The Green's House

Going Home

June 10, 1943    Algiers

    Boy, I'm tired, been on the go all day getting things fixed up. It seems that I am responsible for the whole bunch. First I reported to A-1 to get our orders cut. Had to have them before we could get a priority rating and transport tickets. The orders were ready at 3 o'clock and by four we had our rating, but then came the stump.    At the air transport office they told me that we would have to wait until the 12th because all planes were full for Casablanca tomorrow. But that didn't work. Our rating is #2 and to keep from having to cancel some #3, they had to give us a special plane. So that was that.

June 11, 1943    Casablanca

    Left Algiers this morning at 8:30 and arrived here at 1:20 and right off the bat without eating, I got transportation to town to see about that 4600 mile ride. I reported to Maj. Foster at the transportation building and in five minutes, we were booked for passage home on the West Point.    So for the first time in three days, I don't have anything to worry about.    We went to a show (Mrs. Miniver) in town tonight and it was really good.

June 12, 1943     Casablanca

    Bridges and I spent the day in town with Alex and Wagg. They left four days before we did and are waiting on the same boat we are.    I think I've finally located M. J. I saw a fellow in the C. B.'s today on the street and asked him what outfit he was in and it's the same one M. J. is in and they are going home on the same boat. Boy, that will be wonderful!    I'll know in the morning because he is supposed to call me.

June 13, 1943    Casablanca

    Marvin called me this morning at 10 o'clock, so I went out and spent the day with him. Had lunch and dinner with him, the first two good meals I've had in ages.

June 14, 1943    Aboard the West Point

    Came aboard ship this afternoon at 3:30 and have spent the rest of the time looking it over and trying to find my way around and have been lost ever since. I located M. J. right off the bat and we've been together all afternoon.    It's just like a big hotel only a little more complicated.

June 15, 1943     Aboard the West Point

    Marvin and I have spent the whole day just killing time and at 9 P.M. we shoved off. Right now we are about 100 miles out and I'm sitting in my stateroom holding on with both hands, well one anyway, trying to hold the ship steady.    Flying a plane and riding a boat is altogether a different sensation.    I'm expecting to get seasick any minute.

June 16, 1943    Aboard the West Point

    Nothing but water and it's already getting boring and yet we've just started.    Marvin and I are together all the time when he isn't working. The rest of the time, I read or walk the deck.

June 17, 1943    Aboard the West Point

    I saw my first flying fish today. They look a  lot like a spitfire with their elliptical wings. They are small and can only stay over the water a few seconds.    We are still climbing that hill. Seem to be in the same place very morning when we wake up.    The ship blacks out every night at nine o'clock and there isn't a thing to do but hit the sack and try to stay in it. No smoking is allowed any place after blackout is sounded.

June 18, 1943    Aboard the West Point

    Another long day and don't seem to be getting any place.    There is about 8,000 people on board with only two women and 3,800 of them are Italian and German prisoners. The Italians are more or less free to do as they please, but the Germans aren't given any freedom at all and are watched like hawks.

June 19, 1943    Aboard the West Point

    Still trying to get over that hill

June 21, 1943

    Nothing but flying fish and white caps. Saw a life boat adrift today.

June 22, 1943

    Still sailing. The water has been exceptionally calm all day.

June 23, 1943

    Found out today that we went almost to South America to avoid a submarine scare.

June 24, 1943    New York City

    Landed in Boston at 11 o'clock and were on the train and on our way here by 12 o'clock and were in the Astor Hotel by 6 o'clock. There isn't enough words to express how glad I am to be here.

June 25, 1943    New York City

    I've been buying clothes all day and sure am tired but I have a date with a model tonight that's gotta be taken care of.

June 26, 1943    New York City

    My date last night was beautiful and a lot of fun. We took in several night clubs and finished the evening at Cafe Society -- morning rather.

June 27, 1943

    Wagg invited Alex and I to his home in Lambertville, N. Y. for the day and we really had a wonderful time.    Came back to N. Y. City tonight.

June 28, 1943

    We reported to Mitchell Field today and had a 30-day leave within three hours but we had a hell of a lot of walking to do and boy was it hot.

June 29, 1943

    Bridges and I are together. we left New York at 1:25. We couldn't get a Pullman so had to take what we could get. The train is really crowded and it's gonna be tough trying to sleep.   

    This brings to a close my combat experience as a B-17 pilot. The past eleven months were exciting and full of experiences that I will always remember. Some of these experiences I would like to forget -- those that brought heartaches to others.

The End

Ed. Note: My uncle was lucky that he was not assigned to the 8th Air Force , which took the brunt of the losses in the European Theater. If I remember correctly, about 1/4 of all American combat losses in the entire war occurred in the skys over Europe, in just three years, 1943 - 1945. He also missed out on the famous Romanian missions against the Polesti oil refineries; they were so bad that the Medal of Honor was awarded to one of the pilots. These events happened later in the war.

However I know with pride that had he been over Germany, had he been over Romania, he would have served there just as he served over France and Italy - with honor and distinction, flying bravely into the maelstrom of air combat. He might never have returned, but he would have gone in.

Men and women go into combat thinking they will get through it alive and victorious. However, there occasionally comes a time in battle when you realize that you won't make it, that you cannot possibly win. How you act in this instance is the razor's edge dividing line between a great nation and a wanna-be-great nation. It only really shows up when the odds are impossible. These days America is the only Superpower left, and many people forget what we can do when we are impossibly down. It is worth remembering; there are many images that evoke what the American fighting spirit is about. 

Think: John Paul Jones continuing the fight against superior odds. Think: 182 men at the Alamo holding off 5000 enemy soldiers until the last defender was gone. Think: 15,000 men of General Picket's division charging up Seminary Ridge into annihilation. Think: Flying old and slow torpedo planes into the cream of the Japanese navy during the battle of Midway. Think: the single word "Nuts" in response to a surrender demand in the Battle of the bulge. Think: tiny destroyers and destroyer escorts engaging the entire Japanese battleship fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  Think: thousands of young lives given in B17's, B24's, and B25's over the European Continent. 

Think: Will Seaton Arnett, 1St Lt., US Army Air Force.

These men did an amazing thing; to fly day after day into utter terror, droning on and on through flak and fighters, unable to move to defend themselves until the bombs were dropped and the job was done. That is a special courage; that is the legacy of this country and it's fighting spirit.

Special footnote to any future oppressors: Whether it be in Southwest Asia, Europe, or anywhere on this globe, don't underestimate what a free American people can and will do to preserve their way of life. You won't live to regret the mistake.

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