JUST AFTER THE FLIGHT - (submitted by Bob Hamel, 316th Sqn)

 

Sgt. Allison meets Sgt. Edmonds just outside the mess tent.

 

    "Hey as I'm new guy here, is it true that if Lt. Griffin gets bumped to Captain that we won't pull any 'Tail End Charlie' duty?"

 

    "Well, that always depends on Capt. Tanner's choice, but that has been the thing I've seen around the base, yeah."

 

    "Well, from what I hear, one more mission should do it for both him and Lt. Hamilton?"

 

    "Allison, since you're new, I'll give you a piece of advice - this will keep you save from other loudmouths when it's your time, and perhaps will even prevent you from getting the crap beat out of you . . . NEVER, NEVER, NEVER count things out loud to the Gods of War . . . NEVER say, 'Hey, this guy gets to be an ACE after one more kill', Never say, 'Hey, one more mission and so and so gets this or that', and NEVER, EVER say, 'Well, one more mission and I'm going home . . .' all those things are VERY VERY BAD . . . think them but NEVER, EVER say them out loud . . . GOT IT!!!!"

 

    "Yeah, I got it," Allison said in whisper, looking around as if afraid something will jump out at him.  "Thanks for sett'in me straight."

 

    "About what? . . . we never talked . . . RIGHT?"

 

    ". . . Uh . . . right, I mean NO, we never did . . . hey, want some coffee or something . . . what's it like up north in the winter, anything like here?"

 

    Mess tent door swings shut and just the cold wind and snow is left . . . No one else is really listening . . . Right?


MESS HALL RUMORS - In Mess Hall after the Padua mission, Friday, 31 December 1943

 

    "Did ya hear?  Scuttlebutt has it that the next mission will be a maximum effort job.  Everybody flies, all five B-17 and both B-24 groups."

 

    "Where to? Ploesti?"

 

    "My God, I hope not.  Outside of Berlin, it's the most heavily defended place the Krauts own.  There must be over a hundred heavy flak guns defending it."

 

    "Remember last summer?  Those B-24 boys sure took heavy casualties.  One of them who came back told me HQ that day told them 'Coming back was secondary'.  Can you believe that?  I sure don't want that kind of mission."

 

    "So, did ya hear where this 'maximum effort' is going?"

 

    "Didn't hear where.  I'd guess it's Athens again . . . Or Sofia."

 

    "Christ, not those places again."

 

    "Don't be a moron.  There's this big weather front covering all over eastern Europe and the Balkans.  We ain't going any where near those places."

 

    "The weather won't be crappy forever.  It has to clear sometime."

 

    "Then where to, Bud?  Where to?"


    "Remember last Tuesday when our guys were pounding Pola?  Some B-24s were dispatched that day to hit the Vicenza marshalling yards and they had no escorts!  A group of 17 Liberators were attacked by about 50 fighters before reaching the target.  Ten of the unescorted B-24s are lost and several B-24s had to salvo their bombs over the target area and, in the fierce battle, claimed 18 fighters shot down."


MESS HALL TALK - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

In the Mess Hall after the Padua mission, Jimmy Burrows walked straight past his usual spot at the Replacements' Table.

 

    "Hey, Hey, HEY! Where ya' goin?" Charlie Rakes called out. "Whatsa matter, Jimmy?  Dontcha love us anymore?"

 

    Burrows didn't answer, just continued across the mess hall and sat down at a table with the crew of The Russian Lady.

 

    Rakes sat back and shook his head with mock sadness. "Well, well, well, Jackie boy," he said to Jack Dykstra across the table. "Looks like we've lost him for good." 

 

    Dykstra didn't look up. "Mm-fmm-mmph"

 

    "Eh? What's that, Jackie Boy?" questioned Rakes. "I couldn't hear you through your potatoes."

 

    "I said 'better him than me'" said Dykstra, and began cramming more food into his mouth.


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

 

    Walking out of the debriefing room, Frank remembered during the  mission briefing that 3-day passes would be available. He looked around at the tired faces of his crew -- they looked how he felt.

 

    Four missions in five days, he thought. We lost two of our friends, have one going home.  Damn straight I'm putting in for all of us.  He resolved to see Captain Smith about it as soon as Smith had a chance to unwind from the mission. There was just one problem: Where was Smith?

 

PASS, part 2 - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

    Andrews finally caught up to Captain Smith late in the day in his office.

