A box of six B-25s flying straight into some heavy flak.

Photograph from S/Sgt. Eddie Little of the 489th Bomb Squadron Provided by his Grandson, Jarrett Crump.


Why didn’t our fathers talk much about flying their missions?  Anti-aircraft guns were shooting aerial flak bombs that exploded at their altitude.  The shrapnel would tear right through the plane and brought many of them down.  The plane had to fly straight and level over the target and right through all that flak.  Even if you didn’t get hit, the shock waves were bouncing the plane all over.  Imagine the sheer terror mission after mission.  If there was no flak or fighters, the mission was a “milk run”.   When our fathers arrived overseas, they were expected to complete 25 missions.   The movie “Memphis Belle” is about a B-17 crew that was the first to survive 25 missions since the rate of attrition was so high.  After 25 missions you were deemed mentally unfit for combat so you got to go home.  Well as our fathers added missions, they upped the ante to 50 missions and then in late 1944 they upped it to 70 missions!  I’m sure you’ve heard about the book and movie “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller.  He was in the 488th Bomb Squadron on Corsica the 340th bomb group. Joseph Heller was bombardier and 8U had Francis Yohannan as bombardier. Yohannan was the real-life inspiration for Heller's main character of Yossarian in "Catch-22."