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Posted: 9/20/2011 4:11:11 PM EST
Took my Grandfather to see a B-17 that was in Auburn today.

I went with him to see one about 3 years ago as well, and it was one of the proudest, most profound days of my life.

He agreed to go with me today, and I was thrilled.

He flew combat missions as a tail-gunner. Incredible memory he has.

I love him very much. I was very grateful he was willing to go. Not easy for him at his age, and definitely not the greatest memories of his life.

Didn't take a lot of pictures, was keeping a pretty close eye on him.



















Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:13:11 PM EST
Greatness indeed.

I was lucky enough to fulfill a dream and took a ride on 9-0-9.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:13:32 PM EST
WOW, amazing. I took a ride on that a couple of weeks ago.

WHAT A BLAST!!!!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:15:36 PM EST
It's incredible how small that bird is, isn't it?

He made me laugh both times, we're squeezing through the thing, and after banging heads and working our way through, he says "these things used to be a lot bigger."
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:18:01 PM EST
Great Pics.
It's wonderful that you spent some high quality time with him!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:19:14 PM EST
Originally Posted By savage_winchester:
It's incredible how small that bird is, isn't it?

He made me laugh both times, we're squeezing through the thing, and after banging heads and working our way through, he says "these things used to be a lot bigger."


Looks way bigger from the outside. Very little room to move around. Surprising.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:20:18 PM EST
Too cool..
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:20:21 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 6:31:25 PM EST by nightstalker]
Collings Foundation.

If you volunteer for the Wings of Freedom Tour you can sometimes get a free flight. For those to whom $400 (what I paid) is a little dear.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:22:28 PM EST
Very Cool.....Ayuh!!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:26:35 PM EST
The one my dad bought us both a ride in for a birthday as a teen crashed and burned recently.

I do remember almost falling through the hatch in the bombardier passageway, due to the aircraft suddenly banking.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:27:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 4:39:47 PM EST by savage_winchester]
Originally Posted By Strats:
Originally Posted By savage_winchester:
It's incredible how small that bird is, isn't it?

He made me laugh both times, we're squeezing through the thing, and after banging heads and working our way through, he says "these things used to be a lot bigger."


Looks way bigger from the outside. Very little room to move around. Surprising.


He was 115 lbs when he was in the service. He says that's why they put him in that tiny tail. Occasionally he would be in the ball turret, once in a while their ball turret gunner would get too claustrophobic. Imagine that? That turret is cramped even for a small guy.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:46:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 6:59:05 PM EST by larkinmusic]
Very cool. My wife's step-grandfather was a B17 waist gunner and had some incredible stories. What struck me most about his stories was how he relayed them like it was no big deal. He'd talk about flying through enemy fire and watching other planes get hit and go down like it was nothing. But when he spoke of the guys he knew on those planes you could see it still hurt after all these years.

I asked him about taking a ride in one when it visited our city and he said "Nah, I've ridden in them before." He did go and see it and talk to the crew though.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 4:52:05 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 5:13:31 PM EST by CSM]
Thank you for posting that. Really is touching at this point in my life.

I love that airplane, and what it symbolizes.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:04:54 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 5:07:39 PM EST by savage_winchester]
Originally Posted By larkinmusic:
Very cool. My wife's step-grandfather was a B17 waist gunner and had some incredible stories. What struck me most about his stories was how he relayed them like it was no big deal. He'd talk about flying through enemy fire and watching other planes get hit and go down like it was nothing. But when he spoke of the guys he knew on those planes you could see it still hurt after all these years.

I asked him about taking a ride in one when it visited our city and he said "Nah, I've ridden in them before." He did go and see it and talk to the crew though.

<>"


almost identical. It does still hurt. Many stories I almost wish he hadn't told me, but I'm glad I know. Horrific things.

I won't repeat most of them, but I will relay one. It's far from the worst he told.
He told today of how the flak on a mission over berlin ( i believe he said Berlin) was coming in sort of 3 round bursts. One went off under the tail, and picked him up off the "bicycle seat" he sat on. He knew there were 2 more coming right after, and instinctively, instantly broke radio silence and shouted to the pilot LEFT OR RIGHT. Their plane banked one way or the other and the 17 flying real tight formation next to them, was apparently, I'll say "pulled" in the direction his own plane moved. One of those other two bursts was a direct hit on the other plane and it blew into nothing in front of his eyes.
He said it was less than a minute before that he had given a "thumbs up" to the tail-gunner on that other 17, and the tail-gunner had returned a thumbs up to him. They were giving a thumbs up, like "we dropped the bombs on target, another credited mission."
He said he could see it plain as day, like it had just happened, and you could tell.
Again, that's far from the worst he's told me.

