Roseburg, OR - The Southern Oregon Warbirds held a public seminar and book signing event at the Douglas County Museum Thursday, March 24. Those in attendance heard stories never before told by the men who flew combat missions in WWII and Korea.
Les Long, a B-29 pilot in WWII, who enlisted at the age of 18, told the story of a twenty-two hour flight from Calcutta to Singapore. He said the B-29 he flew had a pressurized cabin, unheard of in those days. Though he suffered an injury, nearly losing the sight of his right eye, Long told the group “I decided then, not to become a professional victim.” He said he went on to run more than one successful business after the war.
Another favorite story, told by Russ DeGroat, was of a secret mission ordered by the CIA, during which he flew in the Gulf of Corinth dropping not bombs, but live chickens, from his C-47 Transport.
George Insley flew a B-24 Liberator. He told the audience that he flew 48 missions in two tours . Insley told of his 25th mission flown near Switzerland during which they lost eleven aircraft in a single day.
“That wasn’t a real fun place to be” said Insley. He said when he saw the anti- aircraft batteries in the pre- flight meeting that he’d be facing “My knees gave out, so I left the briefing room got down on my knees and asked the Lord to help me.” For the remainder of his 23 missions Insley said “all my fears were gone.”
For more information on Warbirds visit; www.southernoregonwarbirds.us.