Vergil H. Bates, Mission February 5, 1945

Vergil Bates of the 513th tells the story of how his engineer, Henry Pace saved his life and maybe the whole crew on a mission to Salzburg in early 1945.

"I was co-pilot on our crew," Vergil began, "and was flying the plane as our pilot had a double hernia that he was keeping secret. But he couldn't do his job. Anyway, it was a rough day, we were up over 25,000 feet, the controls were mushy and we were ducking in and out of clouds when I suddenly realized my oxygen tube had come loose and I was passing out. I hollered for Henry."

Pace takes up the story: "I was in the bomb bay when I heard Verg yelling for help. By the time I got to the cockpit, he was about out. I reached down almost to his ankles, grabbed his tube, stuck it back into his mask and turned on pure oxygen."

Vergil: "That brought me around, but I tell you, if Henry hadn't been as tall as he is, or had those long arms, he wouldn't have been able to reach that tube and maybe we all would have gone down,"