A Day in Dad's Bombardier Seat

By Diane Ogle

Daddy was a bombardier in WWII. He earned his Bombardier Wings in Midland, TX and was about to be shipped out on a mission with his classmates but was held back because the Army Air Corp did not have his transcript from the University of Louisville Speed School…a paperwork delay. I know he must have been disappointed as his friends were leaving to put to use all the skills they had learned. Before the paperwork caught up with him, sadly, his entire class of new Bombardiers were killed at Pearl Harbor. I would not be here today had he flown off with his buddies.

That’s just one of the many stories worth telling about my father. Here’s a second…and this one is all because of my FOREVER mobile app!

For many years, a small airport in Louisville (Bowman Field) has a marvelous display of old airplanes. (This airport was used in WWII.) The time that I attended the “air show,” I was curious about a vintage aircraft that was on display. It was roped off and drew a great crowd. I had just recently uploaded a photo to FOREVER that showed Daddy standing in front of his airplane with his crew. On the nose of the craft were the words “Beck the Bomb Doctor”. Not knowing much about airplanes, I found myself standing next to a man dressed in an old uniform typically worn by aviators in WWII.

I told him that my Dad was a bombardier, and I wondered if the aircraft on display might the same model that Daddy flew in. He asked me what he flew in and, of course, I had no idea, but I told him that I have a photo that might help. Right there in the middle of all the activity I pulled out my iPhone, opened my Forever account, found the album with Daddy’s WWII photos and showed it to him. He said, “It is sure the same model…would you like to climb in and sit in his seat in the nose of the plane?” WHAT! Of course, I would.

They took down the ropes and led me to drop-down stairs to climb aboard. I didn’t expect to find a l-o-n-g tunnel that I had to squeeze through to get to the nose and his seat! It was tight…those young guys were smaller than me and they were wearing jumpsuits…not shorts like I had on!

Once I settled into his seat, I was amazed at the gunnery at my hands. In the middle was a scope that I later learned was a new instrument. Each Bombardier carried a revolver and they instructed that if the plane was hit, they were to use the revolver to destroy the scope as the enemy could steal the technology.

I spend a fair amount of time in his seat and was almost one-third of the way back through the tunnel when I was told that I had to turn around and come back feet-first! Ugh! That was NOT easy. I later learned that going back out feet first was necessary because I had to be able to climb back down the ladder at the end of the tunnel. Needless to say, it was quite an experience that I never would have had if I hadn’t had that photo on my mobile app! Two minutes after I climbed out I felt something running down my leg; I had cut my legs in many places from the rivets inside the tunnel. I would do it again in a heartbeat…but with long pants the next time!

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