Whitaker, Dean Interview, 2010 April 5. OH-01965. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
An Interview with W. Dean Whitaker An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2007 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Editors: Barbara Tabach and Gloria Homol Transcribers: Kristin Hicks and Laurie Boetcher Interviewers and Project Assistants: Barbara Tabach and Claytee D. White The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas • • • 111 List of Illustrations Following Page: 5 15 25 Appendix Excerpt from Dean's personal book about training in Victorville Article about German soldier who saved Dean Whitaker's life. Copy of Whitaker's German identification papers. Dean as a teen POW experience Dean as a firefighter in California v Preface William Dean Whitaker was born in 1925 and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. Dean, as he is known, talks briefly about his parents and his brothers, for his youth quickly ended when he joined the Air Force and became an aviation cadet once he had turned 18 years old. The year was 1943 and World War II was raging. He became a member of the 398 th Bomb Group and flew twenty missions before being captured by the Germans. In this oral history, Dean talks with vivid recollection of the day he was captured and details of being a POW in Germany. Among his anecdotes are those of his mother's unwavering belief that he would return home, the humanity of a German soldier, and of meeting Gen. George Patton. Included are photos and excerpts from his personal history of his life during the war. Dean and his wife Lucille moved to Las Vegas in 1990. vi ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER AT UNLV Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Use Aprrppment Name of Narrator: Name of Interviewer: (J AY~TBE \7^). InlfilTfr We. the above named, give to/lie Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded intcrvicw(s) initiated on M-h3 //X V i 0 as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational pufrpo/es as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada I-as Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. Tliis gift docs not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and i elated materials for scholarly pursuits. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Library Special Collections 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7070 r\ r\ ~ ^ ^ ^ A This is Claytee White. I'm with Dean Whitaker in his home in Las Vegas today. And it is April 5th, 2010. So how are you this morning? I'm doing great. Wonderful. So can you tell me a little bit about your childhood, where you grew up and what your family was like? I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, a little town called May wood. I grew up with four brothers and one sister. My father was in construction. He was a head superintendent on some large projects in Los Angeles including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios where I got to visit when I was young and met movie stars because he was the superintendent of building the stage. Then he worked in Las Vegas when I was going to high school in 1940. I joined the carpenters union and worked on the air base in Las Vegas for that summer. My father passed away that year because he had diverticulitis. It was a disease that wasn't known then and they couldn't treat it. He passed away in the hospital here in 1942. Shortly after that, when I graduated from high school in Alhambra, I had taken college prep and I was fairly able to take the entrance exam for the Navy. I went to the Pacific Electric Building in Los Angeles with four of my classmates to join the Navy because we liked their uniforms and thought that was really great. When we joined I was the only one that made the aviation cadet program because I had taken college prep. Tell me more about Maywood. Tell me more about your brothers and sisters. Okay, I was the second oldest. We grew up as a family. We were members of the LDS Church and had quite a church background because my mother and father were from Utah. We had a nice house that we lived in. Actually, when we started there it was a one-bedroom house. When my mother and father had all these boys, my father being in construction added a huge bedroom on the back of it. So the four of us boys were raised in this one huge bedroom. We had a large lot. My father bought a lot and a half. And we had a huge front lawn, which was the playground for everybody in the neighborhood. We enjoyed outdoors quite a bit. At that age everything was done outdoors. We didn't have anything to do inside. Which year were you born? 1 1925. Tell me about your mother also. Okay. When my father passed away, my mother had these four children to raise — actually five, wasn't it? Yeah. And so she went to work. She worked at the General Hospital in Los Angeles as a telephone operator. She went to work on the streetcar, which at that time in Los Angeles was really good transportation. We had the Pacific Electric Railroad. The red car ran from May wood. It was only a block away from my house. We would catch that red car and go to Los Angeles for 15 