Friday, November 22, 2013

Lucky Bastards

Shared 55-years on earth with Dad. A certified Lucky Bastard, he made it without a scratch and had no stirring stories; just a few humorous musings. So, for all those 55-years I had only modest regard for his exploits and remained captivated by the on-screen derring-do of Gregory, Steve, and others in the movies.
Then, after Dad passed away I undertook a study to learn what had become of the planes he flew...he had kept a list of the tail numbers. 

In his 30-missions, 6 of the 9 planes on his list, ended up like this one, or worse. Gregory still entertains me but, Dad was the one who wrote the story for Greg...Greg just read the lines !

Nov. 27 update:  The hulk of "9 Little Yanks and a Jerk" pictured above was associated most closely with the Bloody Hundredth Hughes crew.  Bob Hughes, a well-known 100th pilot entered combat in mid-1943, participating in the notorious October 1943 Schweinfurt-Regensburg raid that became synonymous with the danger and carnage endured by Eighth Air Force airmen early in the air war.

His story merited a fairly complete telling in Martin Bowman's 1984 book, "Castles in the Sky."  He and his crew was one of the few to survive a full tour of 25-missions.  The crew photo below came from his personal collection.  Col. Hughes stayed in the Air Force after the war, was awarded the Bronze Star in Vietnam and lived to the age of 85, passing away in 2003

 Keep 'em Flying !


Sherri Sledge Pulliam said...

Yes, Gus, your Dad was the REAL hero! He was the one on the front lines....rather than in front of a camera. We're grateful for his service and I know you are so very proud of him.

Gus said...

Sherri, the real take-away from the study is that so many of them were the real heroes...and so many of them were killed in horrific fashions.

Late in life, while Dad was so wound up with his 8th reunions, excitedly recounting his latest meetings, I silently wondered what he had done that was any more or less heroic than any of the other young airmen climbing aboard those B-17s and B-24s day after day.

Then it struck me rather like a bolt...the heroism was just to have had the guts to climb aboard those crates again and again and again, especially while mindful of the carnage that was taking place around them every time they went up...that's extraordinary in my book, and probably largely overlooked by history.