 

    "Glad to see you made it back, Joe," said Frank. "You had us worried when you dropped out.  Rough one?"

 

    "Not as bad as you would think," replied Smith. "We caught some flak down there, but didn't see a whole lot of fighters.  Fortunately," he added.  "How are you doing, Frank?  I heard you lost a man today."

 

    Frank sighed. "Yes, we did.  Sergeant Meyers.  He was one of our originals."

 

    "I'm sorry to hear that, Frank," Smith said.  He knew how tough it was to lose any man, but it was harder when it was someone from the first crew.  He should know, he'd lost four in one day. "How are the guys taking it?" he asked.

 

    "They're doing alright," said Frank. "It seems like everyone's a little better prepared for it than the first time it happened.  But," he continued, "they could use a little down time.  Any chance you can sign off on passes for us?  Not that I want to add to the mountain of paperwork you've got there," he added with a smile.

 

    "What, this?" said Smith, waving his hand over the papers on his desk.  "Ah, it's nothing.  I don't see a problem with the passes, Frank.  Why don't you stop in tomorrow morning and pick them up."

 

    "Thanks, Joe," said Frank, getting to his feet. "Are you taking off, too?"

 

    "If I can get this done, I am," said Captain Smith. "Do you have any particular place you're heading to for R&R, Frank?"

 

    Andrews paused, hand on the doorknob. "Anywhere but here, Joe," he said. "Anywhere but here."


WHERE'S HE GOING? - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

    In the Mess Hall after the Padua mission, Jimmy Burrows walked straight past his usual spot at the Replacements' Table.

 

    "Hey, Hey, HEY! Where ya' goin?" Charlie Rakes called out. "Whatsa matter, Jimmy?  Dontcha love us anymore?"

 

    Burrows didn't answer, just continued across the mess hall and sat down at a table with the crew of The Russian Lady.

 

    Rakes sat back and shook his head with mock sadness. "Well, well, well, Jackie boy," he said to Jack Dykstra across the table. "Looks like we've lost him for good." 

 

    Dykstra didn't look up. "Mm-fmm-mmph"

 

    "Eh? What's that, Jackie Boy?" questioned Rakes. "I couldn't hear you through your potatoes."

 

    "I said 'better him than me'" said Dykstra, and began cramming more food into his mouth.


TO A FRIEND - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

    Although they were exhausted, the crew of The Russian Lady gathered in the OC for a drink.  Even Burrows was there, noted Frank, as he and Fratelli brought the beers to the back table where they sat.  Burrows, who had seemed to go out of his way to avoid them when they weren't actually on a mission.  Maybe he's coming around, thought Frank. Maybe Twitchy's death that afternoon had an effect on him.

 

    Vinny and Frank passed out the beers.  No one drank, no one said anything except for a few mumbled thanks.  Frank picked up his beer, looked around the table, raised the beer and said, "To our friend, Joseph 'Twitchy' Meyers."

 

    "To 'Twitchy'" they said in unison, and all drank deeply, thinking of the man they had lost.


AT THE O-CLUB - (submitted by Paul Scheepers, 317th Sqn)

 

    "Sscome ova an hava drink," slurred Donald Tonkin.  Flynn smiled, patted Donald on the shoulder and sat down. "Was quite a daay, eh Flynn! Almos got my head blown off!  Givesh a man perceptive it does . . . a hole in the head!" The Memphis Gal's co-pilot stared blearily into the bottom of his whisky glass, before trying to focus his eyes on his fellow officer.

 

    Flynn poured a measure of whisky into his own glass, taking a mouth full he hoped to force the days events from his memory . . . it wasn't their most tough mission to date but the strain of previous missions was beginning to show.

 

    The stink of a cigar and raucous laughter boomed from the bar where Montague the squadron CO and his usual entourage were standing, Donald groggily turned his attention to the merriment. "Do you know whas I hate mos bout dhis war, Ralph!?"

 

    "What do you hate about this war, Donald?  Apart from everything?" inquired Flynn.

 

    "Ish hate all the chicken-shit an all the chicken-shit officers that comes with it"

 

    "Such as?" smiled Flynn, he knew what was coming next.  Promotions were a sore point in the 317th.  While men in the other squadrons had got their due, it seemed as if Montague was holding back for some unfathomable reason.  Donald wanted command of his own ship and while Montague was holding back, this prospect seemed remote.

