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By Herbert Brooks Hatch

Memoirs of a WWII Fighter Pilot

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1 never saw Dick again. He survived the war, went back to Grand Island and took over the dealership. We sent Xmas cards back and forth for many years until he died of cancer at an early age. He always commented on his card about our swap of rides. He was a good friend and a fine man. ) Ju E 10, 1944 - A BAD DAY AT PLOESTI Almost any veteran who spent time in combat, whether on the ground, at sea or in the air, will tell you that there was one week or day or even an hour that will be forever engraved in his memory.

We were a subdued group when we walked out and headed for our planes. This was to be my 27th mission, and for the first time I was boosted up to the post of element leader or Green Three in the fourth flight. Our call sign was Cragmore, and I was flying (Mon Amy) my own plane, a P38-J15. We were lucky. The weather was CAVU all the way there and back. Take-off at 0505 was normal and each squadron launched sixteen ships and three spares who would fill in if someone had to abort. We rendezvoused with the 82nd on schedule.

He had, in his excitement, flipped his arming switch to camera instead of guns! By the time he woke up to the problem, the I09 was long gone. It took a while for him to live that one down, but] didn't have the heart to needle him. E. that is truly funny, at lea t it was to me. Late in the summer of 1944, there were only a handful of pilots in the squadron with any real combat experience, and by then the Jerries were more evident in their absence than in their presence. We'd go mission after mission with no enemy contact and then, all of a sudden, we'd run into a hellova fight.

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