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Serving Uncle Sam: A Military Life in WWll

Gerald Schwartz USAAC (USAAF) 1940 - 1945


Chapter 88: Early Morning Missions. Pride in My Plane. Return to Our 'Home'. Lothar Gets Run Over. Retrieving My Stuff From A Tree

Grosetto, Italy. Nov 7, 1944. My plane flew a 7 AM mission, missed the 2nd mission, and flew again in the afternoon. These missions were in direct support of our ground troops.

It is quite cold now (in early November), and it appears we are in for a really cold winter. This is bad news because we are temporarily housed in a transient hangar with little heat. I had to wash up with cold water when I returned from the flying line this afternoon, and that is no fun. I played blackjack for a few hours tonight and came out even. Early to bed, because we will have an early take-off tomorrow morning!

Nov 8,1944. My plane flew on one of the two missions this morning, with Lt. Knauf as the pilot. He said he likes it better than his own plane! In the afternoon Lt. George Mosites flew my plane. He too said he likes my plane. In fact, all the pilots that fly it say they like it, and I take a lot of pride in that and consequently keep it spotlessly clean. When I returned from the afternoon mission, for example, I washed the oil from the belly with aviation gasoline. I repacked the tail wheel bearings and had to replace one because of rust which was caused by the recent flood. I am almost finished with the 25 hour inspection on my plane.

I haven’t even got a change of stockings, underwear or even outerwear with me. The only washing water we have here is as cold as ice and hard as nails. After dinner I played blackjack again and won $200.00' I received a package of food from Aunt Jennie.

Nov 9th,1944 They got us up at 5.00 AM for a 6.00 AM take-off. The hangar was as cold as hell. Immediately upon return of the planes we mounted another mission. Once again both pilots said they liked the plane because there’s nothing wrong with it and it has lots of power. In the afternoon my plane flew on another mission, this time in support of the infantry instead of dive-bombing bridges and tunnels. In late afternoon, 8 of us from 'A' Flight returned to our old camp on the beach. I moved back into my old room with Gene Schnabel. He had his right foot in a cast and was hobbling about with crutches, as result of an accident with his motorcycle.

I took a 'helmet' bath, shaved, and changed all my clothes. The wind blew with gale force this evening but we didn’t mind because we live in a house now. Schnabel, White, Metzger, Duchon, myself and some others played blackjack for a few hours. I came out $30.00 ahead. I received a package of food from Mother, which always comes in handy!

Nov 10,1944 Sgt. Podraza awoke me at 6 AM and told me to get up and bring Zuzze, Clark, Wallace and myself down to the flying line for an early mission. Things got screwed up because we were told to pre-flight 4 ships which then took off. It was supposed to be a mission of eight, so the other 4 took off 5 minutes later. What a SNAFU! 15 minutes later another 8 took off, and we found ourselves running around from one plane to the other like chickens without heads!

At 2.30 we flew only one more mission, this one with 12 planes of dive bombing as usual. It returned at 4.36 PM, and I then finished my 25 hour inspection, adjusted the mixture control, and had it checked by the squadron maintenance inspector. We serviced-up the planes and got ready to return to Camp, when Lothar got run over by a bomb trailer, and suffered a broken leg. Sgt. Podraza drove him to the 10i5th Station hospital for treatment immediately.

After dinner I washed up including my hair, and straightened out my clothing, etc, which had survived the flood. It survived because I had tied it high up in a tall strong tree before evacuating the camp. I played blackjack again tonight and won $60.00! Half of our tents are down now as result of gale force winds of around 50 miles per hour.

So ends part 88 of my wartime memoirs, in our 28th month of overseas combat service!

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