Update: October 2005
The mystery behind the origin of the painting is solved. Much to my surprise one fall afternoon, I received a call at my office from someone calling about the RW web site. In turn, I called the individual back and discovered that it was Melinda Wood Gray, daughter of Captain Harris L. Wood "Woody", who piloted the Bottoms Up on its 100th mission.
Melinda informed me that her mother had the painting specially commissioned for Woody to commemorate the Bottoms Up's 100th mission. After speaking with Melinda, she described her father's love for the Bottoms Up and he apparently kept detailed diaries while at Manduria concerning this B-24. Woody's wife took a photograph that he had and had an artist make an oil print out of it, which hangs, to this day in her husband Don's home office.
When Capt. Wood's wife passed away, he relocated near Maxwell Air Force Base. After visiting the 'O' club one day, he was quite mad due to the fact that there was not one picture of a B-24 hanging on the wall. This was quite odd since Maxwell AFB played host to many B-24's during the war and is also the record storage facility for the 450th Bomb Group historical records.
Woody had an oil painting made in honor of the Bottoms Up and presented it to the 'O' club where it hung for public display. Melinda also stated that a director of the Air University library was taken by the painting and also had a copy made and placed it in the Air University Library where it remains today.
The mystery has been solved with respect to the providence of the original painting and the two copies that reside in Alabama.
After speaking with Melinda and Don, I realized that they have an intimate knowledge of the Bottoms Up and her history. I am working with them in order to bring that history to light so that this ship and her many crews will never be forgotten. I am truly grateful for their help on this project.