FRANK A. RINALDO|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(29 June 1944)
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
28 November 1983
Received your letter today and will try and answer everything that you want to know. First, I am enclosing a copy of when we were shot down with the names of all the men captured or KIA. As you notice, three men of the Westcott crew were POW, and I have noted their present addresses. Also on the other copy, I listed from our crew the ones that were killed and the others capture. Plus I put their present addresses.
We were shot down by flak and when we got hit we crashed into Westcott's plane which blew three of them out alive. The plane that we flew was named Cape Cod Special, which was crewed by Lou Rabesa who was our crew chief of all them missions we flew. The place we crashed into was My Everloving Gal. We both flew out of the 506th. We got hit by flak about ten in the morning. All I remember was that we were getting hit by flak all the way on the bomb run. I had my flak suit over all my body. When the bombardier said "bombs away," I looked up at my window and it was all shattered and my last words were, "Let's get the hell out of here," and that's when we got the first hit. It knocked me over and when I started to get up we got hit again which I thought, but instead, it was we crashed into Westcott's plane. It knocked me out for a few seconds and when I got up all I could see was wide-open space where the bomb bay was. Luckily I had a back-type chute on.
The next thing I did was dive out where the bomb bay was. Our two waist gunners bailed out on the bomb run just before we got hit and the pilot and the copilot got blown out. The bombardier and the radio operator went out the bomb bay before we crashed into the plane. We were approximately 2,500 feet to 2,700 feet when we got hit. Myself, radio operator, and the bombardier were captured about two hours after we hit the ground. The three from the other plane and our waist gunners and copilot were also captured. The pilot was hit in the plane and was captured also, but his wounds were bad and he died about an hour later.
We were taken later on to a couple of villages and then to Frankfort for interrogation. From there to the prison camp. We were on the march for about 75 days when myself and three others escaped from the march. We roamed around Germany for about a week or so and finally got a hop back to England. Spent some time in the hospital there and finally got sent home.
Finally got discharged from the service and after a couple of weeks, civilian life, to me, was not up to par so I re-enlisted and spent 22 years in the Air Force. Retired in 1964 as a M/Sgt. Got a job in the post office as a letter carrier and after 15 years I retired from there and moved up to where I am now. Truthfully, I would give anything to be back in the service. This civilian life is for the birds.
Gong back when we first got to England we were assigned to the 68th which I don't recall and then to the 506th where we pulled mostly all our missions. Our first plane was the Banana Barge and after 18 missions, we got a five-day leave and while on leave, some new crews took her on a mission and never came back. We flew the rest of the missions in all different planes. The day we got shot down we weren't supposed to have flown.
The previous day we flew two missions and we all went out and did the town and when we got back about midnight that night we were told we were going up again. Boy were we feeling good and none of us were in the mood for flying. But it was an all-out call and that was the end of it.
Well, I guess that's about all for now. We flew 27 missions and five diversions. You know, all of us would have loved to have received the DFC, but to no avail. I even wrote to General Johnson about it but he couldn't do anything about it. Well, I guess that's it except my SN which was at that time AF31082433.