CHASE'S CREW - (submitted by Jay Haygood, 316th Sqn)
1st Lt. Chase sat with his other officer crewmen in the O-Club discussing their first mission.
"Damn that flak! At least if the Krauts fly planes at us we can shoot back at those buzzards. Those flak pits just sit way down there and blast hell out of us from long range," 2nd Lt. Bonner stated matter-of-factly.
"Sure Steve, but remember our first mission. Those Kraut flyers are good and dang near knocked us out of the sky. We had to abort and I hear that the group isn't going to count that abort as a mission for us. So for all accounts we have completed only one," 2nd Lt. Wise said.
"To hell with that! I almost got my ass shot off and those desk jockeys aren't going to count it as one of our missions?! Bull crap!" 2nd Lt. Brewer stood up and made a move toward the exit.
Standing with him, 1st Lt. Chase grabbed his arm. "Hold on Rich. Sit your Yankee ass down. Let me talk to our CO to see if we can get that changed. Once we got over enemy territory I think they have to count it. Don't get your drawers in a wad. Sit back down. I don't want to retrain a new co-pilot replacing your discharged butt."
Wise and Bonner laughed and ribbed each other. In a moment Brewer sat back down. "You better square it. Or I will get a quick ticket home by punching someone's lights out."
"Shut up Rich. You Yankee boys are so full of piss and vinegar. You boys barely beat us Rebs in the War. How you figure you going to take on all those desk jockeys?" Steve Bonner enjoyed teasing Brewer whenever he could. Steve's granddad fought and was captured by the Yankees in the Civil War and Steve had grown up hearing all about how Yankees were nasty bastards. He didn't believe it so much now but your upbringing dies hard.
"Now, lets don't start that crap again. Aren't you Rebs tired of losing yet? I will whip your ass right now just to show you we northerners can still do it!"
Laughing was all around now. They had done this through many months of training and building up as a crew and this always let off the steam. Plus another round from Lieutenant Chase didn't hurt any either.
"Guys, to business and before we are all too drunk to care, Group is asking us to fly in mission 6 but the 316th is scheduled to stand down. I am of the mind, why fly extra missions? We could die on our normal missions without all that extra exposure. Now you know me. I am in this till we win, but I don't see doing extra duty will get us closer to winning. Thoughts?"
The guys pondered for a moment and Bonner spoke up. "Lieutenant, I am with you. No sense in begging for them to shoot us down out of turn. They will get plenty chances to do that on our normal rotation."
Everyone else nodded in agreement. "Plus," spoke up Brewer, "we could volunteer for the mission, get killed, and the war end the next day. That would truly stink. I think we should take our chances only when we have to. I don't need any medals sent home to Mom and Dad in a cardboard box."
"Right then . . . that is settled . . . Back to the beer. And just to note, I think the Rebs could take the Yankees should they want to try again . . . ," Lieutenant Chase grinned as he ordered another round. That comment would keep the pot stirred for hours . . .
INFIRMARY CHAT - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)
Frank Andrews sat
in the infirmary, an unfinished letter to his fiancée sitting on his lap,
wishing he were anywhere but here. He'd taken a piece of something --
either part of a 20mm shell, or a piece of cockpit wall, he wasn't sure which --
off the side of his head, opening up a nasty gash below his left eye. The
doctor wanted him to sit tight for a night to be certain he didn't have a
concussion. 'Can never be too careful when it comes to a knock on the head,' the sawbones had said. Unfortunately, it left Frank too much time to sit and replay those moments in the target zone over and over again.
He was interrupted by Lt. Fratelli. "Hey, Frank," he said as he sat down by the bed. Vinny had taken a hit to the left arm, nothing serious, and wasn't confined to bed; he had joked that the doctor wanted him there to cheer up the other patients. "You think Marina will still want to marry you, what with you looking like Frankenstein?"
Frank tried to force a chuckle; apparently, he didn't do a very good job of it, for Fratelli asked, "Frank, are you doing OK?"
"No," admitted Frank. "Vin, I can't stop thinking about Hickock. I keep thinking there was something I could have done to keep him from getting killed."
Fratelli looked at Andrews for a long moment. "What could you have done?" he asked. "It's not like you have a lot of options up there, Frank. You don't have a lot of room for fancy maneuvers, like the fighter jockeys. Go too far in any direction to avoid the Krauts, you'll be taking out another one of our planes. Get us too far away from the group, we lose the protection and are sitting ducks. Get us too far off course and Vachon can't hit the target. And we all know," continued Fratelli, "the only reason you and I are up there is to get Trapper to the target."
Frank sighed. "I know you're right, Vin," he said. "Still . . ."
"Whoa, Frank! Are you going soft on me?" asked Vinny. "Because if you are," he continued, a slight smile playing at the corners of his mouth, "me and the boys are gonna have to have a mutiny, and I'll be piloting next mission! Enough of this Russian Lady stuff," he said, with a big grin, "I can see it now: the Boston Banger!"
Frank laughed, for real this time. "Get outta here, Vinny," he said, "I've got a letter to write."
"Alright, Frank" said Fratelli. "I'm going to go over and check in on Fudge, it looks like he's awake now. I'll bother you later."
As Fratelli got up, Andrews said, "Hey, Vinny -- thanks a lot."
Fratelli gave him a thumbs up and strolled over to the other side of the infirmary towards Johnson's bed, waving and joking with some of the other men as he went. Frank watched him go, suddenly feeling just a little bit better about things. He picked up his pen and began to write.
A LETTER BACK HOME - (submitted by Mark Hanna, 399th Sqn)
We had our second mission today, basically a milk run. Our first two missions could have not been better for us to learn how to work as a team. The gunners called out the bandits real well, shot well and Bob dropped the eggs right on the pickle.
