Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II

Jim Fleming | 721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group - Army Air Corps

5:03   |   When the German fighters attacked, the B-24's tightened their formation. The fighters were making a pass and turning up on one wing to slip through the tight space between the bombers. Jim Fleming describes what happened when one of the German pilots made a slight miscalculation.

More From Jim Fleming

Keywords   :     Jim Fleming    Consolidated B-24 Liberator    navigator    German    fighter

Videos ( 7 )
WWII
  • Jim Fleming  |  WWII  |  721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group  |  6:07

    Jim Fleming had it in mind to become a pilot when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He qualified for pilot, navigator and bombardier, so when he was unfairly washed out of pilot training at the very end, he started over as a navigator.

  • Jim Fleming  |  WWII  |  721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group  |  3:45

    After a long series of short hops, B-24 navigator Jim Fleming was in North Africa, waiting for the final flight to his destination in Italy. He drove a jeep to get coffee and donuts, which was the crew's only sustenance, when someone from another crew demanded he turn over the jeep. The guy was big, but Jim had some backup.

  • Jim Fleming  |  WWII  |  721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group  |  7:21

    It was a former Italian air base. The buildings were old and shabby and there was no heat or running water. The first thing Jim Fleming saw when he landed was a dead gunner who'd taken a direct hit from a 20 mm shell, which got his sober attention. He describes the dangerous flak faced on every mission and the relentless German fighters. For a short while, his tail gunner was shooting down German planes on every mission, so naturally, higher ups had to take action.

  • Jim Fleming  |  WWII  |  721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group  |  3:53

    B-24 navigator Jim Fleming was hit by some shrapnel, but it didn't penetrate his flak vest. He came a lot closer to dying when he had to bail out just as his plane reached safety in England. He couldn't convince the crew chief to jump and his refusal cost him dearly.

  • Jim Fleming  |  WWII  |  721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group  |  5:14

    The new man in Jim Fleming's barracks was known as Jojo. He had to bail out soon after he started flying missions and word soon came that he had been rescued by Yugoslav partisans and was on an island. The squadron commander wouldn't risk a flight to pick him up, so the men decided to take matters in their own hands.

  • Jim Fleming  |  WWII  |  721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group  |  1:53

    B-24 navigator Jim Fleming describes the shell burst that caused his hearing loss. They gave him a Purple Heart for that, but he suffers more from the rough landing he took when he bailed out at 300 feet. He was told to just go back to work after that one.

  • Jim Fleming  |  WWII  |  721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group  |  5:48

    After navigator Jim Fleming flew 52 combat missions out of Italy, he went back to the States where he flew air and sea rescue missions. He had to leave that position after there was an issue over proper navigation. The system had beaten him again. Then he volunteered to be on a crew shuttling a C-46 to Burma. After that bad idea, he finished out the war at the least loved airfield in the country. Still, he laughed at it all.

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