in the spring of 1944 my B-26 tour was winding down.
Initially we were required to fly 40 missions, and this
was later expanded to 45 missions, and then to an indefinite
number depending on the “Shrinks” observations of your
obviously weird behavior. I was nearing fifty missions
and I still desperately wanted to get into fighters.
Approaching the Squadron Commander with the question
it be possible, now that my tour is nearly over, for
me to transfer to a fighter group?"
in my rapidly finding the exit door, hat in hand. I
got an even less optimistic reply when I went to Group
and subsequently Division Headquarters. In fact, I recall
the reply at those locations was something to the effect
of “You are out of your mind - it will never happen”.
In those days of headstrong youth, “never” was not in
my vocabulary so I devised a back door approach. Fortunately,
there was a cross-country trip required for administrative
purposes back to the Italian mainland with a landing
at Naples Air Base. This was the base where the 86th
Fighter Group was presently located. On my best behavior
and dressed with a neatly pressed uniform, I visited
one of the Squadrons and asked the CO the following
I could manage to swing a transfer, would you take me
in your Squadron?"
said, “Yes” and that was the much-needed foot in the
door. I next went to the 86th Fighter Group’s Headquarters
and told them of the Squadron CO’s affirmative position.
The answer from Fighter Group Headquarters was;
it’s OK with him, then we will approve it”.
at Tactical Fighter Command Headquarters. Back at Sardinia,
and armed with said verbal approvals, I worked back down
the line from Division to Group to Squadron whereby
they gave up and begrudgingly and eventually started
the transfer order procedure. Eureka, I had made it.
A dream come true!
might have been a catalyst involved with this final
approval and I can only attest to a certain part of
this story as being true. In the time frame of awaiting
orders, there was an inter-island baseball game going
on and I was later told that the Division Commander
was in attendance. During the game a certain B-26 came
screaming across the diamond at an indicated air speed
higher than the indicated altitude and which pulled
up into a chandelle while rapidly climbing away. Of
this part I’m not sure, but I imagine that the Division
CO probably said something to the effect of:
is that Idiot”?
the reply came back that said idiot was;
pilot who was trying to get to fighters”, the General
quite possibly said;
get him out of here before he kills himself or someone else”.
know that for a fact, but somehow I got my orders to
join the 86th Fighter Group.