B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

Return to Florence
by Benjamin C. McCartney, 443rd Bomb Squadron

 

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No Flak - Just a Milk Run

 

"Where we goin' today, Lieutenant?" Sergeant Callahan asked me.

"Don't worry, Cal. No flak. We got a milk run. We're going to Florence." Callahan was deeply impressed by flak, and we often kidded him about being the only man in the Air Corps who could actually hear the Germans loading their 88's. He was from Louisiana and had sold marshmallows before the war; so we referred to him as the marshmallow man from Campfire, Louisiana. In an effort to achieve the debonair dash of a flyer, he had grown a disconsolate sandy mustache on the way overseas and wore a soiled bit of parachute silk around his neck for a scarf.

Sergeant Just came up to me, grinning. The Army had mislaid one of his teeth, and it made his sheepish grin something that was a constant delight to us all.

"You better hit the target. I got cento lire with the waist gunner on Combat Lamb's crew you hit the target. So don't screw up." He grabbed some flak suits from the pile in front of the nose. "Where's the Ace?"

"In the men's lounge, the R. J. Reynolds Room. Where'd you think?"

"How soon we takin' off?"

"About 40 minutes; take-off's at 9:20." I was inspecting the nose Plexiglas for smirches that would make seeing through it difficult.

The armament corporal of the ground crew came around to the nose, wiping his hands on a rag. "O.K., sir? I cleaned her off just a couple minutes ago."

"Looks good," I told him. "How are the bombs?"

"I been over them. Fins all O.K. Shackles, too." He was very conscientious, and we never had a bomb hang up. When we dragged the field in group formation after returning from a raid, we knew that the ground crew on 62 was watching us and looking intently for the green flares we fired when the mission was a success.

"I didn't bring nothin' but green flares today," the sergeant said.

"Get Mensch and Callahan," I told him. "I'm going to show you guys where we're going and what we're going to bomb." (Continued)


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