley is the great niece of Sgt. Francis ‘Bud’ Owens. She is a 2014 graduate of Bethel Park High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is currently attending the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg where she is working towards her Bachelor Degree in Secondary Education and English Literature. Hayley has been playing soccer for 15 years and has had many opportunities to visit the surrounding states of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Ohio. She loves to experience new places, and her favorite part of traveling is learning about the area and seeing the different historical sites there. Hayley considers it a tremendous honor to have this opportunity to walk in her great uncle’s footsteps and gain a greater understanding about his experiences. She’s extremely excited about seeing the different countries and learning more about the history of the places where Bud was, as well as about the unselfish people who risked so much for him and many others like him. Please consider making a donation here to help us fund Hayley's trip to Europe and allow her to keep her uncle's story alive!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Visit to Ridgewell

A trip over to England enabled association secretary Sean to visit Ridgewell, the wartime home of the 381st.
Met by Ridgewell Airfield Association Membership Secretary Alan Steel and his wife Monica, a visit to the museum was followed by a tour around the old airfield.

Outside the museum is a monument to the 381st.

At the end of the war, a hole was dug and the keys to all the various buildings were buried, only to be dug up again several decades later.

Monica and Alan Steel,who graciously gave their time to welcome Sean and show him around.

Several of the old buildings survive- this was the gymnasium.

The main runway still runs across the fields, albeit in a narrower form.

A beautiful day in the Essex countryside. These fields were once the home of the B-17s of the 381st. One can only imagine the sights and sounds of those times.

The tragic bomb-loading accident of June 23rd 1943 is commemorated by this monument.

The airfield actually sits between several villages, including Ashen. In the church, there is a small exhibition and opposite, this flag, which was presented by twelve 381st veterans on their return in 1993.

 Also in Ashen, this house used to be known as the Old Cow, one of several pubs in the area.

The village green and sign in Ridgewell.

Thanks once again to Alan and Monica, for their friendly welcome and for the work they and others do to preserve the memory of those who fought tyranny and oppression.