Our crew's first combat mission in a B-24 was on 1 August 1942 when we were sent after a convoy in the Mediterranean Sea. Ships bound for Tobruk or Benghazi came from Greece via Crete, and Naples or other Italian ports. Major Fennell was the only member of the crew that had flown in a B-24 before. These B-24s did not have a ball turret, so I flew the right waist window gun. The waist positions were about six feet apart and about 20 feet from the tail guns. The window openings were three feet by four feet. The enlisted men of the crew were not at all impressed with this aircraft. The back of the plane vibrated a great deal and there was the smell of gasoline permeating the interior. We wondered why anyone would fly in such a "coffin". However, we eventually learned to love to fly them (especially our "Pink Lady"). Nevertheless, the mission was successful - we got a ship. On our night return we hit the coast of Egypt instead of Palestine. We were lost for 1 Y2 hours. We unintentially flew over the Suez Canal, but we were not shot at. The return to Lydda, however, was very traumatic. Our crew was next to last to land. The jeep that led us to our parking spot led us down the runway, so the last plane had to abort its landing and go around the field again.
We had just parked our aircraft and I reached down to pick up my parachute when an enormous red light flooded the interior of our plane ( our plane was parked nearest to the accident ). Lieutenant Sturkie had undershot the field on his final approach and hit the top of a two-story steel-reinforced concrete police building. As I looked up, I saw the plane coming to earth in three pieces, followed by a parachute that survived the explosion. Lt. Sturkie was thrown free of the plane and survived ( I do not know how). The eight other members of his crew and seven policemen in the building were killed. Twenty people had left the building a few minutes before the accident.