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Batista AAFB, Cuba and "Sloppy Joe's Bar", Havana!
The 20th Air Force set a precedent by establishing an Operational Unit at Batista Army Air Field, Cuba. This base at Batista (aka Cayuga Field) was located near Cayuga, Cuba about 30 miles southwest of Havana. You can actually see the airstrip on “Google Maps” near present day San Antonio de Los Banos. It is now lengthened for modern jets and bombers, but is still very visible from the air.

Here the 330th BG flight echelon and supporting personnel were moved from mid-Jan 1945 through the beginning of March. They, along with other bomb groups of the 20th AF, would simulate the overseas conditions in the Marianas so the crews could garner valuable over water bombing and navigational training and experience. The lush tropical environment at Batista was a dramatic change from the harsh winter landscape of Kansas they were used to. The flight from Walker AAFB to Batista AAFB simulated a flight from the Marianas to the Empire. Few crews made this round trip successfully without intermediate stops. A known luxury they would not be able to replicate once deployed to Guam. From Batista they would also make practice missions to several areas in Central America. They were required to navigate to tiny islands that were just specks on a map, circle, make practice bombing runs and then head back to Cuba.

A drink at "Sloppy Joe's" Bar in Havana was a calm respite from the hazards of B-29 flying. Also various other activities, which I will keep tame for this "PG-13" rated site. I think you GENTLEMEN know to which I refer? (Havana had a huge ‘red-light’ district to keep America’s finest entertained) They would also spend many evenings at local hotels and USO’s dancing and drinking, but Sloppy Joe’s was the place for cold beer and cool rum drinks.

The address of Sloppy Joes Bar in Havana Cuba was (is) on Animas Street between Prado and Zulueta. Three doors up from Adolph's Cigar Store. Or, Zulueta 26, Havana, Phone M-7157.

Short Biography: Mr. Jose Abeal (Sloppy Joe) came from Spain to Cuba in the year 1904 and went to work as a bartender on Galiano and Zanja Streets Havana, where he worked for three years, and then, he gave up his job and sailed for New-Orleans, La. In this city he went on working as a bartender for six years. From New Orleans he went to Miami, Fla., and also worked in different bars for another six years. In the year 1918, he returned to Havana and got a job as bartender at a cafe named "Greasy Spoon" and six months after, he decided to go in business for himself and bought what was then an insignificant grocery store at the corner now occupied by the famous Sloppy Joe's Bar. While operating this small grocery store, he was visited by several friends from the States. It so happened, that while some of them were visiting him and seeing the poor condition of the place, one of them said, "Why, Joe, this place is certainly sloppy, look at the filthy water running from under the counter." From then on, the name, Sloppy Joe stuck to Jose Abeal as part of his own life and was destined to make him and his business famous and internationally known. Now gone since Castro and his revolution, but you can still see the pavement mosaic outside, the glorious old Bacardi building. Maybe someday, we can all meet again for a Cuba Libre (Free Cuba) and belly up at Sloppy Joes, Havana.

Here are a few "Sloppy Joe's" photos, with crews that obviously are by no means in any condition to fly!


K-13 "City of Jersey City" Crew 701


K-14 "City of St. petersburg" "My Gal II"


K-29 "City of San Francisco" Crew 813

My father is on the far right (I had never seen him any more "tanked" in my lifetime), on his right is Edward Kindl (LG), Roy McLeod (RO), Bart Klinger (RG), and the bombardier, Al Escalante, is in the middle holding the giant bottle. To his right is William Nickels (CFC). From L to R: Marion Kinsell (TG), Robert Woolson (P) and Richard Flanagan (Rad Ob).The Flight Surgeon must have had a field day when this crew crawled into Batista the next morning.

Here are some crewmen of K-29 paying especially close attention to a "Cigarette Girl" in Havana. They are, L to R: TSGT William Nickels (CFC), SGT Marion "Dutch" Kinsell (TG), SGT Edward Kindl (LG), SGT "Black" Bart Klinger (RG) and CAP Alfonso Escalante (B).


K-31 "City of Cedar Rapids" Crew 814

IDs L-R: unknown bar patron (not on this crew), Leslie Fels (N), Frank Rose (Rad Ob), Duwayne Baker (A/C), Raymond Reasoner (B), Raymond Beason (P)

Special thanks to Mr. Jim Fels for the photo


K-33 "City of Indianapolis" Crew 802

SSGT Floyd Jones and TSGT William Tracy Jr.


K-38 "City of Knoxville" Crew 810

These guys look as lit as a string of Holiday Lights!

Front Row: L to R, MSGT Roy Jordan (FE), TSGT Lauren McKenzie (CFC), 1LT James Walker (A/C), 2LT David Wohlgamuth (N) and 2LT Donald Dubbins (P). Back Row: FO Clinton Bailey Jr.(B), SSGT Robert Reynolds (RO), 1LT Robert Grady (Rad Ob), SGT John Bauer (TG), SSGT Carl Apostol (RG), SSGT William Millar (LG). Once again thanks to Jordan's wife and daughter for their assistance!


K-51 "City of Columbus" Crew 904 at Sloppy Joes for overseas "TRAINING", in late 1944.Front, L to R: John Shafer (B), Edward Charlson (N), Back: Owen McGreevy (Original Rad Ob for K-51, but replaced after 7th mission with Kermit Wheeler), Guy Shine (P), John Parr (A/C), Harold Cowley (FE).


Here is Crew 904 along with some Unknowns (UK). If you can identify anyone else in this photo please contact me. Back Row: Guy Shine (P), Owen McGreevy (Original Rad Ob), Edward Charlson (N), (UK). Middle Row: (UK), (UK), John Shafer (B), John Parr (A/C), (UK), Harold Cowley (FE). Front Row: (UK), (UK).


K-52 "City of Rock Island" Crew 901


This is a mixed group from the 459th. Front row: SGT Lewis DiRisio, back row L to R: Joseph Ramsey, SSGT Charles Sossman, SGT Richard Baum, TSGT William Entrakin, Joeseph Lieberman, SSGT Thomas Ruby, 1LT Roy Restel, and SGT Arthur Cowan, Jr.


Enjoying a Cuba Libra are SSGT Alfred Williams (R) and MSGT Floyd Pulley. Williams was the Crew Chief on K-59 Crew 901, A/C Scruggs, Jr. and Pulley was the Assistant Crew Chief. (Thanks to Williams Grandson, Michael, for this photo)


Now, they did not drink ALL THE TIME!

Left to right: SSGT Irving Mann (458th), unknown (does he have a 2nd Air Force patch on his uniform?), and SSGT Hubert Homan, Jr. (457th) taking a last respite in Cuba, Feb. 1945. Just weeks before shipping out to Guam.


Some of the 330th's best Turret/Sight Mechanics enjoying a tour of Havana in Feb/Mar 1945. Top row from L to R: SSGT Robert Fahrenbrink, SSGT William Raduziner, SGT Arthur Cowan, Jr., Sgt Lewis DiRisio and SGT Charles Lieberman. Front Row: Unknown, the Guide 'Super', TSGT William Entrekin and SSGT Thomas Ruby


Crew 913

Left to right Back Row: Myers (A/C), Williams (P), Skillin (B), Heemann (Radar), Farmer (N), Neary (RG), Seery (FE). Front Row: Cwiakala (TG), Underwood (CFC), Peterson (Radio), Caw (LG)


more to come...

This site was last updated 05/22/2013