Thursday, April 2, 2020

Eager Beavers

B-17E "My Gal Sal" at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans
(Source)
She was a B-17E, delivered to the United States Army Air Forces at Minneapolis on 7 March 1943, she was initially assigned to the 435th Bomb Squadron (BS), 19th Bomb Group (BG) in Hawaii on 14 May 1942, then transferred to the 65th BS, 43rd BG in Australia. (Source)

She was heavily modified as a photo reconnaissance aircraft, loaded with extra machine guns, on her most famous photo mission, over Bougainville on the 16th of June 1943, she went into the history books as "Old 666," with the most highly decorated crew for a single mission of World War II. Two Medals of Honor and seven Distinguished Service Crosses, at the time the U.S. Army's second highest award. From a crew known as the Eager Beavers.

How many machine guns did Old 666 take on that mission -
In the Pacific Theater, Tail number 41-2666 is a shot up B-17 bomber with a reputation for being cursed named "Hard Luck Hattie," but in need of a ride, Captain Jay Zeamer, Jr. (born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1918, the pilot is a graduate of the Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, winning marksmanship awards each year he is there, and before the war begins, graduates from M.I.T. with a B.S. in civil engineering, it is also at M.IT. that he gets his aviation license, learning how to fly in the school's flying club) takes on the project of resurrecting the plane from the scrapheap for photographic reconnaissance missions ... engines are replaced, the plane is lightened of all unnecessary gear, and its defensive capabilities are augmented by the addition of dual .50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns in the radio compartment and at both waist positions, and a fixed .50 caliber machine gun is installed in the nose for the pilot to fire ... in all, the bomber will go from having ten guns, to having nineteen, and it becomes the most heavily armed plane in the entire Pacific ...  ... on 6/16/1943, it will need every one of them (by the time of his famous mission, 24-year-old Zeamer is his squadron's executive officer and has been awarded a Silver Star for a 1942 photo reconnaissance flight over Simpson Harbor on the island of Rabaul, as well as receiving an Oak Leaf Cluster for a 1943 flight over the same dangerous Japanese held island). (Source)
I have to thank RHT447 as the inspiration for this post, he sent me the following YouTube link in a comment to this post (which got Your Humble Scribe to digging deeper) -



For reference, here's where the crewmen sit on a B-17 Flying Fortress -

(Source)

The crew aboard Old 666 that day only numbered nine out of the usual ten for a B-17 crew, as shown above. A single crewman, apparently, manned the waist gunners' stations, though another source indicates that one crewman swapped between the ball turret and one of the waist stations, which I find hard to believe. You just don't climb in and out of that cramped ball turret position during combat. I tried to find more information on that, but most sources concentrate on the sheer number of Japanese fighter aircraft this lone bomber had to deal with.

Well sure, that, after all, was the real story. As for that ball turret gun -



The crew for that June day were:
  • Capt Jay Zeamer, Pilot
  • 2Lt John T. Britton, Co-Pilot
  • 2Lt Joseph Raymond Sarnoski, Bombardier
  • 1Lt Ruby Ernest Johnston, Navigator
  • Sgt Johnnie James Able, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
  • Sgt William Vaughan, Radio Operator
  • TSgt Forrest Earl Dillman, Ball Turret Gunner/Waist Gunner (?)
  • TSgt George Edward Kendrick, Waist Gunner
  • Sgt Herbert Woodrow Pugh, Tail Gunner
The pilot, Capt. Zeamer, and the bombardier, 2Lt Sarnoski, both were awarded the medal of honor, 2Lt Sarnoski's was posthumous. Here are the citations for those medals:

