Smoky Hill trained crew made 31 combat missions and four
of these were over Tokyo. Captain Pulley's crew attained
479 hours of combat time including the one that won them
the Distinguished Flying Cross.
men of the "Black Sheep" were on a daylight strike against
Kushira airfield on Kyushu, Japan on April 28, 1945. Bombing
their target with excellent results from an altitude of
17,000 feet, despite a hail of heavy anti-aircraft fire
and closely pressed attacks from an estimated over thirty
fighters, they beat off the aggressive assaults from another
fifteen fighters as they withdrew from the target. Just
south of the coast, they spotted a crippled B-29, one
of its engines afire and the distressed bomber was under
attack by a swarm of interceptors. With utter disregard
for personal safety, they deliberately closed in and protected
the plane from attacks as long as possible. The B-29 was
P-26 under the control of Lt
Orionchek. The two planes were about 90 miles off the
coast when it became necessary for Orionchek to ditch.
Crew 34 circled the area and counted 12 men in the water
and getting into lifeboats. It was painful for P-31's
AC Henry Snow (riding as an observer) to know his engineer,
Sgt Beevers, was with
the crew below. Beevers was an observer riding with the
strickened plane in the water.
34 threw out all of their emergency equipment, radios,
life rafts and food. Contact with the Super-Dumbo's in
the area was made with a fix on stations in the Aleutians
and Hawaii. The Dumbo calculated it would take 45 minutes
before they could arrive and P-34 was only able to stay
some 25 minutes because of their fuel supply. It was necessary
to send in code due to the nearness to Japan and that
used all of the available time. In order to gain more
air time,the bay tank was ejected as well as ammo from
all guns. When the plane landed at Iwo, fuel was completely
was late in the day when news of the downed crew was reported
on Iwo. Three crews, Crew 21
(William Senger,AC), Crew 23
(Joe Semanek, AC) and Crew 28
(Charles Miller,AC) were sent out early the next day to
locate P-26. After spotting a downed crew in a life boat
and contact for rescue, the search was called off. When
the rescued crew reported its identity, it was not that
of P-26. Another search was made but nothing else was
ever discovered about P-26 or the 12 men.
were 21 Flight Engineers that had gone before a review
board. This was to determine if they could be made Flight
Officers. All were enlisted men with the rank of T/Sgt
or M/Sgt. No one really knew what would eventually happen.
We were discharged from the service of August 14 with
the expectation of being sworn in on the 15th as officers.
were called on to make a mission on the 14th and when
we returned from Isezaki, we learned the war was over
and the ceremony had been postponed. The ceremony was
for the war's end and ours had been forgotten.
have often wondered what would have happened had we not
gotten back from the mission. Would our families have
gotten our insurance? We were civilians flying this last
mission of the war.
crews in our group that had the highest number of missions
went to Saipan and were assigned to the 73rd Wing. This
was so we could get home sooner. We were assigned a "war
weary" B-29 to bring home. There were 21 men and gear
aboard. On missions , we could not take off on a mission
in excess of 137,000 lbs but we left Saipan weighing 145,000.
We lost no. 2 engine on takeoff from Kwajelein heading
for John Rogers Field. That meant that we were delayed
by two days getting home by having to change an engine.
It was not a total loss however, Danny Kaye and Lou Durouch
were there as a two man USO show. They were great and
knew how to entertain us.