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NitroxAZ 10-09-2010 10:40 PM

Loss of a True American Hero
I would like to ask that you all take a moment to say a prayer for my wife and her family. We found out Thursday night that her Dad had passed away. They are having a rough time dealing with his loss. He was 92 years old an had lived a wonderful life. He was a wonderful and generous man that still had an incredibly firm handshake.

He was a WWII vet and the following is a short story about him.

John “Davy” Crockett was trained as a navigator by Pan Am in mid-1941 because the USAAF did not have its navigator school in operation. Davy was assigned to the 36th Bomb Squadron of the 19th Bomb Group flying the new B-17C Flying Fortress. Davy found that most Air Corps pilots were used to doing their own navigating, so his job would be easy. Davy experienced a crash in a B-17 while training, but the crew walked away from the wreck. In late 1941 his crew was informed that they would be flying to Clark Field in the Philippines. On December they left Albuquerque and flew to Hamilton Field in California. They received a briefing on expected weather and left on the evening of December 6 for their first stop at Hickham Field, Oahu Hawaii. Flying into the darkness over the vast Pacific, the pilot for the first time in Crockett’s career turned the navigation over to Davy. Realizing that the Hawaiian Islands were only small dots on the charts of the vast Pacific, and that his aircraft would have little fuel reserves left when it arrived, sent chills up Crockett’s spine. As dawn broke Davy saw lots of islands where there were not suppose to be any. His panic subsided when he realized that they were only clouds. The pilot, Earl Cooper, came on the intercom at that moment to ask for an ETA. As Davy responded, the gunners in the back came on the intercom to report a large formation of aircraft about ten miles north of their position. They must be Navy aircraft. Minutes later they had descended to about 1200 feet when eight fighter aircraft came straight at them with their guns blazing. As the aircraft flew bye the flight engineer, Jesse Broyls, yelled out, “Rising Sun !” The zeros reformed behind the unarmed B-17, and as Cooper dove the lumbering giant towards the wave tops, Crockett could hear the thump of bullets hitting his plane. The No. 2 engine was hit and Cooper shut it down. Rounding Diamond Head at about 300-feet the crew saw smoke and fire everywhere, and Japanese planes all over the sky. They passed over Hickham Field at about 1000-feet, realizing that this was no time and place for a landing. They turned towards Ford Island and passed directly over the USS Arizona minutes after the ship had exploded. Crockett’s B-17 now became a target for nervous anti-aircraft gunners on the ground, and the B-17 had its No. 4 engine shot out. Cooper prepared the crew to bail out, but he then saw an opportunity to bring the big bird into Wheeler Field. He came straight in and belly-landed the B-17 with almost no fuel left. The plane slid to a stop on the turf just short of a group of P-40s. The entire crew got out of the B-17 and ran for cover in a patch of nearby woods. The B-17s on the flight from the mainland were scattered all over the island, with most of them seriously damaged. Fortunately, there were only two casualties, a flight surgeon who was killed and a bombardier who was injured when they were strafed while running from their plane. Crockett would survive a third crash in another B-17 on December 25th that same month when he would spend six days in a life raft after having to land in the ocean around the Hawaiian Islands. The airfield would not turn on the lights due to a blackout condition in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack and were forced to ditch the aircraft.

lonyaeger 10-09-2010 10:48 PM

Peace and prayers to you and your family.

NitroxAZ 10-09-2010 11:13 PM

Here is a painting that Stan Stokes did in commemoration of his flight into Pearl Harbor.

Dillinger 10-09-2010 11:22 PM

God Damn! *HUGE RESPECT!!*

Sincerest Condolences to your extended family Nitrox. While the pain will not ease anytime soon, I hope they can take some solice in that their "old" warrior-gentleman is pain free and with his friends looking down on them.


CA357 10-10-2010 12:07 AM

Prayers and kind thoughts on the way. My condolences to the family.

Shihan 10-10-2010 12:15 AM

Prayers going out to your family from ours.

Jpyle 10-10-2010 12:19 AM

Condolences to you, your wife and your family.

shadecorp 10-10-2010 06:33 PM

With my tears and sorrows,
You have my Prayers.
Rest In Peace.

BEYU 10-10-2010 06:55 PM

Passing of another hero...
Every day we lose more and more of these members of "The Greatest generation".

They showed us how to live and how to fight.

Our generation, the Baby Boomers and those who have come after us have much to learn from the example set by our "betters".

But I am greatly encouraged by the new example now being set by those who are defending us in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the spirit of the World War II generation lives on in them, and I hope, in us all.

Davyboy 10-10-2010 07:23 PM

Hope this is of comfort to you told to me by my dad when he new he did not have long left. " Celibrate my life not my death "

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