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Samuel M. Findley (Tex)
Engineer/Tail Gunner
323rd BG, 453rd BS


This was done so the Germans would not know the specific area where the invasion would be launched. Our navigator, LT. Curtis Wheat, flew with another crew and was killed. Our bombardier flew a mission on another crew and was severely wounded in his foot. Our pilot was promoted to Squadron Operations Officer, and as such was not permitted to have his own crew. This only left the radio operator and me from our original crew so we were reassigned on other crews. I flew 19 missions in May, which was the most that I had ever flown in one month.

NEW CREW ASSIGNMENT 

I was told that I was going to be assigned on the crew of a replacement pilot who had just arrived from the U.S. The fact was he was not even a pilot he was a co-pilot and had not flown the Marauder as a pilot. A few days prior I was the engineer on his check–out flight as pilot. I didn’t think much of his piloting ability and I didn’t relish being on a crew of novices. After discussing my feelings with Col.Roy Pratt, the Squadron Commander, he re-assigned me as engineer-tail gunner on Captain James Hunt’s crew. Capt. Hunt was from San Bernardino, CA, and was an excellent pilot. The enlisted men on his crew were Jim Siegenthaler, top-turret gunner, from Council Hill, OK and Joe Bothwell, radio operator, from Mondamin, IA. Lt. Phil Haglund, bombardier, from Brockway, MT and Lt. David Beamer, navigator of Sacramento, CA rounded out the crew. Capt. Hunt now became flight leader. The name of our plane was SAD SACK II. (The original SAD SACK had been previously shot down). We were flying two missions on some days and from the air we could see the build up of equipment and forces for the invasion of the European Continent.

D-DAY

I woke up on the morning of June 6th,to learn that the invasion had began and that I was on the loading list for the next mission. At the mission briefing we learned that our target would be a road junction near the city of Caen France and that we would have to go down below the clouds at about 1500 feet to be able to see the target. The briefing officer also informed us that our usual fighter escort would not accompany us but that there would be fighter cover over the entire beachhead. The invasion armada was something to see. There were ships as far as the eye could see. I didn’t believe there were that many ships in the whole world. We flew right over the battleship Texas just as it fired a broadside. A large yellow flame belched from her guns and at first I thought she had blown up. As we proceeded a little ways inland we were flying down a railway track that had some box cars on a siding. I got completely absorbed while shooting into these boxcars and did not realize that our bombay doors were open and that we were on our bomb run to the target. Then all hell broke loose. Our bombs exploded beneath us on the target and the noise and vibration were terrific. We had never flown a mission this low before and I wasn’t prepared for this. The concussion from our bombs broke some of the Plexiglas windows in some of the airplanes. One plane from our Group was shot down on this bombing raid.

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