My Worst Mission

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April 15th 1945
Recently recalled because of a post to the Guest Book

On April 15, 1945 our target was Shinchiku Airdrone on Formosa. The destruction of planes and damage to the air strip was needed since kamakazi pilots (suicide pilots) were taking off from this air strip and crashing into our Navy cruisers and carriers. On approaching the target area, the air strip was covered with clouds and since we had no radar at that time, we had to go around again giving the clouds time to move on. We came in at the same heading, altitude and air speed as before and the Japanese gunners had plenty of time to line up on us. I was in the lead element of our squadron, being on the flight leaders right side. Just before bombs were away I heard an explosion. I thought that my electrical system had failed but the lights were indicating that the bombs were released. I then heard some of the crew talking and I looked out of my window and all I saw was pieces of debris floating through the air. The left wing ship was hit before bombs were away and the plane exploded killing the entire crew of ten men. Our left side had holes in the fuselage and I was concerned that maybe the landing gear was damaged. After we left the target I asked the pilot to put down the landing gear so that we might inspect it. He did this and the gear was fine. On the way back to our base we had lunch which we brought with us. I took two bites out of my sandwich and thinking about what had happened made me lose my appetite. I tried reading my book that I had brought along but I couldn't get past the first paragraph thinking about the men we had lost. The pilot of that plane was on his last mission before going home but went down with his plane. This was the most traumatic day of my life at that time and I can still visualize today ,57 years later, the events that took place. It's just like it happened yesterday or last week and is so clear in my mind. When the war ended I had 97 points out of 100 required and would have flown one more mission to make me eligible for rotation. Recalling the lost pilots last mission I was thankful to GOD that this was not going to happen to me.

Contents of this web site copyright Larry Berman