Stephen Quinn, who flew as navigator on the 603 Ross Howden crew, lives in Dayton, Ohio, site of the recent 398th reunion. Ironically, he did not join the association until contacted this year by his pilot, Howden, and gunners Jose Echevarria and Ken Newbrough. Reunion chairman Bob Hart urged him to read his poem at one of the evening banquets. It is cheerfully reprinted in the FLAK NEWS.
Quinn said he penned Thirty Thousand Feet on September 21, 1944, during a period when his crew was more or less idle after piling up several missions in a very brief period.
But his assurance that God was indeed at 30,000 feet as well as on the ground came on September 27, 1944, during a mission to Cologne.
Flight Surgeon Capt. Lewis P. Hunter provided the historical details in his medical report after treating Quinn upon his return to Nuthampstead that day --
LT. STEPHEN R. QUINN, 0-717499, 27, 603rd Squadron.
Navigator, regular position, 33 missions. Aircraft was going over target at 26,400 feet and remained at this altitude throughout the incident. While coming in to the target area, prop wash threw the patient to the left, thereby unknown to him, disconnecting the oxygen tube from the regulator on the wall. He felt himself become light-headed and dizzy and fumbled for the connection at his mask, which indicated he realized his condition but thought that his mask connection was at fault. He became unconscious almost immediately and was revived later when his condition was discovered by the togglier for a routine oxygen check as soon as the bombs were away and the bomb bay doors were closed.
A large D-2 walk-around bottle was used for a short interval after the togglier discovered that the wall connection would not function, but was used only until he could plug patients oxygen hose into another outlet of the demand system.
The wall connection was at fault, as it was found that the oxygen tube pulled away from the connection and could not be plugged in again. A-14 modified mask was used with demand oxygen system.
The togglier who brought Quinn around after being unconscious for three minutes was Orville Nelson.
No question God was on duty at 30,000 feet, just as on the ground.
And good ol Orville was on duty at 26,400 feet.
Transcribed for the 398th Web Pages by Dawne Dougherty.