Growing up I peeled, turned the pages of black and white images of my Dad’s service in World War II.
He served in the Army Air Force as it was called at the time. Stationed in Italy and flying over German air space to drop a variety of bombs to hasten the end of the war.
Each B-24 liberator four engine aircraft burned 200 gallons of fuel an hour, were manned by tight, superstitious ten man crews and the bomber planes flew in all the WW II theaters.
From Italy, Africa, in the Pacific because the B-24 had improvements over the B-17 bomber aircraft to make it go faster, further.
Carrying about 8000 pounds, waiting for the time when the order was given to open the bomb bay doors. With German 88 mm anti aircraft guns popping around you, the wind whistling, howling through the plane that smelled like a latrine.
Tracer bullets in the spray of ammo sent out from all sides of the flying fortress.
To help the gunner know if the target was being reached and to adjust the current, to make every second count.
In cold, un-pressurized cabins wearing electric flak suits, oxygen masks. In what seemed like a flying tin can coffin.
Trusting your 50 caliber gunners stationed around the plane to defend against determined fighters that were working their hardest to bring the aircraft to the ground.
To shoot it out of the sky or at least cripple it to distract and deter from dropping those bombs hidden inside.
If all went well, the B-24 leveling off at 28,000 feet and dropping the ordinance payload when over the primary or secondary targets in formation.
The pins pulled on the racks of bombs selected for the mission of the day. To fly over, make the bunker buster, incendiary or whatever type of “bombs away” milk run a success. Then high tail it back. Lighter, faster, every plane for themselves.
To get home to base. Eventually still alive and in time to family, loved ones state’s side. In one piece in the hop back across the pond.
300 B-24’s went up a day in the beginning of the war and 100 of them did not come back to base.
Ten man crews meant 1000 men perished daily in each sortie bomb run from individual air fields.
Or some crew members who were not killed in action in the sky parachuted into enemy territory to hopefully avoid capture. Not end up stuck in a tree or taken prisoner.
My Dad flew in the tail gunner position of a B-24.
I am proud of my dad, two brothers that were veterans too. On a trip to London, it was special to visit the Imperial War Museum and see the war effort from the another country’s landscape perspective. And to see the effort put in by European countries and the deep sacrifice, from the toll of war.
My youngest son Elliot was with me and toured the museum that showed what life was like under attack in London during WW II. Thinking of stories his “Buppy” had shared. Usually during slow snow storm rides on road where story telling made the time pass quicker.
Like touring the Arizona in Pearl Harbor, not much talking happens as you observe, reflect, sense the horror, the honor at the same time of those who served. As we toured the Imperial War Museum.
The “many that gave some, the some that gave all”.
Thank you to veterans around the World who served, to protect freedom. On this Veteran’s Day, we pray for those lost and never found, those families that lost members or had service personnel in their flock.
I remember Andy Spyker who told me another story about being in the Dutch Navy when Germany invaded his country of Holland and he got the news out to sea.
Shocked, but quickly receiving orders to defect. To rendezvous with the English and proceed at once to a nearby British naval base.
To refuel, get provisions, re-assignment of the 26 submarime ships markings/flagging and to be briefed on what happens next for his underwater crew.
That was instructed on English naval protocol and suddenly finding themselves in her royal majesty’s fleet, at the crown’s service.
Working their hardest arm in arm. To get Holland, England, the World back into peace time status and free of German, Japan, Italian Axis rule.
War. Not many escape it in their lifetime.
Veterans Day, it’s everyday for most people, their famlies where War happened and they had a role in fighting it to preserve peace.
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