Welcome to the 8th Air Force

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by b17sam, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. b17sam

    b17sam Member

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    At Bassingbourn, the 91st BG, 324th Sq. procedure for new crews was to split them up and assign them to experienced crews for the first three or four missions. The alert list posted every evening listed the names and crews for the mission next morning. One night we saw our pilot, bombardier, radioman, and tail gunner's names posted for their first mission. They went to bed early, but as my name was not posted, I drifted into an all night poker game. I dropped out about 2 A.M. to get some sleep. I was awakened by a flashlight shining in my eye, a heavy hand shaking my shoulder and a gruff voice telling me to rise and shine. It did no good to protest he had the wrong guy, that I was not on the alert list. Are you Halpert, he asked. I said yes. You're the guy, he said, get moving, you're late. I asked him what the hell was going on. He told me that a navigator had taken sick at briefing and I was the next navigator on the roster. Let's go, he said, it is 4:30, you missed breakfast and briefing is just about over. I'll drive you out to the ship. We climbed into a jeep and he stopped at the equipment hut for me to pick up my flying gear and parachute. By the time he dropped me off at the ship, the crew was warming themselves in front of a fire in an old oil barrel. Greetings, said the pilot, I haven't seen you around before. He didn't seem too pleased to hear that was because it was my first mission. And when I asked him where we were going, he threw his coffee away in disgust. Ludwigshafen, he said, goddam Ludwigshafen again. I told him that I had never heard of the place. He walked away to keep from exploding, and I was alone with the rest of the crew who were looking at me in a strange way. The pilot returned with some maps and showed me the location of Ludwigshafen. He told me to keep the maps and not to worry, he was going to stay close to the formation, but I'd better damn sure know where we were if we had to leave the formation for any reason.
    That first mission was one hell of an experience. After the mission, I saw Captain Klette, our squadron C.O. who later went on to fly the most pilot missions in the entire 8th Air Force. How did it go, he asked. Hell, I said, I went on my first mission without sleep, breakfast or briefing. He looked me up and down before snarling, are you bragging or complaining. Neither, I said, just a point of information, sir. Point noted, he said, and stand at attention when addressing a superior officer. I tried, without much success, to steer clear of him for the rest of my tour of missions.
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Great stuff, Sam! It's great to hear the stories from the ones who were there. Please post more!
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Yep, very cool!!!
     
  4. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    B17sam welcome, nice story.
     
  5. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Great stuff Sam, look forward to more.
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Great story. Just goes to show you in every military organization, there are great officers that inspire their men, and others who were just schmucks.
     
  7. Nonskimmer

    Nonskimmer Active Member

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  8. P38 Pilot

    P38 Pilot Active Member

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    Awesome story! Its nice to have veterans from World War II to post their stories!
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Thanks for the post, that was very nice.
     
  10. mosquitoman

    mosquitoman Active Member

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    Great, can't wait for the next instalment
     
  11. CurzonDax

    CurzonDax Member

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    I love the 8th. Its a culture all on its own.!

    :{)
     
  12. rebel8303

    rebel8303 Member

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    nice story! waiting to hear more
     
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