 

    "You shee that man ova there", slurred Donald and attempted to get to his feet. "That man is the epitome ov chickn shit!" Donald waved his glass in the general direction of the bar sloshing whisky over the table.  "Chicken shit sonnabitch," spat Donald. "Think I am going ova there an give him a piece ov my mind." Donald lurched to his feet and stood swaying.

 

    "Time for you to go to bed I think," said Flynn as he tried to maneuvered Donald toward the door.

 

    There was a crash as glass, table and chair went flying, Flynn was desperately trying to pull Donald to his feet as the club went silent as every head turned in their direction.

 

    "Excuse us, gentlemen," smiled Flynn.  "But its been a very long day!"

 

    There was sporadic laughter and knowing nods as the pair crashed their way to the door.

 

    "Chicknshit sonnoabitchhh!" Cursed Donald as he was led through the door into the cool night air.


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

December 30, 1943

 

To:   Capt. Shamus A Montague

        Commander 317 Bomber Squadron
        88 BG (H)

        15 Air Force

 

Subject: 3-Day Pass

 

Dear Sir:

 

According to the weather detachment assigned to our group, inclement weather is  predicted for the next week.  I would like to request passes for all personal of Go For Broke starting December 31, 1943.  If possible, I would like to grant all men three day passes.  This would include all ground personal that are assigned to Go For Broke.  Repairs on the plane are minor in nature and should be completed by today, December 30, 1943, so the need for them to stay on base is unnecessary.

 

Thank you.
(signed)
1st. Lt. Mark Yoshikawa
Pilot, Go For Broke


A LETTER TO A SQUADRON CO (continued) - (submitted by Sean Edley, 317th Sqn)

 

TO: 1st. Lt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go For Broke

 

RE: Your memo about leave

 

You mean those reprobates are still befouling my flightline?  Get 'em  off the base.  Next time, send me a memo telling me you've given the men passes.  Remember, it's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

 

Have a good leave and have one for me.

 

Capt. Shamus Montague


A LETTER TO HIS SQUADRON CO - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)

 

December 30, 1943

 

To: Capt. Shamus A Montague
Commander 317 Bomber Squadron
88 BG (Heavy)
15 Air Force
 

Subject: 3-Day Pass and promotion status

 

Dear Sir:

 

As you are no doubt aware, the Group CO has granted aircrews a 3 day pass.   As the commander of my aircraft, I respectfully request that my crew be granted this leave.  I will not, however, be leaving the base and its confines during that time and so no effort should be made to grant me leave.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to formally enquire as the status of my possible promotion to Captain.  I believe that I have done enough to do so, but would like your opinion on this. Further to our discussion on this matter 10 days ago, you said you would approach the Colonel for clarification, and get back to me.
 

(signed)
1st. Lt. Milton B Forrest III
Pilot, Silver Spoon


A NEW, NEW MAN - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

    Frank had only been back on the base a little while when he got word that he was wanted in Captain Smith's office. When he got there, Captain Smith wasn't there; instead, he was met by a familiar looking desk jockey from S-1 who's name he couldn't recall, and a tall, skinny, thin-necked sergeant, who looked a little like a chicken.

 

    "Lieutenant Andrews," began the penguin. "This is Sergeant Hoog-, er, Hook, uh, Hoogestecker . . ."

 

    "Hoogesteger," interrupted the Sergeant with some irritation.

 

    "Uh, right, right," said the penguin. "Anyway, Sergeant Hoogesomething will be your new flight engineer."


Letter from Lt. Morgan, Pilot of Moonshine A-Brewin', to his older brother - (submitted by Eddie Githens, 399th Sqn)

 

Billy,

 

Happy New Year!  Sorry for not writing for so long. We haven't stayed in one place for more than a few days since September.  I'm here in Italy now.  This is going to be our home base for a while.  We flew in a few days before Christmas.  The weather has been off and on since we arrived (mostly off, ha ha).  It's been frustrating trying to get our practice flights in. It took us a couple of tries before we got into the air. Ops kept canceling us at the last second because of the weather.


I read an old Stars & Stripes article soon after I arrived that talked about heavy fighting in New Guinea. You flying around there?  If so, shoot a Jap down for me will you? Ha, ha. You fighter pilots are all alike, glory, glory, glory.


