Alfred D RichardsMilitary
In his all too brief memoir of service Al wrote that he and his crew being assigned to fly the “Crusader III” which developed trouble in No. 3 engine shortly after take off. The pilot did not abort; the mission was completed but, flying back home to Celone field, No. 3 conked out and “Crusader III” began losing altitude over the Alps. Al, as bombardier, was temporarily “unemployed,” and supervised jettisoning excess weight – unfastening and tossing out armor plating, then guns and ammo. The aircraft continued to lose altitude. Al wrote that “I remembered hearing somewhere that the ball turret weighed 1,100 pounds.” he poked holes in the thin skin of the floor until the ball turret fell away, “Crusader III” regained altitude and made it home.
A personnel officer came to the tent Al shared, having been ordered to write up someone for the D.F.C. Al was away on three days’ well-earned R & R in Rome; the personnel officer followed his orders and wrote up someone – the pilot, Charlie Grogan. As the radio operator, Jesse Jones, wrote to Al in a 1984 letter, “Charlie Grogan didn’t know any more about it than that the plane kept losing altitude.”
When Al returned from R & R, that personnel officer came to the tent and started explaining. Al wrote, “after a couple of minutes I just stopped listening to him.” Al completed 51 credited missions – having received double mission credits on many sorties to what were essentially suicide targets. He was combat wounded by flak (not too badly), and returned to Z.I. in December of 1944 to serve in Texas as a bombardier instructor.
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