BUTTERFLIES - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)
James Dash, normally an easy-going kind of guy, was livid. “I can’t believe this is happening!” he fumed. “Right before our first mission!”
“Isn’t much we can do, though, is there?” asked Ed Duncan, the navigator. “Not unless you want to ask the Major Smith if we can stand down a few days.”
Dash stopped his frantic pacing. “I can’t do that -- they’ll think we’re yellow.”
Dana Morgan snorted a derisive laugh. “The only one that’s yellow around here is Hillman,” he snorted. “I’d include 'Stretch', but no one knows where the Hell he is!”
Dash resumed his pacing around the small tent. “You really think Hillman is faking? I heard him in the latrine; he didn’t sound like he was faking!”
Henry Hillman was the tail gunner -- former tail gunner, that is -- who had come down with a severe case of dysentery that was going to prevent him from flying tomorrow. 'Stretch' was Ben Tillman, the ball gunner. He’d managed to wangle a three-day during this latest patch of bad weather -- Dash still wasn’t sure how he’d gotten it, as they had just completed theater orientation and hadn’t flown any missions yet -- and he’d never come back. No one could find any sign of him.
“I think someone beat the crap out of Stretch and he’s lying in a field somewhere,” said Morgan. “I think he maybe he lost too much dough in those card games with the ground crews. There’s some rough customers out there.”
They were silent for a moment, considering this unsettling possibility. Tommy Hughes broke the silence, asking, “Hey, Jimmy, did you find out who’s taking their place?”
Dash made a face. “Yeah,” he replied. “The good news is they’re veterans; they’ve each flown seven missions. The bad news is their last flight didn’t end well. They may have some baggage.”
TOWER RECEPTIONS: MISSION 38
Outbound to Padua over the Adriatic (zone-3):
“COWBOY TWO, THIS IS COWBOY ONE . . . WE’RE GOING BACK TO THE RANCH HOUSE, YOU’RE LEADING THE POSSE . . .”
With that, the Silver Spoon turns gently towards Sterparone, her starboard wing blackened and battered . . .
Shortly After The Bomb Run:
“Buckeye Two to Buckeye One . . . Buckeye Two to Buckeye One . . . we took a flak hit to the tail, we lost our oxygen back there, we’ll have to drop down . . . see you guys back at home. Buckeye Two out.”