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Amazing Short War Story

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This story is confirmed in Elmer Bendiner’s book, The Fall of Fortresses.

*Sometimes, it’s not really just luck.*

Elmer Bendiner was a navigator in a B-17 during WW II. He tells this story of a World War II bombing run over Kassel, Germany , and the unexpected result of a direct hit on their gas tanks. “Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit. 

Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20 millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple. “On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck. 

The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but 11 had been found in the gas tanks. 11 unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. A near-miracle, I thought. 

Even after 35 years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.

“He was told that the shells had been sent to our armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that our Intelligence Unit had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer. “Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were as clean as a whistle and just as harmless.

Empty? Not all of them! One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually they found one to decipher the note. It set us marveling.

Translated, the note read:

“This is all we can do for you now. Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea.”

Bad Angel, P-51 Mustang

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On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, 2013, Ms. Karen, my 94-year-old father,  Bill Gressinger and I were visiting Pima Air and Space Museum. 

 

We were in Hanger #4 to view the beautifully restored B-29, when I happened to take notice of a P-51 Mustang near the big bomber. It’s name? “Bad Angel.


P-51 Mustang “Bad Angel” in Hanger #4 at Pima Air and Space Museum.

 

I was admiring its aerodynamic lines and recalled enough history to know that until the Mustangs came into service, the skies over the Pacific Ocean were dominated by Japanese Zeros.
Then something very strange caught my eye. 

Proudly displayed on the fuselage of ‘Bad Angel’ were the markings of the pilot’s kills: seven Nazis; one Italian; one Japanese AND ONE AMERICAN. Huh?

 

“Bad Angel” shot down an American airplane?

 
                            Kill marks on “Bad Angel”

 

Was it a terrible mistake? Couldn’t be. If it had been an unfortunate misjudgment, certainly the pilot would not have displayed the American flag.  I knew there had to be a good story here. Fortunately for us, one of the Museum’s many fine docents was on hand to tell it. 
                           ********************

In 1942, the United States needed pilots for its war planes, lots of war planes, lots of pilots. Lt. Louis Curdes was one. When he was 22 years old, he graduated flight training school and was shipped off to the Mediterranean to fight Nazis in the air over Southern Europe.

      

      Lt. Louis Curdes.

He arrived at his 82nd Fighter Group, 95th Fighter Squadron in April, 1943, and was assigned a P-38 Lightning. Ten days later he shot down three German Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters. A few weeks later, he downed two more German Bf-109’s.

In less than a month of combat, Louis was an Ace. During the next three months, Louis shot down an Italian Mc.202 fighter and two more Messerschmitt Bf-109’s before his luck ran out. 

A German fighter shot down his plane on August 27, 1943, over Salerno, Italy.
Captured by the Italians, he was sent to a POW camp near Rome. 

No doubt this is where he thought he would spend the remaining years of the war. It wasn’t to be. A few days later, the Italians surrendered. Louis and a few other pilots escaped before the Nazis could take control of the camp.

One might think that such harrowing experiences would have taken the fight out of Louis, yet he volunteered for another combat tour.

This time, Uncle Sam sent him to the Philippines where he flew P-51 Mustangs
Soon after arriving in the Pacific Theater, Louis downed a Mitsubishi reconnaissance plane near Formosa. Now he was one of only three Americans to have kills against all three Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, and Japan.


              Pilot Lt. Louis Curdes in his P-51 Mustang “Bad Angel”

Up until this point, young Lt. Curdes’ combat career had been stellar.

His story was about to take a twist so bizarre that it seems like the fictional creation of a Hollywood screenwriter.
While attacking the Japanese-held island of Bataan, one of Louis wingmen was shot down. The pilot ditched in the ocean. Circling overhead, Louis could see that his wingman had survived, so he stayed in the area to guide a rescue plane and protect the downed pilot.

It wasn’t long before he noticed another, larger airplane, wheels down, preparing to land at the Japanese-held airfield on Bataan. 

He moved in to investigate. Much to his surprise the approaching plane was a Douglas C-47 transport with American markings.  

