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Colonel John Bennett had just taken command of the 100th Bomb Group when we arrived as a replacement crew. Colonel Chick Harding who had been CO of the 100th was ordered back to the States for gallstone surgery. John Bennett, who had gone from replacement pilot, to Squadron Operations, to Squadron Commander, to Air Exec. in a matter of weeks, was in charge. When the group took off on a missions, even if he wasn't flying, he took off too. He had wangled a P-47 fighter plane and bird-dogged the 100th formation even after they joined the rest of the division. His Texas, Princeton voice grated out. “Rearwheel S Sugar, your port wing belongs in that starboard copilot’s ear. If you want to get back from this mission alive, then stick it in there.” One of the Group staff officers remarked that he was glad Bennett was there. He said, “Before he got here. 1 was the Group son-of-a-bitch.

One day, I made a landing approach that was a little hot and the Buffalo Gal floated up about six times - she would touch down and float up - each time, my crew counted in unison on intercom - four, five, six until the gallant lady finally slowed down enough to stay down. There really was no excuse for my air speed being high on the landing approach even though my engineer, who usually stood behind me calling out the air speed was absent from his post for some reason. Flannigan had just finished removed his flying boots and was in the process of pulling off his flight suit.  I had removed one flight boot and nearly had the other one off when the aircraft finally settled down and quit yo-yoing up and down.

We were at the de-briefing table making a mission report when Col. Jack Kidd came over and whispered in my ear that Col. Bennett .wanted me as soon as de-briefing was over. I asked him if I had a problem - he told me, “The old man had the Group staff out at the end of the runway grading landings when you came in, and be seemed to have taken umbrage to your loping down the runway when you arrived” Bennett ordered me to spend the next day shooting landings. I put Flannigan in the pilot’s seat and let him shoot landings all day, even though I probably needed them more than he did.

Next...William R. Lawley, Recipient of the Medal Of Honor


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