Captain Jay Zeamer
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major (Air Corps), [then Captain] Jay Zeamer, United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), 5th Air Force. On 16 June 1943, Major Zeamer volunteered as pilot of a bomber on an important photographic mapping mission covering the formidably defended area in the vicinity of Buka, Solomon Islands. While photographing the Buka airdrome. his crew observed about 20 enemy fighters on the field, many of them taking off. Despite the certainty of a dangerous attack by this strong force, Major Zeamer proceeded with his mapping run, even after the enemy attack began. In the ensuing engagement, Major Zeamer sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs, one leg being broken. Despite his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so skillfully that his gunners were able to fight off the enemy during a running fight which lasted 40 minutes. The crew destroyed at least five hostile planes, of which Major Zeamer himself shot down one. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused medical aid until the enemy had broken combat. He then turned over the controls, but continued to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away. In this voluntary action, Major Zeamer, with superb skill, resolution, and courage, accomplished a mission of great value. (Source)
2Lt Joseph Sarnoski
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Second Lieutenant (Air Corps) Joseph Raymond Sarnoski (ASN: 0-888520), United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), Fifth Air Force. On 16 June 1943, Second Lieutenant Sarnoski volunteered as bombardier of a crew on an important photographic mapping mission covering the heavily defended Buka area, Solomon Islands. When the mission was nearly completed, about 20 enemy fighters intercepted. At the nose guns, Second Lieutenant Sarnoski fought off the first attackers, making it possible for the pilot to finish the plotted course. When a coordinated frontal attack by the enemy extensively damaged his bomber, and seriously injured five of the crew, Second Lieutenant Sarnoski, though wounded, continued firing and shot down two enemy planes. A 20-millimeter shell which burst in the nose of the bomber knocked him into the catwalk under the cockpit. With indomitable fighting spirit, he crawled back to his post and kept on firing until he collapsed on his guns. Second Lieutenant Sarnoski by resolute defense of his aircraft at the price of his life, made possible the completion of a vitally important mission. (Source)
The citations for the award of the Distinguished Service Cross to the other members of the crew are as follows:

