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RG5841.AM:  Robert A. Merchant, 1920-2008

Papers:  1942-2007; mostly 1942-1944

Wayne, Wayne County, Nebraska:  World War II aerial photographer

Size:  One folder


Robert Auker Merchant (1920-2008) at age 22 became a staff sergeant with the 90th Bomb Group (the “Jolly Rogers”) in the United States Army Air Forces. He served from 1942-1945. The 90th Bomb Group operated predominately in the Southwest Pacific (Australia and New Guinea) as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber unit assigned to the Fifth Air Force. Merchant worked as an aerial photographer, documenting several attacks, battles, and rescue missions while in air and while on the ground. He also captured B-24 nose art and wrecked Japanese warplanes.

After WWII ended, Merchant returned home to Wayne, Nebraska, and took over management of his father’s business, Merchant Oil Company. Merchant married Pauline K. Kunde in 1946; they had two daughters, Paulette and Joanie. Merchant was an active member of the Wayne community. He served as president of the Wayne Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in forming the Wayne Rural Volunteer Fire Department. Starting in 1947, he was also involved in freemasonry, receiving the Grand Masters Humanitarian Award in 2002.


This collection consists of one folder containing several WWII era items relating to the 90th Bomb group and Robert Merchant’s military service.  Included are squadron rosters, an individual equipment checklist, newspaper and magazine clippings, typescript accounts of the mission into Jonghe and the Bena Bena Expedition.  Also included are a few, more recent letters about Robert Merchant.  The materials in the collection date from ca. 1942-1944, 2001 and 2007.

Note:  See the photo, sound recording and moving image components for related materials.


Robert Merchant and 90th Bomb Group materials


Subject headings:

Merchant, Robert A., 1920-2008

Military operations, Aerial

United States — Army Air Forces — Bombardment Group, 90th

World War, 1939-1945 — Aerial operations, American


TMM      03-04-2020