11:28 | Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
Keywords : Don Scott B-17 turret gunner parachute pilot hatch radio chaff Sweeney bail out crash slipstream Rhine Koblenz Germany Swastika civilian Boy Scout wristwatch interrogation
There was a tremendous need for B-17 crews and this led to Don Scott being drafted right out of his sophomore year at Virginia Tech. His first training stop was Miami Beach where he was billeted in a hotel right on the beach. That was very nice but the next stop was Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He didn't mind a bit since it was the radio school he wanted.
The new B-17 crews crossed the Atlantic but there was still more training to be done before they could start their missions. They had to fly in formation and that was very tricky, according to radio operator Don Scott. With that skill mastered, the bombing began.
Don Scott's fateful mission started out badly for him at his radio operator's position. As soon as the B-17 was aloft, his first duty was to power up the classified identification unit, which had a self destruct charge. The charge went off causing a minor fire. They pressed on to the target and successfully dropped their payload and then came the flak. Part 1 of 3.
The interrogator was very cordial at first, says Don Scott, who had just bailed out of a doomed B-17. The pleasantries turned to threats, but they soon gave up on him and it was off to a camp. Part 3 of 3.
After the interrogation, Don Scott never saw his crew mates again. In fact, when he got to the Stalag, he was assigned to a barracks full of British prisoners. He became very good friends with the British and way too familiar with potatoes, and black bread.
The war was nearly over but the Russian Army was approaching from the East, so Don Scott and the rest of the POW's from Stalag Luft 4 had to hit the road on a forced march. He wasn't doing too bad until his British hobnail boots rubbed his heels raw on the cobblestones. They healed while time ran out for the Germans.
Don Scott explains why he celebrates the second day of May every year. It was that day in 1945 when British soldiers found him on the road in a forced march of Allied prisoners. The guards had fled and soon there were happy men walking west toward relief.
B-17 crew member Don Scott had to bail out of his plane and spent time in a German POW camp. He displays some of the objects from his internment and other memorabilia.
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughn and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
The brand new carrier USS Shangri-La carried out an attack on Tokyo, then participated in the Okinawa invasion, and then returned to attack Tokyo again. Curt Beckham was a mess cook on the ship and he had a battle station as well, down in the ammunition room.
Clyne Veal talks about the role of the USS Emmons after the Normandy invasion, during which time they conducted sub patrols in the N. Atlantic and then headed for the Mediterranean. The Emmons finally ended up at the invasion of Okinawa where the ship came under attack from kamikazes and was sunk after being struck 5 times.
Thanks to ROTC, Lyman Taylor already knew how to drill when he got to Navy boot camp in 1943. When he was done there, he was assigned to a specialty school where he learned cryptography. The discipline was so new, he was classified as an electrician, right down to the shoulder patch.
Robert Gibbs only used his Georgia Tech engineering degree for two months before he was called up. He was already an ensign in the Navy, thanks to ROTC. There was a feeling that war was coming, he remembers, and when it did come, he was on a destroyer in the Caribbean, which was a hunting ground for German submarines.
Former WWII Chinese fighter pilot Fred Chiao was recruited by Col. Ed Rector to help build a new Chinese Air Force on Taiwan. Regional politics ensued as President Marcos used Clark Air Force Base as a bargaining chip with Washington.
He'd passed the flying exam but Don Ogden was so tired that he began stammering and he was rejected. Determined to fly in combat, he became a gunner and in a strange turn of events, his tendency towards air sickness would actually save his life.
The age limit to become an officer was lowered to 20. Jim Tysinger took advantage of this opportunity and headed towards Camp Davis in North Carolina. After being commissioned, Jim was ordered to transfer into the 214th Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft regiment in California. He then visited New Caledonia and went on to Guadalcanal. During this time, his battery commander got promoted which resulted in him being his replacement.
The fire was heavy from the ridge above, remembers Braswell Deen. His company was pinned down in a tank trap just inland from the beach on Peleliu. He and a couple of other Marines had advanced just past the trap and almost missed the word to fall back. The night that followed was spent in a shell hole with rounds going overhead all night.
Although he didn't choose to become a mess cook, Curt Beckham learned that, in the Navy, a cook is godlike. He recalls the great leave policy they had while in port and he remembers some bad things, like having to wake up other cooks and not seeing land for three months.
Eric Holmes describes what he was doing after he was taken off regular bombing duties. These included helping organize and staff missions that came down from headquarters. He also tells the story about a non-human crew member that would go with a certain crew, and his friend Dale Stillwell who was injured on a bombing run.
His father said that if you join the Army, you'll be cannon fodder and if you join the Navy, you'll be shark bait. Braswell Deen went for the Marines and became both. After boot camp he sailed for the island of Pavuvu where he trained further with his squad leader Joe Daly and his fire team leader Bill Thompson.
Eric Holmes talks about his training journey, which took him to Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wales and Britain. These stops were where he and other members of his crew trained to fly bombers.
Inspired by Lindbergh, Bert Schwarz became an Army Air Corps pilot and was assigned to the Philippines. Arriving ahead of their planes, the flyers and their crews became provisional infantry when war with Japan broke out. As American forces consolidated in Bataan and formed lines, there was no hint of what was to come. A tough Georgia boy named Rocky Gause kept spirits up.
Braswell Deen recalls getting ready for the amphibious landing on Peleliu and then the chaos of the landing itself. The shelling had been tremendous, but as on so many other islands, the enemy survived and the Marines faced heavy resistance as they hit the beach.
There were two lucky breaks in the Chinese air war, the arrival of Claire Chenault and the availability of surplus P-40’s. Fred Chiao recognized the genius of Chenault, but he says that flying the P-40 was like driving a truck.
After the surrender, Edgar Dunlap was part of the occupying force sent to Japan. On the way to Okinawa, the ship he was on got caught in a typhoon. After several hours of rough seas, the ship finally made port in Nagasaki, Japan where the radiation levels were too high for the men to get off the ship.
Eric Holmes and the rest of his B-17 crew arrived in England the afternoon of D-Day. Mr. Holmes talks about conditions on the plane and what a typical mission day was like. He also talks about his first bombing run problems, which resulted in the bombing of a not so important target.
Robert Gibbs had chased subs in the Caribbean, then he moved into submarines himself, going to school in New London where he learned submarine warfare and systems. His first assignment was on a school training vessel, which had no enemy to contend with but which was still subject to danger, like the time ice broke off all their communications gear.
After spending time in Guadalcanal, New Zealand, and New Guinea, Jim Tysinger's unit arrived at Leyte. Upon arrival, he wondered to himself why the Navy hadn't started firing when they were supposed to. He then found out that the Japanese were no longer there.
While in the Pacific, Leonard Meyer came down with rheumatic fever which landed him in the sick bay. He woke up one morning and noticed the ship was anchored. A naval officer came down and explained that while he had pleaded with the captain to take Leonard back to the States, the captain had ordered Leonard to be dropped off on the shores of New Guinea.
While sailing in formation between ports in the Pacific, Ed Bean recalls a destroyer running off path and cutting in front of the USS New Jersey, a much larger battleship. The anchor alone of the USS New Jersey inflicted heavy damage to the other ship, enough to kill the captain of the destroyer and injure another crew member.