Every employee at the Hanford Engineer Works donated one day’s pay to purchase the airplane,
Carpenter Max Blanchard is generally credited with coming up with the idea for buying a war plane to send overseas. Shortly after the D-Day landing of June 6, 1944, Blanchard received a letter from his son, who was fighting overseas. The letter was full of praise for the offensive support the troops received from the air. Blanchard knew then that a plane was the right gift for the Army and that it would be appreciated more than anything else. Blanchard told his crew about his idea, and they quickly spread the word.
Soon the whole Hanford Site was enthusiastically supporting the idea of buying the war machine. Over the course of the next month, the payroll department collected a day’s pay from each of some 51,000 employees. The “Give a Bomber” committee held a contest to pick a name for the plane. Eleven people submitted the name “Day’s Pay,” since the campaign was conducted under the slogan “Give a day’s pay and send a bomber on its way.” All employees who contributed to the cause received a certificate acknowledging their “share” of the bomber.
Mrs. Katie Belle Harris, whose son had been lost in action in Germany earlier in the year, was given the honors of christening the B-17. She broke a champagne bottle over the nose of the airplane. Under the “Day’s Pay” moniker painted on the nose, the words “Presented to the Army Air Forces as a Result of Cash Contributions by Employees of Hanford Engineer Works,” explained the origin of the plane. There was also a plaque mounted on the inside of the plane.
The plane would eventually fly more than 60 missions in Germany, bombing oil refineries at Hamburg and an ordnance depot at Dusseldorf, among many other targets. The plane was “injured” a number of times, being hit in the engine, the gas tank, and the nose.
It was sent to the 94th Bomb group at Bury St. Edmunds (Rougham), while "Day's Pay" was allocated to the 862 Bomb Squadron, 493rd Bomb Group, at Debach Suffolk, and assigned to Lt. Arlys D. Wineinger's crew.
The first mission flown by "Day's Pay" was to Dusseldorf, on 9 September, and it flew more than fifty missions in the 493rd Bomb Group. Then in February 1945 following deactivation of the 862nd Bomb Squadron, it was transferred to the 94th Bomb Group, and had completed sixty-seven missions by the time it was returned.
The employees who bought her continued to keep track of Day’s Pay as it flew its missions. The employee newspaper, the Sage Sentinel, reported on its progress. The paper published a list of the plane’s crew. Employees wanted to send Christmas cards to “their” boys overseas.
In July of 1945, Day’s Pay was flown back to the United States, initially to Connecticut, then on to Independence Field, Kansas, for storage.
The Richland High School Class of 1993 has honored those workers who paid for the bomber by donating a mural of the B-17 Bomber to the School as their Senior Class Gift. '93 students raised $21,000.00 to get the mural of the Day's Pay painted, lighted, and maintained. The 3200 square-foot mural is fastened to the North outside wall of the School's gymnasium.
Richland, a town on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington, the once-secret city that was built in a hurry to house the scientists and secretaries, engineers and electricians who helped build the Fat Man bomb.
In a very brief time, Richland had grown from 240 to 11,000 people, almost all of whom had worked on the top-secret project at Hanford, a bleak, Government-owned stretch of desert half the size of Rhode Island.
The neaby Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which was created to serve the nuclear weapons industry. The bomb that devastated Nagasaki and ended World War II was made of plutonium manufactured here on the banks of the Columbia River in the days of the Manhattan Project.
Richland High School, proud home of the Bombers, that emblem is everywhere: on a sign towering over the football field, on another at the street entrance to the school, on class rings and on the entrance hallway a hydrogen bomb is outlined on the floor tile, a gift from the class of '68.