( 1) Entered
service August 18, 1942
Training: St. Petersburg, Florida
Mechanic School: Gulfport, Mississippi
Pre-flight School: San Antonio, Texas
Flight School-PT 19: East St. Louis, Illinois
(6) Basic light
School-BT 13: Coffeyville, Kansas
( 7) Advanced
Flight School-AT9 Twin Engine: Altus, Oklahoma
Commissioned Second Lieutenant
Multi-Engine B-24: Ft. Worth, Texas
( 9) Picked
up crew at Salt Lake City, Utah
Combat Training-B24: Boise, Idaho
(11) Assigned to 723rd Squadron, 15th Air
Force, Manduria, Italy. Flew 35 sorties (46 missions)
on the Island of Vis in the Adriatic Sea... was gone 4 days
crash landing in the Upper Po Valley, near the Alps Mountains. . . .
Gone 8 days
During my tour of
9 months, besides the 2 crash landings, I lost 19 engines, plus had planes
riddled with flack.
I flew the
first lone wolf mission bomb-by-radar at night. We had no escort, only cloud
coverage for protection.
We had a big surprise on my first mission. At
the briefing, we new crews were told that our crews would be split up and would
fly with veteran crews. The pilot that was assigned to me looked to be about 19
or 20 years old. When we got to our plane I walked around the plane inspecting
it, but he just stood there under the wing with me. I was thinking "well,
he has several missions and a lot of experience." When we got on the
flight deck, he got in the co-pilot's seat. I said, "Do you want to fly as
pilot?" "No," he said, "I'll stay over here." I
taxied out on the runway to run the engines up and check the instruments. I
asked him if he wanted to take off and he said, "No, you go ahead." I
thought--''Boy, he bas a lot of confidence in me." After getting in
formation about an hour later, he said, "I'll take over for awhile."
As we were nearing the initial point, I asked, "Do you want to take it
down the bomb run to the target?" ''No,'' he said, "you go
ahead." Again I thought, "He surely has confidence in me." After
the bombs were dropped and we were away from the target, he said, "I'll
take over and let you rest." A short time later, I asked him how many
missions he had and he said, "This makes me three. I am a co-pilot."
Just then it seemed like my confidence in him all left me. But we made it.
second mission to Polesti, I can't forget. The flack was so thick I believe
that ducks would have walked on it. We lost one engine in the target area, and,
a short time later, another engine quit. In order to stay airborne, we had to
reduce speed to just above stalling. As we were approaching the mountains of
Yugoslavia, they were higher than we were. I told the crew to throw anything
that they could get loose out the waist windows. The rate of climb moved up a
little and we made it over the mountains. When we landed we counted over 100
flack holes in the plane. That night, the holes were patched, engine replaced
and 2,765 gallons of gasoline added. It was a miracle that we made it back.
We built our
VFW building around 1985 and later built additions on both ends.
1 am a life member in the VFW, American
Legion and the DAV. We participate at military funerals, athletic functions at
the local school, visit disabled veterans and participate in the Poppy Fund
I am the last World War II B-24 pilot from Meigs
County still living.
Bob Dean is
the last World II B-24 co-pilot from Meigs County still living. He had to
bailout over the Rumanian Oil Fields and was taken prisoner.