2Lt John Britton
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Second Lieutenant (Air Corps) John T. Britton, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Co-Pilot of a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), FIFTH Air Force, in aerial action against enemy forces on 16 June 1943, during a Photo-Reconnaissance air mission over Bougainville Island. Second Lieutenant Britton was Co-Pilot of a volunteer bomber crew which undertook an important and dangerous photo mapping mission over the heavily defended enemy base at Buka. Just before the photographing was completed, about twenty enemy fighters attacked. The bomber was extensively damaged and five of the crew were seriously wounded. After a forty-five minute running fight, in which five enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged, the bomber was flown safely to its base five hundred and eighty miles away. Second Lieutenant Britton showed admirable skill and determined courage on this voluntary mission, which secured information of great value in subsequent operations. He aided the wounded pilot and administered first aid to other wounded crew members during the 600-mile return flight. The personal courage and zealous devotion to duty displayed by Second Lieutenant Britton on this occasion have upheld the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 5th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces. (Source)
1Lt Ruby Johnston*
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to First Lieutenant (Air Corps) Ruby Ernest Johnston, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Navigator of a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), FIFTH Air Force, in aerial action against enemy forces on 16 June 1943, during a Photo-Reconnaissance air mission over Bougainville Island. First Lieutenant Johnston was a member of a volunteer bomber crew which undertook an important and dangerous photo mapping mission over the heavily defended enemy base at Buka. Just before the photographing was completed, about twenty enemy fighters attacked. The bomber was extensively damaged and five of the crew were seriously wounded. First Lieutenant Johnston, with multiple wounds about the head so that bleeding interfered with his vision, continued to man his guns until the explosion of a twenty millimeter shell in the nose of the bomber threw him back into the catwalk. He saw that fire had broken out behind the pilot's seat, got to his feet, tore out the burning oxygen bottles, and extinguished the fire bare-handed. After a forty-five minute running fight, in which five enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged, the bomber was flown safely to its base five hundred and eighty miles away, First Lieutenant Johnston supervising the navigation despite his injuries. He showed admirable skill and determined courage on this voluntary mission, which secured information of great value in subsequent operations. His unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 5th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces. (Source)
Sgt Johnnie Able
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Johnnie James Able, Jr., United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Flight Engineer of a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), FIFTH Air Force, in aerial action against enemy forces on 16 June 1943, during a Photo-Reconnaissance air mission over Bougainville Island. Sergeant Able was a member of a volunteer bomber crew which undertook an important and dangerous photo mapping mission over the heavily defended enemy base at Buka. Just before the photographing was completed, about twenty enemy fighters attacked. The bomber was extensively damaged and five of the crew were seriously wounded. After a forty-five minute running fight, in which five enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged, the bomber was flown safely to its base five hundred and eighty miles away. Sergeant Able showed admirable skill and determined courage on this voluntary mission, which secured information of great value in subsequent operations. Although he was shot through both legs, he continued to man his guns and without mentioning his wounds, took over the bomber's controls during part of the homeward trip so the co-pilot could administer first aid. The courage and zealous devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Able on this occasion have upheld the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 5th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces. (Source)
Sgt William Vaughan
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant William Vaughan (ASN: 15071291), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving in a B-17 Bomber of the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), FIFTH Air Force, in action over Bougainville Island on 16 June 1943. Sergeant Vaughan was Radio Operator of a volunteer bomber crew which undertook an important and dangerous photo-mapping mission over the heavily defended enemy Base at Buka. Just before the photographing was completed, about twenty enemy fighters attacked. The bomber was extensively damaged and five of the crew, including the Pilot, were seriously wounded. Nevertheless, by skillful evasive flying and by expert gunnery on the part of the crew, successive enemy attacks were fought off. In this furious forty-five minute engagement, five enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged. Sergeant Vaughan, with a bullet wound in his neck, continued to man his guns until the enemy had broken combat. He then estimated the medical aid required and reported to all Bases at which the plane might land. As the navigation instruments were disabled, he then remained at his post and received bearings for the return flight of five hundred and eighty miles. Sergeant Vaughan showed admirable skill and courage on this voluntary mission, which secured information of great value in subsequent operations.(Source)
~ No photo available ~ 
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Technical Sergeant Forrest Earl Dillman, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as a Gunner of a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), FIFTH Air Force, in aerial action against enemy forces on 16 June 1943, during a Photo-Reconnaissance air mission over Bougainville Island. Technical Sergeant Dillman was a member of a volunteer bomber crew which undertook an important and dangerous photo mapping mission over the heavily defended enemy base at Buka. Just before the photographing was completed, about twenty enemy fighters attacked. The bomber was extensively damaged and five of the crew were seriously wounded. After a forty-five minute running fight, in which five enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged, the bomber was flown safely to its base five hundred and eighty miles away. Technical Sergeant Dillman showed admirable skill and determined courage on this voluntary mission, which secured information of great value in subsequent operations. He fired so expertly and aggressively during the battle that he repeatedly broke up enemy attacks and accounted for one Japanese plane shot down. His unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 5th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces. (Source)
TSgt George Kendrick
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Technical Sergeant George Edward Kendrick, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Photographer and Gunner of a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), FIFTH Air Force, in aerial action against enemy forces on 16 June 1943, during a Photo-Reconnaissance air mission over Bougainville Island. Technical Sergeant Kendrick was a member of a volunteer bomber crew which undertook an important and dangerous photo mapping mission over the heavily defended enemy base at Buka. Just before the photographing was completed, about twenty enemy fighters attacked. The bomber was extensively damaged and five of the crew were seriously wounded. After a forty-five minute running fight, in which five enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged, the bomber was flown safely to its base five hundred and eighty miles away. Technical Sergeant Kendrick showed admirable skill and determined courage on this voluntary mission, which secured information of great value in subsequent operations. His unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 5th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces. (Source)
Sgt Herbert Pugh
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Herbert Woodrow Pugh, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Tail Gunner of a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group (H), FIFTH Air Force, in aerial action against enemy forces on 16 June 1943, during a Photo-Reconnaissance air mission over Bougainville Island. Sergeant Pugh was a member of a volunteer bomber crew which undertook an important and dangerous photo mapping mission over the heavily defended enemy base at Buka. Just before the photographing was completed, about twenty enemy fighters attacked. The bomber was extensively damaged and five of the crew were seriously wounded. After a forty-five minute running fight, in which five enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged, the bomber was flown safely to its base five hundred and eighty miles away. During the return flight, Sergeant Pugh stayed in action throughout the battle, cared for the wounded, and observed landmarks for the navigator, who was half-blinded by head wounds. Sergeant Pugh showed admirable skill and determined courage on this voluntary mission, which secured information of great value in subsequent operations. His unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 5th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces. (Source)
B-17E Cutaway Drawing
(Source)

