FLAK EYE AND ALL MANNER OF IRRITATIONS - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)
He hadn’t slept at all last night, tossing and turning. He’d wrestled with it, looked at it from every possible angle and he was still unsure about what to do. It wasn’t as if he was a coward. Hell, he’d flown 13 missions already! He’d never shirked anything in his life and didn’t intend to start now, but he knew something had to give. The doc had already pulled enough lead out of him to make a small ashtray, and his eye had started to twitch. Flak eye, they called it. Too much time in the air, getting pounded by flak and fighters. The others had noticed, he knew.
Forrest had made a point of blaming him for the missed drop on
Bracing himself, Jim Blackmore pushed open the door to the 317th’s office and strode in. His battered cap at a rakish angle, the Silver Spoon’s bombardier addressed the squadron clerk.
“I’m here to see the CO,” he said briskly.
“Sorry, Lieutenant, he’s over at dispersal sorting out that engine problem you
guys picked up over
Blackmore strode out, frustrated and angry. He’d worked up the guts to ask to be stood down for the next mission, and the bastard wasn’t in his office! He’d have to try corner him in the OC tonight.
Stomping off towards his tent, Blackmore looked over at Silver Spoon’s hard-stand. He saw Amoore, clearly irritated, deep in conversation with Forrest.
Dammit! Now the bastard would be in a bad mood too . . .
FORREST FINDS HIS VOICE - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)
Milton Forrest in a bad mood was something to see. Arrogant and haughty at the best of times, Forrest was unanimously disliked by all. Angry, he pushed those scales closer towards active hatred. The entire crew – past and present of the Silver Spoon – loathed him, and made very little attempt to hide it. He was rarely invited to drinks with the other officers in the OC, and was ignored before and after missions.
Through all this, Forrest maintained a sense of self-righteous self-involvement that did not allow him to see what others felt about him. The cat-calls and barracking he’d heard coming from some of the crews in the 399th he’d assumed were aimed at him because he was in the 317th. The fact that the barman in OC never got his order right – How hard WAS it to get the right amount of vermouth in his glass?? – was clearly an indication of slipping standards. Also, his failure to get promotion showed how petty and small-minded both CO’s of the 317th had been.
It was for this reason, and the fact that he’d been shunted out of the flight roster by that imbecile Amoore, that he was on the war-path. He’d carefully negotiated most of the mud on his way to the hard stand where Silver Spoon – named in HIS honor by his crew! – stood, engine cowling stripped and ground-crew buzzing around her. Amoore stood there checking over the work.
Clearing his throat, Forrest snapped a salute – sardonically, in his opinion, not that he expected Amoore to spot the subtle insult – as the man turned around.
“Yes, Lieutenant, can I help you?” Amoore sighed. He didn’t have time for this.
“I need a word with you . . . Captain,” Forrest replied.
“Well, go on,” Amoore snapped, when it became apparent that the man was pausing for theatrical effect.
“I’d like to know why I’m not flying missions anymore, to be honest! Furthermore, I’d like to know why I’ve been passed over for promotion to Captain! I’m a better officer than any of the others and . . .,” he spluttered.
Amoore cut in, and angry edge to his voice. “Firstly, you’re flying this crate until further notice, Lieutenant, which is why YOU should be here checking her over NOT me!” he spat.
“Secondly, your promotion to Captain was put on hold because your flying skills aren’t up to scratch. I need pilots to lead the flights in this squadron, NOT glorified throttle jockeys! Your attitude towards your fellow officers has been noted by many, and THAT is why you’re going to be goddamn lucky if you EVER get your bars!,” he continued, his voice tight.
Forrest looked stunned. Good, Amoore thought. “Get over to the hospital and ask the MO to ground Lieutenant Blackmore for a few weeks, he’s about finished. Make him squadron entertainment officer, on MY orders. Then get over to personnel and arrange for a stand-in bombardier. After that, report back to me in my office, I think we need to discuss protocol when approaching a SUPERIOR officer. Do you hear me? Dismissed!”
“Ah, yes, okay, Captain,” Forrest stumbled over his reply. Saluting, he about-turned and marched away. The outrage! The man was a fool! He’d have his day, oh yes he would! Wait until the Colonel heard about this.
“And smarten up! Your uniform looks like you’ve slept in it!” Amoore shouted behind him.
Forrest increased his pace, fists clenched.