He got credit for 27 "succesfull" combat missions I believe, he flew many more where the bombs weren't dropped, target missed, turned back etc.

Still has a little scar on his hand from flak.

Said his experience overseas was his "college education"
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:07:09 PM EST
What a beautiful machine, thanks for sharing the photos!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:09:05 PM EST
Originally Posted By rollingtrouble13:
What a beautiful machine, thanks for sharing the photos!


My pleasure. He's always been my Hero.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:11:18 PM EST

Originally Posted By savage_winchester:
It's incredible how small that bird is, isn't it?

He made me laugh both times, we're squeezing through the thing, and after banging heads and working our way through, he says "these things used to be a lot bigger."

That was funny!

I've got three flights in the 909...maybe again this fall.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:13:07 PM EST
man I wish I had known there was B-17 in auburn, totally would have gone to check it out.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:21:41 PM EST
Thanks OP!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:22:27 PM EST
Originally Posted By hawaiinate:
man I wish I had known there was B-17 in auburn, totally would have gone to check it out.


Near as I can tell, their tour makes it into Maine about every other year. Last time was in Sanford, I think 2 years ago. We can always send emails and emphasize that we appreciate their Maine visits.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 5:25:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By 1911SFOREVER:

Originally Posted By savage_winchester:
It's incredible how small that bird is, isn't it?

He made me laugh both times, we're squeezing through the thing, and after banging heads and working our way through, he says "these things used to be a lot bigger."

That was funny!

I've got three flights in the 909...maybe again this fall.


He relayed today how in-flight they could zip around that plane as though the fuselage etc was "greased". That was with all their flight suits, oxygen etc on.
He said the coldest he remembered at altitude was 67 below zero Fahrenheit. They would roll newspaper around their limbs between their clothes and flight suits.
He's told me many times that when he was overseas, he swore if he made it home, he'd never be cold again. To this day, he wears and carries extra clothes everywhere he goes.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:27:00 PM EST
Nice pix buddy , and what a great feeling it must have been to see it with your grampa .

27 'successful ' missions that's GOTTA be something after the first dozen or so, and not being shot down or blown apart . Every trip up again has gotta be nerve wracking .

Does your grandfather 'clank' when he walks ? Big brass ones that man has . . . . my hats off to him and his crew

Please thank him for us the next time you talk to him .
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:32:52 PM EST
Originally Posted By ultramagbrion:
Nice pix buddy , and what a great feeling it must have been to see it with your grampa .

27 'successful ' missions that's GOTTA be something after the first dozen or so, and not being shot down or blown apart . Every trip up again has gotta be nerve wracking .

Does your grandfather 'clank' when he walks ? Big brass ones that man has . . . . my hats off to him and his crew

Please thank him for us the next time you talk to him .


I always do. Sorry about the wrong link before, doing a little research

He's very modest. I have some info about the missions he got credit for, off to my email...

He was waken out of bed and flew for sick or drunk maybe gunners on missions that he didn't get credit for, I don't know all the details, he just didn't fly them with the crew he was assigned to.

I'll send you an IM with that stuff.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:37:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 6:43:09 PM EST by -Duke-Nukem-]
Removed at OP's request.

Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:39:35 PM EST
I used to play on that thing all of the time when it was at the Beaver County Airport after its crash. I miss the old girl being there.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:40:20 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 6:49:55 PM EST by Scout198575]

Originally Posted By -Duke-Nukem-:

Originally Posted By ultramagbrion:
Does your grandfather 'clank' when he walks ? Big brass ones that man has . . . . my hats off to him and his crew


*snip*


Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:40:29 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 6:42:46 PM EST by Tim_the_enchanter]
During WWII, my grandmother worked for the Glen L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland. She wired the instrumentation for the flight deck and nose section of the Martin B26 Marauder. A local military aviation museum is restoring a B26 to flying condition. Last year, I took her and my two children to see the plane. It rolled off the assembly line in Baltimore when she was working there. Possibly a plane she wired.
The museum was very pleased to hear her story and she was thrilled to tell it.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:40:45 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2011 6:42:22 PM EST by savage_winchester]
Originally Posted By -Duke-Nukem-:

Originally Posted By ultramagbrion:
Does your grandfather 'clank' when he walks ? Big brass ones that man has . . . . my hats off to him and his crew


<>


lol, but I'd prefer it if pics weren't edited.

