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Dogdaddy

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Posts posted by Dogdaddy


  1. Hi Maj. Todd,

    I suppose that's always possible, but people have been protesting our country's involvement in military conflicts dating back to The American Revolution and every war since then. The difference today is mass media. On TV a demonstration by 1000 people can look like ten thousand, depending on the camera's position. I believe that most Americans still consider themselves to be patriotic today and anyone who is old enough now to have had a father or a grandfather who served in WWII have nothing but respect for The Iowa and the Sailors who served on her.


  2. The B-17 flight itself was great, but not as great as having the honor of talking with Capt. Lawson and Lt. Wheeler...two real Heros of the Air War over Germany and Italy. As soon as I was inside and the engines were warming up I closed my eyes for a minute and tried to imagine what it was like to be a 19 year old waist gunner, wondering if this mission would be "my last."( I would later ask the two B-17 Vets about this and both of them told me the same thing...that they were focused only on the mission and hitting the target.

    One thing you notice immediately when you are sitting in a B-17 is how thin the aluminum skin on the fuselage is. Flak or MG bullets passed through it like a hot knife through butter. The Vets explained to me the reason for this was to allow them to carry the maximum bomb load, which was normally twelve 500 lb. anti-personell bombs or sometimes the WWII version of a "Bunker

    Buster."

    Lt. Wheeler took part in the bombing of Monte Cassino and also the unfortunate bombing of Allied soldiers on the front line in Italy which resulted in over 100 deaths and many times that number wounded. (I had not planned on mentioning that or asking questions about it out of respect for all who were involved in this terrible accident.) Both of them stated that they worried more about Flak than they did the Luftwaffe. They both mentioned being under orders not to bomb the concentration camps or any other areas where there were high numbers of civilians. (This would change in the latter part of the war.) I did ask Capt. Lawson if he ever encountered the Nazi's ME-262 jet fighters and he said he had seen them but didn't consider them as dangerous as the German 88's that filled the sky with Flak. Both men had high praise for the "Red Tails" that protected the bombers with their P-51 Mustangs and mentioned them several times.

    I apologize for the unusually long post. It's very hard for me to condense the experience. I have posted more pictures below. Rather than describing each photo for you I will be happy to explain any of them if you wish, starting with the top row and going left to right. Please note the picture in row 3 first image. I took this one sitting down and looking directly above me. Notice the thin (about .25 inches) cables running horizonatlly...we watched them moving whenever the pilot was operating the wing and tail flaps...pretty darn primitive by today's standards!! In the same row, 4th image..this was taken with my head and shoulders sticking out of the OPEN top gun turret. That's the first time I've ever been able to do that! The last thing I need to mention is what a huge amount of courage it took for all the B-17 Pilots and Crew to crawl back into that airplane day after day. We owe them so very much for their courage and commitment...

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  3. I am back from one very memorable experience. We were the fist two passengers that showed up at Boeing field which allowed my buddy and I to listen to the two WWII B17 members who were there to share their stories. The taller man is Eldon Lawson of the 305th Heavy Bombardment Squadron, US 8th Army Airforce stationed in England. He was a B-17 Pilot with 30 missions. The shorter man is Lt. Col. Kenneth Wheeler, 353rd Bomb Squadron, 301rst Bomber Group, 5th Wing, 15th USAAF- Italy. His B-17 was shot down over Croatia and he had to bail out. His chute got hung up in a tree, but eventually another member of the crew came along and helped him down. They were rescued by Tito Partisans. Ken was an "evadee" (as he called it) for 36 days before being returned to Italy. He was a Navigator and flew 35 missions in WWII. He retired as a Lt. Col. after 28 years of service. He had some great stories!

    I took over 80 pictures that day but I'll share just a few right now. One of the most memorable parts of the trip for me was the sound of those 4 engines fully revved up just before we took off...It was ear-splitting LOUD! My buddy Tom used his phone to record it on video but I haven't had a chance to view that yet. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

    Hope you are all having a good Memorial Day weekend!