MESS HALL TALK
The newest rumors going around are about a new German fighter unit located within the 88th BG's area of operation.
Captain Frank Kingsley: "I heard that a new enemy unit has arrived in the MTO. Scuttlebutt said it's an experienced German fighter unit called Jagdgeschwader 700."
Captain Mark Yoshikawa: "Does our intelligence office know about this new unit so we can be informed of it's whereabouts in our next mission? After all we all do need to know 'where the enemy' is!"
"But then if they are typical he would dismiss them as a new unit that hasn't had a lot of training."
Captain Kingsley: "Captain, I don't know if S-2 knows anything about this unit. All I know is that the 399th might have encountered it on our last mission to Piraeus, but it has not been confirmed. My guess is that they are not inexperienced. The pilots we faced were too good to be green."
Captain Yoshikawa: "So, Captain is this another one of those ghost confirmations? After all the 399th thought they saw them, the S-2 doesn't even know about it, and if the S-2 doesn't know about it you know that the old man knows NOTHING about it. Sounds like a typical SNAFU to me. Besides I thought all we were up against was the second unit out here. The best units the Krauts have were being used up north fighting with our own 8th."
Lieutenant Ted Deschamps: "Aw, shoot, let 'em send the best dang pilots in the Luftwaffe! We'll show 'em the best lead America's got t' offer! Shoot 'em all down n' end th'war that much sooner!"
Captain Yoshikawa: "Like they said in the Civil War, Lieutenant, you haven't seen the elephant yet, eh? Those of us that have, are a little bit more cautious as to how we think the Luftwaffe are. I just hope that you don't have the experience of FIVE FW-190s coming at you from all directions without any fighter cover!"
Lieutenant Deschamps: "Shucks, Cap'n. Just t'day we had five 109s buzzin' like hornets after ya whack th'nest with a stick. We were at 10,000 feet, down two engines, two crewmen, one waist gun, an'not a friend t'be seen! Lemme tell ya somethin' else: them Jerries seem like a walk'n the park afta ya bin eye-to-eye with a fifteen-foot gator down't fishin' hole."
"Now, allow me t'buy us a beer'n ya can tell me what tricks I kin 'spect from Jerry next time up, would ya?"
Captain Yoshikawa: "109's are nothing compared to the 190's. After all when you have a fighter that is coming at you with a cannon instead of a machine gun it makes life a little bit more interesting! Just make sure that you not an eager beaver and think that your some hot shot pilot that can go through anything."
"Just letting you know....after all you don't become a Capt. just by sitting around the water cooler."
Captain Kingsley: "Elephants or alligators or camels, I sure hope that it's just a rumor, but what we met on the Piraeus mission was not SNAFU. It could have been a unit from JG 27 or 77, but the insignia on the nose was not anywhere near those of the 27th or 77th, and there were no 109s around. The 53rd? Don't think so, too far south. They're in the Reggio Emilia area, right? All we can do is to hurry up and wait and see if S-2 can confirm."
Submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn
William Northrup walked into the mess hall, and found Jed Baker sitting alone, a cup of coffee in front of him. They spend a few minutes talking over the mission that Northrup had missed, and the death of Milton Friedman, and about Northrup's arm, which had healed just fine, thank you. Then, Northrup asked, "Hey, where's Teddy?" It was unusual to see the bombardier alone, he wasn't usually too far from Deschamps.
"He's made a new friend over there," replied Baker, tipping his head towards the left, "I'm not sure who it is."
Northrup looked and saw Deschamps sitting, engaged in an animated conversation, a few tables away, with a pilot that Northrup recognized from around the base.
"Oh," said Lieutenant Northrup. "I know him. That's Captain Yoshikawa. He's with the 317th."
He watched the men converse for a minute. He could see Deschamps waving his arms around wildly to illustrate a point, and turning on the '100 Watt smile'. Northrup chuckled to himself. He'd seen Teddy lay on that 'Aw, shucks' routine plenty in the last seven months or so. It worked wonders with the ladies in town, but it sure didn't look like it was going over with the battle-hardened Captain.
THE WALK TO DARLA'S BITE HARDSTAND - (submitted by Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)
Lieutenant Willford Wilcox was making his way to the hard stand for his second mission in as many days. Wil, as his everone calls him, and his crew have been in Italy for three weeks now and yesterday was their first non-practice mission. It had proved to be easer than any of the practice missions to date. This was due to the fact there no instructors were grading their performance. Wil wasn't sure if this type of Milk-Run taught the boys in his crew anything about combat at 24,000 feet. Yes he had got some well needed formation practice, but it really was not true "combat conditions". Would this prove to be a detriment on this mission?
