My Dad

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vikingdog
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My Dad

Post by vikingdog » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:51 pm

My Dad would have been 90 years old this Wednesday. He endured The Great Depression, quite school to join the CCC and help build our state parks. Went back to school half way through his senior year and caught up with his class and graduated. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and flew 35 missions over Japan two of which ended in catastrophic crash landings.

I was very fortunate to have him as a role model and I'm thankful I was raised by parents who were of The Greatest Generation. Here is his diary entry for his tenth mission, he was 23 years old.

February 19, 1945

Mission #10. Destination - aircraft plant in Tokyo.
Pilot - Lt. Pearson - Ship #1
My position - Radar operator
Take off - 0647 Landed - 12:35
Total time - 17 hours, 45 minutes!
Bombing - some radar, some visual, on primary target and also docks of Tokyo.
Altitude 26,000 feet
Flak moderate and heavy, accurate. Thompson in #2 got one in the right wing large enough to put two barrels through. Got back OK, no one hurt.
Fighter opposition - moderate, heavy on our element, and very aggressive.
Strength - about 150 B-29's, including Tinian. I counted 87 in sight at one time.
Losses - Three over target, one ditched. Two of the three from our group, one from our squadron. Both in our four plane element. Bombing results unobserved. Our bombardier, Skinner, got an Irving, ring gunner Doan, a probable.

Longest and toughest mission for me as yet. We were lead ship of the extreme right element, low element, with Lt. Samuelson on our right (Evans, Radar) and Lt. Rouse (Johnston, Radar) as tail end Charlie, Calhoun on left wing. Picked up a few attacks after I.P., we being the first formation in. Right after bombs away, an Irving came in from the front and high, the ring gunner shooting at him. He went on back and crashed into Sammy on top, almost halfway back. We think it was a deliberate ramming. The plane broke in two and burst into flame immediately, the Irving going into smaller pieces with it. Six parachutes were seen to open from the 29, one was burning and collapsed This happened directly over Tokyo at 26,000. Evans was one of my closest buddies, he, Burkie, and I traveling together ever since Scott Field. He may have been one of the parachutists. He gave me his leather jacket to send home in case something happened. I knew every man on the crew very well, and it sure is hurting.

Rouse then pulled into Sammy's position on our right wing, and soon after was seen spiralling down to earth, no one knows what happened to him. Johnston was also one of my .closest buddies since Scott Field. Taught me lots of songs. During all this, we were getting plenty of attacks and expecting any-thing. No. 3 engine was bad and it started throwing huge chunks of frozen oil.

The prop then ran away and the engine started burning. Unable to feather it, we soon dropped back from the formation, losing altitude fast. Course took us out of the Mainland and Maj. Fitzgerald went into a dive to follow us down. We all expected a ditching or a crash off the mainland, but the ship leveled off at 3000 feet and the fire was put out. However, not knowing how long we'd last, everyone prepared to ditch and started throwing all loose stuff into the sea.

We proceeded in ditching position for some time, Fitzgerald alongside of us (Cookson, Radar) and No. 3 whining at a high pitch. Later, the prop flew off and tore a huge gash in the fuselage, in the fore bomb bay section, tearing a bomb bay door off. We were down to 150 indicated, and limped all the way back, expecting to ditch at any time, or the nose to drop off. We steered clear of high islands by our Radar and our ETA seemed far beyond our gas limitations.

After nearly 18 hours of flying, we came in sight of our base around midnight, a few hours overdue, Fitzgerald still aiding us. Can't commend him enough. We were leery of our landing gears and the nature of our landing, made a beautiful approach and soft landing. We were just a short ways up the runway, still clipping it off, when something happened, due to lack of hydraulic pressure for brakes, I think . We ran off the strip, smashed into a truck, hit a cleat truck, turning if over, tore through an embankment and smashed into a parked B-29 (Z9) on its hard stand. I was standing up in the Radar room, got thrown clean up into the CFC (Central Fire Control) compartment, not missing anything and nothing missing me. Got out with banged up nose.

Two other gunners in back with me didn't get hurt either, nor the remainder of the crew in the front. Driver of the truck was seriously injured, cleat truck man killed instantly. I'll never know how the boys in the front got out, the nose was ripped off completely to the wings and twisted around, the fuselage battered on all directions, cowlings, landing gears and everything imaginable lying all over. The tail was at least 20-25 ft. in the air, the tunnel twisted, making it impossible to get thru. We had to wait for a rope to climb down. Z9 was knocked off its stand and into the embankment. It was also cut in two, the tail lying all over and the fuselage flattened By the time we got out, they were washing the blood away with a hose and a huge crowd had gathered. Our crew was intact, the pilot injured slightly and we got out of the scene immediately.

Taken to the dispensary for slight treatment, received a double shot, wonderful stimulant, ate a meal and a very tired and jittery crew called it a day. Three planes out of the four in our formation, or rather element, will never fly again, but one of the crews will be back another day, less exciting, I hope.

Longest mission recorded (17 hours, 13 minutes), 1500 miles with 2 engines out on same side.

February 20, 1945

Got our pictured taken in front of both of our sections of the plane now being salvaged. Lt. Pearson said we were put in for a rest. Took Lt. Samuelson's crew's belongings out of their quonset today. Four and a half crews gone out of twenty.
Attachments
My Dad is first one on the left standing.
My Dad is first one on the left standing.
His squadron meeting up at Mt Fuji to go into Tokyo to do business.
His squadron meeting up at Mt Fuji to go into Tokyo to do business.
mtfuji.jpg (11.68 KiB) Viewed 2051 times
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." Ogden Nash

My traditional Nordic knife blog: http://nordiskaknivar.wordpress.com/

Mike

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knifetime
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Re: My Dad

Post by knifetime » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:58 pm

Great story and even greater man. You should be very proud of him and it is good to see you are. Thanks for a great story.
-"...and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby If the iron be blunt,and he do not whet the edge,then must he put to more strength....Ecclesiastes 10 10 ;So the good book says
sharpen your knife !!!

