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In one since of the word "The Hard Way". These missions were from November 1943 to September 1944. I do not remember all the names of the places we bombed, but I do remember some because they were special in some way.
When we first got to the Group you had to complete 25 missions before you could come back to the U.S. I flew 4 missions with the crew I had trained with for 6 months. On the 4th mission to Halberstadt that we were briefed for on February 20,1944 we bombed Helmstadt, Germany as a target of opportunity and our plane was damaged by flak and German fighters. I was hit in the back by a 20mm shell and we lost one engine. We could not keep up with our formation and began to lose altitude. The German fighters were still attacking and then 4 P47 American fighter planes came and helped us out. Over the English channel we lost another engine and crashed right on the beach near South End England.
I was hurt again in the crash and our plane #42-100340 named CHUBBY, tail letter W Bar on it's first mission and crew chief, Rodney Farrow and my original crew was Lt. R.K. Goodwin, pilot, Lt. R.E. McGee, copilot, Lt. C.O.Wettig, Navigator, Lt. R.J. Gerrish, Bombardier, Sgt. E.M. Roberts, Engineer, Sgt. M.J.Chacon,Radio, Sgt. L.H. Brent assistant engineer & waist Gunner, Sgt. R.J. Maxwell, waist gunner, Sgt. H.D. Parsley, gunner and Sgt. R.C. Krueger,gunner
After our crash I was taken to an English Hospital, The shell was removed from my back. After I had been there a few days a doctor came in to see me and said he wanted to show me what he had removed from my back. It was an explosive 20mm shell that did not explode(thank goodness). I still have the shell today. I remember THAT mission well.
After about three months in the American hospital, I was sent back to Wendling Base around the middle of May, 1944, My crew was gone (transfered out) and I started flying with different crews when for some reason they needed a gunner or flight engineer . I do know that I flew the first 4 with Lt. R.K. Goodwin crew and one of them was February 13,1944 on plane #42-7518 named "HARD TO GET" S Bar and our target was No-Ball#22.and the one that we crashed in CHUBBY, the other two I was unable to remember, and I flew with Lt. Charles W. Hamblis's crew to Corbie on August 02,1944 on Plane #42-52548 named JAW-JA-BOY tail letter S Bar and the same plane but with Lt.James E. Muldoon's crew on August 14,1944 to Lyon-Bron Airfield and on August 16,1944 to Kothen, Germany. then on D-DAY June 6th,1944 , I flew two missions with different crews I am unable to remember names of. That was a busy time.
Just before I finished 25 missions, they raised the number to 30 missions, Then when I finished 30 they gave me a three day pass to London, and told me to get ready to go home. That was a happy day. But when I got back from London I was told that they could find records of me flying only 29 mission and that I had to fly one more. That was a shock to put it mildly, I flew my 31st mission September 05, 1944 to bomb the Marshalling yards in Karlsruhe, Germany. We had a lot of damage from flak, but we made it back.
I got back to the States and married the girl I left behind, I have lived a good life. Taught High School and Coached, have children, grand-children and still living. I some times think of all the young men we lost over there, (26,000)? and remember what Abraham Lincoln said on the field of Gettysburg "LET US HERE BE HIGHLY RESOLVED THAT THESE MEN SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN, BUT THAT WE SHALL HAVE A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM, AND GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE,BY THE PEOPLE, AND FOR THE PEOPLE SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH"
Landon H. Brent