Wartime Experiences

June 6, 1944 D-Day

By Paul Roderick, Pilot, 602nd Squadron

To tell the entire story, it's necessary to go to the preceding day on June 5th. On that day we flew a combat formation and bombed German gun emplacements on the coast of France. We had very little opposition and landed after only 4 hours and 45 minutes of flight. It was what we termed a "milk run". We knew the invasion was coming soon, because suddenly we were flying these short missions to the coast of France instead of deeper into France and Germany itself. The exact date was a very well kept secret, although Frank Scribner, our Navigator, had a brother who was an Artillery gunner who told Frank when they met in early June, that the invasion would take place on June 5th. Actually, it was the original date set by General Eisenhower, but bad weather in the English Channel caused it to be postponed until June 6th.

After landing on June 5th, which was our 9th mission, we ate dinner and then checked the bulletin board for the next days' combat crews. Our crew was listed, so immediately the anxiety began with each man on our crew handling it in a different way. There was usually a poker game going on in our hut. That seemed to occupy minds and prevent thoughts of what may come tomorrow. I liked to visit my B-17, MADAME X, and the Crew Chief, Master Sgt. Leroy Smith. We would sit in the cockpit and talk about her problems and what he and the other two ground crew were doing to keep her in good condition.

We went to bed about 10PM that night. We needed as much rest as possible because we worked very hard flying formation nearly every day, but going to bed early, knowing what was facing us the next day, was useless. We slept very poorly at night. Our good rest was in the afternoon before dinner. At 11PM, the Corporal who usually shook me awake before a mission wakened me. He always stayed and talked to me until he was certain that I was awake. I then woke Scribner, Harvey and the Bombardier, Harry Houchins. Harry was brand new with our crew although we had known him about 6 or 7 months. Our first Bombardier was John Ward who had been an instructor bombardier in the States before being assigned to our crew. Shortly before June 6th, Ward took over the job of Lead Bombardier in our squadron and Harry Houchins was moved to our crew. John was happy to take on the "Lead" job and Harry was glad to begin riding with us. My crew was happy to get the slow moving, slow talking Kentuckian who was a favorite character in the 602. If anyone was unhappy about the change, it was Capt. Dunlap who had been Harry's pilot. Fred's loss was our gain.

We dressed and went to the mess hall for breakfast. We had an hour to eat and took full advantage of it. Before going on a mission, we had fresh eggs, some kind of meat, and all the toast and orange marmalade that we could hold. We had no idea of when we'd sit down to eat again…if ever. We ate and talked for the whole hour. That night, because of the hour, we speculated that today would be the BIG day. On the way to the Mess Hall, we saw two P-51 fighters cross our field at a low enough altitude that we could make out the black and white stripes that were painted on the wings to indicate they were allied planes and would be flying at very low altitudes. Those stripes were painted on only the day before.

After breakfast, we attended briefing at 0130. It was there that we learned that this was "IT" for sure. Our target was Courseulles, France, and we were bombing Juno Beach in support of Canadian troops who were scheduled to make their landing at 0620. We dressed in our battle gear, and arrived at the plane at 0330. Started engines at 0405, taxied out to the runway at 0415, and the first ship took off at 0430. It was still very dark, and as each radio operator took off in the tail gunner's position, he constantly flashed a code signal to the plane behind him, to enable that pilot to follow the group to the assigned altitude to assemble into formation. I believe that altitude was about 13,000-14,000 feet. I flew in Squadron #5 on Capt. Dwight Ross' left wing as the Deputy Leader. If something happened to prevent Ross from leading the formation at any time, I was to take the lead.

The weather was not too good, with heavy cloud cover below us. However, my crew was able to see part of the naval armada in the Channel just as we left the English coast where the sky was clear for a short time. Neither Roger Harvey nor I were ever able to see directly below the plane from our positions, so we always missed "the good stuff". Shortly after entering above the Channel, the weather closed in below us. Our lead ship, in the 36-ship formation was a "Mickey Ship". It was equipped with the best radar available at the time, and with a specially trained crew. During briefing we were warned not to drop any bombs in the Channel, as was our custom, if we got into trouble. There were too many boats in the water. Another caution was not to count on being picked up by boats other than the English Air/Sea Rescue in the event we were forced down in the Channel. All invasion ships were on a strict timetable and could take no time to stop for us.

