From the Farm to the Cockpit, The Log of a B-24 Co-pilot

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Five months later he was one of the first hundred pilots to complete advanced training. Fitzhenry was promoted to first lieutenant deservedly but also on a technicality. By regulation at the time no four-engine aircraft commander could be less than a first lieutenant. A few of the previous upperclassmen who ended up taking orders from him weren't so happy.

During a period of inactivity, prior to flying into harms way, Fitzhenry and the usual suspects of the Scootin Thunder particularly Bob Houser; co-pilot, and Bill Harris; bombardier were no strangers in getting themselves into mischief. He recollected times when they would take their plane and fly it to places they shouldn't be and doing things they shouldn't be doing. The old saying 'boys will be boys' applies here.

I ended up wearing both boots and that's how I got the nickname 'boots,'" Fitzhenry chuckled. The fun and games were over. There was no more advanced flight training or simulations. It was time to get serious - this next flight would mean life or death.

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The bloody campaign in the Battle of Guadalcanal was nearing a resolution prior to Fitzhenry and company swooping down to engage from a bird's eye view. Fitzhenry was notorious for toting along his 16mm camera everywhere he went, even in the heat of battle, he still managed to to snap pictures of the enemy up close. Fitzhenry's squadron of Bs, along with allied planes from Australia and New Zealand, flew in close formation to allow maximum coverage while firing their.

We'd see these Roman Candle-like tracers come out from a dark spot in the night like a string of beads coming toward us, but we were never hit," Fitzhenry recalled in his first trip to Kahili. Traveling toward a target we would all sing a hymn called "Whispering Hope" and then returning back we would sing "Amazing Grace," Fitzhenry remembered. That's the type of crew that works close together," he said. Fitzhenry recollected witnessing several occasions where friends who were flying beside him were not as fortunate to come out alive and unharmed.

I still visualize and reminisce on the aircrafts that went down," Fitzhenry said. To this day if he drives past a crash site that's burning it automatically triggers a pile of B parts scattered on a runway. But those of us who have survived have died and re-died in the recall of the comrades that didn't make it," Fitzhenry said softly. When asked why he thinks he and his crew were the lucky ones he simply said, "We have no idea except it had to be a miracle. For some reason the lord had something else for us to do.

Fitzhenry was awarded 10 Air Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses on behalf of his extraordinary achievement displayed in the combat missions of the South Western Pacific Theater during Edit Article Add New Article. Toggle navigation Menu. Don't have an account? Sign Up Today. Facebook Twitter.

Home e-Edition. Close 1 of Fitzhenry poses with the Scootin Thunder B Liberator. Fitzhenry in the comfort of his home in Wild Dunes, Isle of Palms. Oscar and Ruth Fitzhenry in after nearly 63 years of marriage. Fitzhenry and grandson Jim Campbell. Fitzhenry as a Flying Cadet. Fitzhenry poses with his 16mm movie-maker camera. Buy Now. Cessna NEJ down in Birmingham. So Many Vehicles on the Taxiways. Need my wallet back! F's dogfighting over the Atlantic, E-3B calling the shots.

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