Humorous Moments

by:  RAF_Yank

In Prodigal Father Col. Heath Bottomly describes the life of a combat fighter pilot as ``Hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror." I doubt that anyone could say it better.

Somewhere between those extremes lies humor, without which I believe anyone in combat would soon lose his sanity. I recall two of those lighthearted occasions.

 In January 1945, eight of us were directed to dive bomb and strafe Marshalling Yards somewhere in Germany. The weather had been bad, but by afternoon, had lifted enough to go. Twenty minutes after takeoff, Captain Weidemann, located the target. Unfortunately, at the same time, German defenses spotted us and the skies were filled with bursting shells. Down we went, Captain Weidemann in the lead. Pulling out of his dive, we heard him exclaim ``I'm hit! I'm bleeding badly! I'm bailing out!" After what seemed like minutes, probably only a few seconds, he came back ``Forget it I'm OK."  The sharp pullout had forced melting snow through his flight jacket onto his lap.

A few months later, our mission was to dive bomb and strafe an ammunition train. I was signed as wingman to Lt. George Jones. Flak was extremely heavy and 20mm cannons seemed to be everywhere. Lt. Jones received several direct hits, crippling his plane enough to cause severe doubt about his ability to return to friendly territory. He asked me to survey the damage. I began on his left side. ``It looks like four cylinders are shot out, you're losing a lot of oil. There is a large hole in the underside of the wing near the fuselage. I see four or five holes just in front of the supercharger. Part of the left elevator is gone. Now I'll check the other side." His immediate reply was ``Stay where you are, I've heard enough already." Lt. Jones made a `wheels down' landing at a forward airstrip and returned to our base the next morning. His repaired plane was returned several days later.

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