We dropped our bombs over the target at 0600-0610, only 10 minutes or so ahead of the first wave of Canadians. We dropped our bombs with the Mickey Ship as our guide. As we approached the drop spot, Harry Houchins watched their bomb bay. When the first bomb dropped from the leader, he released our bombs. We received no visual indication regarding where they fell, but could only hope they were on the mark. We had no flack or fighter opposition. I could only think how lucky I was to be in the air and not down there in the water, about to try to storm a hostile beach. For us, it was a "milk run". After the bombs were released and Harry Houchins made his usual announcement of "lets haul ass outa here", we made a wide right turn, staying in line behind the formation ahead. There were so many planes in the air that we had to maintain a rigid traffic pattern to avoid interfering with planes behind.

We landed on our home field at Nuthampstead, England exactly 5 hours from take off. Mission #10 was completed. The gunners removed the 13 fifty caliber machine guns and cleaned them. A truck arrived to take us to the armor shop to store the guns and then on to the briefing room where Intelligence Officers would interrogate us as to what we observed on the mission. This was the normal procedure that was followed after each trip.


As the truck arrived, a jeep driven by Major Pete Rooney, my 602 Squadron C.O. pulled up with Col. Frank Hunter, the 398th C.O. As I walked to the jeep, Pete told me to send the truck along without me, and to also have Roger Harvey come with me in the jeep. Then after a word by Col. Hunter he said to also send Harvey with the crew in the truck. I did, and climbed into the back of the jeep not knowing what was up. Pete handed me a sandwich and a cup of coffee. I recall the coffee was loaded with sugar and milk, but it still tasted good.

A special word must be said about Col. Hunter and Pete Rooney. Col. Frank Hunter was a very fine officer. He was a West Pointer, as the Air Force Academy did not come into existence until after WWII. He was a very rigid disciplinarian, but also very fair, and an excellent pilot who knew every one of his 72 pilots by their first names and rank. He never called me "Paul". It was always "Lt. Roderick". He did not like Pete Rooney.

We loved Pete Rooney and would do anything for him. He was a Major and about 26 or 27 years old. He knew everyone in his squadron, including his enlisted men on both the ground and aircrews. He was known to drink with anyone. My Engineer/Top turret gunner Tech. Sgt. Jerry Monagin (a rounder in his own right) and Pete spent a lot of time in Rapid City, SD Brass Rail Bar while we were training for combat. Pete Rooney was about the best B-17 pilot that I ever rode with. I learned much just by watching him while he was flying during the few times that I rode with him. Pete was very relaxed and paid little attention to paper and squadron discipline. He was continually in trouble with Col. Hunter because of his lack of attention to details. While we were still in Rapid City, the Col. restricted Pete to the base for two weeks at one time because of some infraction.

We always thought the only things that saved Pete from being relieved of his command was his ability to get the job done better, and faster. While still in the States, the Col. came up with a very detailed list of emergency procedures that every crew was to practice and become proficient. Pete simply gave each of his pilots the list and told us to practice them for our own safety. When we completed the list we informed him that we were ready. The Col. thought he should have tested us, so Pete was in trouble again. As it turned out, our 602 squadron had the lowest death rate of the entire 398th during combat. Both these good men are gone. Col. Hunter was killed on a mission after I completed my missions and returned to the States. Pete Rooney died very soon after the war ended. Somehow, a liver problem may have been his downfall.

Back to my story. Pete drove us into a hangar where a strange (to me) aircrew was waiting. Then they told me they wanted me to take that crew and bomb a bridge that was about 20 miles inland in France, near a village of Carenten. We were to fly at a very low level to be sure to knock out the bridge. The crew had already been briefed. The Navigator knew the route in and the Bombardier had his target well in mind. This crew had just arrived at our station and this was their first mission. Their Co-pilot was remaining on the ground and the pilot was to ride as my Co-pilot. I recall how excited they all were.

Then Col. Hunter told me the mission was a "secret". We were not to discuss the flight with anyone including my crew. He also told me he was sorry, but there was to be NO CREDIT for this mission. A FREEBIE!!?? In those days one did not question authority. One listened and did what he was told. A plane (not the Madame X) was loaded with heavy demolition bombs and fueled up for us. I felt little fear, for after all, the first trip was a breeze and reports indicated the German Air Force was operating at low level that day. They had their hands full trying to repel the ground forces. I also decided in my own mind that the bridge target was one that our group and probably our squadron attacked previously, and mistakenly reported it demolished. The two men that could answer that question now are gone, so I'll never know if that theory is correct, but I'll always believe we were attempting to cover up a failure.

