INSIDE THE HANGER AT STERPARONE FIELD - (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)
Inside the hanger where Divine Wind used to be housed, a new bomber is in place. Sergeant Oyoma is checking the bomber as a new 1st Lieutenant comes towards him, he figures that he’s just from the Country Club and that’s he’s a hot shot.
“Good morning, Lieutenant Shimizu, I see that you’re looking over the plane.”
“Yes, Sergeant. I figure I would take a look at the office and get comfortable, from what I here it’s going to be my second home.”
“If that is
the case, what would you like to call her? Captain Yoshikawa figured that
it would be poetic to call the plane "Divine
Wind", they were able to put some hurt on the Nazis.”
“Well, how about in the Captain’s honor calling it "Tule Lake Samurai" since his family and part of my crew’s family are out there.”
“Sounds like a good idea, will paint the name on it after breakfast before the next mission.”
“Thanks, Sergeant. Will make sure that I get the plane back to you in one piece!”
With that, the Sergeant figured that he was going to be just like Captain Yoshikawa, but he would keep his opinion to himself until after they have gone out on a couple of missions.
NIGHT BEFORE BUDAPEST - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)
With a heavy sigh, Dale Hammond gave up trying to sleep and sat up, reaching for the pack of Lucky Strikes he always kept near the bed. He could hear the regular breathing of Stallings and Eldred in the tent. That’s good, he thought. We’ve got another big one in the morning.
Though he, too, was physically exhausted from a heavy schedule that had seen them flying long missions on consecutive days, Hammond's emotional turmoil and worries would not let him sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he could see Jake McCardell’s blood-soaked flight jacket, Ramon Rincon’s lifeless body, Napoleon Villeux’s frostbitten hands. That one’s on me, he thought bitterly. I kept us in formation and cost him his fingers.
another deep drag on his cigarette and tried to sort out his feelings. He
was frightened -- Easy Does It had taken a horrible pounding, with 10
casualties in the last two missions. In only five missions, more than half
of the original crew was gone,
and Jaeger, the reliable flight engineer, would be missing tomorrow. At the same time, Hammond was excited. Major Mikula had determined that he was good enough to take over the piloting responsibilities. His pride in this was mixed with guilt, as he knew he’d only gotten there due to the wound suffered by Jake. It doesn’t matter how I got there, he thought. It’s my bird, now, my crew, and I’ve got to get us through this next mission.
He stubbed out the remnants of his cigarette and stretched out on the bunk. As he closed his eyes, he once again saw McCardell’s jacket, Rincon’s body, Villeux’s hand, but at last he dropped off into sleep.
STERPARONE FIELD - 0200, APRIL 3, 1944 - (submitted by Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)
In a tent somewhere in Foggia, Italy a pilot lies in his cot tossing and turning. Sweat soaked and freezing at the same time. This young airman pops up screaming. “Jamie, Jamie, wake up,” Rich Ratt responds, trying to break his Captain out of his torment.
Staring at who knows what, Jameson sits there shaking. “You O.K., Cap?” Rich not knowing what to do waits for a response. Was it the BIP or was it the shot to Jamie’s head. Either could shake a man. Rich knows the mission had taken its toll on the whole crew. He had lain in his bunk trying to remember his mates lost just over twelve hours ago, for what seamed like forever.
“I should have dove steeper,” was all Jameson said as he flopped back down, covering his head with a moan.
Rich went back to his bunk and did the same. It will be a long night.
0500 APRIL 3rd - ON APPROACH TO THE THREE TIMES A LADY'S HARDSTAND - (submitted by Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)
As the jeep rolled up to the hardstand there stood the familiar silhouette of the B-17. Yet it just wasn’t the same, it would never be the same. Yesterday, Jameson’s crew were getting ready to board the "Lucky Seven" and today they were coming up to the "Three Times a Lady." Yesterday, this crew felt blessed, untouchable. Yesterday, up till then, they had gone through some tough missions and all come home safe. Yesterday in the teeth of the dragon, it bit them, reality struck home, it took two good friends, two brothers as it was. Yesterday the war hit home, today will be a new beginning and somber flight for the Jameson crew. Along with the new bird there were two new crewmembers standing there too. The eager recruits got an early start so not to be late. Frank Wood and Joe Fabry’s newbie enthusiasm will be an unwelcome reminder of what was. Yesterday, we couldn’t wait till the next mission, today we look forward to the 50th mission.
Jameson wasn’t looking forward to the trip to Budapest, he just knew they were going to die.
