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Firman  B.  Mack

 

Personal Legacy
Firman B. Mack
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy. Some written by Mrs. F. B. Mack)

January 11, 1988

2125 Royce Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Dear Will:

I am enclosing copies of some things you might like to have. One is a copy of the order sending my husband's crew to his overseas destination. This gives you a list o the crew names and serial numbers.

The second item is a copy of the orders sending the crew back to the U.S. You will note a different copilot's name on that list. Lt. Dickerson took Lt. Fuss's place on the flight home because Lt. Fuss got his own crew and stayed in England for a time.

The third item is a list of the bomb runs my husband made.

I have also filled out the crew log paper you included with your letter.

My husband's vision is very, very limited, which is why we did not attend the reunion in Milwaukee last fall. I am hoping we will be able to attend one of the reunions in the future.

Very truly yours,

Virginia Mack

P.S. Harvell flew with my husband on some of his missions. He said the reason he liked to fly with my husband is "because you always seem to get home safely."

*****


January 21, 1988

Dear Mr. Lundy:

About the mission where Logan bailed out, the following is my husband's account of it:

Our mission to Wetzlar, Germany on 12 March 1945 got complicated almost at once. At some point on the way to the Group Forming Area, the airplane suddenly filled with acrid smoke. Everyone but me was coughing and hacking and gasping and trying to put on their oxygen masks. Fortunately, I had put on my oxygen mark before we left the ground because I was usually pretty busy during form-up. After the people got their masks on, someone in the waist told me that Logan had triggered a smoke bomb accidentally while walking through the bomb bay. After a certain amount of confusion, we got the bomb bay doors open and dropped the 100-pound smoke bomb into the 10/10ths cloud cover below us. I never could find out where that bomb landed. Either the people didn't know or they didn't want to tell me.

After we got rid of the bomb, the smoke cleared out of our drafty old B-24 pretty rapidly. However, our troubles were not over. I received a call from the waist that the acid from the bomb had sprayed Logan in the face and he was unable to wear an oxygen mask. If he continued on the mission with us, he would surely die of anoxia. It shouldn't happen to a nice guy like Logan. We had a little pow wow in the cockpit and the guy that was riding command pilot (Capt. David Sayler) that day said, "You can't go back," which I guess we already knew, because we understood that we were expendable. On the way to the target you were working for the government and after your dropped your bombs, you had the luxury of working for yourself.

While I was still trying to figure out what to do about this situation, the waist called me and said, "Logan wants to bail out." I had another short pow wow with the navigator, who said, "If he's going to do it, he'd better hurry because we're approaching the coast out." I called the waist back and told Logan to go ahead, but that he shouldn't open his chute until he hit the clouds below us, which were at about 5,000 feet (we were then about 13,000 feet), because the wind was behind us and if he drifted too far, he might end up in he drink. Logan said, "Okay," and shortly after that he bailed out. The guys in the waist said he opened his chute almost before he got out of the airplane. I think he came down somewhere around Ipswich.

I don't remember much about the mission, but when we returned to the Base, our revetment was swarming with staff cars. I seem to remember that General Johnson was among those present. In the general uproar, someone said, "We found one of the people who bailed out, but we can't find the other two." It took a little while to figure that out, but it seems that someone in the formation had reported that we bailed out three people. The "two people" who were missing were Logan's pants and jacket, which had been thrown out because they were smoldering from the acid.

Shortly after this mission, at a general meeting which Colonel Snavely was addressing, someone commented that Capt. Mack and his crew were to be congratulated for the way they handled the Logan incident. Col. Snavely said, "I don't know whether they should be congratulated or whether Capt. Mack should be court-martialed." To which I responded, "I'm right here, Sir." Col. Snavely and I never liked one another very much.

A few days later, Col. Snavely called me to his quarters and gave me a Clark bar form his candy ration and told me that the Brass had decided to award Logan the Distinguished Flying Cross, and to tell the Germans that we were so eager to come and bomb them that our people were prepared to bail out rather than disrupt the mission.

The following press release appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Burned Flyer Bails Out; Lets Mission Go On

An 8th Air Force station in England, April 9 (AP) burned severely by the accidental explosion of a smoke bomb in his Liberator, Sgt. Grover Logan, Jr., of Hattiesburg, Miss, bailed out over England so the plane would not have to abandon its mission to return him to its base for medical treatment.

Logan landed near a railway station in time to catch a train to a civilian hospital. An ambulance took him to an American military hospital.

Pilot Capt. Firman Mack, of 6755 East End Av., Chicago, said he gave permission to jump upon learning that Logan's burns were causing extreme pain but apparently were not serious. Sgt. Roger Tewksbury of Bath, NH, the engineer who took over Logan's gun position, said, "He stepped through the emergency escape hatch as nonchalantly as if he was going across the street for a pound of butter."

******

I have never figured out what Col. Snavely had in mind when he mentioned that I should be court martialed. A court martial would have been interesting. I wish now that I had asked Col. Snavely if he had ever flown a high altitude mission without oxygen.

Sincerely,

Firman B. Mack
 
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