He tried to make radio contact, but without success. He maneuvered his Mustang in front of the big transport several times trying to wave it off. The C-47 kept heading to its landing target. Apparently the C-47 crew didn’t realize they were about to land on a Japanese held island, and soon would be captives.

Lt. Curdes read the daily newspaper accounts of the war, including the viciousness of the Japanese soldiers toward their captives. 

He knew that whoever was in that American C-47 would be, upon landing, either dead or wish they were.  But what could he do?

Audaciously, he lined up his P-51 directly behind the transport, carefully sighted one of his .50 caliber machine guns and knocked out one of its two engines. Still the C-47 continued on toward the Bataan airfield. Curdes shifted his aim slightly and knocked out the remaining engine, leaving the baffled pilot no choice but to ditch in the ocean.


One of “Bad Angel’s” .50 caliber machine guns built into it wings.            .50 caliber ammo for P-51 Mustangs.

The big plane came down in one piece about 50 yards from his bobbing wingman.

At this point, nightfall and low fuel forced Louis to return to base.  

The next morning, Louis flew cover for a rescuing PBY that picked up the downed Mustang pilot and 12 passengers and crew, including two female nurses, from the C-47. 

All survived, and later, Lt. Curdes would end up marrying one of these nurses.

For shooting down an unarmed American transport plane, Lt. Louis Curdes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Thereafter, on the fuselage of his P-51 “Bad Angel”, he proudly displayed the symbols of his kills: seven German, one Italian, one Japanese and one American flag.

   And As Paul Harvey use to say “ now you know the rest of the story “

John Glenn: His Life in Pictures

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nbcnews1

Click link below picture

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John Herschel Glenn Jr. flew into the history books on Feb. 20, 1962, when he became the first American to go into orbit.

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Click link below for article and photos:

http://www.nbcnews.com/slideshow/john-glenn-his-life-pictures-n693336

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Just Look Up

2 Comments

THE BUZZARD
!!!!!TheBuzzard1
If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner.
The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet.  Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.
——————————————
THE BAT
!!!!!TheBat1
The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place.
If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air.
Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.
——————————————
THE BUMBLEBEE
!!!!!TheBumbleBee1

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out.  It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom.  It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

——————————————
PEOPLE
!!!!!People1
In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee.  We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up!
That’s the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem….
just look up!
!!!!!JustLookUp1
——————————————-
Sorrow looks back,
Worry looks around,
But faith looks up!
Live simply,
love generously,
care deeply,
speak kindly, and
trust in our Creator,
who loves us.
 

Remember Our Soldiers Are the Reason We Still Are Free – To Mess Things Up!

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Never Forget!

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I just watched ‘RED DAWN”

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/red+dawn

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!!!!!ReturningSoldiers1
Matthew Henry
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Hooyah

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FYI

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-It takes glass one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times!

-Gold is the only metal that doesn’t rust, even if it’s buried in the ground for thousands of years.

-Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end.

-If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.

-Each year 2,000,000 smokers either quit smoking or die of tobacco-related diseases.

-Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals.

-Kites were used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers.

-The song, Auld Lang Syne, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year.

-Drinking water after eating reduces the acid in your mouth by 61 percent.

-Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it doesn’t smoke unless it’s heated above 450F.

-The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.

-Nine out of every 10 living things live in the ocean.

-The banana cannot reproduce itself. It can be propagated only by the hand of man.

-Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density.

-The University of Alaska spans four time zones.

-The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself.

-In ancient Greece , tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.

-Warner Communications paid $28 million for the copyright to the song Happy Birthday.

-Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

-A comet’s tail always points away from the sun.

-The Swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused more death and illness than the disease it was intended to prevent.

-Caffeine increases the power of aspirin and other painkillers, that is why it is found in some medicines.

-The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.

-If you get into the bottom of a well or a tall chimney and look up, you can see stars, even in the middle of the day.

-When a person dies, hearing is the last sense to go. The first sense lost is sight.

-In ancient times strangers shook hands to show that they were unarmed.

-Strawberries are the only fruits whose seeds grow on the outside.

-Avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams.

-The moon moves about two inches away from the Earth each year.

