Now that the kids are in bed it is time to reflect a bit on Memorial Day. I’ve been listening to Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany as an audiobook. One sobering statistic is that only about 25 percent of the early B-17 crewmen completed their 25 missions and came home in one piece. After facing terrifying flak and fighter attacks they would get back into the planes somehow and head out despite knowing that the odds of a safe return were not very good and also that neither were the odds of substantially affecting the German war effort (the average bomb dropped by U.S. bombers in World War II was off target by about three quarters of a mile, according to an official study quoted by the author).
As a pilot I don’t have a lot of trouble imagining that they went out on their first mission, but I have trouble imagining the kind of courage that it took to go out on the 2nd through 25th.
Anyway, I am grateful that at least some Americans had that kind of courage and to them I give thanks today.