War is hell. I spent a lifetime between 1943 and 1946, but it left me with memories that I will never for get.
Because of my extraordinary height and stature I became a nose gunner in a B-24 Bomber, the Liberator; the plane with which the 307th Bomb Group pounded the Japanese by day and by night, from high altitude and low, for more than two years. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese where they had never been hit before: Wake, Truk, Nauru, Palau, Corregidor, Tarawa, Ocean Island, Yap. The 307th Bomb Group hit where it hurt: Celebes, Kahili, Shortland Harbor, Rabaul, Woleai, Halmaheras, Borneo and the Philippines. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese in the air: Shot down 355 of the Japanese planes; got 68 probables, and 51 damaged. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese on the ground: In over 500 missions destoryed 170 of the Japanese planes, scores of Japanese airfields, supply dumps, oil refineries and harbor installations. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese at sea. Sank 27,440 tons of Japanese shipping, damaged 112,525 tons more; routed one of the Japanese major task forces. The 307th Bomb Group chalked up some of the longest missions of the war: 13 hours to hit Wake, 16 hours to hit Yap, 17 hours to hit Balikpapan. The 307th Bomb Group made the Liberator truly a “Long Ranger”.
The history of the “Long Rangers” is a saga of the B-24, here are a few words taken from the book, “We’ll Say Goodbye” -The story of the “Long Rangers” 307th Bomb Group (HV).
The crew of the Dottie “D”
That’s Murray far right, bottom row!
“The men of this Group have nursed every ounce of energy out of her. We have taken her on the longest formation flights of the war. We have taken her through thick ack-ack, and with her we have thumbed our noses at the Nip Air Force and have rid the air of a goodly number of Jap planes. With her, we have taken on the Jap Navy, and slugged the hell out of it. With her, we have pock-marked acre after acre of Japanese real estate, and destroyed village after village, town after town, and have driven the Jap away from his cities. The B-24 has been our weapon – our “rifle” – our fighting tool.
The Liberator has, without seeming to, ruled our lives for three years. Indirectly, we have been the slaves of the Flying Boxcar. She has been the taskmaster, determining when we got to work, and when we quit. She can get you up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, keep you working away, or she can let you hit your sack. Loving her, cursing her, berating her, and again praying for her, you become her duty-bound slave.
Human-like, the B-24 is rugged and yet sensitive, crude looking and yet beautiful, clumsy, and yet clean-lined. She is at all times temperamental. No two B-24’s are alike. For weeks she can be gay and healthy, the engines sing and zoom, then, without warning, she can become unruly, her instruments register wrong, her controls become sluggish, her engines spit oil. One plane can hungrily lap up gas, another sips it lady-like, another can tear away and fly faster than her sisters, while still another can only snail along. One plane is wing weighted, another is tail heavy. A B-24 has her moods. She needs attention; at times the attention of a squawking baby, at others she gaily bounces along, cat-purring with contentment.
We were part of the 307th Bomb Group. The 307th Bomb Group was part of the 13th Air Force and consisted of B-24’s of the 370th, 371st, 372nd, and 424th Squadrons. The group was known as the “The Long Rangers” due to their long missions over long open stretches of the Pacific including missions to Truk, Yap, Palau, Philippines and Balikpapan, Borneo (the Ploesti raid of the Pacific war—the unescorted mission against vital oil refineries at Balikpapan, Borneo). Some of the missions were over 17 hour unescorted round trips over open water with no landmarks. However, the 307th Bomb Group never received the press, fame and accolades that we piled on the bomb groups in Europe due to their remote theatre of operation and the fact that many of their missions were controlled by the Navy. This chapter is dedicated to preserve and document the history of the 307th Bomb Group.
I flew in the nose of this incredible hunk of airborne artillery. The B-24 HV (heavy). My best friend and dearest pal, Murray Cotter was the bombardier. Together we either made the title of best crew team or best gin rummy players..both had significance at the time.
Every once in a while, we got to meet some very interesting characters.
Cary and I got along quite well.
The 307th Bombardment Group (HV) Association, Inc. are the Long Rangers. The association grew out of the initial meeting of former World War II members who got together in the spirit of fellowship and camaraderie in Reno, Nevada on September 11-12, 1972. Our goal and hope was for continued growth and expanded interest in the Nation’s finest heroes. The members attending the initial meeting were: Carl Whitesell, Dan Cauffiel, George Jaffe, Ed Jurkens, M. P. Nelson, Arthur Downs, and C. Scott.
Our organization has grown and we have expanded to include the Children of the 307th and their families. Our hope is to insure that future generations never forget the sacrifices that these men made for them and our country. Every year we hold a reunion in a different part of the country and have a great time reminiscing and catching up with old and new friends. My oldest son, Donald was elected president of the association in September of 2012. It sure made me proud.
I also got to see Murray Cotter and his sons, Michael and Peter, in September, 2012. It was a reunion trip to Baltimore for the 307th Bomb Group. Here’s where we get to tell all the same stories all over again, and laugh just as hard, like it was yesterday. That’s what it felt like to be with Murray and the rest of the boys from the 307th. To me it was like stepping into yesterday. I never ever felt my age and I never felt time slipping away. I also never dreamed the military would leave me with such great memories, when so many boys came back emotionally crushed by the experience. Don’t get me wrong. It was war and we knew it, but it didn’t stop us from building friendships that will live on to eternity.
If you served in the 307th, or if you are a daughter or son, nephew or niece, or just a great friend of someone who was….please drop a story below under “Reply”. I’ll be happy to have it added to the stories of the 307th.
Next Chapter :History of the 307th