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Parachutes


If one of you technically correct people want to determine whether parachutes were made of nylon or silk I can supply you a sample. I am sure the statue of limitations has run out so I can tell you a story. On October 7, 1944 our group went on a raid to Winterhafen Oil Depot at Vienna Austria. After bombs away The pilot called over the intercom "Frank get the hell up here Rays hit." I scrambled to the flight deck and the co-pilot was slumped over the column and was "out".The pilot was fighting for contol. The radio operator and I got him out of the seat and onto the bench. He had come "too" and was in a state high emotion. He was afraid we were going to bail out and leave him in the plane. We got him hooked up on oxygen and intercom and he settled down considerably. A piece of flak had gone throught the co-pilots fuse box (I still have the cover) and entered his side between the side of his flak jacket. [he never fastened it but just draped it over his shoulder] the piece was about half as big as your finger. The piece followed inside his belly and exited just over his heart. I cut his heated suit off with my dikes and saw a dark piece sticking of his belly over his heart. I touched it and it was hard and I wiggled it and it was loose. I pulled it out and stuck it in my jacket park. (I later gave it to him) Once we got him on intercom and oxygen and he could talk to the pilot he calmed down. It was then that he made a statement I will never forget. It was the most pathetic plea I ever heard. He said "Andy are you going to get me home? Andy told the biggest lie of his life. He said "Hell Ray we aren't in any trouble." One engine out, two throttle cables shot off no hydraulics, nose wheel tire flat and only partial rudder control. We fell back and and decided to land at Bari (25th general hospital there) instead of going on to Manduria. We got permission for a straight in approach. I was flying in the co-pilots seat. [I was a washed out pilot and used to get a lot of stick time as the copilot used to like to sleep on practice missions etc.] As we were on the final approach. The engineer had hand cranked the wheels down but couldn't get them to show locked. I think it took 33 1/2 turns of the crank. As were on straight in approach a B-17 was in the pattern and turned on the base leg ahead of us. It was the only time in our Tour that I saw our pilot get excited. He called the tower and a said get that SOB out of there I'll land right on top of him I'm not going around and keep repeating it. It turned out the B-17 did not have Radio contact with the tower. The tower started to shoot red flares and the B-17 pulled up and went around. God Bless him as he probably saved two crews. The pilot slipped the plane in against the unlocked wheel and when we were down he hollered cut and I cut the switches to kill the engines. We had some pressure in the accumulator and he had enough for one application of brakes An ambulance met us at the end of the runway and took Ray to the hospital. {He lived and returned home.) They came from our base with a truck to get us. One of the enlisted took Ray's parachute home with us. They knew a women in Manduria whose daughter was getting married. They gave her the parachute to make a dress and she made us 20 scarfs. I still have one. A month or so later the supply office said what did you do with Ray's parachute at Bari? We told a little lie and said it was shot full of holes and we left it in the plane.

Everett Frank - 721st Squadron




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