Aviator has a blast from a wartime past.

Discussion in 'Stories' started by v2, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    5,940
    Likes Received:
    624
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cracow
    By LINDA MAN
    The Kansas City Star

    When Lee Lamar sat Friday behind the controls of a vintage B-24 Liberator bomber, it was as if nearly 63 years had faded away.
    Lamar of Mission recalls Nov. 18, 1944, with perfect clarity. The four-engine B-24 he co-piloted during World War II had been gunned down over what was then northern Italy.
    “They (the Germans) kept hitting us and hitting us,” Lamar said. “It was hard to control with just two right engines. We lost altitude from 20,000 to 5,000 feet.”
    The B-24’s two left engines had been shot out. The plane had lost its hydraulics. Lamar and nine other crew members spent the next 30 minutes trying to nudge the plane back to Allied territory in southern Italy, but they didn’t make it.
    The men parachuted shortly before the plane crashed in what is now Croatia. Everyone survived — seven escaped and three were captured, including Lamar.
    Fast forward to today.
    Lamar, now 86, will return to the crash site next month to meet with an archaeologist who discovered the wreckage and tracked down Lamar through the Internet.
    Accompanying the veteran will be Park University professor Dennis Okerstrom, who will film the excavation and create a documentary about Lamar’s last mission. The objective was to destroy a German airfield so fighter planes couldn’t take off. Lamar and his comrades succeeded.
    Okerstrom called World War II an “extraordinary” time when young men were called into combat. And Lamar, a mere 23 years old when he was shot down, earned the nickname “Pappy” because he was the oldest on board. Other crew members were barely out of adolescence — 17-, 18- and 19-year-olds, Okerstrom said.
    “He was one of several million who had to do the horrible time,” Okerstrom said.
    Lamar said three other crewmates are still living, but their deteriorating health will prevent them from returning to Croatia.
    The bomber Lamar briefly flew Friday is the last flying B-24 in the world, said Hunter Chaney, spokesman for The Collings Foundation, which works to educate the public about World War II through aircraft shows.
    The foundation arranged for Lamar to take the helm during a flight from Fort Collins, Colo., to Kansas City. The foundation has the B-24 and a B-17 bomber on display at the Wheeler Downtown Airport until Monday.
    “Most of these World War II veterans are in the mid- to late-80s,” Chaney said. “One of our primary objectives is to remind people what these fellows did in the war.”
    After his three-hour trip Friday, Lamar was tired, giddy and emotional. He was dressed in a replica leather flight jacket and cap in 90-degree weather. A reporter asked Lamar when he last had flown a B-24.
    “Nov. 18, 1944,” he responded as tears welled in his eyes.
    Then, he straightened up and faced reporters calmly. He said he had forgotten how much strength it required to control the plane. And the plane’s instrument panel was much like he remembered.
    “I enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s an opportunity that a lot people don’t get.”
    Regarding the trip to Croatia, Lamar said he hoped to find something he left behind.
    “I buried a perfectly good parachute over at the intersection of two stone walls,” he said, referring to the military policy of hiding gear.
    Lamar, Okerstrom, their families and several Park University students will depart Aug. 3 for Croatia.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,900
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Still a student
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
  3. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    41,750
    Likes Received:
    518
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Doctor
    Location:
    Portsmouth / Royal Deeside, UK
    Home Page:
    Interesting story v2.
     
  4. Bf109_g

    Bf109_g Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Great story. :)
     
Loading...

Share This Page