I can't tell this story and be easy on
you. I'd like so much to but- well I'll start at the
On this particular mission, (the one that some
didn't come back from) we had a very heavy take-off.
At ten minutes 'till three on the morning of the twenty-ninth,
we got all seventy ton of her in the air and we all
relaxed. Bill came up front & we drank coffee as
we climbed on course. We talked quite awhile & the
crew joked back and forth on the inter-phone.
was to be a daylight formation, so the crew all stretched
out & went to sleep. We had a sandwich & coffee
about 9:00 that morning & picked up our formation.
We were deputy lead that day & were flying on the
right wing of the lead ship which was crew 41. The boys
cleared their guns (fired a few rounds) & started
looking for japs. At about eleven thirty we turned in
toward the target (Yokohama) & it looked pretty
hot. I called up the fellows & told them how it
looked. They all made wise remarks about the japs being
poor shots. They were calm & shot at a couple fighters
as we tightened up & opened the bomb bays.
were away at eleven forty, and before Chris could close
the doors we took a direct hit under number three engine.
Flak went all thru the ship & Sparks took a hit
in the foot. Our doors were shot off the hinges &
wouldn't close. A second later we were hit again on
number four engine. That put two engines out. We feathered
number four with hardly any oil in it, with the hopes
we could use it a few minutes if and when we ditched.
had to drop out of formation & a fighter started
Our fighter cover took care of him & we staggered
off toward Iwo Jima eight hundred miles out over the
water. We had given Sparks a shot of morphine &
he was stetched out on the flight deck.
bomb bay doors open & two engines out we couldn't
hold altitude. We had bombed at around 20,000 &
now we were coming down 300 ft. a minute & nothing
we could do about it. Our two good engines were wide
open. The crew was very calm. I was talking to them,
getting ready to ditch & Ed was on the other radio
talking to another ship, that had dropped back to stay
with us. We contacted a B-17 carrying a boat and we
homed in on him, at a 1000 ft. off the water Bill, Chris,
Pop, & Toeppe were working in the open bomb bay
without chutes to drop our gas tank. It finally let
go & they went back & got in the tunnel, &
and back behind the rear bulkhead door the rest of them
were fixed up. They had all there parachutes in back
of them for cushions, we brought number four engine
back in so we could control the ship better & then
headed her into the wind.
Looking back from the nose of the ship. Bill sat on
the left facing the tail to his right was Marky with
his head on Hyenga's shoulder & to fly's right was
was the only one back there on the inter-phone and just
a few seconds before we touched in I told him to hold
on, it was going to be very rough. He said, "we're
O.K. Willy, set her down". Well Helen we touched
in exactly at ninty miles an hour with full flaps. The
ship broke just back of where the men were sitting &
again at the tail. The entire nose broke out & I
came out as soon as possible, in fact the ship was still
sliding in the water, I opened my eyes & everything
was gone back of the front bomb bays. No one ever saw
Biil again from the second we hit the water. He must
have been knocked out, so Helen he never knew what happened.
says he came to under the water & felt two men,
pushed one up & dragged the other. The first was
Toeppe & the second was Marky. Toeppe was full of
water & went right down. Marky climed up on Hy.
Hy tried to take him with but couldn't because Marky
had broken Hy's shoulder when they hit, so Marky went
front everyone got out, but Clare was out of his head,
he must have hit it in the ship as he had to cut the
master switch when we landed. By the time we got organized,
Clare had gone under. We had seven left & not a
thing was floating except one oxygen bottle.
were in the same area for two days & rode a violent
storm. They couln't possibly be alive. The only reason
the Army doesn't say they are is because they don't
have the boy's dog tags.
know this is a brutal story & I put it badly but
Helen YOU have every right to be proud of Bill. He was
like a hero.
won't try -to preach to you but Helen I missed him very
much. I believe Bill & I were as close as any two
in the crew & I sort of favored him. Bill talked
to me about things he wouldn't mention to anyone else.
close now Helen, I don't write very often but I will
do my best to answer any questions you may still have.