Bill Tromblay had been trying to find the plane that his grandfather flew in World War II but had no success. Bill is a pilot and airplane mechanic from Mukwonago, Wisconsin. His grandfather, Lt. Clement Tromblay, flew a B-24 bomber during the war. He flew on the mission that was made famous by “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”
When Bill heard that the WEE Museum in Oshkosh was showing an exhibit of WWII airplane nose art, he had a feeling his grandfather’s plane might be there.
“I knew there was a chance that my grandfather’s plane, or a plane that he flew, was here. So we went through this as fast as we could, and I couldn’t find it,” Bill said.
The reason that Bill couldn’t find it was because the museum realized that some of the nose art was not suitable for viewing by minors, so they placed it with the other more “mature” art in a back room. When he went in the back room, there it was.
His grandfather’s plane, “Double Trouble,” featured two women wearing nothing but red shoes and bow ties as the nose art. Bill’s grandfather did not paint the image, but he piloted the plane and commanded the crew.
Jim Tromblay, Clement’s son and Bill’s father, was in awe seeing his father’s plane. Bill’s reaction was more intense.
“Bill was by himself, and he started to cry, because all of a sudden here’s… His grandpa passed away. He never met his grandpa,” Jim Tromblay told WISN.
All that Bill had, were photographs and stories until he finally stood in front of his grandfather’s plane. At last, he had a tangible piece of history that he could share with his grandfather.
Bill considers it a gift this Christmas that brings him closer to the grandfather he never knew.
Even though most people know of his grandfather’s most famous mission from a fictionalized version in a movie, Bill says that exhibits like this one remind you of the real people that fought in WWII.