Leo Sutton, the tail gunner on the crew, gave a very
colorful account of his own harrowing experience.
the bailed-out order came, "Sutt" was the first to leave
series of extraordinary incidents began to unfold almost
immediately. As he yanked on the ripcord, it tore loose
from his chest pack and nothing happened. Tumbling downward,
he frantically tore open the pack, pulled out the chute
with his own hands, and thrust it into the air. It trailed
above him for a few moments then jerked open with a
this was only the beginning of his nightmare, Once he
hit the water, the parachute collapsed over him, and
he became ensnarled in the shroud lines. Panic stricken,
Sutton pulled the cord on his "Mae West, " but it failed
to fully inflate. After several terrifying moments,
with only his nose barely above the water, he managed
to free himself from the entanglement.
to his horror, "Sutt" realized that in his haste to
exit the airplane, he had forgotten to buckle the one-man
life raft to his parachute harness. There he was, seemingly
alone in the vast Pacific, with only a partially inflated
life preserver. Gulping huge amounts of salty sea water,
he thrashed about gasping for air as threatening sharks
swam about him in ever narrowing circles.
his hopelessness, Sutton had just about given up when
he was pulled from the ocean, seasick and barely conscious.
Sutton summed up his frightful experience quite simply:
"Everything happened to me that could happen and still
be around to tell about it." He added "I learned a few
new prayers too."