AT THE GREEN MAN'S GIRL TENT AFTER THE MISSION - (submitted by George Bessler, 318th Sqn)
After Youngblood had gathered all the boys into one tent, they only had to wait a few minutes until Pat O’Halern entered. They all saluted and O’Halern returned it before beginning. “Boys, I want you to sit down and don’t say a word. This is how it will be I don’t care who is screwing who's cousin. I don't care about who's going for dinner . . . What I do cares that we lost another man for some stupid reason. . . All of you have been irresponsible not only as airmen but adults too. I will not let you guys mess this up. I fly for you and you guys defend me . . . and we all defend the group . . . and ultimately defend our country . . . Now if you want off, just raise your hand and I'll see what I can do.” O’Halern looked around the tent and NO ONE raised their hands. “Good now for the punishment of this all of you are going down to the plane and completely wash it . . . That is all.”
ON THE 316th SIDE OF THE AIRFIELD - (submitted by Don Lavalette, 316th Sqn)
"Hey, Ernie, figure out why that engine quit?" asked Lieutenant O'Malley
"No sir, damned if I know. She fired okay this morning. Say, why don't you take her out for a test," replied MSgt. Bilko.
"I think well do that, Ernie, I'll go get clearance to let the CO know we want to check this baby out . . . without Germans all around," chuckled O'Malley.
"Okay, Lieutenant, see ya later," replied Bilko.
In the tent area affectionately known by the men as "The Barracks":
"Hey, Ed, Ernie says number four is working fine. Wanna take her up to make sure?" asked Lieutenant O'Malley.
"Probably ought to Tom. Say, have you seen some of these stats from these other squadrons? I mean, what the hell are we doing wrong, Tom? Some of these guys have claimed more kills than Eddie Rickenbacker for Pete's sake," said an exasperated Lieutenant Harrigan.
"Relax, Tom, we're doing great, we've got a good bird, good ground crew, and one hell of a good crew, perhaps a bit err . . . eccentric, but all business in the air. Really, Ed, you're a great ship skipper, the men love you, alls well, old boy. Here, have a cigar," replied Lieutenant O'Malley
"Okay, Tom, guess you're right. Lets go see the skipper."
After arriving at the CO's office, Lieutenants Harrigan and O'Malley explain the engine situation to the commander and request permission to take their bird aloft to exercise Eng#4. They await permission.
MAJOR TANNER'S REPLY
Tanner looks out his office window and can see the rain starting to really pour down. "Sorry, men, but it looks like no one will be flying anytime soon. It looks like Stormy's prediction of heavy rain, followed by more heavy rain for the next two day has come true." Tanner takes this opportunity to further explain his position on his men's request. "Besides, I'd be a poor CO if I let you fly on just a routine check flight unnecessarily. We have other spare pilots who aren't on combat status who can do that. We've all flown six missions in EIGHT days. I'm short of experienced crews as it is and I want my combat crews to be rested as much as possible."
"Tom and I don't mind the extra flying, Skipper. Besides, we're a little picky on who flies in the Express," Harrigan said stating his case.
"We want to make sure the ship is in tip-top shape for the next mission, Major," O'Malley added.
"I understand your position, but I have to do what's best for the squadron," repeated Tanner. "Both of you have taken the risks getting your asses shot at while some of these guys have been taking it easy back here. This isn't a one-may army contest, so there is no need for you two to carry the load. But now that you've brought this matter to my attention, I'll have the Maintenance Officer perform a through ground check of the engine."
"I think that in order to get to the root of the problem, it has to be in flight and flown by someone who knows the subtle differences," Harrigan said trying once again to be a part of the flight.
"Well, if you feel that is what is needed to find the problem, I'll have the M.O. assign a couple of pilots to take her up," Tanner said while checking some papers on his desk. "I see that Bill Long and Ken Morgan are off-combat status for now. Both are top notch fliers who should find out what's wrong when the weather clears up."
"But while they're flying the check, we'll miss the next mission then, Major," O'Malley noted.
"No, you won't have to," Tanner told them. "You and your crew can fly one of the spares. I'll arrange it with Jefferson in OPS that for the next mission the group flies, that you'll be taking up one of the spares."
"Well, okay, Skipper," Harrigan said surrendering to the eventual outcome. "You certainly thought of everything,"
"That's the reason why the Army pays me a major's pay to think of these solutions to keep the squadron smoothly as possible," Tanner joked. "Is there anything else on your minds?"
Both pilots looked at each other hoping one of them had another reason state but each just shrugged his shoulder at one another. "No, Skipper, that about covers it all. Thank you for your time, Major," O'Malley said.
Tanner tried to sooth over some hurt egos. "Look, men, just relax for the next couple of days," advised Tanner. "You two are not flying on any maintenance flights, and that's final. Now, go catch up on some extra sack time. That's an order!" Tanner said good-naturedly.