I just received a letter from Paulie.  It was written in August.  The mail just now caught up with us because we've been on the move.  He gave me a picture of him climbing a coconut tree on Waikiki Beach.  Lucky bastard!  He said he was getting ready to go out on his third cruise.  He may get to see Hawaii, but I would not take submarine duty for flying any day of the week. Tell me, what possessed our little brother to join the Navy? Ha, ha.


We're on combat duty now. We haven't flown a mission yet, but I think it will be soon. Harold and I have prepared the crew as best we can (I think you met Harold when you swung by San Antonio when I was in flight school. If not he's my co-pilot. He's a Tarheel who can't hold his liquor ha, ha).

 

In closing, I hope this letter finds you well. I hope to hear from you and Paulie soon. I'm going to write to Ma and Pa now. I know they're probably worried sick, what with their 3 boys in the service.

 

Love,
Casey

 

P.S. - Here is a picture of me and my crew before we left the states


316th SENIOR OFFICER STAFF MEETING - 3 January, 1944

 

    After 4 exhausting missions in a 5 day period, squadron CO Daniel Tanner decides it would be good for morale to hold a squadron 'Senior Officers only staff meeting' at his tent after the rest of his squadron returned from their 3-day passes.

 

    The late afternoon 'meeting' is just about to get started.  Standing around the round table are the seven first pilots of the 316th squadron but one chair has been left vacant on purpose.

 

    Lifting his glass containing Old Overholt whiskey, Daniel announces, "Here's to our missing friends, Cody and Ben."  The names of Cody Reames and Ben Sterling are unknown to the three newest pilots, Mike Chase, Joe Daves and Andy Whitaker, but they lift their glasses in respect with the last of the 4 original Walla Walla pilots. "To Cody and Ben".

 

    Finishing the toast, "Let's start our meeting," Dan said.  Motioning to Paul Grififn, "Grif? Will you do the honors?"

 

    Grabbing the deck, Paul Griffin begins shuffling as everyone takes their seats.  "Okay, Gents, the game will be five-card stud, nothing wild.  Ante up."

 

    After completing his shuffling, Paul places the deck in front of the newest squadron member, Andrew Whitaker, sitting to his right. "Cut, Andy?"

 

    Whitaker grabs over half the deck, making a deep cut and places the shorter bottom half on top. 

 

    After Paul had dealt out each player's hole card, he places the next card face up.

 

    "The Ace of Clubs for Frank . . . The Diamond King for the CO . . . Five of Hearts goes to Mac . . .  Mike, the Deuce of Hearts . . . the Seven of Spades for Joe . . . for Andy, another spade, the Three . . . and the Dealer deals himself the Nine of Clubs
. . . High card to Frank, so it's his bet."

 

    As Paul finishes dealing the hand, Andy casually asks, "Anybody knows when my new navigator will get in?"  Whitaker's crew had the only KIA on the group's last mission and he didn't know how long it took replacements to arrive.

 

    As he tosses in his ante, Mike Chase replies, "Major Jackson mentioned he should get here tomorrow.  Ahhh, what was his name, again?" Peeking at his hole card, he sees it's the Seven of Clubs; with his face up card an off-suit deuce, Mike knows this is a fold hand if ever he saw one.  Scratching the back of his head trying to remember his earlier talk with the personnel officer, "Krumkie! Yeah, that's what I think the Major said his name was . . . Ralph Krumkie!"

 

    Dan Tanner checks his hold card. "Grif, I've been impressed with your performance the last four missions handling the role of flight leader and leading the squadron to Padua.  And you have enough time at your present rank, so I'm submitting a request to the Colonel for your promotion to captain."

 

    "Well, thank you, Skipper," Paul Griffin said while carefully peaking at his hold card.

 

    "I'll bet five," Frank Coleridge interrupted them to begin the betting.

 

    "Hey, you've earned it," Dan replied.  After checking his hold card, he tosses five into the pot. "I'll call . . . But you do realize with that promotion, you're going to be expected to lead the squadron more and occasionally lead the group."

 

    "Not a problem.  I'll lead the squadron again if you want," Paul replied.

 

    "Oh, Lordy, they're going to make Grif a captain," John McConnell said while laughing out loud. "What's the Army coming to?  With Grif leading the group, we could all end up in Switzerland, . . . or Sweden . . . not that would be a bad thing having to sit out the war."  His expression suddenly changes into a sour one as he sees his hidden card.  "Ah nuts . . . I'm out like a boxer with a glass jaw who just took a hard punch to the chin," he said as he tosses his cards down in disgust in front of him.

