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This is a short (only 7-1/2 minutes) documentary about the restoration and first flight of a B-29 named "Doc." With Doc's return to flying status -- that means there are now just TWO B-29's in the entire world that can get airborne. The other flyable B-29 is named "FIFI.” FIFI performs "legacy flights" at the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, and maybe Doc will be flying there sometime soon, too.
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"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway"
~ John Wayne
This story is confirmed in Elmer Bendiner’s book, The Fall of Fortresses.
*Sometimes, it’s not really just luck.*
Elmer Bendiner was a navigator in a B-17 during WW II. He tells this story of a World War II bombing run over Kassel, Germany , and the unexpected result of a direct hit on their gas tanks. “Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit.
Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20 millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple. “On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck. .
The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but 11 had been found in the gas tanks. 11 unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. A near-miracle, I thought.
Even after 35 years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.
“He was told that the shells had been sent to our armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that our Intelligence Unit had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer. “Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were as clean as a whistle and just as harmless.
Empty? Not all of them! One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually they found one to decipher the note. It set us marveling.
Translated, the note read:
“This is all we can do for you now…
Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea.”
PBY "STRAWBERRY 5" WAS THE PLANE THAT FOUND THE JAPANESE CARRIERS AT THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY WHICH BECAME THE TURNING POINT IN THE PACIFIC THEATER OF WWII.
Richard, my husband, never really talked a lot about his time in Vietnam, other than he had been shot by a sniper. However, he had a rather grainy, 8x10 black and white photo he had taken at a USO show of Ann Margaret with Bob Hope in the background that was one of his treasures.
As few years ago, Ann Margaret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. Richard wanted to see if he could get her to sign the treasured photo so he arrived at the bookstore at 12 noon for a 7:30 pm signing.
When I got there after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking lot, and disappeared behind a parking garage. Before her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book and no memorabilia would be permitted.
Richard was disappointed but wanted to show her the photo and let her know how much those shows meant to lonely GI’s so far from home.
Ann Margaret came out looking as beautiful as ever and as second in line, it was soon Richard’s turn. He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo. When he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it. Richard said, “I understand. I just wanted her to see it.”
She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, “This is one of my gentlemen from Vietnam and I most certainly will sign his photo. I know what these men did for their country and I always have time for ‘my gentlemen”. With that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him. She then made quite a to-do about the bravery of the young men she met over the years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them. There weren’t too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear. She then posed for pictures and acted as if he were the only one there.
That night was a turning point for him. He walked a little straighter and for the first time in years he was proud to have been a Vet. I’ll never forget Ann Margaret for her graciousness and how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband.
Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet. When I asked if he’d like to talk about it, my big strong husband broke down in tears. “That is the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time in the Army”, he said.
I now make it a point to say thank you to every person I come across who served in our Armed Forces. Freedom does not come cheap and I am grateful for all those who have served their country.
An Armada of ships and airplanes poised for the invasion of Japan…that never happened…because President Truman authorized the dropping of “A” bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima that resulted in the Japanese surrender.
Here's the story of the single most-decorated flight mission in all of WW II. Two Medals of Honor, seven Distinguished
Flying Crosses and six Purple Hearts were awarded the crew of this WWII mission.