He thought of last night's discussion at the O-Club with 1st Lt. Sears, 2nd Lt. Cawley and 2nd Lt. Penny. These seasoned pilots warned him not to expect as easy a go in future missions, and this one to Florence may demonstrate why. The annalists have predicted heavy flak for this target and from the talk last night, flak sound worst than any rumors of the vaunted JG-700 he had heard.
As Willford was lost in his thoughts he heard a familiar voice beckoning him . . .
"Hay, Wil, want a lift to Darla?" barked 2nd Lt. Nick Coverly, the co-pilot of the Darla's Bite.
As Wil turned, he saw his crew piled in a jeep heading his way. "Sure, you boys ready for a real mission today?" he replied.
PREPARING TO TAKE-OFF - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)
Teddy Deschamps jumped down off the back of the jeep and approached the Crew Chief, Hanson, of Wang Dang Doodle.
"Hey, Chief!" called Deschamps, as he joined the Sergeant by the #3 engine. "Some of my boys, after the poundin' we took on Wednesday, didn't think the Doodle'd be ready to fly for a spell. But I tol' 'em," he continued, with his customary smile, "I tol' 'em Chief Hanson'n his boys'd get 'er right again in no time. 'Bes' damn crew in'th Army' I said!" finished Deschamps.
"Stow it, Deschamps, we ain't got time for your nonsense," growled Hanson. A veteran of nearly a year in the 8th Air Force before being transferred to the Med, Hanson was one of the few enlisted men who could get away with telling a superior officer to 'stow it.' He didn't suffer fools gladly and, while he respected Deschamps' flying ability, he had a suspicion that the man was more than a little full of sh*t. Not like Andrews, thought the Chief. He had liked Andrews and his crew a great deal. Damn shame, he thought.
They went through all the preflight checks and, as Deschamps prepared to leave his crew chief, he turned to him once more. The grin was gone, replaced with a serious and, noted the Chief, sincere look.
"Listen, Chief," said Deschamps, and Hanson noted without any real surprise that Deschamps' accent was far less exaggerated than normal. "I just want you to know that I really do 'preciate the work y'all put in on gettin' our bird back in the air so soon. It means a lot to us to be able to fly in our plane, ya understand."
The Chief looked hard at the young Lieutenant. "I know it does," he said finally. "Just bring me back my bird in one piece this time, Deschamps. I need some rest."
Teddy gave him a thumbs up, the big smile back on his face. "I'll do my best, Sergeant," he said, and turned to climb aboard the plane. As he did so, Deschamps heard his chief mutter, "And get yourselves back in one piece, too."
TOWER RECEPTIONS - MISSION 14
Shortly before the bomb run:
"Mayday . . . Mayday . . . this is Buckeye Four . . . nose blown off by flak over target . . . dropping out of formation . . . jettisoning bombs . . . my God they're both dead . . . [end of transmission from Frisco Kid]
"Joker 9 to Fireball 1 we are taking heavy damage back here from flak . . . Joker 9 to Fireball 1, I REPEAT, we are taking SEVERE DAMAGE TO OUR WINGS . . ."
"JOKER 9 TO FIREBALL 1, #3 ENGINE HAS LOST ALL OIL PRESSURE AND WON'T FEATHER. WE'RE LEAKING FUEL AT A HIGH RATE. WE'LL HAVE TO DROP OUT OF FORMATION"
"Fireball Leader to Joker Nine, See you back home. Over and out." . . . Hopefully!?! the pilot of Darla's Bite thought sarcastically. That's some bedside manner he's got! "Wilcox out!"
Over the Adriatic - Inbound:
"MAYDAY . . . MAYDAY. . . DARLA'S BITE IS OUT OF FUEL . . . COVERLY'S DEAD . . . CAN'T FEATHER #3 PROP . . . GOING TO DITCH HER IN THE ADRIATIC SEA ABOUT 160 MILES OUT . . . SEND RESCUE PLANE!! WILCOX OUT . . ."
Approaching Sterparone Field.
"Fireball 6 to Tower . . . Please have Fire and Ambulance waiting by the runway . . . our landing gear is out and we will be attempting a belly landing . . . Fireball 6 out . . .