A Chance Encounter…

Frequent commenter Toejam sent this via email, and posted with his permission…

I was shopping at a local(North Carolina) “Harris Teeter” supermarket today. As chance would have it I pulled into a parking space next to a 7 year old Buick sedan. As I walked toward the store I noticed the license plate had: “Recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross” on it. That’s one step below the “Congressional Medal of Honor” for you non-military types.

Suddenly a stooped, Silver-grey haired man approached. He was stooped & old but he had a special sparkle in his eyes.

I asked if this Buick was his. He said “yes sir it is”. Here standing next to me was the WW-II pilot of a B-17 that was shot down over Europe and he called me “Sir”!

3 out of 4 engines of his B-17 were shot totally out by flack at 26,000 feet and the plane was starting to spiral down. He ordered his 9 man crew to bail out, but he decided to stick with the plane to try and keep it fairly level till the men got out. Finally, it was his turn. He jumped at barely 500 feet.

He didn’t say how many of the crew survived and I didn’t ask. The survivors were aided by the “partisans” and, after a long cold trek, they got back to American lines.

Here we were standing in the middle of a busy parking lot, me listening and him telling me this like he was reliving a dream. Cars were backed up but neither of us noticed.

Finally, I thanked him for his service and his heroic deed. He gave me a card with his address and phone number. Then while getting into his car he smiled and said: “come over for a visit some time and we’ll have a longer talk.”

You can bet I’ll take him up on the offer.

The LINK is the abbreviated story of the B-17 Pilot Toejam met today. A humble, polite but very proud member of the “Greatest Generation”.

When Toejam does meet with LT Logan, I’ll post it here.


A Chance Encounter… — 10 Comments

  1. Those young men (most in their early twenties) were the bravest of the brave. The chances of survival were so low and yet the left for missions everyday the whether was clear enough. Hand salute to him.

  2. I would gladly drive to North Carolina for a blogmeet with a Guest of Honor who was awarded the DFC. I’m not the only one.

    If Toejam will set a date and time I will block this in on my calendar.

  3. Ed- Yep…

    BP- I would too!

    McT- You’re right, but it’s Army, and actually the DFC is actually five down on the priority list…

  4. Wow! Way too cool! I would definitely go and bring my son who loves aviation.

  5. My father flew a B-24 and was stationed in stationed in England. I was very lucky to hear the stories of his missions first hand. He entered the war in the late stages so the German Air Force was not much of a factor but the flak was still there. He had some amazing adventures.

    After his bombing missions were over he flew for the OSS and then was the personal pilot for a General. Simply amazing stuff.

    I am not sure how he accomplished it but he was able to save copies of the mission orders, debriefings and a diary his navigator wrote for every single bombing mission they flew.

    Two notebooks full of history.

  6. I work at an auto repair shop. Last year we had an elderly guy come into the shop looking for some tires. His vanity license plate was UDT 21. When I asked which islands he surveyed pre-invasion he looked very surprised. I smiled and said ” When you work for a 5th Division Marine who received the The Silver Star and three Purple Hearts on Iwo Jima you study a little history.”