 

    Daniel Tanner turns his head and questioningly raises his right eyebrow with a serious look. "And what are you laughing about, Mac?"

 

    Caught off guard like a deer-in-headlights with his CO's serious question, Mac becomes silent. The players all stop laughing and turn to look at McConnell, waiting to hear what his answer will be.  Stammering, "Huh? Ahh . . . I . . . well . . . I . . . I didn't mean anything, Capt.  I was just having some fun with Grif, that's all," John said as he tried to explain.

 

    "Well, that's good because I'm also planning on putting in your name for promotion to captain as well," Dan grinned.

 

    "What?  You're kidding, right, Capt?" said an amazed John McConnell.

 

    "You did a fine job as a flight leader during Padua and you have enough time in as a first Louie.  If I felt that you couldn't handle it, I wouldn't recommend you."

 

    "Well, all I know is that I certainly won't turn down a promotion, not if they're trying to shove it down my throat!" chimed in Mike Chase adding in his two-cent's worth to the McConnell captaincy discussion. "I'm out.  Five to you, Joe."

 

    "Yeah, give it to me if Mac don't want it," Joe Daves added with a chuckle.   After giving his hand some more thought, he too decides against staying in. "I fold."

 

    Surrendering to his inevitable fate, "Alright, alright, I know when I'm beat.  Make me a Captain!" Mac said while lifting his drink.  Standing and looking at Paul. "To us! Captains McConnell and Griffin!"

 

    After 'toasting' the players continued with the game.  Tossing in his no win hand, Joe comically whines, "Grif, you're a good pilot and a flight leader but you're one lousy poker dealer."

 

    Smiling, Paul's reply to Daves is in the same comical nature as it was given. "Hey! You're new around here but you don't know the house rules, Joe, so I'll cut you some slack tonight.  But there's no whining allowed!"  Paul now raises his hands, palms outward in mock surrender. "Hey, now don't blame me for your bad cards.  See, nothing up my sleeve and I just deal 'em as they come out."  Now using a softer conspiracy type tone of voice, "Now, if you someone to blame for your last bad hand, my pal Andy here did the cut."

 

    Andy Whitaker's expression is one of mock indignation and he sheepishly gives a shrug as to say non-verbally, 'What? Who me?'  Studying his cards, Andy decides the best course of action would be to fold as well. "I'm out.  See, Joe, even the cutter don't get any breaks."

 

    "Yeah, whatever," Joe said still shaking his head.

 

    Deciding to change the subject, Mike Chase asks Tanner, "Hey, Skip, now that I've got a couple of missions under my belt, my boys and I were wondering if we could occasionally fly as the second flight leader."

 

    "What? Already tired of following me after two missions?" chides Paul Griffin.

 

    "Naw, it has nothing to with you leading," Mike said.  Now smiling, "more like your crappy dealing."  Continuing with his explanation, "This man's Army is big on rank having it privileges.  The way I see it, I figure if I can get some experience leading a flight, I go up in seniority, which should count for something."

 

    "I was thinking about that as well, Mike," Tanner agreed. "I'll let Jefferson know in the morning that I want your crew to lead the second flight on some missions for the experience."

 

    "And the dealer is in and he calls."  And for added emphasis, he looks at Mike and gives a knowingly smile.  Chase shakes his head, silently wondering to himself if that story Griffin told everyone that he was a just simple dairy farmer before the war was a ruse.  For all Mike Chase knew, Griffin could have been a card shark before the war.  And if he was, Paul Griffin wasn't about to tell him.

 

    Grabbing the deck Paul draws the next card: the Jack of Diamonds. "Hmmmm, still to Frank."

 

    "I'm in and I'll raise five," Frank said tossing in five more chips. "And as long as you're going to talk to Ops, Skipper, can't you do something about changing our squadron call sign?"

 

    "What's wrong with the call sign 'Joker'?" Dan asks. "I'll see that five, Frank."

 

    "Well, compared to the other squadrons, ours just out right stinks," Mac said.

 

    "The other squadron's were assigned great sounding names, like 'Fireball', and 'Buckeye' and 'Cowboy'," lamented Chase.

 

    "How'd we get stuck with the 'Joker' call name anyway," Andy Whitaker wondered.

