Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II

Jack Buckner | 347th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bomb Group - Army Air Corps

4:19   |   During pre-flight training, Jack Buckner was told the entire class would go on to pilot school but the need for more bomber crews in North Africa changed all that and he became a bombardier. After extensive training in the B-17 and a short assignment testing experimental glide bombs, he finally was ordered overseas.

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Keywords   :     Jack Buckner    Atlanta GA    Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)    Montgomery AL    Maxwell Field    pilot    bombardier    navigator    Albuquerque NM    Norden Bombsight    crash    B-17    Sioux City IA    Tonapah NV    glide bomb    guided missile    gyroscope (gyro)

Videos ( 5 )
WWII
  • Jack Buckner  |  WWII  |  347th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bomb Group  |  4:49

    Once the B-17 group got to North Africa, they found out that no air base had been constructed. While waiting, Jack Buckner had his eyes opened by the exotic locales of Marrakesh and Casablanca. Finally able to start flying, but without a ground crew at first, the men settled into a crude base in the Algerian desert.

  • Jack Buckner  |  WWII  |  347th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bomb Group  |  4:14

    The bomber crews were required to fly 25 missions, but as they approached that milestone, it was increased to 50 missions. B-17 bombardier Jack Buckner says they were disappointed but, "That's war. You do what you have to do." Once Rommel was defeated in North Africa, they took the bombing campaign on to Sicily and Italy, despite the German fighters and flak.

  • Jack Buckner  |  WWII  |  347th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bomb Group  |  7:42

    The bomber crews had to deal with a lot of problems. The wild temperature swings, the lack of good water in the desert, and the ever present German fighters and flak. Then there was the psychological challenge of losing close friends and knowing you might be next. Jack Buckner says that you had to develop a detached perspective and concentrate on the goals at hand.

  • Jack Buckner  |  WWII  |  347th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bomb Group  |  4:43

    B-17 bombardier Jack Buckner recalls a couple of memorable missions and explains the tactic of group bombing, which requires all the bombers in a formation to release on the signal of the lead plane. Once he missed a target he really wanted to hit, a large warship, when the squadron commander insisted he could fly better than the autopilot. He also got credit for downing German fighters while acting as a gunner.

  • Jack Buckner  |  WWII  |  347th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bomb Group  |  3:45

    B-17 bombardier Jack Buckner returned to the States after his deployment to North Africa, and after getting engaged and visiting family, he was sent to Roswell, New Mexico to train bomber crews. He says the check rides were sometimes as scary as combat. Looking back on the war, he has no regrets.

Photos (3)
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