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"Hell, They're ALL Scary!" Experiences in Fifty Bombing Missions

Milton Mc Curry

November 11, 1994
Interviewer: Rheba Massey

Milton Mc Curry was born in Fremont, Nebraska in 1919; his family left Nebraska in 1935 to escape the dust bowl and he graduated from Fort Collins High School. He started college at Colorado A & M and entered military service there with Battery "A" which entered active duty in February, 1941 at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, where Mc Curry was accepted for pilot training. On the morning of December 7, 1941, he woke to the radio in his barracks blaring the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. He had just received some of his old civilian clothes from his family in Fort Collins. "I promptly locked the footlocker . . . and sent it back . . . I didn't see it again until the end of the war."

Mc Curry was soon assigned to the 448th Bomb Squadron, 321st Bomb Group, 47th Bomb Wing in North Africa as a First Lieutenant. He was first pilot on B-25 bombers flying from several stations in North Africa.

As a pilot, he explained, "you have complete control of the aircraft and all aboard. Your copilot assists you at the flying controls, monitors engine instruments and watches for enemy aircraft or flak. Your job is to maintain your proper position in the formation as leader, or as a wing man, since that determines the desired bomb pattern on the target area. We bombed . . . well, we had our share of "killing fish" as well as hitting targets. It is one of those things that you can't say: 'yeah, we did it up brown,' every time, see. I had a copilot, a bombardier, and three gunners in back. One was the top turret gunner, one was the waist gunner with a hand held 50 caliber out each waist window, and one in the tail." (that replaced the Bendix retractable lower turret that nobody could use effectively.)

Their targets included airfields, road junctions, railroads and their marshalling yards, bridges, ammunition dumps, any and all military objectives throughout Tunisia. And then low level anti-shipping sweeps against German shipping in the Mediterranean. The latter required flying at only 500 ft. altitude through a heavy anti-aircraft "screen" of bullets and shells, which he described as "like flying through a sheet of solid steel."

Although the Americans lost several airplanes and crews, these missions took a heavy toll of the Nazi supply shipments and ultimately starved the Afrika Korps of their food, fuel, and other supplies. "We did not kill their morale. They had very high morale but nothing left to fight with." Mc Curry said he had high respect for the German soldiers but less for the Italian soldiers in the same Afrika Korps, whom he considered cowards who didn't defend their sectors and left holes for the Allied troops to get behind the Germans.

The crew called their plane the Boyd Toyd (think of birds flying overhead). Neither he nor any of this crew was wounded. When asked what was his scariest moment, the replied, "Hell, they're ALL scary!" He did go on to describe a million to Crotone, Italy, where his bomb bay doors stuck open after the bombs had been dropped. This created a "helluva drag and slows you down." They had to keep radio silence and were being left behind when two ME-109 enemy planes approached. He took his plane lower so they could not attack from underneath. Friendly fighter planes were not expected, but suddenly four appeared, diverted the enemy planes, and escorted the lumbering plane back to base. The day was especially memorable to Mc Curry, as he later learned it was his elder son's birthday. His last mission, the 50th, was also memorable as it was flown through red muzzle flashes of 88 mm. guns and the resulting greasy black clouds of smoke. This mission was to destroy the German 11th Air Force based in Salonika-Cedes, Greece, for which his group received the Presidential Unit Citation.

"There was no such thing as a 'milk run,'" Mc Curry concluded. All missions are scary, just some more than others.

Mc Curry received several medals for his service in WWII, was recalled as a pilot for the Korean war, and then reassigned to the US Air Force's Air Rescue Service, where he served for 15 years and saved 23 lives for which he received the Aviators Valor Medal. He flew rescue missions from Greenland, Florida, Georgia, Scotland, Germany, California and Vietnam.

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