personal memories concerning Crew 31's harrowing mission
to Kobe on 11 May 1945 are recalled by Bernie Greene, the
bombardier of that crew. This was their first mission.
hurt by a direct flak hit and a closely pressed enemy attack
while on the bomb run P-31 found itself in perilous straits
with the wiring leading to the forward bomb racks destroyed.
Several gashes in the casings of the 500-pound M-47 bombs
testified to the seriousness of their situation.
remembers a Tony bearing in from 12 o'clock level, seemingly
on a collision course. He quickly picked it up in his sight
and opened fire with both the upper and lower front turrets.
The airplane commander swerved quickly to the right to avoid
a disastrous head-on crash. As it passed under P-31's left
wing it was seen to burst into flames.
the midst of continuing fighter attacks, Bombardier Greene
was then ordered into the forward bomb bay to clear the
hung-up bombs. Transferring his turrets to gunners in the
rear, he grabbed his chest pack and stepped out onto the
slippery catwalk made chillingly hazardous by the escaping
hydraulic fluid. Greene struggled to keep his footing made
even more difficult by the evasive maneuvers to evade the
vicious attacks. Hugging the bomb racks desperately as he
stared through the open bomb bays, Bernie managed to manually
release the menacing bombs. Without hesitation, he scurried
back to his position, breathing a temporary sigh of relief.
one engine feathered and a second pulling only half power,
P-31 fought its way to the coast through deadly enemy flak
and persistent fighter attacks. Scarred and crippled, it limped
on toward Iwo Jima. Scarred and crippled, it did manage to
land safely on Iwo with a aid of two parachutes determined
to live and fight another day.
crew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for
this mission per General
Order 66 dated 17 September 1945 issued by 20th
Courtesy of Richard Wachs, RO, P-31R
B29 # 42-93975 "Four Aces & Her Majesty",
borrowed from Crew
37, on the ground safely at Iwo Jima after Kobe
Mission - Kawanisi Aircraft Factory.