MOVING ON - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

    The celebration didn’t last long.

 

    The crew of Eat At Joe’s had gone through debriefing. The gear and guns had been stowed, they’d eaten and cleaned up, and now they were going to the O-Club to blow off some steam after a week of rain and scrubbed missions.

 

    Lieutenant Delany stuffed a few dollars into Pike’s pocket.  “Buy the first round for me,” he said. “I’ll catch up to you in a few
minutes.”  Pike looked at him doubtfully, figuring that Delany was going to pull another disappearing act. “Go on ahead, I’ll be here,” insisted Delany.  “I want to stop by the hospital and see how Evans and Ardsley are doing.”

 

    Pike nodded and set off to the club with the men.  He bought drinks and passed them around, and they toasted their two wounded comrades, the new plane, and Sergeant Burleson, who downed his fifth fighter with some nifty shooting.  Pike had just bought the second round when a grim-faced Delany came in through the door.  Uh oh, thought Verne as he watched his pilot shoulder his way through the crowd.  He hurried over to the group, arriving at the same time as Delany.  “What’s wrong, Joe?” he asked, though he thought he knew.

 

    “It’s Evans,” responded Delany. “He -- he didn’t make it.  He died on the operating table.”

 

    Around them, the laughing, shouting, singing, and general noises of men happy to have survived another day went on uninterrupted.  The crew of Eat At Joe’s remained silent.  Delany broke the silence by picking up one of the drinks and holding it up. “To Frank Evans,” he said.  The rest of the men found their drinks and toasted. “To Frank Evans,” they repeated.  After another moment or two, Joe said, “So, tell us about your fifth kill, Roger.”

 

    The tail gunner shrugged, embarrassed. “Wasn’t much,” he replied slowly, and then began to recount how he’d plugged the German fighter that had passed beneath them.  And so, they began to put another death on the crew behind them.


INSIDE THE HANGER AFTER THE RAID - (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)

 

Inside the hanger of Sterparone Field after the raid in Verona.

 

    “What the heck did you do to the plane there, Capt?!” Sergeant Oyama asked as the plane taxied into the hanger.

 

    At least I got the plane back here, granted it looks bad, but I know that you can put your magic to make it ready in time for the next raid,” Captain Yoshikawa replied.

 

    “This was a Casey Jones mission that was suppose to be easy?  Looks like it was a Junior Prom!  Don’t think I will be able to get the plane ready in time.  Even if I get all of the hanger lice on it,” Sergeant Oyama scratching his head wondering where to start.

 

    “You want me to talk to the old man and see if I can get us a breather so you can get things ready?” Captain Yoshikawa replied as he stretched out all of the kinks from the raid.

 

    “Would be nice. Besides getting forty eight is always nice.”

 

    “Okay, will get the paperwork started so that you can get some time to get the plane ready.”

 

    “Just make sure you don’t get another junior prom mission.  Don’t know if I can cannibalize enough planes to make sure that this one will keep flying.  Guess I better get started here looks like it’s going to be a LONG DAY here!”

 

    Shaking his head, Captain Yoshikawa walks to HQ to start getting things started.


MOVING UP THE LADDER - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)

 

    Sighing deeply, Major Amoore throws his crushed flying cap onto the hanger behind the door.  He misses, ruefully grinning.  Pretty much his luck these days, he thinks.

 

    “Pass me the list, O’Brian, let’s see who needs to climb the ladder of military glory.”

 

    “Some of the men the Colonel has listed are in the infirmary, sir,” Corporal O’Brian reports, handing Amoore the typed list.  The diminutive clerk of the 317th kept the war running efficiently from behind his type-writer.

 

    “Mmmm, they need something to remember that they’ve done a damned fine job over here,” Amoore states, more for effect and O’Brien’s benefit than out of any deep sense of conviction.  This war had taught him that there was little point to anything except survival.

 

    Glancing down the list of names, Amoore saw the faces of Landeau (Peterson’s crew), Tonkin and Simms (Flynn’s crew) as they had been.  Before they were wounded.  They’d all be going home soon, limbs and souls mangled.  He’d get Peterson and Flynn to accompany him to the base hospital to give them their captain’s bars later.

 

    Sighing, he reached for his pen and signed the form. “Send this to the Colonel pronto,” he said to O’Brien.  Grabbing his cap, he made his way to the door.  He needed some air. . .


A SURPRISE FOR FORREST - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)

 

    “You know, just when I start to think that this is a crappy goddamned war, it just turns around and hands you a gem!” Charlie Yablowksi burst out, pushing the tent flaps aside and flopping onto the cot of his Silver Spoon crewmate, Jim Blackmore.

 

    “What you on about, fella?” Blackmore replied, irritation creeping into his voice.  He’d been half-way through a letter home to his wife, when the diminutive Yablowksi had interrupted.  There was no point trying to get back into the letter until he’d let Yabo have his say.  He’d always been a bundle of nervous energy, made worse by the rigors of combat.

 

    “Just come back from ops, and O’Brien tells me we’ve both been given our bars! Just a question of when the skipper gets around to giving them to us.”

