Monday, May 25, 2020

So young. They were so young.

Hump Halsey flight crew, part of the 58th division,

This blurred photo showed a cluster of airmen, awfully young guys. But then, 1941 needed all the young guys that could be gathered. 
They are leaning on each other, arms draped over their shoulders. The eleven were a team of their own brothers.

But really look at them. What do you see? Who has a different expression?

My dad is in the back row on the right. He and his best buddy John were then and for the rest of their lives close friends. All of the eleven were about twenty-one years old.

Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Little Gem"
B-29-superfortress
Their plane was a B-29 Super Fortress, Organ Annie was its moniker, its sexy girl nose art. All B-29s had their own seductive, sensual lady draped across the nose. Sometimes, crews jumped up and slapped whatever part that could be reached. Those parts were mighty faded over time.


Enola Gay - Smithsonian Institute Archives
Museum  Enola Gay
Organ Annie and crew were based on the Mariana Islands at Tinian, along with hundreds or more of other B-29 Super Fortresses. They flew the CBI, China-Burma-India hump.

Dad spoke of one particular B-29 that was parked a distance from others and their crew and pilots had been sequestered from others. Their pilots were Paul W. Tibbets and co-pilot Robert Lewis, both of whom were in their late 20s when they flew the Enola Gay to drop the first atomic bomb.

The nose art was standard sexy women, but had been painted over with the words "Enola Gay". 

Look at the photo at the top, again. Ten of the crew were together, friends. One is is different. Notice the man on the middle row, far left. Captain Zeb was their pilot; he is looking down. All pilots wore aviator sunglasses.  

Like many pilots, Captain Zeb kept himself isolated, removed from his crew. Getting too friendly clouded their judgment. After all, he was an old guy, being twenty-two.


                                   B-29museums 
Video is about 20 minutes long.  I watched it twice, thinking about the men who flew in it, like my father.
About 7 minutes is worth watching.

Their missions changed history. Dad was a bay gunner in their plane. They flew 12 hours to drop incendiary bombs on industrial sites. Then it turned around to fly another 12 hours, stopping to refuel in China. The B-29 was credited with stopping the war. What they and Enola Gay did was to shorten and then end the war. (It is estimated that since the Japanese would not surrender and that the civilian population would be called to defend Japan, nearly 1 million in all would die.)

They were so young, all the men and women who fought in WW2.  

What do you think of my dad's crew of men? What about Captain Zeb?  

Oh, dear Lord, they were babies.


Pinterest








37 comments:

  1. there were so many babies, even younger than this group that fought and died so we might be free.. the pilot looks like he knows what is coming. my dad's brother was a tail gunner in a fighter plane and his other brother was a marine ... I was born in 44 and raised a war baby as were my cousins. thanks for sharing your dad and his crew with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A tail gunner had a difficult spot. So vulnerable. Being a bay gunner, Dad saw too much as well.

      Delete
  2. Very interesting! I cannot imagine either being them, or making that "what do you think of them" call. They were in an experience too hard to be casually judged.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dad didn't share much about that part of his life until close to the end.

      Delete
  3. I know photos can be deceiving, but wow. I'm struck by your resemblance to your dad! I'm sure you're very proud of his service. Growing up in Los Alamos, of course, every kiddo was familiar with the names Enola Gay and Tibbets. Since my hubby is a huge fan of WWII aircraft, we'll watch this videos together a little later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never thought I resembled Dad until recently when a current photo of me at this age showed me that we do have some similarities.
      Los Alamos! Wow.

      Delete
  4. Great memories and a sweet read, thanks. Yes, I was home, a child but I knew my brothers were somewhere on a ship, less than 20 years old and grew up fast. They returned but left so many behind. Today we remember and honor them. Our prayers and thoughts are with those families whose babies in the thousands, did not return.
    I enjoyed your memories, sweet.
    Sherry & jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jack. I bet having those brothers off far away was hard on your mama. Thanks for sharing that time with me.

      Delete
  5. Physically young, and mentally so very, very old. And even those who survived the war never regained that mental youth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The men who came home carried a heavy load all their lives.

      Delete
  6. War is horrible for all. Those men were boys who had an incredible job to do and did it. Some paid the ultimate price. I can't imagine fighting in a war or anything that resembles a war or conflict. I am thankful for those people who did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When WW2 started, my grandfather said how glad his only son (who died of diphtheria when he was 2 yrs. 1922) did not live to go to another war.

      Delete
  7. Dad never said much to me about the war. Later in life I became involved in the local air show which always had vintage planes on the Tarmac. I learned of a visiting B-17 and made arrangement for him to be here. My position allowed me access to a golf cart and we spent time together all over the show. I needed to work and left him at the display of the Bomber. When I came back, he was standing in the shade of the fusilage surrounded by uniformed airmen listening to his stories about the flights over China. It a special moment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, how wonderful. This gave some closure for him I am sure.

      Delete
  8. My father was in the Navy. He served as a gunner's mate 1st class. He was also so young then. My parents did not even meet until the war was over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being a gunner is a heavy responsibility.

      Delete
  9. Thank you to all those who have served, and died, for our freedom and way of living.

    In the UK, memorial Sunday is the closest Sunday to November 11.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here Hov. 11 marks the day of the end of WW1.

      Delete
  10. Great picture. The history of all this is remarkable. These were such young men. They were also very brave.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've seen the Enola Gay nose on display at the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport. There are (or were, when I visited years ago) docents there who are elderly war veterans and would give tours of particular exhibits. You could join or leave as you wished, and we listened to this gentleman explain about the B-29's. Those pilots must have been so lonely, having to emotionally distance themselves from their crews. My Dad served in the Army Air Force as an airplane mechanic. He didn't see combat but suffered a head injury that impacted him for the rest of his life. I wonder how many of the young men in your picture survived the war, and how many of those who survived suffered emotionally from their experience. It's sobering, knowing I have my freedoms (and perhaps my life) because of their sacrifices. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for all you have written here. I know my father had difficulties for the rest of his life. Memories are harsh.

      Delete
  12. They were so young. But war is a young man's game, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only the young have the strength to take on such challenges.

      Delete
  13. It always makes me cry to think about it. Yes, they are babies.

    My baby is an Army medic. Her boyfriend is on orders to leave for Afghanistan in November. All of them so young.

    ReplyDelete
  14. So very young. It's the same with all wars, men far too young go to fight for the freedom of the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do those precious young men understand what awaits them? I don't know what my father's generation thought of that when enlisting after Pearl Harbor.

      Delete
  15. I have grandsons aged 20 and 24. I dread the thought of another world war.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I pray that your and others' grandsons will stay home safely.

      Delete
  16. Hi Susan - the wars are just dreadful ... so many young ... I'm glad your father survived - you now: stay safe - Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  17. this read made me shiver dear Susan

    i hope ther is no war ahead

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have grandsons aged 20 and 24. I dread the thought of another world war.
    JokerGaming
    Pussy888

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!