We took off probably a little after 1030. I decided to climb to about 8000 feet, which was just over the cloud cover. When we made the French coast, we would descend to an altitude below the clouds and drop down to a low bombing level. It was easy flying, as we could use the autopilot, which we could not ordinarily use on a mission while flying formation. The crew was well trained and knew their jobs. The pilot had a lot of questions indicating he was eager and wanted to learn. Again, the Channel was cloud covered so we could not see the activity in the water below.

Just before we reached the French coast we began to descend through the overcast. We broke into the clear just as we came over land. I don't know the altitude because a rapid series of events began that left no time for sightseeing in or out of the cockpit. A sudden burst of flack disabled the #2 engine. The Ball Turret Gunner reported a massive gushing of oil from the engine. The Co-pilot, at my order, shut down the engine and feathered the prop. Which means, he turned the prop blades 90 degrees into the wind and held the prop from windmilling. A windmilling engine without oil would seize and catch fire nearly 100% of the time.

Before we could take a breath of relief another burst of flack took several feet off our right wing tip. I think perhaps 6 or 8 feet. I had knocked off the autopilot and was flying manually and it felt like 1/2 the wing was gone. The same burst set fire to the #4 engine. The Co-pilot pulled both built-in fire extinguishers in that engine to no avail. That fire burned for the life of the plane, which was not too much longer. I pushed the throttles for the remaining #1 and #3 engines to their stops to attempt to maintain altitude. Then we found one of those engines was failing due to stress and only able to develop about half the power.

We had turned around and were out over water. We could not salvo the bombs into the water, nor could we bail out. The Channel was very cold and if we were not picked up at once we would die of exposure. We also could not let the aircraft go down at random with all of the boats in the water. The fire worried us, but appeared not to increase in intensity. As long as it did not burn back into the 400-gallon fuel tank that fed from behind the engine, I thought (prayed) that we would be all right.

The Co-pilot called the Air Sea Rescue on our direct VHF channel and gave them our heading, speed, rate of descent and location. A very calm Englishman told him all the rescue boats were out on calls, with many fighter pilots in the water. They got first call, as they only had a very small rubber life raft for one man and were more difficult to find in the water. The crew knew their jobs and we prepared to "DITCH" the plane. The Engineer, using the fire ax broke out both the co-pilot's and my side windows. Roger and I had discussed that many times. We had heard of all the crew getting out of ditched planes except the two pilots, who were trapped when those windows jammed shut. That was the pilot's only exit during ditching.

Then the crew all sat on the floor on the radio room, which is in the center of the plane; a large ceiling escape hatch in that roof was unlatched, and blown off. The two 5 men life rafts were located in compartments in each topside of the radio room. The crew sat with their backs to the forward bulkhead, for their protection upon impact. The Bombardier and one of the Gunners replaced the cotter pins in the bomb fuses, making them safe upon impact. I had read that in a manual, but always wondered about it being true.

The Channel was very rough and we had lost track of the wind direction, so we had to do the best we could. There were NO boats around when we landed. We hit with a terrible jolt, landing on top of one swell and then submarining through the next swell. I thought we were going straight to the bottom. We wound up hitting the third swell and stopped. Still alive! We had taken off our heavy flight clothing and just had on our flight coveralls, our chute harness with our Mae West's (lifejackets) over those. I skinned out of that little window as if it were six foot square. The Top Turret Gunner had turned his guns so they were pointed forward. The Co-pilot and I could grab them to help pull us from the plane. It worked and was another detail that Roger and I had discussed regarding our safety.

I jumped down on the wing of the plane and noticed the life raft on my side was already deployed and inflated. It was one of the duties of the Engineer to pull two handles in the radio room when the ditching was complete. That jettisoned both raft compartment doors and automatically began inflation of the rafts. That was another worry…that the rafts might be damaged and not inflate. They were attached to the plane with a cord that would withstand a 10-pound pull. I hit a wet spot on the wing and slid down towards the raft. As I slid, I inflated my Mae West, also with CO-2. A couple of Gunners grabbed me and pulled me into the raft. It was crowded and very wet, but at the moment was worth a million dollars!! One of the gunners yanked the cord loose and it seemed that was all that kept the plane afloat. It SANK at ONCE! We think it floated less than one minute. The crew said, its back was broken at the rear of the radio room. I was too busy trying to get the salt water out of my eyes to see it.

