RIP:Sad and just a bit spooky

Found a tiny black enamled P-38 pin (with no pin, maybe an earing?) in
my driveway yesterday. Have lots of aircraft pins, one for every type
that I have flown or flown in (other than airliners) or crewed. This
one was not from my collection nor was it one of my wife's earings.
Sat down to read the paper and sadly discovered that an old friend,
Col. Besby Holmes, had passed away. Holmes was one of the pilots in the
team that downed Yamamoto in their specially modified long range P-38s.
I looked down at that pin and a chill went up my back. Silly, I know,
but things like that just make me shake my head in wonder.
Besby lived in San Rafael, A couple of weeks ago Mozart Kauffman, who
lived one town over in San Anselmo, also passed away. Another friend of
many years, Mozart was a fighter pilot in the USAAF who was shot down
over Europe and taken prisoner. He was taken prisoner and turned over
to the nearest Luftwaffe unit, meeting the pilot that downed him and
sharing a nice meal and, essentially, a party in his honor. Happened a
lot in WWI, not so often in WWII.
The rest of the story is that Mozart was Jewish and made no attempt to
conceal the fact from his captors. They shuffled him around until they
finally had to turn him over. Even then they pressured the authorities
to send him to a Stalag Luft instead of the destination the SS had
planned for him. After the war he met some of his captors and continued
the interupted party from years before.
We're losing them so fast now. Besby and Mozart wrote books about
their experiences and often appeared together at regional gatherings of
aces and veteran WWII pilots. I just the last week I have met ten
pilots and crews from WWII who had great stories to tell. Not one of
them had written down or recorded their experiences. I'm working on
them.
Tom
Reply to
maiesm72
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" snipped-for-privacy@netscape.com" wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@75g2000cwc.googlegroups.com:
I worked for a black guy a while back whose dad had been a Red Baller in WWII. He shared just enough to make his dad's exploits sound very interesting. I tried to encourage him to have his dad record them but I think the old man had worries about some of the less, err, official things he did while there. To bad that's the kind of slice o' life stuff I really like reading.
Frank
Reply to
Gray Ghost
We just lost a fighter pilot from the 27th FS, flying P-38s in Italy during WWII. I noticed his obit in the paper the other night but made no connection with the loud jets overhead yesterday morning. Apparently the AF sent 2 F-22s over the graveside service. That's what today's paper reported. BTW, his P-38 was marked as "Baby Dean". He was Richard M. Huber and he did 66 missions and achieved 'Ace' status.
Bill Banaszak
Reply to
Mad-Modeller
We just lost one here in Western New York as well. A pilot from the Tuskaloosa Airmen. According to his son in his obit, no bomber that they were protecting was ever lost. His father didn't have too much to say about the war and his experiences other than he had to fight like hell to get to fly at all. After the war, he had a dream of becoming an airline pilot, but that wasn't to be.
Reply to
The Old Man
Forgot to mention that the photo on the front page of the local paper showed Col.Holmes examining a 1/72 scale P-38 model of one of his aircraft. The captioned identified it as a P-26, but a letter the next day set them straight.
Tom
The Old Man wrote:
Reply to
maiesm72

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