 

    “That IS interesting news, Yabo, my good man.  Interesting indeed,” Blackmore replied, delighted despite himself.  It wasn’t the promotion that appealed to him, or Yablowski, he’d bet.  No, there were bigger fish to fry!

 

    ”I think we should arrange a special reception for our good friend and pilot of these many months, CAPTAIN Forrest, don’t ya think?” Blackmore beamed, leaping off his bunk.  Forrest had been worse than usual since getting his bars a few weeks back, insisting that all and sundry salute him.

 

    “Let’s go find him, Captain my captain!” Yablowski said, pulling the flap aside and leading the way.

 

    “Forrest, O Forrest!” Blackmore shouted, the delight in his voice obvious to the few interested bystanders.  It wasn’t hard to find the target for their malicious delight. Forrest was tearing strips off a sullen and increasingly frustrated tech sergeant in the workshops.

 

    “Mind if we have a word, Milton?” Blackmore asked, making sure the muttering sergeant had wandered off to ignore Forrest’s request for more padding for his seat in the Silver Spoon.

 

    Forrest’s face froze.  Those who knew him as well as Blackmore, noticed the upturned lip as a signal that his infamous arrogance was about to be unleashed.  The affront was obvious.  A Lieutenant did NOT call a senior officer by his first name!

 

    “Have you forgotten protocol, Blackmore?  Last time I checked it was against military doctrine for a lower rank to be overly-familiar with a superior,” Forrest snarled, managing to emphasize the last word.

 

    “True, Milty, very true!  Of course, it’s considered okay for EQUALS to do so though, eh?” Blackmore grinned, noticing Forrest’s gasp at being called Milty.  He’d heard Peterson, pilot of Cardinal Express, call him that once and hadn’t forgotten how it had irritated the man.

 

    “It’s true, Forrest, go check with the skipper!” Yablowski butted in, not giving Forrest any room to reply.

 

    “Impossible! You two are riff-raff! I’m going to see the Major now, and when I get back we’ll deal with your impertinence!” he spluttered.

 

    The two watched Forrest stomp off towards the operations tent, satisfied smiles wreathing their faces.

 

    “Life IS good, isn’t it Jim?”

 

    “It sure is, Charlie, it sure is!”


YOU'RE PROMOTING ME? - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

    Joe Delany entered Captain Smith’s office and cracked off a parade-ground quality salute.

 

    “You wanted to see me, Captain?”

 

    Smith absently tipped two fingers to his brow.  “Sit down, Joe, sit down,” he said, indicating the lone chair across from his desk.

 

    Delany took the chair.  Smith looked at him for a brief moment, and decided to cut right to the chase.  “You doing alright, Joe?” he asked.  “You over that, uh, rough patch?”

 

    Delany looked momentarily surprised. Was it that obvious? he wondered.  To Smith he replied, “I’m fine, sir.”

 

    Smith waved a hand and said. “Cut that 'sir' stuff, okay?  It’s just us in here.”  He sat back and looked at Delany again. “Yeah, I
noticed.  You were pretty low there for a week or so.  I was starting to think that I might have to ground you.”

 

    “I was pretty bad,” began Delany slowly. “I was -- we, I, just had a real bad time there for a bit.  We lost a lot of guys in a short
time and I, well, I guess  I felt responsible.”  He looked up, and Smith was pleased to see a bit of fire blazing in Delany’s eyes. “I’m alright now, it won’t happen again.”

 

    Smith nodded sympathetically.  “We all go through it, Joe.  You’re not the first guy to lose friends, you won’t be the last.”  He leaned forward on his desk. “Why didn’t you come talk to me?”

 

    Delany shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Well, I, uh, I -- I just found it really hard to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to worry you,
I guess, I mean, you’ve got enough to worry about, and --”

 

    Smith cut in, “Listen, Joe, it’s my job to worry about my pilots and crew!  If you’re having problems, I want to know about it!  What’s going on with you is more important than getting these --” he gestured at the small mountain of papers on his desk, “--forms to the old man on time!”  He sat back, watching Delany.  He felt pretty confident that Delany was over his 'bad time' and could handle what was coming next.  “So,” said Smith, “if you ever have any problems like this again, come and talk to me, okay?  My door is always open to you.”

 

    Delany nodded. “Yes, sir.”

 

    Smith leaned forward again, breaking into a smile. “I thought I told you, Joe, cut the 'sir' crap.  There’s no need for you to address a fellow captain as 'sir'!”  He watched in amusement as the meaning of his words became clear.

 

    “You --  you’re promoting me?” asked Delany in astonishment.

 

    Smith grinned and stood up, holding out the shiny new bars in his hand. “Why not?” he asked. “You’re a good man, and a damn fine pilot, Joe. Congratulations!”


INSIDE THE BASE INFIRMARY - (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)

 

    “What the heck were you guys thinking when you went of base for your liberty!?!?”  Doctor Huxtable asked when Captain Yoshikawa entered the tent.

