The book is dusty; no doubt I was lazy. The past month I was off combat. Expected to have 3 months off, but it was cut to 1 - am back on the list and expect to get in the saddle shortly.
In the past month, life, went on as usual here at Abu Sueir had several highlights as Xmas and New Years. Christmas Eve, I was in Palestine, couldn't get to Jerusalem, but from the reports, didn't miss much. Everyone went up and made the essence of a crowd at a football game - drunks, crowds, noise, etc. New Years was very quiet - few drinks and that Was all.
During the past month, the order came out giving us D.F.C's and Air Medals, and everyone prepared for a celebration, put on the same order, there appeared the worst desecration of medal awarding I've yet experienced. Col. Mickey McGuire got a D.F.C. for the first Tripoli raid - a raid all the officers were absolutely ashamed to be on because of the fiasco it turned into - due only to decisions of Mickey. We turned back because of weather (Gen'l Timberlake's order), then Mickey pulled his usual bombing of the adjacent oceans and let the Med. have it in salvo. Then the fiasco approached a catastrophe when Wilcox and Ebert were shot down by fighters because Mickey wouldn't hit the deck when we begged him to. The citation was a direct falsehood for it stated there WRS no loss of personnel or property _ well I guess they didn't lose the B 24 for it is probably pinpointed on a map, but it is sure wrecked to hell and back. Also, Sgt. Fillippi didn't enjoy getting part of a 20 m.m. in his shoulder - can't follow the reasoning of the men in Cairo.
But the tragedy of the month has yet to come – On Jan 12 or 13, we lost Lt. Pachal and Col. Payne on a raid on Naples. One 109 attacked and shot the. down in flames. None of the turret guns worked out of the 4 ships in diamond formation and they were helpless - the 109 came in the formation 2nd blasted them out of the air. Said 109 was shot down by the nose guns of wingmen of the element. 'Tis a tough thing to die, but to go down without being able to fight back is even harder. The guns were either frozen or jammed by dust from sitting at advanced landing ground so long.
Oh: yet, many of the boys are back from Turkey now _ got out by stealing a B-24 and landing at Cyprus out of gas and by various other secret means. 4 officers and 16 men are still there.
Lt. Ziesel came back from Turkey and went on his first mission in 7 months with Pachal _ that makes for a tough break - it doesn't boost the hell out of morale either.