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Legacy Of:

William  L.  Paul

 

Personal Legacy
After Graduation on December 5, 1943: Home on leave for two weeks plus travel time. Reported to Salt Lake City, UT on December 18, 1943 for "B-25 assignment" as specified on my orders and crew assembly. B-25 did not happen! Reassigned to B-24 replacement crew, as Co-Pilot, of Elwood N. Starkey Crew. Nine crew members were assembled and we were transported "in group," departing January 9, 1944. Pueblo, CO, January 10 to January 25, 1944, completed crew assembly -- navigator added. Westover Field, MA, January 30 to April 16, 1944, for B-24 transition, formation flying and combat training as a crew.

Mitchel Field, NY, April 16, 1944 to be assigned an airplane, final staging and eventual departure for overseas. Departed April 21, 1944, flying "our" airplane. From May 5 to November 21, 1944 with 44th Bomb Group, 67th Squadron, I flew thirty-five combat missions over France and Germany. We were able to return to base after every mission, without injury to crew members - although the aircraft often had many scars. The ground crew frequently reported more than 200 holes in the skin of the aircraft. I recall two interesting damage scars that made me realize that God was with me as I flee on each mission. I do not recall the date or the targets we had bombed, only that anti-aircraft fire was extremely heavy and accurate.

1. After returning to base, when leaving the airplane, we saw the pulley in the bombbay area, which supported rudder and elevator control cables, hanging loosely on the cables. The anti-aircraft shrapnel had knocked off the rivets and bracket fastened to the inside of the airplane --- but did not damage the control cable. Result: We were able to return to base and land safely.

2. Another incident vividly etched in my memory: We had passed the "initial point" (IP) of the bombing run to the target. Flack was extremely heavy and accurate. I was not flying the aircraft, and therefore had my feet stretched out to the right of the rudder pedals. For reasons unknown to me, I straightened up and sat back, pulling my feet to a flat-footed position. I had barely moved my feet back, when I looked down and saw a hole about five inches in diameter in the floor, exactly where my right foot had been resting just seconds before. My intercom was damaged and I was unable to contact any other crew members. Later we learned from the ground crew, who had repaired the damage, that an unexploded 88mm shell had lodged behind the instrument panel in the area of my radio equipment. Had that shell exploded, as most of them did, our aircraft and its ten occupants would have been blown to bits. God was there with us.

After finishing the overseas tour of duty (35 combat missions), returning to the U.S., and arriving home on Christmas Day, I was on leave for approximately four weeks. On January 23, 1945, I reported to the AAF Redistribution Station at Santa Monica, CA and was reassigned to Independence, KS. Reported to Independence on February 9 and departed on February 17, 1945. Reported to Waco AAFB, Waco, TX on February 20 for "Special Training," as Pilot Instructor in single engine, AAT-6. Completed Pilot Instructor Training and departed Waco on April 28, 1945, ordered to Moore Field, AAF Pilot School (Basic) at Mission, TX. Reported to Moore Field on April 30, 1945. I worked only three weeks with my first and only class of student pilots.

As a result of V-E Day on May 8, 1945, and the "Point System" effective shortly thereafter, I suddenly became elegible for release from military service, if I chose to leave. With the war in Japan still going strong and the possibility that I could be assigned to another tour of combat duty, I decided I had enough combat and chose to take my discharge. I departed from Moore Field on May 24, 1945, headed for Fort Sheridan, IL. Reported in at Fort Sheridan on May 30, 1945 and departed June 2nd on terminal leave. My Honorable Discharge became effective on June 12, 1945.

Because I was hospitalized with a strep throat infection over D-Day, my crew finished their tour of 30 plus combat missions before I did. Therefore, I flew as Co-Pilot with several other pilots, as the need arose. I flew, with several new replacement crews, on their first and second missions as "the combat experienced" Pilot, to help the new, first pilot, adapt to combat conditions. WOW!

After finishing most of my missions, and while waiting for a chance to fill-in on another crew, I slow-timed engines newly replaced, flying liesurely all over England.
 
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Last modified: 01/26/14