|Right after you climb the short ladder it goes from nice
and calm outside to a lot going on inside. This is looking towards the
rear of the aircraft and you can see the tail turret at the end of that
walk way. It was blocked off so this was as far back as I was able to
Turning to my left are boxes of ammo for the tail turret gun. Holes in
the side of the box made it easy to see how many rounds were left.
Here is what I saw when I took a few more steps towards the front. The
older gentleman with the cane is a World War II vet that flew in one of
these aircraft during the war. I didn't get his name because he was
talking to these two guys and once I had listened to him for a minute,
there were three guys now listening. He was a radioman and flew 22
missions in this great aircraft. Here are a couple of stories that he
talked about while I was there.
"We were on a
training mission learning to shoot the guns. When the waist gunner came
around shooting at his target, he accidentally shot the tail of the
aircraft and put a bunch of holes in it. We knew that the crew was in
trouble for this but when we told our flight mechanic about it, he told
us not to worry". The mechanic said "I’ll tell them I need to change the
oil or something and repair the holes while it’s in the shop...no big
deal". He also said they added some kind of stops to the gun so
it wouldn't swing so far because when he looked at the gun he didn't
remember it looking the way it did.
Five minutes have passed by now and a few people wanted to make there
way past us but this guy just kept on talking. And the rest of us just
kept on listening.
His other story, " As we were
landing, the plane was in the mud because it was splashing in on the
right side window and that’s when I knew we were in trouble. Then the
mud started coming in on the left side, which is when I panicked. Not
long after that one of my buddies said “oh the hell with this” and
jumped out of the plane. I thought to myself…he’s going to die…but when
I looked at the door that he jumped out (the place where the ladder was
placed), he was just standing there. Little did I know that the plane
was stopped but with the engines still running I just didn’t know".
I don't know how many stories I had missed but
those two were great to hear.
Here you can see some of the many oxygen tanks which were for the crew
to breath. Notice the guy leaving the plane because I think he got tired
of listening to the stories. His loss that's for sure.