Warren E. Grant was a bombardier in the 512 squadron. He was in the Richard Lentz crew.
Warren wrote about his experiences following the events of Oct. 17, 1944:
In the fall of 1944, after a mission to Steyr (St. Valentin), Austria, I ended up at the 35th field hospital with frozen toes. The doctor's prognosis that evening was not very encouraging and I ended up during the night asking that some old question, "Why me?" It was, to say the least, a very long, long night.
In the ward the following afternoon, shortly after we heard the aircraft returning from the Oct. 17th mission, the ambulances brought in that day's casualties. The fellow who was brought to the bed next to mine was also from the 512th. As I recall, his surname was "Wills," and after a while we talked about what had happened over the target that day. All of a sudden he looked at me and said, "Hey, that plane in our squadron that was hit and went down - That was the Lentz crew - That was your crew, wasn't it?"
When that shock finally registered, I just turned away, shook my head and closed my eyes. Too much in two days for a 20-yearold, a long way from home. Another very long, long night at the 35th field hospital.
A little over a month later, after leaving the Bari General Hospital, I hitched a ride back to the 376th in a C-47. We touched down on the runway at San Pan, I jumped out of the back of the plane, it took off, and I walked out to the open filed behind the 512th Sqd. HQ buildings where our tent was still standing. It stood alone out there and only one of the four cots remained, along with a couple of blankets and a few of my personal possessions in a wooden box. I lay down on the cot for a while and then went to check in with the Flight Surgeon and the people in Operations. Some time later, I was assigned to a new crew and started flying missions again.
As the months went by, I found out that of the eleven men on board that ill-fated 512th plane that went down on Oct. 17, 1944 over Vienna, eight men of the Lentz crew were killed, including the replacement bombardier who had taken my place. It was I who had survived by being in the 35th field hospital that day, Oct. 17, 1944, and not being on the plane.
Over the years and a lot of reflections later, "Why me?" has taken a whole new meaning since that Oct. 16th evening of 1944. Now it's - "Why was I spared?" when on the following day I, too, might have gone down over Vienna with the rest of my crew.
As Ralph Scheer ends his story, so shall I:
"How does one rationalize the events that lead to one's survival?"