Monday, May 26, 2008

Uncle Jim

Memorial Day, celebrated today, made me think of all those brave souls who have served in various branches of the military. 

My uncle Jim had an incredible story to tell from WWII. I have a copy of a local newspaper's account of the story dated 1943, from which I found these details: 

He was young, only 19, a bombardier-navigator and was flying with his outfit, the 410th Light Bomber Group. Anti-aircraft fire was intense and his A-20 Havoc bomber came in for a goodly share of the enemy's attention. 

The first flak burst sheared away the right wing-tip and left over 800 holes in the wing.  Another burst blasted out the rudder. Flak ripped into the main bomb-bay gas tank pouring out the main fuel reserve.  In rapid succession the radios were destroyed, all flight instruments put out of commission and the master compass scrapped.

Somehow, he dropped his bombs and turned his Havoc homewards.  He was without instruments and the body of the plane had 431 flak holes in her.  He was lost and had no instruments to navigate by, but he somehow managed to direct the pilot by following roads and rivers. 

Once over the home field, another problem presented itself.  The runway was covered with ice and the bomber had suffered the loss of her flaps and brakes and had a flat tire.  The pilot attempted a landing even though the landing gear had folded.  The plane skidded 300 yards on her nose.....where Jim was sitting exposed to the elements (the plexi-glass had long since vanished).

He got up and walked away unhurt.....his seat still strapped to him. 

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