APRIL 3, 1944, DAVE ANDREWS RETURNS - (submitted by Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)
Responding to the S-2 Intelligence officer question, “Yes, Sir, we were swarmed by those Luftwaffe boys. We must’ve seen 40 to 45 fighters, and there were more 109’s than 190’s but not by much. I nailed two and had two probables and one I just nicked. These Jerry’s were determined. The two probables both continued their attacks. We couldn’t deter them. The one I was sure I had killed kept coming and he took out our number one engine.”
“No, no, Sir, we didn’t drop our bombs, Lieutenant Thorne couldn’t get the doors to open. As Lieutenant Elmer was already dead, Sergeant Wakefield went up to try and fix it, since his gun was out and had nothing to do. Well, Jerry fixed it so they wouldn’t open. Bad luck actually, this was the third time we had this happen. Sergeant Wakefield stayed forward to help with the guns, he tried the top turret, as Staff Sergeant Weber was seriously wounded. But these guns were destroyed too. Then Sergeant Wakefield moved to the nose.”
“Well, Sir, `Darla' was shot to hell. We had three wounded men, one killed and three gun stations out of commission. Our radio went out just after the target this was right after the engine was shot out.” Andrews continues, “You know about the bomb bay doors, Lieutenant Thorne had reported after one of the first attacks that the bombsight had been damaged. So our bomb run would have been for not anyway.”
“As for the structure of the plane, the starboard wing was shot up and the rudder fell off just before we bailed out. What a noise. If I never hear that again . . .”
“Yes, Sir, the fighter pilot was right. We took four hits from an Fw-190 and he started fires everywhere. Tech Sergeant Winifred put out the one in the radio room, and Sergeant Wakefield’s oxygen was shot out. But the one to the port wing lit up the inboard fuel tank. Lieutenant Beckett dove hard to 10,000 ft, which looked to snuff out the flames. This is when two Fw-190’s jumped us again. They are the ones that removed the rudder. Yet our little friends, a single P-38, chased them away. This is when the flames came back. Lieutenant Beckett dove again, but the whole wing became a fire ball.”
“That is when we jumped.”
“Eight, Sir. We got eight men out. Lieutenant Cannon was dead and Staff Sergeant Weber was still comatose from his wounds. They went down with the plane, Sir. I landed with Sergeant Tippit, and we figured all the others made it from our count. The resistance a day after we jumped, picked up Sergeant Tippit and myself. Two days later they recovered Sergeant Albers too. About three days later we were separated and I don’t know where they went or if the Germans picked them up. During the past six weeks I was shuttled around till I was returned back here.”
“No, Sir, I
don’t know of the other five members. Just Albers and Tippit, Sir.
They alleged splitting us up was much safer. It’s
easier to move us in small groups, I reason.”
“Yes, Sir, I understand, but I really want to go back up. I won’t get caught if I go down again, Sir.”
“No, Sir. I can’t promise I won’t be shoot down again.”
“Yes, Sir, I don’t want to jeopardize those people that helped me out.”
“O.K., Sir, I’ll go home and do my duty, Sir. Training Squadron, Sir, back home. O.K., Sir.”
Sergeant Andrews saluted the S-2 Intelligence Officer and left the room. He worried that none of the others were returned. Especially Tippit and Albers. They were with him just a few weeks ago. He was sure they were alive just where in southern Europe had they gone.
TOWER RECEPTIONS: MISSION 46
Nearing the Italian coastline (zone-2):
“MAYDAY, MAYDAY, JOKER TWO ON FIRE . . . REPEAT, JOKER TWO ON FIRE . . . OVER THE
ADRIATIC SEA . . . SEND A RESCUE BOAT RIGHT AWAY. . . I REPEAT, JOKER TWO IS ON FIRE . . .”
“Fireball Five to Igloo tower, Fireball Five to Igloo tower, be advised Joker two going down with starboard engine and wing on fire. We count eight chutes, repeat eight chutes . . .”
At Sterparane Field: (submitted by Art DeFilippo, 399th Sqn)
As the personnel in the control tower see the Group returns, Raid Hot Mama lumbers into view, she beings to circle the field waiting for the rest of the group to land. The ground personnel see that the wings and waist have sustained enormous damage, the #1 engine is feathered. After the last aircraft land, flares arc off into the sky for the aircraft the plane begins her approach toward the grass field adjacent to the runway. She hits the ground hard on her belly and slides down the length of the field before stopping.