 

    "Well, I wasn't my doing, I can tell you that," Dan said. "These names for each squadron came down straight from Wing.  I doubt if I can get it changed."

 

    "I heard that the Army has this official book of approved names," Mike Chase explained. "When they need any names, they just go through the list and assign them out in order that the names are listed in."

 

    "Is that how it's done?" Andy questioned. "And all this time I thought we might have ticked off somebody important in Wing."

 

    "Well, somebody in Wing must think he's a comedian," Paul Griffin speculated while putting his bet into the pot to stay in just before he drew the turn card. "The Ten of Diamonds, Gentlemen," announced Paul.

 

    "Comedians, everybody thinks they can be just like Bob Hope or Jack Benny," Frank said. "Check."

 

    "Well, the 'Joker Leader' raises five more," Dan said jokingly drawing chuckles around the table.

 

    Playing along, Grif said, "And 'Clown Four' will also call."

 

    "Too rich for me," Frank Coleridge said as he tossed his cards in.  Continuing to play out the joke he brings his right hand to muffle his voice pretending he is sending a radio message, "And 'Clown Three' now drops out-of-formation."

 

    "Well, Skipper, it's just between 'Clown Leader and Clown Four'," Paul Griffin announced just before reaching to draw the next card of the hand. "And we now have the . . . "


FORREST IN A FUNK . . . - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)

 

    Cap pulled down low over his furrowed brow, hands deep in his pockets and kicking stones as he went, Milton B Forrest was an angry and brooding presence on the path towards the Ops office.

 

    He'd about had it with life in Italy, what with a tough mission schedule and the bad weather.  What he didn't need was sloppy administration and petty pen-pushers playing god.

 

    The Group was up for a mission tomorrow, he knew, but rumor had it that they'd be stood down for a few days after that if they made it back in one piece.  The Group CO was a reasonable man, even in Forrest's jaundiced opinion, but there were a few issues he needed to address with him.

 

    The skipper of the 317th just wasn't cutting it, he felt. Montague had still not replied to his repeated memos about either his promotion to captain, or his requests to get his men 3-day passes.  The last leave had been a disaster, with Forrest finally having to get the Group XO to approve his crew's passes.  Montague was nowhere to be found, forcing drastic action from Forrest.

 

    The sergeant charged with running Montague's office could do nothing more than shrug his shoulders and smile sheepishly when asked where the Irishman was.

 

    "Can't rightly say, sir, think he's up at Group," was the stock reply, as the clerk busied himself with the piles of paperwork on his desk.  No-one had seen Montague for days, except maybe to see him flitting through the main gate in a jeep occasionally.  Group had no idea where he was either, it seemed.

 

    Worse still was the fact that the squadron's reputation had suffered with Montague's mysterious runway abort on the mission a few days ago. The 317th's perfect record had been shot down, and some of the other crews were making sure the 317th knew about it.  The Colonel didn't appear too perturbed by the whole affair, but it made Forrest's blood boil.  Montague was, as ever, tight-lipped about the whole thing.

 

    He'd overheard some of the officers in the O-Club talking about Montague's apparent refusal to put him up for promotion, on personal grounds seemingly.  None of the other officers in the 317th had been put in for promotions either, he knew, and the mood appeared to be turning against the Irishman.

 

    The 316th's CO, Tanner, held informal get-togethers for his pilots and key personnel, something that was unheard of in the 317th.   The 317th had 5 of their original contingent on operations, in Moody, O'Connor, Yoshikawa, Forrest and Montague.  They had grown closer over time, Forrest conceded, even though he still felt an unspoken reluctance on the part of the others to get close to him.

 

    He could hardly blame them, he reflected, if he was honest with himself.  Being shot at did things to a man's sense of perspective. They obviously weren't in his social class, but they nonetheless had a charm of their own.

 

    Turning into the open doorway of the O-Club, Forrest barely noticed his own bombardier and navigator sitting together chatting.  They were hardly friendly towards him, but the open hostility of the earlier weeks what he'd mistakenly assumed was respect and observance of etiquette - had been replaced by an acceptance only found amongst men who'd been in combat.

 

    His having fought to get their leave passes signed had also earned him a few approving nods, and a bottle of Chianti on his cot when they returned.

 

    He'd spent the 3 days writing letters and reading Marcel Proust.  It helped him calm the demonic fear within.  Seven missions into his tour and Forrest had aged 50 years.  He doubted he'd make it to the end of his tour, but he saw no way out short of handing
his wings in and facing the disgrace that would follow.

