Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The 34th Mission - The Mission they would remember for a Lifetime.

(Continuation of Captain Charles Estes's War Memoirs)

"Well, this was our first lead mission and everybody on the
crew was real nervous about it because we didn't -- we had
no experience with leading a mission, and we were unsettled
as to our ability to do it, but we felt like we could, and they
felt like we could, so we were assigned the duty to fly the

And the morning that we were to fly this mission, March 15th,
1945, those in my tent, John Congleton and Bob Swain and
myself, we were awaken by the sound of this orderly coming
down our little gravel sidewalk that lead to our tent. We
could hear his feet, and he didn't have to wake us up, we were
just waiting for him to come, so to speak. When he got there,
he told us what time the briefing would be and so we
prepared ourselves for it and slipped out of our beds into
our -- I can't think now what we call the garment that we
wore prior to a flight or a mission, but we had a duffle
bag each one of us, and in the duffle bag we had all of
the high altitude garments that we needed to keep warm
when we were up at altitudes, because as you got up to
altitude the temperature got down to below zero and it
was more dangerous for the men in the back of the plane
than it was for those in the front. Those in the back had
to operate out of open windows and that wind coming in
that blows zero temperature could freeze their nose and
fingers and all kinds of things could happen to 'em if
they were not properly prepared for that kind of temperature.

Well, we went to briefing and they briefed us on our mission
to Schwechat, and they said it was a very important mission
and that we should do our very best to knock it out so that
we wouldn't have to go back there again. Well, of course,
we didn't want to go back again either, so we were prepared
to do the very best we could to bomb Schwechat in a way
that it would put it out of commission.

After the briefing we got into a truck and went out to the plane
and jumped in the airplane and waited for the signal for us to
start our engines and this was all prepared well in advance of
us getting to the plane. So when that time came we started
our engines up and began our taxi out to the end of the
runway to take off. All of the flight was behind us and we
got out to the end of the runway, and I recall we held our
brakes and then the green light or the green flare was shot
up from the tower which says "go" and so we wound our
engines up and pushed our throttles to the stops and that
ol' B-24 was just a dancing around, the vibrations and
everything else with our engines at that RPM, and when
we released our brakes and we started forward, and we
were on our 34th mission.

We had no idea what the day was going to bring, but
we were not afraid; I had done this many times before."

(To be Continued.)

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