|AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, England -- Who is winning the war -- the foot-sloggin doughboy or the
airman? That is an argument which scarcely a fox-hole or a Nissen hut or a pub in this theatre has not heard.
The one word "Teamwork" has answered the question in the minds of at least 100 convalescent wounded veterans of the Battle of France who climaxed a recent visit to this Eighth Air Force base by watching the B-17 Flying Fortresses coming in from an attack on rail-yards at Cologne, chief supply base for the NAZI armies who had been giving the GIs trouble in and around Aachen.
It all came about when Corporal Leonard W. Lieberman, 28 year old athletic and program director of a convalescent battalion at an Army hospital, stepped into a ward and overheard the argument between men of the Air and Ground Forces.
He knew that these men had never had occasion to learn what it takes to send a group of Fortresses stabbin into the heart of Germany, and it occurred to him that a hike to the nearby 486th Bomb Group base might prove doubly valuable. It would not only afford good exercise for the recuperating GIs, it might also settle some questions about the relative merits of Air and Ground Forces.
Going through the regular Army channels, CPL Lieberman met with approval for his plan. The Bomb Group's Commanding Officers, Colonel Glendon P. Overing of Orange, Mass., readily gave his consent and Captain Reuben M. Morriss, Group Intelligence Officer, St. Louis, Mo., agreed to assist in arranging a program.
Accordingly, when the first contingent of Ground Forces vets arrived, a complete schedule had been arranged which would show them the planning and execution of a mission. They were placed in charge of two airman who have also felt the sting of enemy steel, Second Lieutenants Paul J. Freese, pilot, of Quincy, Ill., and George F. Neson, navigator, St. Paul, Minn.
Capt Morriss first took them through a briefing which simulated the actual briefing given to sleepy-eyed fliers in the we hours of the morning before they take off on their almost daily "visits" to Germany.
After the briefing, they were taken to the equipment room where some of the men bundled themselves into the heavy clothing and paraphernalia which a flier must wear to stay alive at high altitude.
Most of the men had never been near a B-17 on the ground, so they marched out to the "line", where they were shown through one of the big bombers by LT Freese and LT Neson.
To climax their visit, they watched the spectable of a group of Fortresses coming home to roost after an attack on rail yards at Cologne, Germany. Passing over the field in perfect formation the planes, one by one, gracefully dipped a wing, peeled off, and came into the field at accurately-spaced intervals.
After the last plane had landed, the men were taken to the Aero Club, enlisted men's service club maintained on this base by the Red Cross, where they were treated to hot coffee, sandwiches, cookies, and a fat chewing session with some of their Air Force team-mates.
These trips have now become a weekly affair and Corporal Lieberman says of them, "It settles the argument. They all agree that the Air Force and the Ground Forces are a team -- a damn good one that neither Jap nor Aryan superman can beat."
GIs have a way of making each other feel at home that civilians don't understand. These fellows like to swap experiences with the men of other branches.
"To the infantry men, the armament on a Fort is the most interesting feature of the tour. From experience, they have all developed a hearty respect and admiration for a good weapon. They know now better than ever before, that a Flying Fortress with its power turret machine guns, is a might fine weapon."
CPL Lieberman is the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Lieberman, Cleveland, OH. Before entering the Army, he was employed by radio stations WHK and WCLS, Cleveland. His brother, PFC Bert L. Lieberman, is with the infantry somewhere in Holland.
Another Cleveland soldier, PFC George H. Kerr, Jr., 22, who went to France on D-Day plus six, as part of a quartermaster unit attached to the engineers, described a personal experience that taught the meaning of Air Force-Ground Force teamwork.
"There was on 88 mm gun emplacement that was giving us hell. Every time our planes came over, they would stop firing. Finally the Air Force got their position and blew them to pieces. That's one debt everybody in my outfit owes the Air Force. We'll never forget it."
Because of wounds incurred in an ammunition dump explosion, at Carentan, France, PFC Kerr was brought back to England.
"I've had several discussions with the boys in the ward since then, and they all said their outfit was winning the war. Well, after this visit, I think we realize that teamwork -- all branches together -- is winning the war."
PFC Kerr's brother, Charles, saw the invasion from the Navy's angle. He is a seaman aboard the USS Mason. Their parents, Mr. and Mrs. George H. Kerr, live in Cleveland.
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