Sgt. Ralph W. Heap
I was in the ordinance section, as a sergeant tasked with leading a crew of bomb workers, loading B-24 bombers with bombs.
One night there were three of us loading 2000 pound bombs. We were in real rocky terrain when Jerry Rynders, slipped and fell backwards. The bomb rolled backwards off the trailer on to him. John Wagoner and I somehow lifted the bomb off Jerry. I know it is impossible for two people to lift that much weight, but somehow we did it. I took my knife and sliced open his pants, reveling his pelvis structure was crushed. I told John to stay with Jerry. In the meantime I drove my bomb service truck to the compound, got in the ambulance, and turned on the siren to wake people up, since it was in the middle of the night.
I drove back to the bomb dump, and John and I, put Jerry on a gurney and drove him back to the compound. We got a doctor to look at Jerry, and he said there was nothing he could do for him. We put him on C-47 plane and flew him to Bari, Italy, where there was a general hospital. They put him on 2x12 boards with a sheet over him, and tied him down. They did multiple operations on him.
After a few months they were going to send him to a repo-depot for re-assignment, so he got word to me that he wanted to come back to our outfit. I checked our motor pool for the easiest riding vehicle we had, which was a weapons carrier. I drove it to Bari, Italy, which is on the Adriatic Sea. It took me about ten hours to drive there. When I came to the hospital I went inside to look for Jerry. I found him and asked if he was ready to leave. We went outside, not saying anything to anyone, got in the vehicle, and drove back to base. Some places would call that kidnapping, but I called it rescuing. And to this day, I have not heard a word from anybody.
On the 13th of March, 2017, I was invited by the House of Representatives of Oklahoma to open the Legislative Session by the Pledge of Allegiance, and to say some words to the House members. I was honored by our Representatives for their work, and for the work I had done with the 450th Bomb Group in Italy during World War II.
Ralph W Heap – Age 93
The following pictures are from the Ralph Heap Collection
(click on the thumbnails for details)
Pictures Courtesy of Ralph Heap