Van­ish­ing He­roes

Flight Journal - - AIRDROP - Dale Smith

I have just read your ar­ti­cle “Van­ished Hero” (June 2018) and feel com­pelled to share my fam­ily’s story. My un­cle was a copi­lot on a B-17 raid over Terni, Italy, Au­gust 8, 1943. His squadron was off the coast when they were at­tacked by flight of 109s and watched a P-38 tak­ing shots at the fight­ers. As the fight­ers closed in on the B-17s, the P-38 swung through the bomber for­ma­tion, tak­ing shots at the bombers. The bombers opened up but could score no hits. Tail End Charlie was, of course, the bomber my un­cle was in. The P-38 (ob­vi­ously a cap­tured airplane) shot 20mm can­nons into the cock­pit, where the pi­lot and copi­lot were mor­tally wounded; seven para­chutes were seen leav­ing the plane. Of those, only three sur­vived af­ter 60 hours in the wa­ter. My mother’s im­me­di­ate fam­ily had no idea of the de­tails; for about 73 years, they were left to won­der. My in­ter­est in air­planes, World War II his­tory, pi­lot sto­ries, and just dig­ging around in scrap­books has led to some pretty in­ter­est­ing stuff. I have sent my DNA to Ken­tucky in the hope that some­day his re­mains, if re­cov­ered, may be sent home. Please don’t stop look­ing—you just never know what you will find. Rest in peace, Bob­bie W. Fol­lett. Quite a story. We’d like to know more about it.—BD

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