CREW WORRIES - (submitted by Bob Hamel, 316th Sqn)
Conversation takes place outside the tent of Capt. Griffin at 19:30 hours between Griffin and SSgt. Allison after the Bulgarian mission.
“Sir, I know that you wanted us to come to you if there’s any problem that we know about . . . Well, Sir, I thought you might want to be aware of a problem on the next mission.”
“Rob,” said Griff slowly, “is this about the still behind the wash area? Were a few of you guys going at it too heavy again?”
“No sir, I . . .” Allison begins to stammer, “Sirrr, I’mmm sssorry to have to ttttell you ttthis ssssir, buttt I tttthink ya might want ttta look in on Ssssam Petri, Sssssir.”
“Now Rob, there’s no reason to be jumpy, I’m not gonna bite. If there’s a problem I want to know of it, especially if it will affect the crew.”
“Yyyyes sir, Captain sir, that’s way I’m trying to tttell ya that somethin ain't right with Sam. He keeps looking at a picture, real secretive like, and then looks up with a wild look in his eye. I think he should see the doc, Sir, I really do.”
Rob paused then blurted out - “I think he’s scared sir, we're all kind of spooked. None of the other crews will say it, but we're like a ghost crew . . . one of the few original’s left and, well, Sir, nobody will even sit with us. Some of the new guys try but, the old guys must say something, or sometimes their planes come back all shot up and, well, ours sometimes doesn’t even have a scratch. One of the guy in another squadron said you was 'chicken' sir and that we must have missed the fightin’ each time . . . I spit at him . . . but Sam, he’s really shaken up. I’m kind of afraid to fly with him myself, 'fraid he’ll hurt hisself or do somethin' stupid.”
“Please, Sir, talk to the Major, sir, maybe he could sort of have a chat with the other guys and tell’m we’re not cursed or somethin’. And PLEASE, have the doc look at Sam before the next flight. . .”
“Sorry to have troubled you, sir. . . thanks for listening.” And Allison salutes and walks back to his barracks.
Griffin, pauses, lights his pipe, begins to walk towards the O-Club, then turns and heads towards Major Tanner’s office.
AT DARLA'S HARDSTAND BEFORE THE AVIANO MISSION - (submitted by Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)
As the jeep approached the hard stand where Darla stood the crew was amazed to see the girl there. The last mission had been hard on her and Don was surprised she made it back much less being ready today. As he get out of the jeep Lieutenant Beckett yells out. “Pappy, you are a wizard! Are you sure she’ll fly?”
The Master Sergeant Fenn replies, “You miss treat my GIRL that way today I’ll put you out of commission.”
“Whoa, Whoa, your beef is with Adolph’s boys, not me. All I do is fly her in and back. And the boys here do their best to keep Jerry away." With a pause, Beckett continues, “And they do a Damn good job of it too.”
Fenn winks at Beckett. “I know, but can’t you fly around them,” Fenn mutters softly so that only Beckett can hear. Pappy didn’t want his enlisted men to think he was too easy on the Lieutenant.
“We’ll do our best, Pappy,” Sergeant Albers inserts as he checks out the ball turret.
Straggling behind the rest of the crew, Lieutenant Thorne slips Pappy a duffel bag full of doughnuts for the maintenance crew. “Enjoy, Pappy,” he says.
Opening the bag, Fenn replies, “Hay, Thanks! . . . Welcome back Lieutenant!!” After taking one out for himself, Fenn sees one of his mechanics, “Hay, Eddie! Pass these out to the rest of the boys, will ya?”
Picking up his tool box, Private Eddie Jorgensen comes over, takes the bag from Fenn and takes a peek inside. “Wow! That’s a lot of doughnuts, Pappy!” Eddie exclaimed. “I don’t think the gang can eat all of them!”
“Well, eat what you can and share them with other ground crews!” Fenn advised Jorgensen. Watching Eddie walk away to find the other men, Fenn thinks to himself and shakes his head. Jeez, do I have to do all the thinking for everybody around here? It’s a wonder that we’re winning this damned war!
TOWER RECEPTIONS - MISSION 24 (Submitted by Jay Haygood, 316th Sqn)
Inbound to Aviano:
"This is Waco Four calling Card House . . . This is Waco Four
calling Card House. B-17 with tail 807 dropping from
formation and turning for home. He took major hits from a
staffel sized attack. Assigning two Wacos to help as best
they can. Good look 807."
"Sergeant, I know Waco is the 325th FG's call sign but who is B17 807?"
"807 is . . . hold on a minute . . . 807 is Old Yard Dog, Joker 4 of the 316th with the Chase crew aboard."
"Chase was the deputy lead this mission. Advise Joker One that Joker Four is out of formation. He may not know. See if you can raise Joker 4. Contact Waco Four to see if we can get a status of Joker Four. Alert the 316th maintenance hut 807 is coming in on an abort. Alert the doctors as well, they may have wounded."
"Card house calling Joker Four, come in Joker Four. Card House calling Joker 4..."