 

    Father would be sternly disapproving, the silence and coldness of which had cut vast swathes through Forrest's childhood. It was worse than death.

 

    Mother would cry and tell her friends that he'd been chosen for staff duties, but no-one would believe that.  The family name would suffer.  He'd considered suicide. There were times when his emotions took him to places that others would flinch at, giving him a terrifying feeling of disintegration and disconnection.  At other times, like now, he was coldly rational and the Forrest of old.

 

    No wonder the others didn't know how to take him, he smiled ruefully.  Turning towards the door, not having ordered anything, Forrest tipped his cap to his crewmen and strode out.  Time for an aria or two, then to bed.  An early day tomorrow.


JUST BEFORE THE MISSION - (submitted by Bob Hamel, 316th Sqn)

 

    1st Lt. Griffin catches his Bombardier and Navigator just while getting out of the jeep before boarding Lucky Penny . . . "Hodges, I just want you to know your doing a great job, you too Hamilton."  Now speaking in a conspiratorial whisper, "We have the 2nd best percentage average in the squadron with only two percentage points behind McConnell and his crew."

 

    Paul Griffin paused to let what he said to sink in before continuing.  "Now, I'm not trying to put the hex on you guys but lets just say there might be a little wager within the squadron as to who has the highest after mission 10 and, . . . well, we have a fair shot . . . Lt. Johnson and I are of course not going to try to put any pressure on you guys, and we'll do our best to hold 'er steady . . . but that silver cup and free drinks for the crew who wins sure would be great for moral . . . and for the winning Bombardier and Navigator, we might be able to wrangle some 2 day passes to town, . . . " Griffin said with a slight wink, " . . . but no pressure . . ."


TOWER RECEPTIONS - MISSION 8

Radio Traffic as Formation 'Baker' moves up the coast.

 

"Mayday, Mayday!  This is Clown Two, this is Clown Two.  Number one engine out of control, we are bailing out!  Our position is approximately 30 miles south of Genoa over water.  Clown Two out!"

 

Ten chutes are seen exiting Belle Epoque belonging to the 99th BG.


Radio Traffic before the Bomb Run

 

"THIS IS FIREBALL FIVE CALLING FIREBALL LEADER . . . THIS IS FIREBALL FIVE CALLING FIREBALL LEADER . . . OXYGEN IS OUT IN THE TAIL . . . I REPEAT, OXYGEN IS OUT IN THE TAIL . . . DROPPING TO 10000 FEET AND CONTINUING ON TOWARDS TARGET . . . REPEAT, DROPPING TO 10000 FEET AND CONTINUING ON TOWARDS TARGET . . ."

 

"Fireball leader to Fireball Five . . . Good luck and see you back at the barn.  Over and out."

 

One zone from the target, The Old Crow Express from leaves the safety of the low squadron and is soon out of sight, disappearing into the clouds.

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"FIREBALL SIX TO FIREBALL LEADER . . . FIREBALL SIX TO FIREBALL LEADER . . . LOST AN ENGINE I REPEAT LOST AN ENGINE . . . DROPPING OUT OF FORMATION . . . WILL TRY TO MAKE IT TO THE TARGET INDEPENDENTLY.  OVER . . ."

 

"Fireball leader to Fireball Six . . . Watch your six and good luck.  See you back at the barn.  Fireball Leader, Over and out."


Radio Traffic shortly after the Bomb Run

"Buckeye leader, Buckeye leader . . . Buckeye Seven is dropping out . . . O2 and heat is out, we're losing fuel fast and we're losing engines faster . . . we're going to try to make it to 'the Island' - Buckeye Seven out."

 

With their transmission completed, the Sky Rat was seen dropping down below the clouds . . .


"Clown Two to Clown Leader . . . Clown Two to Clown Leader.  A high squadron 17 is peeling outta formation.  Don't see any obvious damage to her.  She's getting hammered by 109s but I think our escorts are diving down to help her out.  Looks like the poor fella is having problems controlling her, but I don't see any 'chutes.  I don't hear any radio traffic from her but looks like they're trying to make it to Corsica.  Godspeed to 'em.  Clown Two out."