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Re: My Dad

Post by 0078 » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:00 pm

A true hero.
Where you plant your needs is where your garden grows.

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big monk
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Re: My Dad

Post by big monk » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:12 pm

Great Story Mike !!!!_____hats off to your Dad & crew !!!!!_____thanks for sharing ::tu:: ::tu::
I'm not young enough,____to know everything !!!!!!!!!!!!

MONK****

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Mr Rick
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Re: My Dad

Post by Mr Rick » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:12 pm

That is quite a harrowing account. I just checked my fathers records. He flew one of the follow-up missions to Tokyo on February 25. He was stationed on Tinian.


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philco
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Re: My Dad

Post by philco » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:15 pm

Mike thank you for sharing that with us. It's hard to imagine the grit those men had.

My grandfather was a tail gunner on a B-29 and other than telling me once that he had an ass full of shrapnel as a souvenir of his service he chose never to talk to me about his experiences.
Phil
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Re: My Dad

Post by jerryd6818 » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:20 pm

There isn't enough praise for those guys to go around. They deserve every ounce that can be dredged up. Great story dog. Thanks for posting it.
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carrmillus
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Re: My Dad

Post by carrmillus » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:52 pm

...........mike, that's a great story, thanks for posting it!!!.........guys like your father were truly "the greatest generation".................... ::tu:: ::tu:: .................

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vikingdog
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Re: My Dad

Post by vikingdog » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:00 pm

Thanks for looking guys. My Dad spoke freely to me about his service from the time I was very young. I got to know some of the guys he served with. One buddy of my Dad's, Paul Evans was shot down over Tokyo and the last my Dad saw of him was his chute opening. Only 16% of the POWs survived the prison "camps" due to beheadings, torture and no medical treatment. My Dad gave him up for lost. Not long after the war ended my Dad was in a local tavern and Paul walked in. I had the pleasure to meet him many years later. Shortly after the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII I started writing to my Dad's crew mates and guys he knew from his service. He had some reservations about the fire raids on Tokyo which killed more people than Hiroshima.

Mr Rick, that's cool your Dad was next door on Tinian! What position was he? They were all trained on least 2 positions. My Dad was trained as radio operator, radar operator and gunner as well as medic for the ship. They only took the top 10% tested for B-29 service. He said his odds were about 50% survival for his tour. He also said every mission was voluntary. If a man couldn't do it any more he could walk away from it.
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." Ogden Nash

My traditional Nordic knife blog: http://nordiskaknivar.wordpress.com/

Mike

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vikingdog
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Re: My Dad

Post by vikingdog » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:01 pm

Thanks Tommy, I've got another one to post too...
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." Ogden Nash

My traditional Nordic knife blog: http://nordiskaknivar.wordpress.com/

Mike

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Mr Rick
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Re: My Dad

Post by Mr Rick » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:17 pm

vikingdog wrote:Thanks for looking guys. My Dad spoke freely to me about his service from the time I was very young. I got to know some of the guys he served with. One buddy of my Dad's, Paul Evans was shot down over Tokyo and the last my Dad saw of him was his chute opening. Only 16% of the POWs survived the prison "camps" due to beheadings, torture and no medical treatment. My Dad gave him up for lost. Not long after the war ended my Dad was in a local tavern and Paul walked in. I had the pleasure to meet him many years later. Shortly after the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII I started writing to my Dad's crew mates and guys he knew from his service. He had some reservations about the fire raids on Tokyo which killed more people than Hiroshima.

Mr Rick, that's cool your Dad was next door on Tinian! What position was he? They were all trained on least 2 positions. My Dad was trained as radio operator, radar operator and gunner as well as medic for the ship. They only took the top 10% tested for B-29 service. He said his odds were about 50% survival for his tour. He also said every mission was voluntary. If a man couldn't do it any more he could walk away from it.
Dog,

Dad was a Flight Engineer. Based on his records both our fathers were there at the same time. Probably flew some of the same missions.

Dad never talked much about his experiences either, but we have his service records. His Pilot is in his 90's and still active. The rest of his crew have all passed on.


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Re: My Dad

Post by treefarmer » Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:23 pm

Vikingdog and Mr Rick, We can't say enough about that generation and what your fathers did for our great country. My father would have been 100 years old this year and he served in the Army during WWII. He was blessed to never leave the country and was involved in some sort of desert driving training in Nevada, where he met my mother who was a nurse in a military hospital. Training truck drivers to pull big guns with 6X6's isn't quite as colorful as the Army Air Corps but I am very proud he did his part!
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Re: My Dad

Post by tjmurphy » Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:54 pm

Thanks for posting that Mike. Sure tells you what was going on. I get teary-eyed when I read things like that, but they're tears of pride. God Bless America, Again.
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vikingdog
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Re: My Dad

Post by vikingdog » Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:11 am

Flight engineer, Mr Rick your Dad was the man! That is a great photo, was it taken aboard "Fifi"? I'd be interested in see more photos. If you have any, please post them on this thread as a tribute to your Dad?
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." Ogden Nash

My traditional Nordic knife blog: http://nordiskaknivar.wordpress.com/

Mike

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FRJ
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Re: My Dad

Post by FRJ » Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:20 am

Mike,
what a terrific story. Thank you for posting it.
And Rick, thank you too.
I know you guys and your families must be very proud of those men.
Joe

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