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I am sending you a list of the original crews of the 456 Bomb Squadron that flew the Northern route to England (From Maine, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, to England.)

The picture of John D. Helton was taken with Generals Marshal, Anderson and Arnold. The Generals came to our base and were greeted by B-26 pilots in England at that time. Of course, all the Brass on the field wanted their picture taken with the General, but they said "we want to have our picture taken with the man who has the most missions". Thus my man Helton is in the picture. We came back to the States after the invasion. We had to go back. We came home a second time during the Battle of the Bulge. I do not know how many missions John had but it was well over 80.

Now I wish to tell you how I meet Helton. It was shortly after we arrived at Myrtle Beach, S.C. The higher UP's decided to experiment with our group. The pulled our co-pilots. They said the navigators and bombardiers were to be the co-pilots.

The day that this happened I was assigned to John's crew (Let me add that I had never been in a plane before the Army.). John told me to set in the co-pilots seat and keep my feet on the rudder petals until we came to the end of the runway. That I did. Old John would give the engines full power and down the runway (the runways were cut out of the forest). He would put in the trim and push on the rudder petals, but I'd push back. I was not going to let a Texan out push a boy from Mississippi. He would put more power one one engine in order to straighten up. As soon as the plane got off the ground, I would remove my feet from the petals. By that time both of us were scared for the plane would almost flip. We made about 5 take offs. All bad. John was asking his pilot buddies to check him out. All agreed that he was ok. I told all my buddies that they were letting everybody through flying school these days. My guy almost killed us all on the last 5 flights.

We soon had a discussion, I told him "remember you told me to keep my feet on the rudder petals until we got to the end of the runway." He then asked "which end?". I said the other end! He gave me hell. I advised him that I was hired to be a bombardier, not a pilot, not a co-pilot or a navigator. John and I were the best of friends.

2002 Pensacola Reunion

Left to right: 1. Leon C. Goodwin 2. Russell B. Linger 3. Earl M. Pitts 4. David Gleason
5. Walter L. Pochodzay 6. Frank Morris 7. Sam Yawn 8. James H. Davidson

 

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