 

    “I told them not the drink the water unless it is from the Army’s potable supply.  And not to eat any of the local foods because they don’t know where it came from.”  Captain Yoshikawa sheepishly replied. “But you know how the food is on camp, and you can’t beat a home cooked meal.  Even if it is Italian.”

 

    “Well, I hope they had a good time, with four of your guys curled up in a ball in the infirmary, and the other four going from their tent to the latrine on an hourly basis, I don’t know if your going to be able to scrounge up a crew to go on the next mission,” Dr. Huxtable murmured as he checked on Sergeant Brown’s hip.

 

    “Guess I better talk to the old man and see what he can do.  I don’t think he will want the plane to go up with basically a new crew, that is unless he really has to.”

 

    “Yeah, you better talk to the old man.  Also tell him that your crew will be standing down for at least the next couple of days.  It should take that long for this stuff to pass through their systems.”

 

    Shaking his head as he headed out of the infirmary, Captain Yoshikawa wondered what was the next thing that was going to happen to the crew of the Divine Wind.


LETTER TO THE CO - (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)

 

    Sitting in his office Captain Yoshikawa was wondering what to do.  With most of his crew down for the next mission, the plane was finally ready to go out.  And rumors that they were going to finally fly into Germany.  Captain Yoshikawa didn’t want his men to be looked at as a bunch of cowards.

 

    He knew that the doc was right.  That is was best that they stand down, you don’t want your tail gunner getting cramps just as a ME-109 starts to fire on your six.  Besides, it wasn’t like this was planned.  Maybe if they volunteered for the tail end spot on the next few missions.  The others in the squadron wouldn’t see them as shirking on there duty.

 

    “Well, I guess I better make this official,” he mumbled to the walls of his office as he put the piece of paper inside the typewriter . . .


THE LETTER - (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)

21 February 1944
To:  Major Neil Amoore, Commander 317th Bomber Squadron

 

Subject:  Stand Down

 

Sir, I would like to request that the members of my plane be able to stand down from the mission to Regensberg, Germany.  After getting 48-hour Liberty on 16/17 of February, 8 of my crewmates contracted dysentery and 4 are bed-ridden from it. (The one’s bedridden are the bombardier, engineer, radio operator, and co-pilot).  I have talk to the camp doctor and he says especially with the high altitude that we are flying he’s grounding all of the men until they are over it which should be in a couple of days.
 

Capt. Mark Yoshikawa
Pilot, Divine Wind


TOWER RECEPTIONS - MISSION 33

 

North of Padua (Padova) outbound:

 

    About 75 miles south of the Alps several enemy fighters broke through the group's fighter screen and attacked Raid Hot Mama.  The aircraft was raked from tail to nose and slowly began to fall away from the formation.  The crew failed to respond to repeated radio calls from other aircraft in the formation.

 

************************************************************************************************************

 

Over the Alps - outbound:

 

    “COWBOY TWO, THIS IS COWBOY ONE . . . WE’RE LOSING ENGINE FOUR, GOING TO LEAVE OUR PACKAGE HERE . . . THE BOYS CAN USE YOU AS THEIR GUIDE . . . COWBOY ONE OUT . . .”

 

************************************************************************************************************

 

Over Regensburg:

 

    Ardsley was feeding speed and course adjustments to Delany and Pike as they made their approach to the target.  Tracers arced past the cockpit -- from enemy aircraft, from ‘little friends’, from other bombers, and from their own guns -- as the battle raged.  Pike suddenly noticed with alarm that the oxygen gauge was sliding a little too fast towards empty, and he gave a nudge to Delany. “Looks like that last hit must have severed a line, Joe!”

 

    Delany quickly ordered the men to hook up to oxygen bottles and check in.  They were just about a minute from the target.  Ardsley ordered a slight change in course. Pike looked over at Delany. “We’ll never make it back on these bottles . . .”

 

    “I know!” responded Delany.  He then cut in over the interphone, “Lieutenant Duckworth!  Get me a course heading to Switzerland.  Find an airfield or a flat area large enough to land this bird in.  Get me the heading as soon as the bombs are dropped!”

 

    “Roger!”

 

    Delany thought for a second. The radio had been shot out early in the mission. “Sergeant Burleson, use the Aldis lamp to signal Golden Spike that we’re heading to Switzerland!"

 

    “Roger!”

 

    Delany looked over at his copilot, a slight smile on his face. “Looks like we're going to learn to yodel!”

 

************************************************************************************************************

 

    “MAYDAY! MAYDAY!  This is Cowboy Five.  We are going down.  I repeat this is Cowboy Five. We are going down.  Port wing is on fire.  It must be our fuel tank.  Both Lieutenants Lawson and Bennett are dead and we are going down in the vicinity of Regensburg!  Lieutenant Wagner has just order all of us to bail out.  I repeat we are bailing out south of Regensburg and both of our pilots are dead, over . . .”

*************************************************************************************************************

Somewhere inbound over Northern Italy (zone 5):

 

    “Fireball One to Fireball Two: We’ve dropped our load and with Pilot Compartment heat out and tail gunner oxygen out we will be dropping out of formation . . . Nav is also out we may be late getting back . . . Look after our boys . . . Fireball One Out.”