Brave men all, I cannot imagine flying in a single aircraft on a long mission like that, over the ocean, then being beset by multiple Japanese fighter aircraft over the target, then flying home with one man dead and a number wounded, including the pilot, Capt Zeamer, who is seriously wounded, when they landed, the ambulance guys thought he was dead!

They clanked when they walked, I'm sure...




Suggested Further Reading and Sources:
  • The Amazing Medal of Honor Mission Link
  • Zeamer's Eager Beavers Link
  • Zeamer and the "Eager Beavers" Link
  • OLD 666 Link
  • VETERANS STORY: The Eager Beavers Link
  • SUICIDE RUN: The Final Flight of Old 666 Link
  • 43rd AW Dedicates HQ Building to MOH Recipients Link





* This photo was at one of the sources for this post. It was not labeled but was the only officer who wasn't otherwise accounted for. It is my assumption that this picture is of 1Lt Johnston.

42 comments:

  1. That one may be faster, that one may be more advanced, but the B17 is such an elegant lady, she just LOOKS right. Kinda reminds me of a duck when its on the ground, but in the air, it's a beauty.

    I really started wondering what those MEN would think of today's men. How we are reacting to the wholesale suspension of our liberties during this emergency?

    I'm really worried that these new "powers" everyone seems to have found is gonna end. Politicians don't usually relinquish power once they've tasted it.

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  2. During the Plague, Osprey is giving away five free books a week, for the next three weeks. One of this weeks, is on Waerloo, so
    I thought I had better notify you. About halfway down the home page.

    https://ospreypublishing.com

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  3. Clanked for sure! And I bet they would say, regarding their actions, that they didn't do anything worthy of a medal - they just did what they had to do and everyone else in the squadron would have done the same in those circumstances... what a great example of having a combat mindset and never giving up the fight
    As to what they'd think about today's men, they might be of two minds - some they would disparage, but there are plenty of others who don't get a lot of press and who just go about their business that they would admire and relate to.
    And I just noticed the pilot, Capt. Zeamer, got credit for shooting down a Jap fighter, presumably using the fixed .50 BMG in the nose of that modified plane. Bet the list of people having done that was pretty short!
    Thanks for the amazing tale, Sarge. Great post!

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    Replies
    1. I thought it was a tale worth telling, thanks to RHT447 for tipping me to it!

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    2. I am delighted to be able to contribute, Sarge. In addition to handling crowd control, I am a fair hand as a scout.

      IIRC, in an episode of "Dangerous Missions" about ball turret gunners, Andy Rooney tells the story of this guy--

      https://www.afhistory.af.mil/FAQs/Fact-Sheets/Article/639601/sgt-maynard-h-smith.aspx

      --during which he makes a remark that I think applies Sgt. Smith, Cpt. Zeamer, and those like them--words to the effect that often it is the worst soldiers who make the best warriors.

      I like the cut-away showing the crew positions. Don't recall seeing that one before. As an added bonus for me, it is "Bit O' Lace from my dad's group.

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    3. "often it is the worst soldiers who make the best warriors." you mean like Pappy Boyington?
      I remember a similar sentiment stating that during peacetime, the warriors in the services are all pushed aside by the REMF's who aspire to higher rank, but that when war comes, it's the warriors that save our bacon, not the others.

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    4. RHT447 - Chase the link under the cutaway of Bit O' Lace, for more B-17 goodness.

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    5. Link chased. Good stuff, thanks. An interesting mod you can see in the G model is the addition of "tip tanks" (or as my dad called them "Tokyo tanks" in the outer wing. Obviously they too were self-sealing, but they didn't vent fumes properly at first, so tended to explode when hit.