He said that canvas wasn't on there when he flew.


Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:41:42 PM EST
My highschool history teacher was a bombardier on a B-17, and he told our class only one story of his, about how he accidentally targeted a children's school in a daylight raid over Germany and the guilt he had felt all his life about all the kids he killed. Really a sad story.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:44:42 PM EST
Pic removed. Meant no disrespect, your grandad is a badass. My grandad was a PT boat man, lost him about ten years ago. Glad you still have yours.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:46:02 PM EST
Originally Posted By -Duke-Nukem-:
Pic removed. Meant no disrespect, your grandad is a badass. My grandad was a PT boat man, lost him about ten years ago. Glad you still have yours.


No offense or disrespect taken at all, quite the opposite. I'm honored to have him.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:56:23 PM EST
Best thread of the day IMHO. I'm the proud grandson of 2 WWII vets myself. Both were US Army in Europe in 44 and 45.

One passed years ago before I had much interest in learninga bout his experiences. I know he was a BAR man because he was a big farm boy and could handle that heavy pig. The other was in the Second Service Command, helped prepare the false invasion of Calais, then came through france under Patton to help with the advancing allied front. He loved the airplanes of the time and does to this day.

I know exactly what you mean about telling it like it was yesterday. Grandpa told me a story last Christmas about his ride from England to France on a ship (not sure what it was). They were the 2nd of 3 ships in a line. He was looking off the stern at the 3rd ship when it was torpedoed. He tells it like it was yesterday, and how hard it was for them to watch that boat go down knowing those guys in the water may or may not be saved. Their orders were to keep going no matter what.


Thank your grandpa for me next time you talked to him. May guys like him, and those he served with always have the respect and grattitude of our nation for many years to come!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 6:58:02 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 7:27:29 PM EST

Originally Posted By savage_winchester:
It's incredible how small that bird is, isn't it?

He made me laugh both times, we're squeezing through the thing, and after banging heads and working our way through, he says "these things used to be a lot bigger."



As a kid I watched "Air Force" and other WW2 movies that contained B-17s. The interior scenes in "Air Force" gives you the impression that the B-17 rear fuselage is roomy. The actors were walking back and forth, talking, without crouching down or getting snagged on stuff everywhere.

Years ago I paid a few bucks to crawl through a B-17 at an air show. I went up a step ladder into the front hatch and immediately was confronted by a wall of structure and hydraulic lines. The worm hole to the nose was blocked off so I had to squirm to the right toward the bomb bay.

I managed to get up into a crouch and went across the bomb bay catwalk into the radio room. That was the only place I could stand upright. I got back to the rear and had to remain crouched down or knee walk to get around. I couldn't believe how small it was.

They must have had signs in bomber school that said "You Must Be This Short To Ride This Ride".





Link Posted: 9/20/2011 7:51:27 PM EST
Thanks OP, and please extend my thanks to your grandfather from me. It is men like him that make this country the great one we have today. Cherish these times, and get as much recorded/written down as possible, as unfortunately, one day they will come to an end. I miss my grandpa so much, and I wish I had payed more attention to him when he would tell me his stories from the war. As I was younger, he would normally tell me the "funnier" ones, but even those I can't remember much of.
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 7:57:06 PM EST
Fucking Awesome!
Link Posted: 9/20/2011 8:16:15 PM EST
Originally Posted By Strats:
Originally Posted By savage_winchester:
It's incredible how small that bird is, isn't it?

He made me laugh both times, we're squeezing through the thing, and after banging heads and working our way through, he says "these things used to be a lot bigger."


Looks way bigger from the outside. Very little room to move around. Surprising.


I've toured Sentimental Lady at Falcon Field in Mesa during air shows and it is easy to see why boys were flying those planes.Grown men can barely squeeze down the aisle back to the radio operator & waist gunners stations. They were truly the Greatest Generation!

Link Posted: 9/21/2011 1:47:21 AM EST
My dad was a B17 tailgunner also, in the Mighty Eighth. he never would say much of anything about his actual missions-just base life or other similar topics. He had an amazing view of the whole scope and expanse of the D-Day landings from his seat in the tail-they flew two missions that day in support of the invasion. before he was in the 8th, he flew out of Italy and North Africa with the 15th AF. One one mission, 8 planes from his squadron went out unescorted (early in 1944), and were met with over 200 German fighters. Two planes came back. This was the mission he got the DFC for, but we never knew until after he died.
Link Posted: 9/21/2011 3:09:30 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/21/2011 3:12:08 AM EST by rkbar15]
Great pics!

