In Hostile Skies
An American B-24 Pilot in World War II
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of North Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
In the spring of 2002 I was an assistant professor of history at Texas Tech University, where I taught a variety of courses in modern U.S. military and diplomatic history. One day a visitor, Jay Wischkaemper, stopped by my door and asked if he could talk to me. It seemed a little strange since Jay had never been in any of my classes and was older than most of my students. It turns out ...
This memoir could not have been written without the assistance of many people at various stages in the project. Jim’s crew offered him unfailing commitment, and without question, helped him survive the war. Jay Wischkaemper started editing the memoir before passing it on to David. Dr. Gretchen Adams and Dr. Jorge ...
The two years and eight months I was on active duty serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II were the most exciting times in my life. I also see it as a miracle that I survived the roughly thirty combat missions I flew over occupied Europe and Germany in 1944. Many other men just like me flew missions during that period ...
Chapter 1 – The Dream
IT WAS FOUR O’CLOCK in the morning on December 7, 1941, when the alarm sounded. Dr. C.L. Prichard, a close personal friend and our family doctor, and I had driven from Abilene to Harper, Texas, to spend the weekend with my sister Frances and hunt deer and turkey on a ranch north of town. We decided we would get up early on ...
Chapter 2 – Training
WHEN WE ARRIVED AT the Fort Worth train station, several army trucks were there to take us to Hicks Field. While waiting to leave the train, word spread that our upperclassmen at Hicks Field consisted entirely of West Point graduates. Remembering our preflight experience and knowing the discipline required of West Point cadets, we were all a little nervous. The ride to the base took about ...
Chapter 3 – Flying the Beast
THE NEXT MORNING WE reported to Tarrant Field to be processed. I filled out all the forms that were required and took several physical exams. After I had gone through all the examinations, a sergeant told me that the flight surgeon wanted to see me in his office. I knew that was not routine, and it had never happened to me before. After I ...
Chapter 4 – Topeka to Belfast
AFTER JEAN LEFT, I slept very little because of the thought of what tomorrow would bring. We got up about 1:00 a.m. and put our bags in front of the barracks so the truck would carry them to the flight line. As I walked out the front door I could see a continuous line of lightning from the southwest to the northeast. It was distant and did ...
Chapter 5 – The First Mission
WE BOARDED THE PLANE with three other replacement crews for combat duty with the 489th Bomb Group. We were all strangers and anxious to see what it would be like at our new base. I had never met the other three crews previously. When we arrived at Halesworth, we were assigned to separate squadrons, and other than the ...
Chapter 6 – Our Early Missions
IT WAS ABOUT 4:45 P.M. when Frank and Mackey returned to the hut and told me that we were on the alert list for tomorrow’s mission. I thought they were joking, but they were not. I put on my clothes and went over to the bulletin board to see for myself, and sure enough my name was there. I continued to have the feeling ...
Chapter 7 – Close Calls [Includes Image Plates]
LITTLE DID I KNOW that the next two weeks would be among the most difficult of my time in Europe. From August 4 through August 16, 1944, we flew seven combat and three long training missions. All of the combat missions were more than six hours long and were flown against heavily defended targets. The training missions were ...
Chapter 8 – Finishing Our Tour
WHEN WE RETURNED TO the base on September 29 we learned that our group had lost two planes a few days earlier when they had collided while returning from a mission. Lt. Frank Fulks was the pilot of one of the planes and a good friend of mine. We also learned that the 445th Bomb Group had suffered a disaster on the same ...
Chapter 9 – Homecoming
THAT EVENING, JEAN’S MOTHER cooked fried chicken and made hot biscuits and gravy. She was a great cook, and because it had been a year since I had had a good home cooked meal, that made it that much better. We spent a few days in Tyler and then drove to Abilene to visit my family. It was a great homecoming. I was disappointed to learn that G. H. Blackburn, my closest friend growing ...