     

    Cheers,

    DD

    ps- Pilot Lawson was kind enough to autograph a WWII Cloth Summer Flyer's Helmet for me!

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  4. Six days to go...I have been making plans and trying to think of the best way to capture the experience on film. At first I was set to bring a camcorder so I could also record the sound of those 4 engines at start up...then I thought it would be best just to take my digital camera and make enjoying the experience my first priority rather than trying to make a documentary out of it. The actual time in the air is only 24 minutes and I hope to visit every station & gun position in that time, including the Ball Turret Gunner's if I can bend my arthritic 60 year old knees into proper position. Two items I won't forget are Dramamine and an air-sick bag, just in case. I'm going to wear my Dad's WWII USN jacket as I know he would have loved to do this. I am also carrying a photo of Max's little boy Ilya in a pocket. He is just 9 years old, but already a savy student of WWII History, not only Ukraine history but USA participation too. He is a huge fan of the late Dick Winters.

    I still have one worry that there will not be the required minimum of six guests on our scheduled flight, which would mean a postponement and/or cancellation, but that's out of my hands. My fingers are crossed!


  5. Ground Control to Major Todd,

    That is really exiting...Congratulations! Do you have room in your family to adopt a 60 year old son? Places like Okinawa which are rich in USMC history must be a great honor for you to have this opportunity to live in. I can never hear the name Okinawa without thinking about the planned invasion of Japan, which was averted by the decision of President Harry Truman to use the Atomic bomb in 1945.

     

    Good Luck Sir,

    Dogdaddy


  6. Thanks M1,

    I made our reservations today and paid for the tickets. I gotta tell ya...I'm exited like a little kid on Christmas morning. Our flight will take off on May 24th at 10:15 AM. I have not flown on an airplane of any kind since 1977, when I was still a young punk of 24. That's pretty sad given the fact that I worked for Boeing for many years....I have fabricated, straightened, buffed and/ or polished more aircraft skins than I can even remember but the planes were all on the ground! :huh: I am going to send you a link to the website so you can see if they will be in a city near you this Summer. I think you should give Lee that gift and go with him. They will be in Washington state from the last week in May until the first week in June, but you will have the Tour schedule as soon as I send the link. Would you please PM me and let me know which of your email addy's to send the link to?


  7. In May my best buddy from childhood and I are both going to turn 60, so we decided we should do something really memorable, and really fun. We are going to Seattle in the last week in May to ride on a real WWII B-17 Bomber, the Aluminum Overcast. I haven't done anything really fun for a long long time and I'm about ready to bust with exitement! About the only thing that could make it better is if we were up there and a couple of ME-109's came out of the sun. :rolleyes:


  8. A great example of the old saying that "One picture is worth a thousand words." There is a newly released documentary on DVD about the Holocaust and those brave people who have steadfastly refused to stop searching for the Nazi war criminals who are still living and bring them to justice. It's titled Elusive Justice and is 120 minutes in length, and well worth watching.


  9. I haven't been around much for the past few months either and I sympatize with you M1. My poor sister had barely finished her radiation treatments (Breast Cancer) this Fall before becoming ill with Shingles, a very painful condition she is still suffering with for going on 2 months now. Her husband Don has Parkinson's disease so she already had her hands full taking care of him before she became ill herself. Our 84 year old Mother has been in a nursing home for the past year since her condition requires 24-7 care. We learned a week before Christmas that she now has stage 4 Kidney Disease. That leaves me as the healthiest remaining family member and I use a TENS UNIT to manage the Chronic Pain I've had in my back for over 12 years now. Despite all this we had one of the best Christmases I can remember in years because we are now closer to each other in spirit than we have ever been . The past year's troubles have made us realize how much we really do love each other as our mortality becomes so apparent to each of us. Some day I hope to learn from God the reasons why my life has unfolded in the way it has, but I'm not in a hurry for that debriefing.

     

    Hugs,

    Dogdaddy :huggybears:

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