cents. So I made many trips to Los Angeles just to see things. But my mother worked many jobs. When I went in the service, I was the first one in the family to go. I went right after high school. I think I graduated in February and I had my 18th birthday in March. As soon as I had my 18th birthday, I went into the Navy as an aviation cadet. At the time my mother was working for Cole ot California, sewing, making bathing suits. And then when the war started, they reverted to making parachutes. I often wondered—I bet she made the parachute I jumped out of that plane with. When she was working for them — this was after I was shot down (and) my awards — she was so certain that I was all right. She received a letter from the War Department that I was missing in action. And when she received that, she said, well, I know Dean's all right. Good. So they were going to present her with an air medal that I had received. She told them to keep the medal and to give it to me when I came home. Wow. That's wonderful. Now, tell me about your basic training. Basic training. I started out at Santa Ana at classification and I was classified just about anything that I wanted. I had a good classification because I was very well-coordinated, apparently. So the bombardier training only took I think it was six weeks at the time and you're out a second lieutenant. I thought, boy, that's great. So I signed up. At that time they changed over to a bombardier navigator. Okay. They got to the R's and the school was full at Victorville. So they sent me to Kingman, Arizona to await the next class. At Kingman, Arizona I went through gunnery school. And I did real well. In fact, I was the head of my class because I had always gone shooting with my father. He was quite a hunter. And I had my first .22 rifle I think when I was 14 years old, Sears and Roebuck. So I did well when it came 2 to gunnery school. Went to a gunnery meet in Las V egas because I was the head of the class. It was a national gunnery meet. I came in first in stripping the 50-caliber machine gun and putting it back together. I took first place. So after the gunnery school we were sent to Victorville Army Air Base for bombardier navigator training. When I got to Victorville, all the fellows that I was at Santa Ana with were graduating as bombardiers because it was a short school. So I was right at home with them and I went to Victorville for the bombardier navigation school. It took 18 weeks then. I spent a lot of trips from Victorville back to Los Angeles, my home in Maywood. And I always had a few aviation cadets come ride with me. A little story about one time when we were coming home. I had a car then because I worked as a carpenter and earned money and then I worked in a gas station. When the war started I was working in this gas station and so I had a car. It wasn't a new car. It was an old Ford something. I was coming home in it. We forgot to put water in it when we left Victorville. And we got out on the desert there and it heated up. Well, we didn't know what to do. There was an old abandoned farm there. We went over there and found a barrel of water. Put the water in the car and we were on our way. Pretty soon we notice this terrible smell. The water we put in the car was rancid. And it was really rotten. So we stopped as soon as we could and changed the water and went on our way. That was one of our trips. But I did hitchhike a few times. From Victorville to Maywood? To Maywood. A lot of people were very generous. They would pick us up because we had our cadet uniforms on and everything. Then I graduated from Victorville, became a second lieutenant. By then I had my gunner's wings because I earned them at Victorville. So then when I graduated I got my bombardier navigator wings. Did you earn those at Kingman or Victorville? I earned the gunner's wings at Kingman and the other wings at Victorville. So after Victorville after that training was over, what happened? After the Victorville training was over, they sent us to Rapid City to meet our crew, to get a crew together. It was there in Rapid City was the first time I had really been out of California and 3 Nevada. So we took the train trip to South Dakota, Rapid City, and joined our crew. The B-17 was the plane we trained in there. I had flown in a B-17 once at Victorville, but we had a lot of experience in Rapid City. We met all the crew there, became acquainted with all the guys. We had our first tragedy at Rapid City when one of our members of another crew that we knew had a terrible accident and everyone was killed in it. So after that we went to New Jersey to embark overseas. We were there just a short time. Then we got on a troop transport ship to go to England. Okay. So you're on the way to England in which year? 1943. So I want to go back to Pearl Harbor. I want to know what you were doing on that day when you heard about Pearl Harbor. That is very interesting. I was working in the gas station early in the morning. I hadn't heard anything about Pearl Harbor. People would come in and say did you know what happened? I says, no, what happened? Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I says, Oh golly, that's a foolish thing; we'll wipe them out in a month or so. Well, little did I know how they had prepared for war. I had no idea that I was going to go. I thought it would be over. I worked there my senior year of high school after working as a carpenter in Las Vegas. When I graduated, then, just a few weeks after that, I joined the Navy. How long were you in Las Vegas? I worked in Las Vegas a whole summer. So that was the summer after your senior year? It was the summer of'43? No. Let's see. Forty-two. Oh, no. It was well before that. I graduated in '43. It was in'42. I worked in the gas station all during my senior year in high school. Then I went to Las Vegas and worked in the summer. So after high school? After high school. I had no experience except I wanted in the Navy. I graduated in February and went in the Navy in March 1943. Because in 1943 you're on your way to England. Yes, '43 is when I went into the service. I was 18 in '43. Then in '43 I took all the training and was 4 in there — oh, no. I went over to England in '43, yeah. So tell me about what kinds of things did you hear in the country? After Pearl Harbor and we declare war, what was it like? What were people saying? People were really undetermined. They didn't know what's going to happen. And in Los Angeles where I lived in Los Angeles, Maywood was fairly close to the ocean. We used to ride our bicycles there. Well, we had an air raid when a Japanese sub I guess was coming into the coast. They were sending parachute bombs over the West Coast and we had an air raid. And it scared the heck out of everybody. We didn't know what was going on. They didn't get close to us with any bombs or anything, but it did change people's idea that there is a war going and that we were exposed to it. Actually, it gave a lot of boys the incentive to join the service, protect their own people. And your mother felt that was the right thing to do as well? Yes. When I joined I was the first one. She didn't want me to join the Navy. She says, Why don't you join the Navy or something? I says, no, I've got to join the Navy. So like I said I was the first one. Then my older brother joined the Marines. Now, what is his name? David, David Owen. We called him Owen. He joined the Marines and was put aboard a troop transport ship, the General Bliss, and he crossed the ocean, Pacific and Atlantic, many times. But he survived everything. So it ended up that the four boys ~ I was in the Navy. He was in the Marines. My next brother was regular Army. His name? Kaye Whitaker joined the Army and was stationed in California for a while. He never did go overseas. My youngest brother joined the Navy. He was a sailor. So my mother experienced all four of us in different branches of the service. Wow. Oh, that's something. And give me your youngest brother's name. My youngest brother was Alan. Give me your parents' names as well. My father was known as Dave, Dave Whitaker. My mother was Dora Whitaker. They were very well liked by everybody. Now, my father was very generous. During the Depression I had some experiences with school boy friends that lived near the Los Angeles River. They were very poor 5 Whitaker Family 1938 (Maywood, CA): Dean standing between his father and mother in the back row. Photo below: High school photo: Dean notes that Thompson and Wilson were among those killed in the war. ' JSBmmmBmm Row | Wilson. Valencia. Wall. Thomas. Taskcr. William. Whiteman. - Row II Yanccy. Whitaker. Willson. Thomson. Doran. Trosel. Taylor.(Thompsoj J \ ^ ^ CROUP 2 1 row | Bybee, Dick, Dbcrbcckcr. ^Secds. Merrill, Cowling, Morel. people, had no house. They lived in tents. I would go home with them once in a while. Their living conditions were terrible. But my father would hire someone to work for maybe one job and get them some money. He had, oh, two or three of my neighbors were working for this construction company that he worked for. And he did all the hiring because he was a general superintendent. But he was very thoughtful. He tried to give everybody a job that he could. And your father was able to work all through the Depression, all through the 1930s? Yes. He had a good job because he was very intelligent in construction. He would read a set of plans and he would retain it in his mind. He knew exactly what that building was going to be. He worked for this company for years. They were one of the large companies in Los Angeles, Myers Brothers. So when he came to Las Vegas to work in construction for that short time, was it also with Myers Brothers? Yes. It happened this way. His brother, my Uncle Lors, left Utah and got a job with Myers Brothers in Los Angeles as an estimator. And he had that trade, too, of reading a set of plans and knowing the figures and everything that's going into it. So he became the head estimator for Myers Brothers. My mother and dad were married in Nevada here, Wells, Nevada. He wrote my dad after they were married and said, Come to Los Angeles; I've got a job for you. So Mom and Dad dropped everything, and he started working for Myers Brothers right away. He worked for them for years. He did many big jobs. He worked in the L.A. Harbor building a huge