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    6. Exploding after a hit is not a good thing!

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  4. I had an uncle who was part of an aerial recon group in the Pacific.
    When he got back to the States after the war, he never got in a plane again and never talked about his service.
    Frank

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    Replies
    1. The Pacific was a weird theater. Instead of 'Thousand Plane Raids' (well, until way late in the war) the relative scarcity of aircraft and the innumerable targets and maintenance issues meant that oftentimes targets that in the ETO merited at least 3-4 squadrons of 12 planes (minus 1-2 with mechanical issues) were attacked by at most a squadron or group consisting of maybe 9-10 planes from different squadrons. Which meant that the enemy had fewer targets in which to spread it's resources against.

      And survivable damage in the ETO could and often was fatal damage in the Pacific. Parachute over France, you could end up a prisoner or, if lucky, be spirited out by various underground factions or even housed by the underground. Over much of the Pacific, as juvat found out during his ferry flight to Korea, there just isn't any place to land. Water landings are more dangerous than crash landings, the currents and waves will easily swamp an inflatable raft, parachutes and flight gear will drown an injured man before he can escape them, the islands themselves are surrounded by killer reefs and killer fish, and if on an uninhabited island, there really wasn't much to live off of (gee, hmmm, maybe there's a reason it's uninhabited by people 'designed' over thousands of years to live on the edge? Hmmmmmmm?)

      Fighting the Japs. Fighting the terrain of the islands. Fighting the vast endless ocean. Fighting being on the end of a limited supply chain, all but forgotten in many ways.

      The Pacific Theater was such a vastly different version than the relatively civilized, but deadly, European Theater of Operations.

      Those who survived the PTO survived hell on this earth. No wonder he didn't talk and no wonder he never got on a plane ever again.

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    2. Frank - Can't say I blame him.

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  5. As I said above in response to Frank's post, the Pacific was vastly different, in so many ways, than the war in Europe and even North Africa.

    Planes that would be grounded and stripped for parts in Europe were patched together, barely, and kept somewhat in the air.

    There is one B-17 that was cobbled together from 3-4 different planes (and of different versions, I think the base was a B-17C, with a tail from a B-17D and other pieces parts, a wing from one plane, engines from another) that though considered un-airworthy and a wreck, still ended up flying and being used as a bomber, recon plane and a transport.

    Not uncommon at all.

    And recon flights up till early '45? The Japanese were death on them. Sending out a B-17 on what was one of the missions of the P-38 (one recon bird, 2-3 covering fighters) alone without escort? They are lucky to have made it at all.

    Interestingly, the aerial campaign against Japan later in the war saw Japan pooling its resources to attack bomber groups, and not lone recon planes. Which led to them not stopping the Enola Gay or Bockscar from dropping their payloads.

    Planes and incidents like Old 666 kind of remind me of that quote by Benjamin Franklin, "We must all hang together for assuredly we will hang separately." Not a lot of room for slackers on missions like this.

    I wonder why they were short a man. Casualty of one of the many tropical diseases? Left behind to reduce weight or to allow more ammo? Or were they already short in the always manpower limited Pacific? Hmmmm.

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    Replies
    1. I wonder myself about the missing crewman. I know that two of the crew, Britton and Johnston, were added to the crew to replace two men who were down with malaria.

      As to the dearth of resources in the Pacific, this was because of the "Germany First" policy. As the Navy didn't have any role for it's battleships and carriers in the ETO that the RN couldn't cover, the Navy had what they needed. The USAAF though had to "make do."

      I'm going to be reading up more on the Pacific theater, a sprawling affair it was.

      Delete
    2. @ Beans--"There is one B-17 that was cobbled together from 3-4 different planes ..."

      Perhaps the "Swoose"?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Swoose

      https://www.ozatwar.com/ozcrashes/qld47.htm

      IIRC, the "navigational error" was because somebody forgot to remove the armor plate behind the pilot and/or co-pilot when the plane was stripped down for transport duty. Thus, when they calibrated the magnetic compass, yeah, big nav error.

