A friend who has a blog asked me for a brief reminiscence of my experience of the end of World War II. I was happy to oblige and I thought that you, the readers of my own Blog would enjoy reading it also.
I was a Flight Engineer on a B-17 bomber in the 303rd Group of the 8th Air Force
based in Molesworth (Bedfordshire) England. I flew my 32nd mission (Dresden) on April 14, 1945 and, as far as I can remember, it was the last mission flown by my Group in the War. Three weeks later, May 8, 1945 we celebrated VE Day and on June 5, 1945 we had a formal parade of the Group on the base.
I had hoped to remain in Europe as part of the Army of Occupation so that I might have an opportunity to see Europe from the ground rather than from 25,000 feet in the sky. No such luck! On June 7, 1945 I was in one of our B-17’s flying home over the Atlantic.
On June 8, 1945 I found myself in an antique troop train traveling from Boston to San Antonio. It was stifling hot and I could not open the train windows so I walked back through the train until I came to the caboose. l climbed up into the cupola of the caboose, laid down and stayed there until we got to San Antonio.
Needless to say, since the locomotives were coal fired and since the soot from the locomotives came in to the cupola, by the time I got to San Antonio I was ready for a minstrel show because of my black face.
On August 3, 1945 I was assigned to Amarillo Air Base to learn how to be a Flight Engineer on a B-29 in preparation for being sent to the Pacific theatre of operations. Even though the war ended with VJ Day on August 14, I continued my training until I was discharged from the United States Army Air Corps on November 2. 1945.
I thank God that I had the opportunity to defend my Country from National Socialism and Japanese Imperialism even though it meant engaging in a war.
War is indeed ‘hell’, but a nation that is not prepared to defend itself is a nation that is doomed to live on only in history books.