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Volume II: War in the Air: From the Great Depression to Combat—The Things Our Fathers Saw, Volume II [2017]

$19.99

Featuring eight American veterans of the heavy bombers in the air war over Europe during World War II, explaining what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression as the clouds of war gathered, going off to the service, and into the skies over Europe, sharing stories of both funny and heartbreaking, and all riveting and intense. Includes photos and never before seen portraits.

316 PAGES.

Volume 2 in the series deal with the Air War in the European Theater of the war. I had a lot of friends in the heavy bombers; they tell you all about what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression as the clouds of war gathered, going off to the service, and into the skies over Europe, sharing stories of both funny and heartbreaking, and all riveting and intense. It actually begins with my quest to learn more about a 20-year-old relative's death in the skies over Germany. I was told the entire crew perished on July 29, 1944. I could not be more wrong...

From the Book:


— “I spent a lot of time in hospitals. I had a lot of trouble reconciling how my mother died [of a cerebral hemorrhage] from the telegram she opened, announcing I was [shot down and] ‘missing in action.’ I didn’t explain to her the fact that ‘missing in action’ is not necessarily ‘killed in action.’ You know? I didn’t even think about that. How do you think you feel when you find out you killed your mother?” —B-24 bombardier, PoW


— “I was in the hospital with a flak wound. The next mission, the entire crew was killed. The thing that haunts me is that I can’t put a face to the guy who was a replacement. He was an eighteen-year-old Jewish kid named Henry Vogelstein from Brooklyn. It was his first and last mission. He made his only mission with a crew of strangers.” —B-24 navigator


— “The German fighters picked us. I told the guys, ‘Keep your eyes open, we are about to be hit!’ I saw about six or eight feet go off my left wing. I rang the ‘bail-out’ signal, and I reached out and grabbed the co-pilot out of his seat. I felt the airplane climbing, and I thought to myself, ‘If this thing stalls out, and starts falling down backwards, no one is going to get out...’” —B-17 pilot


— "I’ll be 93 on February 11. I don’t get around good like I used to; fell three years ago and broke my pelvis and hip. But it was just me and the co-pilot who survived that day.’

"I was burned in the eyelid by flak a couple days before. I was in the hospital and didn’t go on the last mission."

Because of a snafu, his mother got a telegram stating that he was missing in action.—"The Army didn’t know I was in the hospital. It took three months to clear up; she thought I was missing for two weeks before I was able to get word to the family that I was not on the plane."

The plane went down on July 29, 1944. This weekend, the 73rd anniversary is upon us as we speak on the phone. "The name of the plane was Pugnacious Ball. Flak got it. Blew it up. But I think they recovered a body bag to send home to his mother."

"I watched for the planes coming back; you always do when they are out on a mission. You count them. We waited and waited. They didn’t come back."

"It was the worst day of my life. Still is." Sgt. John Swarts, tailgunner on the Pugnacious Ball

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— TABLE OF CONTENTS —

AUTHOR’S NOTE 3
HOMETOWN, USA 11
TWILIGHT 16
THE RIPPLES 19
AIR POWER 23
HARD TIMES 31
‘YE SHALL HEAR OF WARS’ 45
A SUNDAY AFTERNOON 48
THE TAIL GUNNER 55
‘TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF’ 60
THE FLIGHT ENGINEER 81
‘THERE ARE NO HEROES’ 86
‘SOMETHING ALWAYS GOES WRONG’ 88
FLAK 89
‘THE GUY WHO WILL KILL MY SON’ 96
‘I DON’T BROOD ABOUT IT’ 99
THE BALL TURRET GUNNER 103
THE FUNNY THINGS 106
‘MALFUNCTION’ 113
THE CREW 120
WESTOVER FIELD 122
THE NAVIGATOR 133
‘YOUR FIRST MISSION’ 142
FLAK 145
‘THE NINE OLD MEN’ 147
MEETING THE ENEMY 151
THE PILOT 155
‘I’M NOT GOING BACK’ 159
‘YOU DID THE RIGHT THING’ 161
‘PEOPLE WERE SHOOTING AT ME’ 166
THE FINAL MISSION 169
PRISONER 172
DEATH MARCH 177
‘HE SALUTED ME BACK’ 181
COMING HOME 182
THE LAST CLOSE CALL 183
THE EXTRA GUNNER 187
‘DROPPED INTO AN INSANE ASYLUM’ 187
ABORTED MISSIONS 192
AN OLD FRIEND 196
GUARD DUTY 198
SERGEANT GRAYBOY 199
THE RADAR MAN 207
‘THE BLACK CLOUD ARRIVED’ 209
‘AS LONG AS I FLY’ 211
‘WHO’S OUR NAVIGATOR?’ 215
‘THE LAST I WOULD SEE OF MY MOTHER’ 218
RADAR MAN 221
THE BUZZ BOMBS 224
DRESDEN 226
‘I CRIED LIKE A BABY’ 229
BERLIN 231
‘THANKS, VAN’ 233
THE RUSSIAN LINES 234
‘CRAZY AMERIKANSKI’ 239
‘WE’RE GOING TO CRASH!’ 243
‘WE WERE ALL KILLED’ 248
COMING HOME 250
‘THEY’RE ALL GONE’ 252
THE BOMBARDIER 257
‘CONTROLLED FEAR’ 262
‘MAXIMUM EFFORT’ 264
‘LIKE ANTS SCURRYING BACK AND FORTH’ 272
‘MISSING IN ACTION’ 274
RESURRECTION 279

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