Harold Plunkett Returns To The B-17

Here at JohnJacobH Blog we have followed the adventures of Harold Plunkett, WWII Ball Turret Gunner with great admiration.

CLICK LINK HERE and HERE and HERE

We are glad to see he remains air worthy in this, his latest episode aboard the legendary B-17.

STORY LINK CLICK HERE

Tantalizing Excerpt:
St. Louis, MO (KTVI-FOX2Now.com) – The ‘Liberty Belle’ B-17 is an icon of American history. It has taken fight in the skies over St. Louis. The B-17 is perhaps the most iconic aircraft of World War II. This weekend, St. Louisans will have the chance to get a close up look at one of only 14 still being flown today.

The planes were built toward the end of the war. This particular version of the Liberty Belle never saw combat but it does have a long history. In 1979 the midsection was crushed by a tornado. Eventually it was bought by the Liberty Foundation and restored so everyone could share in the history of this legendary plane.

More than 12,000 B-17s were built during the war. A staggering 4,700 of them went down in action.

Advertisements

Paul Tibbets: Proper Weapon Lubrication Under Extreme Conditions

For the WD-40 crowd, I humbly offer this selection from the “Return of the Enola Gay”,a memoir of Colonel Paul Tibbets, Army Air Corps- a brief tutorial on the maintenance and lubrication of the M-50 machinegun under extreme conditions.

Click Link Here to acquire your copy of “Return Of The Enola Gay”
Page 86-87:
Continue reading

Harold Plunkett, Phil Reinoeh, Ball Turret Gunner (s) (Part III)

Another tale from the Ball Turret Gunner Files.

Complete link:

http://www.tribstar.com/news/local_story_194223944.html

Tantalizing Excerpt:

During combat, Plunkett’s oxygen tank was shot away, causing him to pass out. When members of the crew looked down at the turret and saw he wasn’t moving, they assumed he was dead, he said.

It wasn’t until the Germans fled to refuel that they could check on him. “When they went back to refuel, the boys got me out of the turret, put me in the radio room and put me on real oxygen and brought me back to where I was available again,” he said.

He wasn’t sure how long he was without the oxygen, but crew members told him his body was starting to turn black. After a three-day break, he was back to flying again, Plunkett said.

Paul Tibbets demonstrates how to deal with corrupt government

 

From the good people over at Free Republic another example of the difference between “then” and “now”. Pretty amazing tale.

The book can be found for sale here:

http://www.enolagay.org/

The link to the excerpt can be found here:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/542695/posts

Tantalizing excerpt:

Here is a little tale that suddenly seems highly relevant.

A tale of guns and money and government corruption as told by an old pilot from the greatest generation. (Note: keep in mind in 1943 a descent house with indoor plumbing (a big deal in those days) could be had for about $8000.00. Cars were anywhere from $800.00 to $1200.00.

Paul Tibbets traveled  with a chunk of change and NO trigger locks on the guns!)

Chapter 19 Reunion

“You son of a b****, put that down!”

The voice was mine, but I could hardly believe it.

The scene was the U.S. customs shed at Homestead Air Force base south of Miami.

I had just pumped a live round into the chamber of my .45 automatic and was pointing the gun at a very surprised and officious customs officer who was trying to take $1,600 from me.

This was my return to the United States in February 1943, after eight months overseas. I was tired and run-down from months of combat flying and a strenuous seven-day trip home in slow-flying military transports. My weight was down to 155 pounds, 37 less than when I left for England the previous June.

Before I left Algiers, an old flying friend, Christopher Karis, had given me a little more than $800 to take to his parents back home. He had been helping to support them since he was in high school. When he gave me the money, he was on brief leave from his base in the desert, where there had been nowhere to spend the monthly pay he had been collecting. Although we were paid in Algerian francs, a serviceman returning to the States could convert them to American dollars.

I had taken Karis’s money and my own to the finance officer and converted them into a little more than $1600 in U.S. currency. This I put into a French-made Moroccan leather pouch that was a little larger than a billfold. Although it would fit in an inside jacket pocket, I put it in my B-4 bag, which was never out of my sight on the trip home.

My luggage consisted of the B-4 bag, which contained an automatic pistol, and a parachute bag in which was stowed an assortment of belongings, including my Thompson submachine gun.

I hoisted the bag onto a table and the customs agent started going through them. He saw the weapons and never said a word. When he came to the leather pouch, he asked, “What’s this?”

“Money-about $1600.” I replied.

“Well, I have to take it.”

That was when I exploded. Normally, my reaction would have been less violent, but the war and the long trip home had loaded the camel’s back to the breaking point. I wasn’t about to give up that money.

“You can’t have that,” the customs man said, looking nervously at the gun I was pointing at him.

Harold Plunkett, Ball Turret Gunner Part II

Another living history lesson from Harold Plunkett, Ball Turret Gunner, Army Air Corps.

Complete link:

http://www.wthitv.com/global/video/flash/popupplayer.asp?clipId1=2696416&at1=News&vt1=v&h1=World+War+II+veteran+tells+his+story+of+surviving+the+deadliest+job+on+a+B%2D17&d1=176267&redirUrl=www.wthitv.com&activePane=info&LaunchPageAdTag=homepage&clipFormat=flv&rnd=82323776

The Boys of Pointe du Hoc

Ronald Reagan’s Speech at Pointe du Hoc, June 6,1984

Remarks at the U.S. Ranger Monument
Pointe du Hoc, France
June 6, 1984

One of two speeches commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, this speech was delivered at the site of the U.S. Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc, France, where veterans of the Normandy Invasion, and others, had assembled for the ceremony. Later during the day, President Reagan spoke at Omaha Beach, France.

Full Link:

http://www.reaganfoundation.org/reagan/speeches/dday_pdh.asp

 
We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers–the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place.

When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again.

They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”

I think I know what you may be thinking right now–thinking, “We were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day.” Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help.

Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren’t. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him–Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, “Sorry I’m a few minutes late,” as if he’d been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he’d just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast.

They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a rollcall of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland’s 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England’s armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard’s “Matchbox Fleet” and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge–and pray God we have not lost it–that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They thought–or felt in their hearts, though they couldn’t know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-Day: their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we’re about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here.

They rebuilt a new Europe together.

There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance–a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost 40 years after the war. Because of this, Allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose–to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It’s fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead.

We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that some day that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now.

Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actionssay to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.