The top turret gunner has a clear view of the situation and it can be scarry as the dickens.
August 7, 1945, was just another day - another mission. Rumors were flying around that the war was winding down and that the Japanese would surrender soon even though they continued nuisance raids at chow time. We were hoping the mission would be a milk run but you still remember some of the missions that haunt you, like...Mission # 108-C1A in April when our target was Karenko Air Strip with Lt. Denny as our pilot, where we encountered heavy gun fire and returned to our base with a number of holes in our aircraft - or -
Mission # 126-6-5A in May with our target an alcohol plant, sugar refinery and living quarters for Japanese troops in Mato with Lt Carpenter as our pilot - and -
Mission # 154-0-25, the weather recco on June 3rd with Lt. Brown as our pilot, when we spotted a fighter pilot in the drink off of the coast of Formosa and stayed with him until he was picked up Platmate (air-sea rescue) - or -
Mission 207-C3-1E on July 26 when our target was Japanese shipping off the coast of Korea where we sank 4 merchant ships and a patrol boat, with Capt Wood as our pilot. We returned with a number of holed in the nose section and the cockpit area - or -
Mission #219-A-3 at briefing we were told our target would be enemy shipping in Pusan harbor, Korea, and all hopes for a milk run vanished - missions against enemy shipping could expect heavy gun fire. We would be the lead ship in the second element, Lt. Vandewier as our pilot, and carrying four 500# para demo bombs. The mission would take 8 hours. As you scan the sky from the top turret, your thoughts turn to the war ending and and returning to your loved ones. Then you get that feeling you get on every mission as you approach your target. Lt Vandewier makes his run at low level, bombing and strafing a destroyer escort and from the top turret as I strafe the D.E., all I could see was a wall of gunfire. As you go through that wall of fire you feel like you hit paydirt. On the way back we find our wing man is not with us. we learn later F.O. Bennett and his crew of F.O. Robert Maxon, 2nd Lt. Abraham Rangman , Sgt Lloyd Martin and Pvt Jack Hornback were all K.I.A.
When we landed at Yontan we found numerous holes in our nose section. At debriefing we were told that the mission was a success - the D.E. and other shipping was destroyed. You look forward to seeing the Flight Surgeon to get your alcoholic tranquilzer. After you come to your senses, you realize it could have been you - so close to the war ending. You go back to the tent and await another day and another mission.