We tied the two rafts together with the ropes as per instructions. The radioman put up the kite antenna and began cranking out an automatic SOS on the Gibson Girl Radio. It was so called due to its shape. It could be held between one's knees while it was cranked. I was the first in either raft to become seasick. Soon most of us were very sick. In a short time a boat arrived and a seaman with a bullhorn invited us aboard. I told one of the crew, who could still talk…to find out where they were going. When we were told "France", I told him to decline the invitation. I was NOT that sick!! A short while later an LST pulled up alongside us. It seemed like a very large ship. They were going to England, so we were happy to be taken aboard. An officer told us to climb up the rope nets that were slung over the side of the boat. A couple of the crew was able to make it, but most of us were so weak, we had no chance. A sailor climbed down and hooked a cable on our parachute harness after removing our Mae West's. They hoisted us aboard with a small crane. Once on deck, my stomach settled down very quickly.

We found an odd crew on the boat. The crew was all US Coast Guard with a Navy Lt. as their Commander. They gave us blankets for protection from the wind, which felt good. They were loaded with US Paratroopers who had been wounded during the drop the night before. Some were in very bad shape. I believe a few died before we got back to land. They also had a few high ranking German officer prisoners on board. They were all standing in a sunken section of the deck where they were visible only from the waist up. Some very hard looking paratroopers were guarding them. One German was very talkative and was constantly being told to "shut up". He spoke English most of the time, but also lapsed into German too. He said something to our crew in German and laughed. One of the guards, who understood, told him to be quiet, and told us he was making fun of our poor condition. The German said something else towards us and the guard "smashed" his hand that was on the deck with the butt of his rifle. The German screamed in pain and then began to cry. We couldn't laugh at him.

In a short time we docked in England. An Air Sea Rescue truck was waiting for us and took us a short distance to their station. We were then given a couple of shots of whiskey and they dried our clothes while we were questioned about the details of our ditching. This was done by Officers, who were interested in some of the extra details we did that helped us to survive. Not long after, we were loaded aboard a C-47 and flown back to Nuthampstead.

As soon as we landed, Col. Hunter and Pete Rooney met us. They had received a Teletype informing them of our whereabouts, but did not know if we had completed our mission. They were disappointed that we had failed, but did not disapprove of how we handled the situation in any degree. They both congratulated me for my pilot skills, and stated they were sorry to put us in danger. Again, we were instructed to say absolutely nothing about the mission. I never did say a word to anyone in the 398th until after the war over. By the time the 398th Reunions began Col. Hunter and Pete Rooney were both dead. There is nobody to tell me the reason for the mission, and why it was a secret.

As for the anti-aircraft fire that was so deadly that day, I'll always be convinced it was a mistake and just "friendly fire". There was some dead eye Navy gunners out there that day. We were lucky to live through the day. I believe there was a special hand on my shoulder helping me out.

By the way, my crew never missed me. They didn't think twice about me doing paper work at headquarters. Also the very next day we flew #11 to bomb submarine pens at Lorient, France. This time it was the Germans who shot out one of the engines on Madame X. She brought us home on three engines.

Believe it or not, but mission "# 10 1/2" on D-Day was NOT the trip that frightened me most of all. We believed that we were in control all the way and never doubted that we would survive. We were scared; no doubt about that, but not to the point where we thought that death was very close.

On May 22, 1944, on our 4th mission we very nearly "bought the farm", and all of us were frightened to the point where we nearly gave up. Our target that day was German Navel vessels, which were tied up in the Kiel Canal, which is on the North side of Germany and on the North Sea. Again that day, we were flying on the left wing of Capt. Dwight Ross.

As we approached the drop area, those battleships put up a wall of flack that looked impossible to penetrate. An anti-aircraft shell burst with a large explosion in or very near the #3 engine. The engine immediately caught fire. It burned so fiercely that one of Ross' gunners called him on the intercom and said, "Look at Roderick". Ross told me later that when he looked back over his shoulder at us all he could see was a ball of fire. He said he wished we would pull away because he was afraid we would blow up and take him with us. He got his wish because with a full bomb load and only 3 engines, we could not keep up with the formation and fell back by ourselves.

Some German fighters picked us up and began making firing runs on us. Roger and I tried to extinguish the flames with the built in extinguishers. He used both bottles on the engine without making a bit of difference in the fire. The flames were so large, that we were sure that the fuel tank behind the engine would blow. We dove the plane to try to snuff out the flames. We were headed away from the North Sea toward land. We could not bail out in that cold water. We were at 25,000 feet. Too high to think about ditching. The German fighters continued to pick away at us. Our electrical and mechanical salvo system was shot up which prevented us from getting rid of the bombs.

