A great honor...

Discussion in 'Everything else' started by ARMORMAN, Apr 14, 2005.


    ARMORMAN Guest

    Saturday I'll be sitting with my model club and listening to stories of a P-47 pilot. Anyone who live in the NW Indiana area is invited to this (unfortunately) rare event. Contact me and I'll give you directions.


    PS. One story he did tell me was how an ME 109 came in from behind him and shot his plane up (pulled 3 20mm rounds out of the seat armor) and he still managed to make it home.
  2. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Jan 25, 2004
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    Ask him about peculiarities of the Pratt & Whitney.

  3. Jim Nunn

    Jim Nunn Member

    Feb 10, 2004
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    15 or so years ago a business acquaintance of mine was going to retire, over lunch he told me that he had only held down two jobs in his life. I asked what the other job was and Bob said that he was a fighter pilot during WWII. I was knocked off my seat you see Bob was at best 5 ft 1 and weighed in at around 275 lbs needless to say I would never have pictured him as a fighter pilot. Just goes to show you that you cannot judge a person by how they look.

    I told Bob that I was very interested in WWII aircraft and if he had a photo of his aircraft I would really like to see it. A couple of weeks later Bob brought in a photo of a crashed P47 and told me that this was “first†crash landing, my first comment was that his aircraft was a razor back P47. Bob was surprised that I know what a razor back was and off we went to lunch to talk (I listened Bob talked) aircraft and flying. Bob had great stories of what is was like to be a fighter pilot but he never said anything about the aircraft he had shot down and seldom talked about actual combat. I find this to be common among combat veterans.

    This had my curiosity up and I did some research and lo and behold I found several references to Bob. He was a wingman for one of the early P47 aces and he was also an ace. One of the references stated that he and his leader were credited with shooting down Adolph Galland but Bob would never talk about that.

    As a retirement present for Bob I built a model of his first P47 with his markings and nose art and I know that I made his day with that model. A few months after he retired Bob called and asked if I would be his guest at a convention/show where WWII fighter Pilots talked about their experiences. After the presentation Bob invited me backstage and introduced me to Herr Galland it seems that they were friends! Boy did Bob make my day. Bob passed away about 6 months later, I had known Bob for 15 years and never knew that other side of Bob but at least I had a glimpse of a WWII combat Ace.

    Jim Nunn
  4. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Sep 26, 2005
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    A great story, Jim, and I appreciate that you took the time to share it with us. I'm sure you will cherish those moments with Bob for the rest of your life, and it's a super idea to honor his memory by sharing his story with others.
  5. Bowdenja

    Bowdenja Active Member

    Sep 26, 2005
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    Yes great story!........... It seems that, THAT generation were all that way. They had a job to do and after it was over not too much else was said.

    My uncle (who's still alive) went through the imfamous "Bataan Death March". Growing up as kids we all knew that; and since he did not talk about it, we did not either. He is now getting on in age and my cousins have since talked him into writing a book about those times. It really is not much just some of his experiences, and I think only family members were the only ones to buy the limited run of it. But I really learned a lot about him from it.
    We talk now whenever we see each other and he tells some stories, but there are some that he will take with him.

    It made me very aware of what they had to do, did, and then went on with their lives.

    I know this is long but here is the end..........kinda like Jim's story............

    I worked nights at one job and got chummy with one of the guards at the site. He was the typical grey haired older gentlemen, working part time to get a little extra spending money.
    Anyway we started talking and he found out that I am a plane nut, and he told me that he was a waist gunner on a B-17 during the war. His plane was shot down and he was captured and was held until liberation by the US Army forces in 45. He tried 7 different times to escape and was caught every single time. The longest time out was 15 days before re-capture. He said that he just had bad luck.

    Man to look at him you would have never thought that. He must have been Hell on Wheels when he was younger!

    The more people I meet from that generation......... the more impressed I am.

