John D. Craig

John D. Craig lead the 9th combat camera unit.  He wrote the following about camels:

I have had a lot of laughs over here in the Benghazi Area. Found a camel the other day and the thing stunk to high heaven. All camels stink. The effective range of this smell is 3,000 yards. At 200 yards I have seen a strong man sniff the air and moan pitifully and pass out while reaching for his gas mask. Some people say the camel can't help it, but I contend that any creature with his personality would smell like that on purpose. Camels are always class conscious, and always feel abused. They grunt, groan, stutter, whine and yelp. It was only this morning when one stepped on my foot and, when I stopped and conversed with him in the well known Army fashion, and he turned at me with admiration, that I discovered his noises are his way of swearing. What kept me fooled so long was that he cusses in Arabic. If you haven't heard any atrocity stories of late from this theater, it is because nothing else seems very bad to people who associate with camels. Camels hate most humans-which means anybody of Christian ancestry. He has four stomachs and you should see him when he gives himself the order to "Fire one!" or "Fire two!" He belches up a green missile the size of your fist and spits it like and old time tobacco chewer. He is too smart to fire solid shot; he sprays it like a machine gun so he can't miss! (Always witness this action from a distance.) But the camel's heavy guns are mounted in his rear. His hind legs are joined on swivels and they swing free. He can kick a curve with the other one. If he connects, you are out for the duration. He can bite, or snap is the better word for it. Living on thistles and thorns as he does gives his jaws great strength, and generally it is necessary to pry him loose regardless of whether it means you lose a couple fingers or the seat of your pants. I'm convinced that all camels were conceived in that region where they were forever without water, and he knows he is an alien in this world. When he mutters to himself, he is wishing he were back home in hell. So do I. •


On a more serious side, he wrote another article:

SERVED - North Africa DUTY - C.C.O. 9th Combat Camera unit

I originally had thirty-two men in the 9th Combat Camera Unit. We flew many missions with the 9th and 376th Groups. There were heavy casualties, and I ended up with nine survivors when we were relieved in Feb. 1944 in Bari, Ita1y, by the 5th C.C. Unit. Most of my missions were with the 376th Group when K. K. Compton was CO. I flew a few with the 9th Group where "Killer" Kane was CO. In my crew was Sgt. Jerry Joswick who was the only camerman to return after the Ploesti raid. He made the only movies and stills of B-24’s over the target and during the raid on August 1, 1943. He now lives in California, and I see him often.


And he was interviewed by phone in 1990:

I had a very interesting experience in Los Angeles one time. I was going over to the airport and over on the far side of the field I happened to look over and I saw this plane I recognized, but I wasn't quite sure so I pulled into the gate and talked to the guard and he let me go in. It was a B-24 – the Blue Streak – the one that I flew in overseas and the one that we got pretty badly shot up one time and later they retired it and made it a transport plane just to carry the lads back and forth to the Holy Land.  They brought it back to the states and it was there just sitting out in the field - I couldn't imagine what they were going to do with it and I never found out what happened to it. That was about 12 or 14 years ago.

I know that the Squaw - the one that my tent mate flew in - in North Africa and he later became a Congressman. I located his plane - it was laying in a field - it was in an airstrip somewhere in Utah. I saw it and I told him about it and I think he made it a point to go up there and see it. It was called the Squaw.

I flew 35 missions all told - on the Ploesti one we were on one of the planes that aborted. I didn't get over the target at all. Then we had one cameraman that went over the target and came back alive and that was Jerry Joswick. All those movies you see those planes flying through the smoke and all and the low level shots just skimming the ground. Those were all made by Jerry Joswick. I don't think he has any movies of it available but I think he has a lot of stills.

Most of the boys I knew were the 376th boys. When I first went over there I went to the 98th and that's when I met Killer Kane and he kinda threw cold water on our combat stuff. He said "Do you kill Germans?" and I had to say "No, we take pictures of them". He said "To hell with that - if you kill Germans we're interested." Then I got Jerry Joswick to become a flying gunner and we set up a target on the desert there and we had a tail gun mounting set up in a platform arrangement and the gunner could get up there and fire guns and we trained the lads on that. I made all my combat ~cameramen gunners so they went in as full gunners and from then on we could get on the plane. Thats how we got byKiller Kanes idea. I took over 32 and I came back with 9 men. We had a rough time. Some of the lads are in Hollywood. Theres a chap out here thats a camerman in Hollywood and he became very interested in the 50th Anniversary thing in Fort Worth he set up a combat camerman area and he's anxious to get the combat cameramen some recognition. Everybody else got recognition but they don't and he points out that all of the pictures in the records were due to these combat camermen. So he's doing quite a bit on that but he didn't fly any missions - he joined up later after all the Ploesti stuff was over. He's a very interesting lad and he's done quite a bit and I gave him Jerry Joswick's name and some of the other cameramen.

Liberandos Patch

376 ARCHIVES

At the 2017 reunion, the board approved the donation of our archives to the Briscoe Center for American History, located on the University of Texas - Austin campus.

Also, the board approved a $5,000 donation to add to Ed Clendenin's $20,000 donation in the memory of his father. Together, these funds begin an endowment for the preservation of the 376 archives.

Donate directly to the 376 Endowment

To read about other endowment donation options, click here.

2018 REUNION

DATES :  TBD

CITY : Dayton, Ohio

HOTEL: TBD

2018 reunion details


previous reunions

For Sale

The Other Doolittle Raid


The Liberandos


Three Crawford Brothers


Liberando: Reflections of a Reluctant Warrior


376th Bomb Group Mission History


The Last Liberator


Full Circle


Shadows of Wings


Ten Men, A "Flying Boxcar," and A War


I Survived Ploesti


A Measure of Life


Shot Down In Yugoslavia


Stories of My Life


Attack


Born in Battle