William Ball, a cotton farmer, joined the Army on November 12, 1941, about three weeks before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The first three years of his service were spent in the States, but on November 13, 1944, he left for the European Theater of Operations.
He served as an aerial engineer and gunner and completed 35 missions.
He remembers one mission during which his aircraft was struck by German anti-aircraft artillery. Shrapnel tore a three-inch rip in a fuel line, which gushed fuel inside the aircraft. William said that those were the days before Duct Tape, but the Army did include lots of chewing gum in the survival kits. He handed gum to all of the crew members and had them chew it up, then used it and some rags to plug the hole. Their pilot was a nervous fellow who always lit up a cigarette after a bombing run. William made sure he didnít light up for the trip home this time.
Ballís war ended on May 23, 1945, when he shipped home from Europe. He was discharged from the Army on June 21 with the following Medals:
Air Medal with three Oak Clusters
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars
WWII Victory Medal
LEGEND: Certificate Number - 3 digit aircraft identifiication #'s
Instrument Radio or Hood column - Bomb Loadout
As Instructor - Altitude
As Student - Temperature
Make of Aircraft - Mission Credits
From Column - 450th Mission Number