39th Bomb Group (VH)

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The following is from the dairy
of T/Sgt John J. Essign, CFC Gunner

DATE: April 26, 1945


TIME: Daylight

Briefed at three o'clock, pre-flighted our turrets and guns, then we did a little horizontal engineering till midnight. We then went to the plane and prepared for takeoff.

We left at two o'clock and started for Japan on our second mission. We finally reached the assembly point, and it mess so socked in we could not see anything. So we tried to climb above it, being tossed around all the way up. While climbing, ice began forming on the leading edge of the wings and empennage. And at times the clouds were so thick we could not see the wing tips. Finally we lost a little altitude and found an opening in the clouds, and started for the target by ourselves. We could not see the target; hence we had to drop our five-hundred-pound G. P. bombs by radar. And we think we did a rather good job. After we returned we found out that only four other planes besides ours bombed the target.

On this mission we encountered no flak and no fighters, but we were running low on gas. Lucky for us Iwo Jima is where it is because we had to land there for fuel. We also had to land at Tinian because we did not get enough fuel at Iwo. It was late when the next day at one o' clock, When we landed everyone gathered around the plane because they did not know what had happened to us. They thought maybe we might have gone down in the ocean someplace. Well, we almost did.

DATE: April 29, 1945


TIME: Daylight

Today the take-off was at two o' clock in the morning. On the other side of Iwo Jima we test fired the guns. Then assembled and headed for the target.

This is a beautiful morning with only a few scattered clouds in the sky. And B-29's all over the place. Finally we open the bomb-bay doors and drop the five-hundred-pound bombs, which we think fell a little distance short of the target. When we closed the door one of the bombs, which had hung on the racks, dropped on our left front bomb-bay door, tearing it from one of the hinges. After bouncing the plane around, we finally succeeded in closing the doors and proceeded back to Guam.

Over the target there was very little flak and one or two fighters. The tail gunner and the bombardier fired few rounds, but I don't think any fighters were damaged.

After we returned we did not think we would get credit for the mission because the bombs fell short, but after about a week we are told that Wing Headquarters decided to give us credit or it. That is the Twentieth Bomber Command though. They won't give you anything.


60th Squadron Crew Index
Source: John J. Essig, CFC Gunner