While this Veteran’s Day may not have been a perfect day to fly, inside the Galt Airport Studio building, it was a great day to hear three veterans tell their stories!
After an opening welcome to the Veteran’s Day gathering, EAA Chapter 932’s President, Arnie Quast, introduced Parker Johnston, who was there to host two interview sessions for his “Aviation Life” radio program in front of a live audience of members and guests.
The first guest, 95-year-old Harold White, delighted us with his memories as a B17 waist gunner during WWII. Entering the Army Air Corps in July of 1940, Harold began his primary flight training in Stearmans, only to learn that his eyesight was going to keep him from becoming a pilot. It was decided that he did, however, have good enough vision to become a gunner.
Sent to Italy as a crew member on board a B17, Harold quickly realized that he was a better waist gunner than turret gunner when the constant movement within a ball turret gave him severe motion sickness.
During one run, his bomber was badly damaged by flak. The crew members rushed to keep the aircraft flying, using parachute cords to secure the failing tail structure to the plane. When the crippled B17 was finally stabilized, they realized that they no longer had any way to bail out! Fortunately, the beat-up bomber held together long enough to make it back to their base.
Harold White flew 50 missions in Europe before he was discharged.