THEY ALSO SERVED
A bomb group can be compared to a baseball team. The nine men on the field have one responsibility --- to win the game. But in order to achieve that goal many other people must also be involved. The managers, coaches, trainers, groundskeepers, and many more behind the scenes, are doing their part as well. But the ballplayers receive most of the notoriety and attention.
The same thing can be said about a bomb group. The air crews receive most of the accolades. But we sometimes neglect to give enough credit to the rest of the team whose contribution and effort, while not glorified, is just as necessary to the creed, "bombs on target."
The moment the phone in headquarters rings and a voice on the other end orders the group to prepare for the next day's mission, the well-oiled machinery is immediately put into motion. Things begin to fall into place as the group is put on alert:
S-2 must prepare for the early morning briefing. Photos and maps of the target area are gathered. Important and pertinent information must be relayed, such as; bomb load, number of planes scheduled to fly, selection of air crews, take-off time, etc. Lead crew bombardiers and navigators are to be alerted for a special pre-briefing. These are just a few actions triggered by the phone call.
Ordinance and armament, after receiving their orders as to the bomb load, quickly move into action. Fuses are installed and they are then loaded on racks to be delivered to the flight line where they are then attached to the waiting bomb racks. (Sometimes, even unloaded again after an unsuccessful mission, and returned to ordinance -- to be reloaded another day). The hundreds of cartridge belts must be filled with ammunition, gun barrels cleaned, gun turrets checked , etc. These tasks, though sometimes taken for granted, are a necessary part of the end result.
Our ground crews are another important link in the chain. The attachment to their assigned planes adds a personal touch to their duties. The time and effort expended to ensure that the planes under their responsibility are airworthy and ready to fly is much more than a job -- it's a sense of pride.
And how often is food taken for granted ? A second thought is seldom given to the cooks and other workers in the mess hall. It is a 24 hour job to have meals and food readily available. The early morning breakfast before briefing, as well as the meal waiting for the returning crews, is just a part of their contribution. Non-flying personnel must also eat. Like running a large restaurant, it takes training and experience.
The medics also come to mind. They are another important member of the team. Their contribution was never given a second thought -- until really needed. The moment a message is transmitted back to the base that a plane has wounded men aboard they spring into action. The red-red flares, fired over the base while on final approach, gives the returning plane preferential landing sequence and an ambulance is anxiously waiting as they taxi in. The casualties are rushed to the base hospital where the best possible medical attention is available and ready.
The Red Cross, contrary to some comments, also made their contribution to the big picture. Greeting the tired returning air crews with a hot drink and maybe a doughnut to take the place of the meal missed while on the mission helps to unwind the men. Their work in the servicemen's club was greatly appreciated and their presence was a morale booster. There are many other unsung heroes not described here but who are also included in those support groups listed in our letterhead as, "The Greatest Support Team". Each contributed to the overall effort.
- John C. Albanese, bombardier, 833rd.
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