World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
December 30, 1987
The 44th Logbook is a great publication, which carries a lump of nostalgia for many of us. Since I don't see much humor, I am submitting this account of my first mission.
As an eager beaver, Hubba-hubba, our crew was all tuned up for our maiden mission. All went well up to the IP. As we turned on to the bombing run, my bladder demanded attention. As bombardier, I certainly would not consider leaving my post. After all, the whole trip was undertaken so that I could unload my bombs. Additionally, I had looked forward to getting a shot at Hitler's Germany for what he was doing to my people. As we drew closer to the target, I was sure that I was master of the bladder and that the relief tube would soon be mine.
All hope evaporated as the common pilot's voice interrupted my pleasant thoughts. "The resistance is light, not much flak, and the formation is strung out all over the place. We'll make a 360-degree turn and make another pass. This time, let's tighten up the formation and make a decent strike."
Duty was calling from two directions! I stayed at my bombsight and gave way to nature's call.
My first reaction was more than relief. It was a feeling of delight. The warm liquid embraced me as it floated up and around me. But my pleasure was short-lived. As my electric underwear got soaked, I was getting shocks all over my bottom, upward. A quick decision was called for. I reached down to turn back the thermostat. Now that was much better . . . but for how long? The sub-zero temperature at altitude soon had my teeth chattering like a castenet. I continued turning the control up and down, taking the shocks and chills alternately until we reached French-friendly territory, at which time I called the pilot to go to a lower altitude.
We left the formation and descended to rescue me form my dilemma. Just as I began to relax, the tail gunner shouted in terror. "There are hundreds of fighters above us. They're all over the place!"
After making sure that no attack was coming, I took the walked-around bottle, lumbered back to the tail to see what he was talking about. The "fighters" were the B-24s we had just left.
Of course, we got rid of the tail gunner by getting a replacement, and I made sure that my personal needs were taken care of thereafter long before target time.
By the way, we did hit the target in spite of everything. And I must assure everyone that there was an enormous difference between our first mission and our final one.
I'll bet there are many stories about the misadventures of green crews. C'mon fellas, fess up and let's hear more.
44th Group, 66 Squadron