29 October 1944: Our first combat mission was to Munich, Germany. We were awakened about 0400 with a whistle outside our tent. We took our mess kits to the mess hall for breakfast. After that we headed over to the air supply group to pick up our flying clothes and equipment like an electric heated suit, oxygen mask with carbon microphone, flight helmet with earphones, parachute harness, chest mounted parachute and escape kit.
From there I went with the pilot, co-pilot, navigator and bombardier to briefing. The reason for a radio operator attending was to receive the secret coding and decoding information for message operations. All of this was changed on a daily basis so that the enemy would have a hard time trying to break our codes.
After the briefing we headed to our B-24 and started to get all of our clothes on and preflight our equipment. I remember we got the engines, started and checked out. Then we taxied out and into line with the other six B-24s of the 515th squadron. We got off the ground at about 7:30 a.m. After nearly an hour we were in our squadron formation at number four position right below and behind our squadron lead aircraft.
T/Sgt. Wendell Wilkins and I had been assigned to the waist-guns. This is the first time this had happened to us. During our training missions, we had always been on the flight deck where the radio equipment and the fuel transfer equipment were located.
We began to head up north over the Adriatic Sea, climbing all the way. We knew we were headed for Munich but we were not sure what kind of trouble we would have. As we began to get over land we had a heavy under cast below us. The lead airplane had a "Mickey Radar" on board.
As we began to get near Munich, we were all looking for enemy fighters, but we never saw any. Lieutenant Duncan, our pilot, told Wendell and me to start throwing out chaff, This was supposed to deflect the German radar and their anti-aircraft gun accuracy. We were getting excited because we saw a B-24 in another squadron nearly a half a mile to our right get hit and explode and we could see lots of flak bursting near us. By then, Wendell and I were really throwing out a lot of the chaff.
We dropped our bombs at 25,500', feet, through the clouds along with the rest of the squadron and rallied to the right to get out of the target area. We didn't pick up any holes in our plane but some of the others hi the' squadron got a few.
By the time we got back over the Adriatic the crew was ready for some lunch; We had been issued K-rations. We started looking for them and then found the empty bag they came in and had to tell the crew that we didn't have any left. The little K-ration boxes were about the same size as the chaff cartons, which contained the aluminum foil strips that we threw out over Munich. I had been so shook up I threw out the K-rations too. Boy, they didn't let me forget that for a long time.
We got back to our field after seven hours and 45 minutes. After we left our B-24 and took our clothes and other equipment back to supply, we returned to our squadron headquarters for de-briefing. Before that, all enlisted men were sent to the squadron officers' club where we had to sign our name in a book and drink a straight shot of bourbon, with water, chaser. That was the first time I had had one and it almost choked me. They said that it was to relax us, so we could be de-briefed better.
After the first mission, Lieutenant Duncan decided to move Wendell and me back to the flight deck on the remainder of our flights. I guess he was afraid we would keep throwing out his lunch.