derrick for a German machine that they had bought before the war. Like I said the studios. He worked for Warner Brothers, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and all the big studios. He built their sound stages. I got to go see Sonja Henie skate once. In the summertime he'd take me to work to check on a job. And she was skating for a picture, practicing. I got to go watch her skate. It was quite an honor. I met quite a few movie actors at the time. Great. So now, we're on the way to England, 1943. Yes. We had very good accommodations there. It was a French liner. The waiters waited on us. We were officers and so we had the stateroom. We had three or four of us in a stateroom, but we had good service. We'd go down and visit our good gunners who were enlisted down in the hold of this ship and it was terrible. It was a nice trip. We dodged a few submarines. But we always had a Navy ship escorting alongside of us. And I'd see these Navy destroyers. They were small ships. They'd come alongside of us and they would bounce up and down so much. I thought, man, I'm glad I'm not on that ship. But they really had duty. So we arrived in England. It was probably about, I don't know, a five-day trip. We were met by our 398th Bomb Group truck that took us to our base. What was England like at the time? England at the time was — we didn't go to London right away. We went through little towns. We got to our base, which was just south of London. I was very surprised at London because it was so old. The farms had old houses with that thatched roofs and nothing like we were building in Los Angeles. We were building tracts in Los Angeles with all these houses and they were just a lot of farms. On the way to our base we stopped at a railroad station. A lot of these fliers were going to London on pass that had been there for months flying missions over England. And these guys had all their ribbons on and really looked great. I thought, man, I hope we live to do that. And sure enough, we had many trips to London and enjoyed it. Our base was — Was London being bombed at the time? Yes. So what were the average Londoners like? I mean how were they feeling about all of this? They were glad to have us. They were very friendly. They didn't have anything to give us. We'd go to town for dinner. It was always fish. They didn't have much. And we did have what we called the Rainbow Club where all the servicemen went in London. They would serve us Cokes and waffles. Why the Rainbow Club? Why that name? I don't know why they called it that. Well, there was a Rainbow Division I think in World War I. And I think they picked up the Rainbow Division from World War I. So we did spend a few times in London. At the time they had buzz bombs. And our base was on the direct path from Germany to London. And we had a few buzz bombs fly over us. Explain to me what that is. A buzz bomb is non-guided. It just goes and had a huge bomb ahead of it. And it had a jet motor that was preset to go to London and bomb. And they were very noisy. They had a distinct buzz as they were going over, a jet engine. As soon as the engine cut out, they went down and bombed. I 7 was always glad to hear them keep going. If you heard one stop, that was bad. And so that's what was bombing London at the time. No planes were bombing at this stage of the war. So tell me what your missions were like from that base? Okay. Our missions there were mostly long — see, we got there right before D-Day. Our first mission was supporting General Patton's troops on low-level bombing missions. So the GI's were pinned down. They couldn't make much advancement because of the strong German forces there. So we went and bombed this one town ahead of the troops. We ran into low attitude. And you were in Great Britain? Yes. We went from Great Britain to France. So you were going to France? Yes, the bomb would. We got to France and it was low-level. I could see the German guns shooting at us, the flashes on the ground. We were getting hit pretty good. In fact, the plane next to us got hit and it just exploded. We lost all men in that crew. Our plane got shot up pretty bad. We came back on two and a half engines. It's a four-engine bomber. And the one engine was out completely and the other engine had low oil pressure and we couldn't hardly maintain altitude. We threw everything out of the plane and were ready to ditch in a channel. And I was injured a little bit then. Our nose was shot out in the plane. It's a Plexiglas nose and my eyes were full of this Plexiglas and I couldn't see anything. I was flying bombardier then. And the navigator with us — the German shell had struck a hydraulic line that was full of red fluid. He had this red fluid all over and he thought he was shot. And he wasn't. But when I got back when we landed, I had to go to the hospital and have the Plexiglas removed from my eyes. One eye was swollen shut. I was off flying duty for about two weeks. I did receive a Purple Heart for that. But your eyes healed well enough that you could go back to flying? Yes. That was our first mission, too. Oh, that was the first one. I had to fly 20 missions after that. So you flew 20 missions into France? Yes. Germany, mostly Germany. So you were flying into France and into Germany? 