Thursday, June 07, 2012

Fathers' Day - 2012

This Father's Day finds most of us with only fond memories of our fathers. A touching thing began to develop last year on Facebook as first one then another of our classmates began to post pictures of their fathers. Several of them posted pictures of their dads in their WWII uniforms.

It happens that the WWII Army Air Force has been a topic I've delved deeply into over the past few years. Except in general terms, many people, including me, had little idea what our fathers did during the war. A lot of them were front line warriors, others were in support functions, still others served in stateside billets. All of them did their parts to preserve our country for us and our children.

I hope you will choose to participate in this ongoing project to add your father's picture to the collages that I hope grow from this small start.

Send me a picture of your Dad in uniform and I will be pleased to add it to the collection posted here.

This modest blog has had over 65,000 page reads and gets about 100-200 new page views each day. Not bad for a bunch of computer illiterate old duffers. SEND 'EM IN.

July 2011 update: My father was one of those young men who flew in the bombers high in the skies over Europe during WWII. During the early months of the war the young airmen were shot out of the sky in such alarming numbers that the bombing missions were entirely halted for some weeks while the brass scrambled to figure out how to combat the deadly effectiveness of Hitler’s Luftwaffe. As the Air Force was strengthened, the Luftwaffe was effectively neutered by Spring 1944. After that, it could only mount vigorous defensive attacks on infrequent occasions. The danger to the airmen increasingly came from the deadly accurate anti-aircraft guns on the ground…flak.

Dad’s diary provides an interesting account of his experiences aloft during 1944-45. Wording in his diary was purposely frugal. He never showed it to me nor talked much about his war experiences. Only in recent years have I been able to learn quite a bit of what he saw, but never told…it was frightening. His diary showed a degree of youthful (he was 21) excitement during his first tour, Spring 1944; but, his second tour, which ended in early March 1945, was clearly less eventful. The war was winding down.

Recently, a pair of pictures were posted to an account of a late March 1945, mid-air collision over Germany, near Koblenz. The pictures were far more detailed than any I had ever seen before. One of the difficult things for an airman to tell and a layman to understand is the stark terror and grinding fear that accompanied most of our young WWII Army Air Force aviators flying in the ETO. The picture posted below shows the 2 bombers tumbling to earth a few moments after the collision. Pictures like this are very rare and this one tells the story my father and so many of his fellows could not tell.

Ten young men are still in each of the planes. Two will survive, eighteen will die. One man got out in time to open his parachute about 400-feet above the ground. The other, the ball-turret gunner, fell to earth unable to get out of his turret…and he survived! Dad was on his way home when the collision occurred, his missions completed, his war was done….


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