The Wings of Freedom Tour is now in

9/21 - 9/23 WestField, MA (B-17, B-24 & P-51)
Airport: Barnes Municipal Airport
Location: AirFlyte

Link Posted: 9/21/2011 4:13:26 PM EST
Originally Posted By ultramagbrion:
Nice pix buddy , and what a great feeling it must have been to see it with your grampa .

27 'successful ' missions that's GOTTA be something after the first dozen or so, and not being shot down or blown apart . Every trip up again has gotta be nerve wracking .

Does your grandfather 'clank' when he walks ? Big brass ones that man has . . . . my hats off to him and his crew

Please thank him for us the next time you talk to him .


I was thinking about this today, he's always said, in retrospect, he was too young then to know how scared he should have been at the time.
He always laughs, says he was 20 when he came home from the service, and couldn't figure he had to wait till he was 21 to marry my Grandmother.
Link Posted: 9/21/2011 4:33:54 PM EST
Your a Good Grandson... Tell your Grampa thanks for me...
Link Posted: 9/21/2011 4:36:18 PM EST
Great pics! Thanks for sharing, sounds like you both had a great time.
Link Posted: 9/21/2011 4:46:24 PM EST
Best thing I've seen all week. Thanks to both of ya!
Link Posted: 9/22/2011 7:40:39 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/22/2011 7:51:20 AM EST by rkbar15]

Originally Posted By hawaiinate:
man I wish I had known there was B-17 in auburn, totally would have gone to check it out.

You must have missed my WOFT threads in the NE HT Forum & GD. I try to keep them bumped but I try not to make a pest of myself. Check back next year or see if any other stops on the current tour are doable.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_8_26/460595_2011_WINGS_OF_FREEDOM_TOUR__B_17__B_24__and_P_51___Tour_Stops_in_CT__MA__ME_and_NH.html
Link Posted: 9/22/2011 7:45:46 AM EST
Thanks for the pics and the stories. Good stuff.
Link Posted: 9/22/2011 8:00:04 AM EST
I got to experience this same bomber with my grandfather back in the mid 90's. He has a big SOB (6'3") so he was a waist gunner. He flew with the 457th HB, 8 AF. He flew 29 credited missions including four "Big week" missions.
Link Posted: 9/22/2011 5:07:58 PM EST
Originally Posted By Surtr:
I got to experience this same bomber with my grandfather back in the mid 90's. He has a big SOB (6'3") so he was a waist gunner. He flew with the 457th HB, 8 AF. He flew 29 credited missions including four "Big week" missions.


Link Posted: 9/22/2011 5:12:00 PM EST
They don't make 'em like they used to.





I mean the machines AND the men who rode in them.

Tell your Grandfather thank you for all of us.
Link Posted: 9/22/2011 5:24:34 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/22/2011 5:25:34 PM EST by ASUsax]
I just got done reading Half a Wing, Three Engines and a Prayer: B-17s over Germany.

He should tell his story. Make sure that his story and his unit's, aren't lost.

ETA: I don't necessarily mean he has to go write his memoirs, but there are people around that he should talk to. That book centers around one crew, but they tell stories about all sorts of other crews in the unit, and there are other authors that do the same.
Link Posted: 9/22/2011 5:40:57 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/23/2011 12:35:06 AM EST by savage_winchester]
I could go on and on with what little I know about his experiences.

His crew went down twice. He's told over and over of being about to bail, the pilot, I know his name, telling them last second "if you haven't bailed yet, hold on, I think I've got it."
They landed with one or two engines, on a crude German fighter airstrip, " cow pasture" as I recall him describing it. He said it was 2pm when they came in, the Allies had taken that ground sometime after ten that morning. German breakfast still sitting out where it was served that morning.

If anyone can tell me where "Guisen" (sp?) is, in Europe somewhere, I'd like to know. He pronounces it "Geese-in". Fog of war may have mixed up the city or pronunciation... idk

eta, Guise France, maybe?

Link Posted: 9/22/2011 5:44:48 PM EST
That's pretty cool. I've been in a couple of them over the years and it just freaks me out when I look at the "skin" on those old
birds and realize it's just aluminum "siding" between the crew and everything the Germans could throw at them.
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