8 Right. France was just before D-Day. And I got a medal for that from France, too. Oh, good. Yeah, France gave us a D-Day medal. So do you have the medal? Yeah. It was just given to me just recently by our congressman; John Porter it was. Oh, okay. Oh, this is the little medal that France sent me. This is wonderful, it says, "Efficiency, Honor and Fidelity." Oh, so this is how they're made. They just have the Velcro on the back so that you can put them on your uniform. Oh, that's how they're done. And this one is light blue with a red, white and blue stripe. Yeah. Here's the Purple Heart. Oh, and the Purple Heart is beautiful. Yeah. It is purple. So it's actually purple with a heart. And is that Thomas Jefferson? Who is that? No. George Washington. George Washington. That would make sense I guess. Yes, he established the award. So that was my first mission. So when you're flying from the base near London and you fly to Germany and back, how many miles is that? Well, we went by hours. Some of the missions were eight hours. Where did you refuel? We didn't. B-17 can fly for — we'd go clear to Berlin and back. Some of them were eight-hour missions. Mostly they were six hours depending on what we were bombing. But the B-17s were a very versatile plane. We used three of them. The first one was scrap because of the ~ Your crew? When you say "we," you're talking about your crew? Yes, our crew used three B-17s. We had one accident on takeoff before we started flying. We were flying practice missions. We were taking off. It's a short runway that they didn't use much there. We didn't have enough air speed to get off the ground enough. There just happened to be a farmer plowing at the end of the runway and our wheel hit this tractor. And we hit, went down, hit, went 9 through a grove of trees. And I being in the nose, the trees were flying through the nose. It broke the Plexiglas nose out. We finally came to a stop. The navigator was with me. I was the bombardier then. And we went right out of the nose because there was no nose. The plane was on fire. It was burning. We could smell it. The plane broke in half. One of the gunners, the waist gunner was thrown out. And he was burned very bad and spent the rest of the war in the hospital. I visit him even now today. I know him. He didn't fly any missions with us because he was too badly burned. But he was a mailman in Boston. Tell me how many men are there in a crew? Nine men make up a crew. Actually, we started out with ten. But then we didn't need the nose gunner. Most of our attacks were from the rear. Germans attacked us from the rear. So can you explain the nine jobs to me? Yes. The nine jobs were the pilot and copilot. That's two. The engineer was a man. He manned the top turret gun. And then there was the navigator and a nose gunner with him. Then there was the ball turret gunner, which was in the ball turret at the bottom of the plane. It was kind of a bubble like thing. It was run by motors and it changed all positions and that. Then there was a waist gunner and then a tail gunner. And you were which position? I was the navigator. Well, actually I was split. I was the bombardier for eight missions and then the navigator for 12. And the bombardier actually drops some of the bombs? Yes, we drop the bombs. And then after I started navigating I had a desk with all the navigation stuff on it. Okay. So tell me about the mission where you got shot down. Our mission number 20 was a real vital mission. It was to a synthetic oil plant in Merseburg, Germany. Synthetic oil was made out of coal. That's the only oil they had. It was very critical because November 2nd, when we were flying this mission, they had hardly any oil and the tanks couldn't run without oil. Everything was diesel. And so they were protecting this. They moved all the guns from Berlin to Merseburg. When we saw the first sign of Merseburg, it was just black. The sky was just black with this gunfire. Eighty-eight-millimeter shells would explode and just throw 10 steel all over the sky. When we went there we saw all this flak, what we called, 88-millimeter gun shells. Coming from other planes? No. From the ground. They had what they called the 88-millimeter cannon, which was one of their best tools. That was the one that destroyed a lot of tanks on the ground, too. So those were Americans on the ground firing — No. Those were the Germans that were shooting at us from the ground. Okay. They're trying to shoot the planes down. Yes, trying to shoot the planes down. The fighters wouldn't attack until you got out of all of this. They didn't want to get, the German fighters didn't want — we were never attacked before by German fighters. This was the first time in 20 missions because they weren't using their planes. They didn't have hardly any airplanes left. They were using them all on Merseburg. That's the only thing they had. So we got through the flak. Somebody called fighters in the area. And sure enough, you could feel it when the tail gunner started shooting our guns. He was shooting at these planes that were