The skies over the target were filled with black flak appearing to be so thick you could walk on it! The exploding shells filled the space with flying chunks of iron as bombers started their bomb run on the target. We often could hear the flak pelting our plance like a "buckshot" on a tin roof. This flak would often strike a vital part of the plane or wound a member of the crew! Our waist gunner was wounded on our tenth mission!Some missions we could count hundreds of holes in our plane after we landed safely in England! Bombers receiving a direct hit were blown out of the sky and another ten man aircrew was lost. Planes severely damaged had to drop out of formation and face enemy fighters alone unless some of our P-51 or P-47 escort fighters protected them. Bombers disabled or on fire had no choice but to order the crews to bail out. Airmen who survived the parachute jump were captured and placed into German prisoner of war camps (POW). They were classified as "missing in action".
Forty-eight photos, some sixty years old are included in this 350 page book to illustrate the story of the author's childhood in the Great Depression through the great air war of World War II. A description of each mission from a sixty year old diary is included. I think you will enjoy the story of a teenage Radio-Gunner's experiences in the Mighty Eighth Air Force.
Hutch" grew up in the hills of southern Indiana during the Great Depression. He was one of the sixteen million youngsters who served in the armed forces during Woorld War II. The author served as a radio operator/gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress in the 490 th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force. His story includes a copy of of his diary that describe his experiences during eighteen combat missions over Germany. Home from the war at age twenty, he attended Indiana University on the G.I. Bill. He earned a B.S. in Education in 1949 majoring in history and journalism, a Masters degree in education in 1952, and an Ed.S. in school administration in 1967. During his 37 years of experience in the public schools, he served as an elementary teacher, Principal, and Special Projects Assistant to the Superintendent of schools. Community activities include being an ordained elder in the Presbyterian church, president of the Rotary Club and Paul Harris award winner, member of the Masonic Lodge for 46 years, and president of various educational groups such as the Retired Teacher's Association. Hobbies include golf, horseback riding, traveling, and WWII history. Mr. Hutchinson and his wife, June, (also a retired teacher) recently celebrated their 58th anniversary. They reside on an eighty acre farm in southern Indiana and have two horses. Like the cowboy heroes of his youth, he can still ride off into the sunset.
On a cold February morning in 1944, Harold leaves his new bride at an Iowa train platform and embarks on a stark and riveting journey, where camaraderie is the key to survival, and loss is the lesson learned. Heroism combined with humanism drives this compelling saga of the human spirit at its most triumphant and most vulnerable. Steel Fortress joins ranks with the most poignant of commentaries on war; it is a story for the ages, and evidence of the universal spirit of man.
Hutch's third book contains short stories of boys on B-17 Flying Fortress crews in deadly missions with the Eighth Air Force in World War II and stories of his own teenage combat experiences as radio/gunner on twenty missions with the Mighty Eighth.
Teenagers enlisted or were drafted, trained and went into combat before they could legally vote or buy a drink. They volunteered to fly in the Army's Air Cadet Program and became a part of the greatest air armada in the world. Most of the gunners on a bomber crew were teenagers and the average age of officers was twenty-four. Veterans' memoirs and diaries give amazing reports of fighter attacks, flak damage and those who survived being shot down out to become Prisoners of War. These youngsters manned the planes that bombed and destroyed Germanys military and war industry. The price of victory was high, with an extreme loss of aircrews and planes. Eighth Air Force losses were among the highest of any military unit.
Like the author, teenagers who survived to tell the stories of those great air battles are now in their mid-eighties and rapidly passing into history. See previous books "Through These Eyes" and "Bombs Away!" See a free DVD at http://video.smithville.net/?p=17 for interviews of the author with actual WW II combat film footage.
"WW II veterans are fading into History less than two million of the sixteen million who served are left to tell their stories"
See my interview online at "Wings over Europe my Smithville"