-The Earth gets 100 tons heavier every day due to falling space dust.

-Due to earth’s gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 15,000 meters.

-Mickey Mouse is known as “Topolino” in Italy .

-Soldiers do not march in step when going across bridges because they could set up a vibration which could be sufficient to knock the bridge down.

-Everything weighs one percent less at the equator.

-For every extra kilogram carried on a space flight, 530 kg of excess fuel are needed at lift-off.

-The letter J does not appear anywhere on the periodic table of the elements.

In the good old days

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They used to use urine to tan animal
skins, so families used to all pee in a
pot & then once a day it was taken &
Sold to the tannery…….if you had to
do this to survive you were “Piss
Poor”

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But worse than that were the really
poor folk who couldn’t even afford to
buy a pot…...they “didn’t have a pot to
piss in” & were the lowest of the low

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The next time you are washing your
hands and complain because the water
temperature isn’t just how you like it,
think about how things used to be.
Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June
because they took their yearly bath in
May, and they still smelled pretty good
by June.. However, since they were
starting to smell . …… . Brides carried
a bouquet of flowers to hide the body
odor. Hence the custom today of
carrying a bouquet when getting
Married.

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Baths consisted of a big tub filled with
hot water. The man of the house had
the privilege of the nice clean water,
then all the other sons and men, then
the women and finally the children.
Last of all the babies. By then the
water was so dirty you could actually
lose someone in it.. Hence the saying,
“Don’t throw the baby out with the
Bath water!”

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Houses had thatched roofs-thick
straw-piled high, with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for
animals to get warm, so all the cats
and other small animals (mice, bugs)
lived in the roof. When it rained it
became slippery and sometimes the
animals would slip and fall off the
roof… Hence the saying “It’s raining
cats and dogs.”

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There was nothing to stop things from
falling into the house. This posed a
real problem in the bedroom where
bugs and other droppings could mess
up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed
with big posts and a sheet hung over
the top afforded some protection.
That’s how canopy beds came into
existence.

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The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy
had something other than dirt. Hence
the saying, “Dirt poor.”

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The wealthy
had slate floors that would get
slippery in the winter when wet, so
they spread thresh (straw) on floor to
help keep their footing. As the winter
wore on, they added more thresh until,
when you opened the door, it would
all start slipping outside. A piece of
wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.

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In those old days, they cooked in the
kitchen with a big kettle that always
hung over the fire.. Every day they lit
the fire and added things to the pot.
They ate mostly vegetables and did
not get much meat. They would eat
the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers
in the pot to get cold overnight and
then start over the next day.
Sometimes stew had food in it that
had been there for quite a while.
Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot,
peas porridge cold, peas porridge in
the pot nine days old.

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Sometimes they
could obtain pork, which made them
feel quite special. When visitors came
over, they would hang up their bacon
to show off. It was a sign of wealth
that a man could, “bring home the
bacon.” They would cut off a little to
share with guests and would all sit
around and chew the fat.

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Those with money had plates made of
pewter. Food with high acid content
caused some of the lead to leach onto
the food, causing lead poisoning
death. This happened most often with
tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or
so, tomatoes were considered
poisonous.

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Bread was divided according to status.
Workers got the burnt bottom of the
loaf, the family got the middle, and
guests got the top, or the upper crust.

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Lead cups were used to drink ale or
whiskey. The combination would
Sometimes knock the imbibers out for
a couple of days. Someone walking
along the road would take them for
dead and prepare them for burial..
They were laid out on the kitchen table
for a couple of days and the family
would gather around and eat and drink
and wait and see if they would wake
up. Hence the custom of holding a
wake.

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England is old and small and the local
folks started running out of places to
bury people. So they would dig up
coffins and would take the bones to a
bone-house, and reuse the grave.
When reopening these coffins, 1 out of
25 coffins were found to have scratch
marks on the inside and they realized
they had been burying people alive…
So they would tie a string on the wrist
of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and
tie it to a bell. Someone would have to
sit out in the graveyard all night (the
graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell;
thus, someone could be, saved by the
bell or was considered a dead ringer.

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And that’s the truth….Now, whoever
said History was boring

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