WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A World War Two veteran was drafted at just 18-years-old and the Air Corps bombardier was one of the youngest officers on his crew.
Richard Martin said years and years went by before they started having bomb wing reunions.
He says it sure was great to get together and you can only imagine the stories swapped when you consider what the crew flew and lived through.
“Everybody came from a different state,” WWII Veteran Richard Martin said.
Once in Japan, the B-29 crew had company on the very first mission.
“The tail gunner calls in and says ‘hey, we got a thing about the size of a cigarette butt on our tail, glowing and he’s chasing us,” Martin said.
It was a kamikaze.
“A B-29 at that altitude could turn sharper than a kamikaze with such short wings, so we got rid of him,” Martin said.
Martin said every mission started about three in the afternoon.
“We just flew all night and that’s the way it was,” Martin said.
All targets were the same.
“So we’d make a run from one end, across the bay, to the oil refineries at the other end,” Martin said.
Each run took the crew about 15 hours.
“It was a good plane,” Martin said. “It would take you anywhere and bring you back!”
Every good plane needs a solid name.
“Everybody else was putting half dressed women on their planes and we decided we weren’t going to do that,” Martin said.
So the crew settled on ‘My Naked’ and it went on to get them through 11 bomb-dropping missions.
“We started out, I think we had 18 planes, on the first mission and when we got to the last one, we were up to 140 or something,” Martin said.
Although there were more planes, and more bombs, one thing remained the same…the crew that was more like family.
“You just learn to lean on each other,” Martin said.
That they did until their safe return, on Army Day.
“I didn’t know it was Army Day, and they had a couple of ships in the harbor, spraying out these big water fountains, well we thought that was the way they welcomed everybody,” Martin said.
Martin was studying to become an accountant when he was drafted, a career he enjoyed until his retirement in 1984.
He’s still preparing taxes to this day and why not at 94 years young!