KIMBOLTON MEMORIES (379th Bomb Group) |
There are many.
(1) My first mission, I didn't believe we could fly through the flak barrage that protected the target and survive.
(2) The Mission to Zeitz on 11/30/44. During my tour of 37 combat missions, more losses were sustained on this mission than any other. Our Squadron was shot to hell on a Second Run over the target.
(3) The time we lost two engines over the target and came back alone. We threw out everything possible to maintain altitude and were picked up by a P-51 that flew escort all the way back to England. The name on the P-51 was Lady Ester.
(4) The first time I flew as a Tail Gunner in the lead aircraft. In our Group, this position was the designated Formation Control Officer, a very strange but necessary place for a Pilot to be.
(5) My first mission as the Pilot and Aircraft Commander. The target was Berlin and I was assigned to check out new crews that had never flown a combat mission. My full crew to-day, including their Pilot who flew as my co-pilot, were flying their first combat mission.
(6) In my tour of combat I flew 19 different airplanes and never had to abort a mission due to any mechanical problems with the aircraft. This is a tribute to the unbelievable skills and dedication of the Ground Crews of the planes I flew.
(7) I flew with a total of 121 different crew members. I was most fortunate with the various crew members that flew with me on their first mission, all but one performed well. No one, on any of the crews I flew with, ever sustained an injury, was wounded, or was killed.
(8) I must say that I did miss the comradery of a regular crew. As a Pilot I usually never flew with any crew, or crew member, more than once or twice. In a situation like that you never get close to anyone. - - - -
(9) I feel like I was a "loner".
(10) My last mission, the longest of all, over 11 hours. We had to land at an RAF base in England to refuel although we were less than 70 miles from Kimbolton. One engine quit on the final approach to the RAF field and a second engine quit on the flair out. After landing we had to be towed off the runway due to lack of fuel in the other two engines. There is much more to this story but suffice to say I made some wrong decisions. I called this much to close by trying to stretch our fuel and attempt to reach our home base. I was very lucky that we found the RAF field.
(11) London, the Blackout, the V-2 Rockets and the Buzz Bombs.
(12) The trip back to the USA by ship. We were in a convoy and our ship was a converted coastal steamer. The German U Boats were still active. This also is no place for a Pilot to be.
(13) The memories I don't have. There were many events that have been well documented, such as, the plane that crashed into our living site. Although I was on the Base at the time I have NO MEMORIES of that happening or the events that followed.
(14) A final thought . . . . Memories can change our perception of reality. All memories, to some extent, must be suspect.