YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS
I entered the service as an aviation cadet on November 7, 1942 in the Army Air Corps.
I flew a B-24 Bomber in the 15th Air Force while stationed in Italy with the 825th Squadron and 484th Bomber Group. I was a First Lt. and was accredited with 25 missions. After the war, they gave us double credits for some of those missions. Foggia was our air base in Italy. There are so many stories. I wouldn’t know where to begin. But after leaving one bombing mission, my engineer informed us that he could not transfer the gas from the reserve tank. The crew chief forgot to open the valve to allow him to do it. So we either had to find a place to land or ditch near the shore in hope of being rescued, or bail out and hope for the best. Joe, my navigator called and said there was and “emergency” strip on the island of VIS off the coast of Yugoslovia. But it was reserved for fighters only.
Our airplane commander and I decided that our best bet was to land on that tiny landing strip. We took a big gulp and got ready for a short field landing! We lined up with the runway and just before landing cut the power and dropped it from about 10 or so feet. It was quite a jolt. But it slowed us down. We both rode the brakes as hard as possible and almost to the end of the runway ground looped our plane of all power as soon as we touched the ground. Al let up on the brake and I held mine. The plane made aright turn. It worked! We were off the runway and safe.
However, I was told to report to the Colonel for ignoring the “flag waving” guys that had to race like Hell to get out of our way. Al called our base and was ordered to fly our plane back to base, as it was sorely needed for another mission. The rest of the crew returned by boat. George McGovern, a famed B-24 pilot had claimed that there was never a B-24 that took off from “VIS”. We met with him and explained it all. From that day forward, he would report to all what we had accomplished.
“There are pilots and there are pilots; with the good ones, it is inborn. You can’t teach it. If you are a pilot, you have to be willing to take risks.” ~ Robin Olds
The first photo was taken as I returned from an Honor Flight in 2012. The next photo is of myself after receiving my wings. I was twenty years old and just had my 92nd birthday earlier this month on April 14, 2016. The last photo shows my crew ready for our missions.
I am on the bottom row, 2nd from right as we completed our training and ready for combat.
~ Henry Schaller, WWII Veteran
Special thanks goes to Henry for his service and for sharing his story with us. We welcome you to share your family photos of those who served both past and present, so we may feature and honor them on our COMES A Soldier’s Whisper Veteran tribute page https://www.facebook.com/ComesASoldiersWhisper/
God Bless all who serve and keep us safe.
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