description of the military service of Paul D. Ridge
30, 1942 inducted into Army at Columbus, Ohio, age 21, and sent to Ft. Benjamin
Harrison for assignment. And since I had already passed the test for aviation
cadet was sent to St. Petersburg. Fl., for basic training in the Army Air
After basic training was sent to
Nashville classification center for a week of tests to determine if I could be
a pilot, navigator or bombardier.
After classification was sent to
Maxwell Field Al., for pre-flight. This training was a hurry up version of the
training cadets received at West Point.
From Maxwell went to Lakeland, Fl.,
for primary pilot training, where we had civilian instructor. I was one of the
50% that did not make it to basic pilot training, and was placed in line of
While waiting for navigation school
to open up I was sent to Tyndall Field for aerial primary school in Panama
City, Fl. After waiting, I entered navigation school in Monroe, La. I graduated and was commissioned a 2nd
Lieutenant on January 15, 1944. After a
short leave was sent to Westover Field in Mass., where our crew was formed.
We were then sent to Charleston,
SC., for overseas training as a replacement crew. After three months of training
we were sent to Mitchell Field on Long Island to pick up a new B-24 Liberator
bomber to fly to Italy. Our route to Italy was: Long Island, to
West Palm Beach, to Trinidad, to Balem, Brazil, to Natal, Brazil, to Dakar
Africa, to Marrakech Africa to Tunis Algeria, to Foggia, Italy.
We left the plane at Foggia and rode
a truck down to the 450th Bomb Group at Manduria in the heel of the
boot of Italy, on May 26, 1944.
After being checked out as a crew we
flew our first mission to the Marshaling yards a Bologna, Italy on 5 June 1944.
My last and 50th mission was to Vienna, Austria. In between we had
been to Toulon, Marseilles, and the invasion coast of Southern France, Munich,
Regensburg in German. Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, Ploesti, Bucharest, Romania,
Budapest and Gyor, Hungary. Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece and Italy.
On one bombing mission to Toulon,
France we had a dud 88 shell lodge in one wing causing one engine to quit and
the loss of fuel. Therefore we had to land on the Island of Corsica for a few
On another mission we lost two engines, we jettisoned our bombs
and landed on Vis a small island off the coast of Yugoslavia held by Tito's
forces. Another three days before a C-47 picked us up.
After finishing the required 50 missions
was transferred to Naples for the boat ride back to the USA about the 13 Dec
Spent from Jan 10, 1945 to Oct 1945
attending more schools at Houston and San Antonio, Texas.
I did retain my reserve Commission
and retired in 1972 after 28 years of commissioned service, as a Lt. Col. in
During the time I was in the
reserves I flew to many places of interest such as Alaska, Panama, Puerto Rico,
Bermuda, Europe, Grand Turk, Jamaica, Iceland, Africa, Newfoundland and the
I was also called to active duty for the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Paul D Ridge serial number 0707402