Before we reached land, I rang the alarm bell a series of short rings. That was a signal to get ready to bail out. The gunner's still could not leave their guns or we would be defenseless. Roger was calling for our fighter escort on the radio and they answered that they cold not locate us. Suddenly the fire stopped as quickly as it had started. We found out later the fuel solenoid valve had stuck in the open position, probably from the initial explosion. When it snapped shut, fuel no longer was being pumped into the flames. When the fire went out, I was seconds away from turning that alarm bell to a steady ring that would have ordered the crew to bail out.

We were not out of the woods yet though. We still had a full load of bombs that were activated to go off, and Germans were still firing on us. Then the gunners began to announce on the intercom that they were running out of ammo, which added to our problems. I sent Tech. Sgt. Jerry Monagin into the bomb bay with a screwdriver where he had to turn each of the 32-bomb shackle screws 1/2 turn counter-clockwise. This released each bomb, shackle and all, from the bomb bay. He had to work with the bomb bay doors open below him, while standing on a narrow metal catwalk that was about 6 inches wide. To breathe at that altitude, he used a "walk around oxygen bottle" that he clipped to his jacket. Those bottles were good for 10 minutes. If Jerry passed out, he would simply have dropped down and out of the bomb bay doors. We could not help him and were too busy to keep track of time for him. As soon as the bombs were released we were able to maintain our altitude and headed back out over the North Sea.

At that point, the icy cold water became our friend, because the German fighters did not want to go down in that icy water anymore than we did. Roger continued to try to talk the escort in to us, and suddenly out of the corner of my eye I could see a plane coming closer and closer. I thought a German fighter was bearing down so close that he cold NOT miss. Then a large fighter with twin booms came from behind, and roared around in front of us. It was a P-38 and at the same time a voice in my headset said, "You are OK now, Boy, we gotcha!" Beautiful words to my ears. The Germans ran at once. We were all alone except for our "little friends".

I called Scribner and asked for a heading home, and was very ticked off when he informed me that he had no maps. We turned to a westerly heading and I went down to the Navigators compartment to have a "word" about "no maps". What I found was shredded paper that filled his workspace. A large piece of flack had come through the floor and up through his little desk and through all of his neatly folded maps. He was still nearly speechless with fright; needless to say, I said nothing about any maps. Now we joke about it.

Our friends stayed with us nearly all the way home, to the point where they began to get low on fuel and had to leave us. We stayed out over the North Sea all the way and were not bothered again. We made it home without those precious maps. That was the day we nearly became POW's and would have been lucky at that. That was our most frightening day of WW-II.

I must list my crew, who were assigned to me in November of 1943 at Salt Lake City. They were a very good crew, second to none!! So good that other pilots commented continually on my good luck to have them.

They were:

2nd Lt. Roger Harvey. A fine pilot who when offered his own crew by Pete Rooney, which would have promoted him to 1st Lt. Roger turned it down, to stay with "his" crew as Co-pilot.

2nd Lt. Frank Scribner. One of the best navigators in the squadron. My "buddy" on the crew. We spent most of our off hours together.

1st Lt. John Ward. Our first Bombardier. John had been around for some time as an instructor before being assigned to me. John found a home in the Air Force and through his father, who was a politician in Ohio, went through pilot training after the war. He became a Squadron C.O. with a B-47 Bomber outfit. He died a number of years ago.

1st Lt. Harry Houchins. A Kentucky boy, and a great favorite with all the crews. He had been the Squadron Bombardier before coming to us. He made points with me one day when he announced in front of a lot of people including his pilot, Capt. Fred Dunlap, that he would rather fly with Roderick and Harvey as they were the best in the Squadron. He got his wish and we were all happy about that. Harry died some time ago.

Tech Sgt. Jerry Monagin. Jerry had two jobs. He fired the top turret guns, which were behind the two pilots and also was the Flight Engineer, having been through mechanics school, which permitted him to work with the ground crew to maintain the plane and to do what emergency repairs that were possible. Jerry has always claimed that he should have been awarded the "Purple Heart". One night while on a 48-hour pass in London, he stepped off the curb and looked the wrong way for traffic. A truck ran him down and put him in the hospital. Only the fact that he was probably well lubricated saved his life.

