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S/Sgt. Harvey H. Rusco
722nd Squadron
Harvey Rusco

S/Sgt. Harvey Rusco, was a rather cheerful individual. He had brought his guitar with him and he would often sit on the edge of his bunk and play it. He seemed to have a knack for making up songs and Ballad's. The following gives you a pretty good idea of what was topmost on his mind. In reading it over, you could almost feel like he was reliving the routine that all of the enlisted men went through each time they went on a Mission. It is very accurate and tells the story better than any member of the crew could tell it. He was a rather small guy that just fit into the Tail Turret. He used to sing another song that has stuck in Sgt. Benson's mind ever since he heard it back in 1944. It goes like this:

A GUNNERS LIFE

A guy comes in and wakes you up;
What's coming you may dread.
You're wishing it was raining,
So you could stay in bed.

You go over to the Mess Hall
To get a little chow,
And the coffee that they give you
Will wake you up right now.

You go back to your barracks,
Hang your mess kit on the wall;
Grab up the old flying bag
And stagger down the hall.

You go and draw a flak suit,
And lay it on your bag
All this time you're praying,
Your bomb load isn't "frags"


You head then for the Briefing Room;
No one knows what's on your mind.
The reason you couldn't sleep at night
Was because of a small red line.

It could have been Ploesti;
No rougher could exist.
The boys behind those flak guns
Very seldom ever missed.

No, it's not Ploesti,
Because that line of red
Isn't going in that direction;
It's going north instead.

No, it isn't Budapest;
It gets a little higher.
That line of red heads no place else
Than right straight up to Steyr.

We're briefed on several hundred guns
And fighters by the score.
Your chin drops down upon your chest
As you shuffle out the door.

You get up on a G.I. truck
That takes you to your plane.
You pray to God that before too long,
You can ride that truck again.

You check your turret in and out,
And shine the plexiglas.
To prepare for all the fighters
That are apt to make a pass.

The crew loads up, the engines roar,
With the ground crew standing by.
They pray you'll make a safe return
As they wave their fond "good-bye."

The pilot runs the engines up.
We move down the taxi-ways,
And wait our turn to go;
Here the whole crew prays.

We move out on the runway;
The engines cough and whine.
The pilot moves a foot or two
To make sure we're in line.

The pilot then takes off the brakes;
We're off to see the town.
At one fifteen the stick comes back,
Now we're off the ground.

We circle the field an hour or more,
And then we're off "on course."
I clear my throat and try to talk,
But I see I'm a little hoarse.

At twelve thousand feet we all are dressed;
Now comes on the "mask."
We're set now for the job to come-
It may be quite a task.

We fly for hours--we're stiff and cold,
By now our eyes are sore
From looking for the flying hell
That we've seen so much before.

Now we hear a mike switch click
And know it's going to be,
"Navigator to the crew,
We're now on our 'I.P.'."
We all get set with flak suits;
The old chute close at hand.
A second look for fighters,
And then a glance at land.

You pull yourself into a ball;
Your feet don't feel so bad.
A cold sweat hits your face;
Your heart is running mad.

The nose gunner hits his mike switch;
His voice comes to the back,
"We must be here, boys, look ahead,
The sky is full of flak."

You wait for just a minute;
It seems an hour or more.
Then you hear that "barking" sound,
One we have heard before.

You're asking God to see you through,
For that you really pray.
Then you hear those joyous words;
Just two, they're "Bombs Away."

The pilot rocks her sideways,
To miss a load of flak.
You're feeling pretty good now,
More sure of getting back.

About that time you see a speck,
Then a couple more.
Holy gosh, it's fighters, and
They're coming by the score.

Time to turn on turret power
And to holler to the crew.
The escort better show up soon
Or we're apt to not get through.

You're breathing hard and thinking fast;
A second more will tell.
Then you'll get them or they'll get you;
That second's really hell.

Another flock of fighters,
P-fifty-ones and thirty-eights.
They were hiding, just awaiting,
And using us for bait.
The Huns peel off and try to run,
But they're a little late.
Half are meat for fifty-ones,
The rest for thirty-eights.

You tell someone to pinch you
To see if you are dead.
You know that mission's added
Some gray hairs to your head.

We land back at the home base;
We now feel pretty good.
We got back on that G.I. truck,
Just as we prayed we would.

Before you see your barracks,
Your mind begins to roam;
And you're thinking of the letters,
That you should get from home.

You realize you're back again;
How good terra firma feels.
Now you thank the Lord again,
For you're sure of three more meals.

He used to sing another song that back in 1944. It goes like this:

"Sweethearts"

I peeked out my window
At the two kids just below.
A little boy and girlie,
In voices soft and low.

He whispered something in her ear,
And then he bowed his head.
If you can keep a secret,
I'll tell you what he said.
If you let me be your little sweetheart
I'll be much obliged to you.
You ask your Mommie, I'll ask Daddy, too
If we can love like grown-up sweethearts do.

Sweetest little girl, I love your curls
That's why I'm asking you
If you let me be your little sweetheart
I'll be much obliged to you.

Above Information provided by Al Benson, 722nd Squadron

Harvey Rusco

Harvey and his granddaughter, Kaylene - 2010

Harvey Rusco

Receiving the Legion of Honor - 2010
Col. Philip Gallion (left) pinned the Knight of the Legion of Honor medal on to the suit coat of Harvey Rusco, as Orris Aldrich, who also received the award, looks on.
Rusco and Aldrich, both served as gunners with the 450th, received the award from France for their courageous actions in the liberation of France during the war.

Harvey Rusco

Harvey and Sgt. Orris Aldrich

Above Information provided by Kaylene Lasart, granddaughter of Harvey Rusco



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