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    3. Big chunks of ferrous metal will definitely affect a magnetic compass!

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    4. RHT447 - that would be the one. A D made of other Ds and some Cs. A very Pacific aircraft.

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    5. As opposed to a "specific" aircraft? Parts is parts?

      🙄

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  6. I recall that a full length movie was made about this crew and this aircraft. The movie was made not too long after the war. It being Hollyweird, there was a departure from facts however if one knows the story, as this here post does explain, one can see there are enough facts to divine the movie was based on this. I'm sorry that I do not recall the name of the movie.

    Thanks for this post.

    Also, Sarge, check e-mail.

    Rick

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    Replies
    1. Hhmm, I'll have to do some looking, that would make a great movie.

      Saw the email, our experts are looking into it, i.e. I forwarded it to juvat. 😁

      Delete
  7. (Don McCollor)...Excellent story, Sarge! A date coming up - April 4, 1943 was the first and last mission of the B24 "Lady Be Good". The ending of that epic story was not known until 1958-1960...

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    1. Well there's a good idea for a post. I've been wanting to write about the B-24 anyway. To make sure I don't forget, I already started the post!

      Thanks Don!

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    2. I always thought this movie was well done--

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sole_Survivor_(1970_film)

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    3. I vaguely remember that film. (It was a long time ago!)

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    4. There's some controversy about "Sole Survivor". A lot of people remember watching a B&W TV film about this in the 1960s, and later watching reruns of Sole Survivor and thinking "Wow, that's a lot like that one I saw in the '60s". There's an interesting message thread at Turner Classic Movies, of all places:

      https://forums.tcm.com/topic/103731-movie-ww2-plane-crash-and-crew-were-ghosts/

      I remember watching the film in the '60s and being WAY creeped out by it, and watching Sole Survivor in my 50s and thinking "this isn't quite the same film, although it's about the same subject". Then again, I was like 10 when I watched the first and a lot happens to your memory after 40 years ...

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    5. That is a very interesting thread over there, something about the crew playing baseball near the wreck sparked a very old memory. I wonder if I saw the earlier one you mention. Freaky.

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  8. Entering the Way, Way, Way Back Machine, I seem to remember reading something in my grandpa's house (as a wee little one) about a sailor from a destroyer getting washed up onto a Japanese held island. While waiting for rescue, he started attacking the garrison there - first a barehanded attack on a two man patrol, then using those weapons to attack a larger patrol, ending up with mortars and machine guns to attack the garrison sites. He was later picked up by a seaplane.
    Makes you wonder how many untold stories are out there.
    Frank

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    Replies
    1. (Don McCollor)...That was Lt Hugh Miller, Jr "The Castaway of Arundel Island" in 'The 100 Best True Stories of World War Two' published 1945. Because his red hair and beard had grown long there, another account called him "The Wolfman of Arundel Island"...

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    2. Frank - I've never heard of that story, sounds like a good idea for a post!

      It does make you wonder, there must be thousands of stories which we'll never hear, at least not in this life.

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    3. Don - A very interesting story, post to follow. (Already started on that one too.)

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    4. Don - thanks for that info. As it was mumble-mumble years ago, and I was way young, so the memories about the specifics of that story are highly iffy.
      Frank

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  9. Truly a crew with balls of steel!! Given the WW2 / Pacific theme I thought you might be interested in the attached clip celebrating the 99th birthday of the RAAF on the 31 March 2020. Hope that the link works, I am not at all tech savvy!

    https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=519091085420364

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  10. It's probably a weight issue (guns vs bombs), but too bad we didn't outfit them all like that, with 19 guns a-blazin'. I picture a flying stegosaurus, lots and lots of protection.

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  11. @OAFS/

    Sarge, I've had that book The 100 Best True Stories of World War Two since early child-hood! (Was given to me by a neighbor across the street) A GREAT collection of little-known stories!!! Almost in unobtanium cat today!

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  12. They sound like a tough crew. I'd be happy to buy them a round.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)