Staff Sgt. Vaughn Erickson. A very steady, strong person that always could be relied on to do the best job possible. He rode in the ball turret, hanging below the plane, where he was my eyes to watch the engines. His words on the intercom "We have a bad oil leak" were never music to my ears. Eric was 19 and the youngest on the crew.

Staff Sgt. Al Serrano. The tail gunner and who kept us laughing. He found a joke in most situations. The one person who didn't believe he was funny was the Squadron First Sgt. He was a big, tall man who spent a lot of his time looking down on Al, and abusing him with his tongue.

Staff Sgt. Joe Barnhart. Joe was born in Germany and his parents were members of Hitler's political party. I was informed of that by an Army Intelligence Officer who visited me one night in my barracks room in Rapid City, SD before we went to England. Joe never mentioned his parents to us and I said nothing about them to him. He was a very good man on the crew. A waist gunner, who could always be counted on for a good job. He was one of the older men on the crew and very well liked. He died soon after the war.

Sgt. Dick Carter was the Radio Operator, and was the other youngster on the crew at 19 years of age. Dick was very excitable and had the disadvantage of having very poor visibility from the radio room. The ceiling escape hatch afforded a view of only the sky above, and the only other window was a small opening on the opposite side of the radio room. He had to rely on any intercom talk for news, and if those voices indicated concern or fright, his excitement level rose accordingly.

Staff Sgt. Jerry Amer. Jerry was the 2nd Waist Gunner. He and Joe Barnhart had the most comfortable jobs in the plane. They stood for the entire mission (sometimes as long as 10 hours) in an open window behind their gun. They were completely covered with heavy leather and sheep wool and electric clothing in an effort to combat the cold. When we were at 25,000 feet it was often 60º BELOW zero. They suffered from cold on every mission, but with no complaints from either man. Jerry was a strong man on the crew. He reacted quickly to emergency situations, and his statements and advice over the intercom were words to be listened to.

This was Crew # 42 in the 602nd Squadron in the 398th Bomb Group, in the 8th Air Force. Our commander was General Jimmy Doolittle and a very famous man in his own right. My crew was my family and it was my responsibility to see that they were fed, housed, trained and kept fit. We worked and played together. The 4 officers lived in a sheet metal hut with the officers from two other crews. The 6 enlisted men lived in a sheet metal hut with the enlisted men of one of the other crews. Madame X had a good crew and I'm proud to be one of their comrades.

I must also say a word about our Ground Crew. They lived for and with the "Madame". They, as most of the ground crews did, built a wooden shack alongside our B-17 and lived there in very comfortable conditions. Many times I grabbed a nap on one of their cots as we waited for the "start engines" flare to be fired from the control tower.

They were:

Master Sgt. Leroy Smith. Smitty was 49 years old and a long time auto mechanic before the war. He and his brother operated a small garage in a small town out west. When the brother, who was younger, married and with children was about to be drafted, Smitty made a deal with the local Draft Board to take him instead of his brother. They did, and it was a lucky break for the crew of the Madame X. He was probably the best Crew Chief in the Squadron. He drove his other two mechanics constantly to keep the plane in the best of repair. He was afraid of flying. Had never been in the air in a plane and would not ride with us. The other two flew for the fun of it every chance they got.

Sgt. "Pop" Onimus. A fat jolly man, who was always the last man on the ground that I saw when we left to taxi to the runway, and who directed us when parking the plane when we returned. He had no smile when we left, but a huge grin when we returned. I really believe he started what is now the traditional snappy salute to the pilot as he starts to taxi on his way.

Corporal Fred Mc Magee. A silent little man, who never had anything to say, but smiled most of the time. A good worker and a master with the electrical wiring in the plane. Many times he began work repairing wiring as soon as we landed and finished the next day just before we loaded up for the next trip.

These three men kept the Madame in top shape. We never had to worry about mechanical problems before take off.

This is my story of a part of a couple of days in my life during those dark days in 1944. I was 23 years old, and did not realize at the time that a lot of us were making history. We were just eager to get it over and go home. I was probably more anxious than a lot of others, because my Margie was waiting for me. It was an unusual day when mail call did not have one of her loving letters for me.

Paul Roderick
July 8, 1994


Transcribed by Samantha Krause, Paul’s Great Granddaughter daughter.


Personal History Information
  1. Veteran: Paul Roderick
  2. Pilot, 602nd Squadron
  3. Date of Personal History: July 1994
  4. Author: Paul Roderick
  5. Submitted to 398th Web Pages by: Sharon Krause