    Whenever you get the chance........... talk and listen to them. When they are gone we will only have the history books to use to find out these things. AND it seems that those books change the stories with each re-writing!!!
  6. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member

    Sep 26, 2005
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    In 1977, I was attending an USAFE Editor's Conference in Berlin. Part of the conference was a tour of the German newspaper Die Welt offices. Actually, right now I can't remember the year and am thinking it could also have been in 1976 at Ramstien AB area...but I am sure it was Berlin. Anyway, as my group of Air Force base newspaper editors (in uniform) made our way to the managing editor's office, a gentleman stepped out of another office and introduced himself. He was Adolph Galland. There was a brief conversation of what we were doing there and the glad to meet you thing and everyone went about their business. It was still an honor for me to have met him...even briefly.

    About 10 years later, I was at Kelly AFB, Texas waiting for a person to arrive at the base operations terminal there. While waiting, I needed to relieve myself so I went into the restroom to do my thing. A moment later, the door opened and a person wearing a USAF flight suit came in with the same thought in mind. Suddenly, standing next to me in the restroom was General Chuck Yeager. We finished at the same time, and as I was drying my hands at the wash basin, he looked towards me, I nodded and said, "Good afternoon, General," tossed my paper towel in the trash and followed him out. He went out to the ramp and got in a staff car and was gone. The party I was waiting for arrived about five minutes later and I too left.

    Then about 10 years ago, I attended a meeting of the local Experimental Aircraft Association in central Oregon. I had heard about the group and was interested in what they did. As the meeting progressed, I listened to a number of people talk about the aircraft they were working on. Then came time for the evening's featured speaker. It was Rex Barber, the pilot who shot down Yamamoto's aircraft (let's not debate anything about that here, please) and who I found out later lived about five miles from me. He spoke about flying the P-38 in the Pacific and only reference he made to that mission was in regard to the range of the aircraft. At the finish of the meeting, I made my way over to him, introduced myself and told him it was an honor to meet him. He started to say something when the local president of the association asked that Mr. Barber meet someone. I never got a chance to speak to him again. A few years later, Rex Barber passed away. There is a bridge just south of where he lived which spans the Crooked River. When the bridge was rebuilt a couple of years ago, it was named after him.

    I sometimes think how small the world is to have given me the opportunity to meet these people and many others. I have always wished I had had more time with each of them to talk to them indepth, but I didn't. However, I did have the honor and pleasure to meet them.

    ARMORMAN Guest

    One of my former bosses was a merchant mariner during WW2 on the Great Lakes. The government begged him and his buddies to do the convoys to England. Well, enough dollars were waved underneath their noses and they finally said yes. He was on a freighter hauling lumber and one of his buddies was on one hauling ammo (more money). Their convoy was attacked, his buddie's ship was blown sky high and they sent his to the bottom as well. After spending 3 days floating in open water, he never left the Great Lakes again.

    Can't say as I'd blame him.

    ARMORMAN Guest

    Well, it figures....No one remembered to bring a recording device....

    It was an extremely interesting evening, though. He told some good stories (some edited for the sake of my nine year old daughter who went along and was mad that dad didn't take better notes). He brought one of the 20mm cannon slugs that they pulled out of his seat armor as well as some photos. He flew 40 missions and then was transferred back to train crews in the states. His primary job was divebombing/strafing. He said there was one time he saw a B-17 limping back to England all shot up, he followed it as far as he could, but never found out if it made it back or not.

    He loved the engine and the aircraft an preferred it over the P-51 (not enough armor).

    He also relayed a story where he was running out of fuel an his return and couldn't risk going around a "no fly zone;" so he flew though it and was shot at by British AA. He said what probably saved him was being so low. He landed, fueled the plane up and gave him a shot of some stiff adult beverage and sent him on his way.

    He has been married 53 years and has 2 kids.

    I'm thinking of getting a tape recorder and going to his house for him to tell the stories again.