Radio Transmission near Turin

 

"THIS IS GREENSTREET FIVE CALLING GREENSTREET LEADER . . . THIS IS GREENSTREET FIVE CALLING GREENSTREET LEADER . . . OXYGEN IS OUT FOR RADIO ROOM AND OUR TAIL STINGER IS NOT IN OPERATION . . . REPEAT . . . OXYGEN IS OUT FOR RADIO ROOM AND TAIL STINGER IS NOT IN OPERATION . . . AM GOING TO DROP TO 5000 FEET AND GO TO ALTERNATE BASE . . .  AM GOING TO DROP TO 5000 FEET AND GO TO ALTERNATE BASE.  THIS IS GREENSTREET FIVE OUT."


Just north of Corsica, Homeward bound

 

"Fireball 3 to Fireball Leader, Fireball 3 to Fireball leader . . . Dropping out for some warmer weather.  See you back at base. Fireball 3 out."

 

With that and a thumbs up directed at the new guys in Longhorn Lady, The Russian
Lady drops out to 10,000 feet for the rest of the trip.


Greenstreet Six to Greenstreet Leader . . . Greenstreet Six to Greenstreet Leader . . .
We're taking all kinds of heat!  They're coming from everywhere . . . we just took one in number three engine . . . Cappy's doing everything he can to stay in formation!  Thi . . . Oh, CRAP!  I'm hit" . . . Pssssssssssssssst, POP!!

 

Then there was nothing but silence as King Pin's radio transmissions ceased.


Somewhere over the Tyrrhenian Sea, west of Sterapone Field

 

"IGLOO BASE, IGLOO BASE . . . THIS IS FIREBALL SIX . . . MISSION ABORTED . . . BOMBS JETTISONED . . . TWO ENGINES OUT . . . SERIOUS CASUALTIES ABOARD . . . WE ARE INBOUND 50 MILES WEST OF BASE . . . REQUEST IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY LANDING . . . REPEAT REQUEST EMERGENCY LANDING . . ."
 

Fireball Six, the Iron Lady, struggles westward towards the safety of Sterparone Field, just 40 minutes away.


Over Sterapone Field

 

"THIS IS COWBOY SEVEN CALLING IGLOO BASE . . . THIS IS COWBOY SEVEN CALLING IGLOO BASE . . . AM REQUESTING PRIORITY LANDING . . . HAVE SERIOUS WIA . . . REPEAT, HAVE SERIOUS WIA . . . AM REQUESTING A BLOOD WAGON TO MEET PLANE . . . THIS IS COWBOY SEVEN . . . OVER AND OUT."


"Cowboy Seven, this is Igloo Tower . . . you are cleared to land on Runway One-Six . . . Repeat . . . Repeat, use Runway One-Six . . . Emergency crews and Medical crews are on their way . . ."


Cowboy Seven's intercom talk:

 

"Radio to pilot.  Lieutenant, I don't know if they heard us!  I think the transmitter is working but the receiver is useless!"

 

"Mukai!  Fire the flares!  If they didn't hear us, they'll see our flares!"

 

Soon, two red flares are arcing their way skyward from the descending B-17 named Go for Broke.  As the Go for Broke makes its final approach on runway one-six, emergency crews and ambulances are already on their way to meet it.


Radio Transmission From Corsica Received while the returning 88th BG bombers are still landing.

 

"Igloo Base this is Army Eight-Two-Two.  Mission was Fubar . . . lost most if not all our bug juice.  Made Emergency landing at secondary base.  Grease monkeys say she should be back in the air in two days, three tops.  No one bit the dust but two received light injuries they should be able to get back in the saddle.  Over."

 

"Army Eight-Two-Two, this is Igloo Base.  Good to know you're all safe.  See you soon.  Over and out."


"Sterparone Field Command . . . be advised that at approximately 1 hour ago aircraft 42-11837, SKY RAT of your 399th made an emergency landing at our field.  Estimated repair time is 3 days, and the crew sustained 2 causalities, details to follow - Corsica out."


A few hours later from Corsica:

 

"Armendola Field Command . . . be advised another one of your aircraft, number is indecipherable, from the 20th Bomber Squadron has just landed.  I think the name on the nose is King Pin.  There are two casualties but the rest of the crew is healthy, at least physically.  Your ship is pretty beat-up, two engines gone, holes in the fuel tanks, radio gone, ball turret jammed up and half the flying surfaces are gone.  Much less all the bullet holes.  With the other two crafts you have here, this one may take 7-9 days to repair.  We'll be sending you a bill! Corsica out."