I'm very proud of these kids. Ha ha ha, I call them boys even though half of them are older then me. They have really come together into a fine team, although I worry about how they will react when Jerry starts to give it to us good. I'm kind of worried about how I will do for that matter. I still get a knot in my gut during the morning briefings thinking about my men. I know. I can hear you laughing now, Mr. Neverworry fretting over something. But I can't help it.
I let Jim fly part of the way and will probably let him land next mission. I know you don't want to talk about it, but I can't assume I'm not gonna get hurt and if I get it, he will need the experience of landing the plane on his own. I really want to get some of the enlisted men more training on the radio and Paul would be excellent at giving them some more medical training. Guess some of your school teacher has rubbed off on me.
Even though he is an officer, some of Jim's comments have me wondering why he ever volunteered for the air corp. I really need to talk to him about never making any of those comments in front of the enlisted. I understand that his father is a preacher and that life is sacred, but if you could only see what the Germans and Benito's Boys did to Italy . . . oh, well . . . he's entitled to his opinion, as long as he keeps it to himself.
I told Bob, my bombardier, to stop feeding this dumb mutt. Now it won't stop following him around. It's outside the door right now whimpering. It is pretty cold out, I guess it wouldn't hurt to let it in for a little while. Cute little fella, they are calling him Bandit.
Well darling, I better hit the sack, morning comes around her too early. Give Sarah a big hug from her daddy and take a kiss for yourself.
From the diary of Lt. Yoshikawa after the Athens mission - (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)
December 27, 1943
Had another Casey Jones mission . . . And it boy it was close. Only about 300 miles one way, so we were able to go out there and back before I was able to finish my cup of Joe! At least our group was not in the low group. Didn't want any of us being in the tail-end Charlie again. I understand at the briefing that some of the guy's were grumbling being in that position. Guess that is now considered to be the purple heart corner of the unit.
At takeoff, everyone was on edge, especially since the planed three fighter groups that were suppose to be with us, only one was able to hook up with the wing. The other two couldn't make it because of weather. Knowing that didn't ease anyone's nerves. Just remembering what happened last time made everyone wary of what might happen.
As things turned out, this mission was a piece of cake. No damage to the plane, nobody injured, we were able to hit the target with most of our eggs, and to top it off, I was able to do a lieutenant's landing. Hope the old man is impressed with our mission considering what happened out in Greece. I know we will not get a lot of these missions. But after what happened last time, I think it was good to have this. Nothing helps the morale more then having everyone coming back more or less in one piece!
Sgt. Mukai was able to get a Jerry sky wagon. With the amount of planes that we are shooting down we might need another plane in order to paint all of the kills that we are accumulating from the missions. 2nd Lt. Osa was again able to put the most of the eggs in the pickle barrel, just like he did when we were training out in Randolph Field in Texas.
Guess we will see what will happen in the next mission. Hope it's like the last one. We need more of those so the unit doesn't start to think that all the missions we have are just to give us more fruit salad.
VOLUNTEER MISSION - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)
'Spanky' Lynch burst into the tent. "Geez, we're flying tomorrow! Can you believe it? After the crap we went through yesterday, we've got to fly with two new guys and no time to work 'em out! And most of the rest of the squadron is standing down! 'Volunteer mission!' Who volunteered us for this, anyway?"
Seaton looked up from the book he was reading. "You did," he said mildly. "I did. We all did. Don't you remember?"
"What are you talking about?" began Lynch, "I never said --"
"'Fah-stuh to fifty'" cut in Richardson, in a dead-on imitation of Lynch's
Boston accent. "Ain't that what you said when Lt. Andrews
asked if we'd fly extra?"
"I, uh, I, oh, crap!" sputtered Spanky, beating a hasty retreat out of the tent.
MESS HALL TALK
Rumor talk after the Rimini mission, Monday, 27 December 1943
"Did ya hear? The 99th received four more Gs again."
"God, those guys must be snake-bit. For just that short mission, they lost two over Rimini. And two others had to be scrapped; one was so badly shot up that it crash landed and the other one took a BIP in the waist and it just barely made it back before the thing broke in half after it had finishing taxiing."
"They also had a couple of other stragglers limp home, one on only two engines."
"Boy, did we clobber Rimini, or what?"
"Oh yeah? That's not what I heard. A pal of mine at HQ said that Wing got back the strike photos from Rimini and they're thinking about sending us back there again."
"Ahh, you're nuts . . . But I wouldn't mind another easy one like that."
"Stormy tells me that the weather is clearing up in the north. Where do you think we're going next?"
"North, huh? Then it's probably not Athens."
"Yeah, light resistance my butt! Boy, I don't want to go back there again, except maybe as a tourist after the war."
"I think we might be hitting Bolzano, near the Austrian border. Of course, that's where I thought we were going the last time, so what do I know?"
"Bolzano? Hmmm, maybe. But I've also been hearing we might be going to Austria or even Germany."
"Germany? Austria? The 15th isn't strong enough yet to bomb heavily defended places like that! The generals at HQ aren't crazy enough to send us there now, are they?"
"Well, I wouldn't put it pass them."
"I sure hope not; they should wait at least until we get some more groups in or it's going to be a suicide mission. I've also heard the Krauts have formed some new bomber killer squadrons. New twin-engine Me-410s and Me-109s equipped with 30mm gun pods."
WHERE WE GOIN'? - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)
The Russian Lady's navigator, D.C. Hawkins, and its bombardier, Jean-Francois Vachon, had been poring over maps and comparing rumors as to where they would be flying to. Hawkins heard they were going back to Greece, while Vachon was sure they were bombing Rome. Neither of them knew that the rumors came from the same source, a clerk in the intelligence section who liked to spread false rumors to see how long they took to get back to him.