Lt. Ernest M. Duckworth Navigator/Bombadier

by John S. (Jack) Duckworth
(Burke, Virginia, USA)

I always remember the story my dad told me about a problem he kept having at Benghazi as a navigator computing his mission fuel. He said that every time he came back from a mission he was shorter on fuel that his calculations kept indicating. My dad was a college-graduate science major and a stickler for math and exactitude so the fuel calculation errors were driving him nuts.

One day he went to his plane early and found one of the gunners on his plane pushing a large boulder up a wooden ramp into the belly of the B-24. He asked the crew member what the hell he thought he was doing and the crewman said that he felt like he wasn't doing enough just waiting for enemy fighters to shoot so when Dad dropped the bombs on a bomb run this crewman would push the boulder out of a hatch and that way he felt that he might do some damage on the ground.

My dad said that at that moment he understood why the crewman had asked him early on to say bombs-away over the intercom when he dropped his bombs, because that was not established protocol even though old war movies propagate that myth.

He said he gave the crewman a real dressing down because the added weight was causing an increase in fuel consumption and that could cause the loss of the plane in a tight fuel situation because his calculations might say that they could make it back to base when in fact they could run out of fuel.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Our veteran's stories.


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.

2019 River Cruise


DATES : Sep 13-16

CITY : Dayton, Ohio

HOTEL: Crowne Plaza

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


Born in Battle