coming up on us. Apparently he hit one. Somebody said there's one going down. I don't know if he got credit for that or not because he was killed innocently shortly after that. They were attacking the airplanes. The German planes were attacking us from the rear because they had 20-millimeter cannons that were a little stronger than our 50-caliber machine guns. They had a bit of range. And so the first pass of the planes we did okay. The second pass they hit our tail. They shot the tail. The pilot said I can't control it; everybody bail out. Before that he told the waist gunner to go back and check on the tail gunner and see if he was okay. He went back there and said no, he's dead. So then the next pass we didn't have a tail gunner and they shot our tail off. So the pilot gave an order to bail out. We were then at about 27,000 feet, which is pretty high, and so I was ready to bail out. I had what they call a flak suit on. It was a protection of heavy metal vest and it had an emergency release on it. So I pulled the emergency release and it wouldn't release. I kept trying it and I said, well, I've got to jump; I can't wait. With a flak suit you can only put your parachute buckle on one side. You have a buckle on each side. And so I only had it buckled on one side because the flak suit was still around me. When I jumped out of the plane, hit the slipstream, it tore the flak suit off. All the way 11 down I was trying to fasten the parachute on the other side. But at 27,000 feet you're ready to pass out. You don t have any strength. And I couldn't remember if I had fastened it or not. So I fell for quite a while. And then when I entered a little cloudbank, which I knew was at 3,000 feet, I said, boy, it's time to pull this ripcord. So I pulled it and started floating down. Then I heard this gunfire. Bullets were whizzing by me. So then I was floating down and I heard this cheering. I just about landed in an English prisoner of war camp that the Germans had that held English prisoners and they were cheering me on. So I landed really near this camp, luckily, because as soon as I did this German soldier come running out of the camp and told the civilians that were shooting at me — they had their rifles ready to shoot me — Civilians were shooting you? The civilians, yes, were shooting, the farmers and that. So he made them stop shooting. He says pick up your chute and come with me. I picked my chute up and went to the prison camp. What happened with the other men in the crew? Right behind me was the nose gunner. He was with me in the nose. I jumped out before he did. I was right behind the escape hatch. I pulled the escape hatch and went out. He followed me. And then right behind him was the copilot and engineer. They were closest to this one escape hatch. The pilot doesn't bail out until everybody's out. Right. Okay. So the four of us landed fairly close together. We were all okay. This German soldier told all the German civilians to stop shooting. Now, the rest of them jumped out later and landed too far away. He had nothing to do. He couldn't save them. These Germans that were down the road shot them and clubbed them to death, four of them -- no. Five of them. Excuse me. Five of them. But the thing about that is there were two Czechoslovakian people that saw what happened. When the GIs came through here, they told the GIs about it, the American troops. They rounded up the guys that did it. And the story is in there. They put them on trial, the GIs did, and made them pay for their crimes. They killed two of them. So that was justice I guess. But anyway, we were taken that day into the English prison camp that I had just about landed in. We were taken into there temporarily. The nose gunner that was with me had an injured foot. 12 We had our flight boots on. He took his flight boot off and it was full of blood because this flak breaks up into minute pieces and it's very sharp. Our plane had a lot of that, of course. So we fixed him up, took his boot off and the Englishmen treated his wound. They gave us some tea and crackers. We thought that was great. They were probably giving us what was very scarce. We were there for a while. The other five members of the crew never showed up ~ well, the four members because the tail gunner was already dead. We knew that. The other four didn't show up. We wondered what happened to them. We didn't learn until after the war what had happened. After that we were put in a bus, which happened to be an old Volkswagen bus, and taken to % a schoolhouse where German soldiers were going to hold us until they took us to the main prison camp. It was quite an air battle that day. There were two other planes shot down. Some of them that were captured went to the schoolhouse with us. There were two of them that were injured pretty bad. The Germans wouldn't give them any immediate treatment. But a funny thing happened here. They took us to this schoolhouse. It had been hours before we had water or anything. We were sitting there in the evening. And the German guard, somebody brought him his lunch. So he was sitting at a desk and all of us were sitting on benches type in this schoolroom. So somebod