I recently had the privilege of touring the national world war II history museum with my dad. His dad (my grandfather) was a bomber pilot in the pacific theater, and I have tons of old war stories to share with you today!
Firstly, I was super excited to get to see a B-25 Mitchel, which is the plane my grandfather flew in the war. They had one restored and hanging from the ceiling in a big hangar, and you could walk up a catwalk to get close.
Apparently there were two models during the war. At the beginning these bad boys were equipped with eight machine guns in the front with two more on each side. (If you look at the nose you can see the barrels sticking out.) After all those got shot up, our guys received a second model that had some of the machine guns in the nose replaced with a cannon! There was only the first kind in the museum, but my grandad flew the one that had the cannon on it for most of his missions.
He was a fighter pilot when the war started, but they needed more bomber pilots so that’s what he ended up doing. Apparently he didn’t want to do it because he didn’t want to be responsible for the lives of his crew, which makes sense to me. If you are a fighter pilot and you make a mistake, it’s just you that dies. If he made a mistake, he would also take his crew down with him.
We got to listen to the testimonial of another bomber pilot, which was interesting and awesome. He was talking about how dependable the B-25 was and told a story about how it once got him home even after he had an engine shot out. It was a fun story because the same thing happened to grandad, he once had to fly all the way back to the base after an antiaircraft gun shot out his right engine.
My grandad survived the entire war but he died in a tornado before I was born. I never got the chance to meet him, but I had a fun time imagining that the testimonials we heard were really my grandad telling me war stories from beyond the grave. My favorite story about him was the time he did a loop in the clouds to get behind a fighter that was following him. He blew it up with the cannon he had, which he apparently never fired unless he had to because it shook the plane so violently.
One last cool story about my grandad, he was in the battle of Leyte Gulf:
Leyte Gulf is a famous naval battle that America won despite being desperately outmatched and outnumbered. My grandad’s job was to bomb Japanese infrastructure to support the marines landing on the beach. He had to fly in between the Japanese and American ships shooting at each other, dodging shells and antiaircraft fire the whole way.
Of course, the entire museum wasn’t about my grandpa. We spent a full day looking at exhibits and we didn’t even see everything! Here are a couple of pics of my old man enjoying some presentations about the Philippines:
While we were in New Orleans, we took the chance to visit the french quarter and walk down Bourbon Street. We heard music, got to eat some great food and we had a few drinks at the bars. It was a really good time.
The ride back to Kansas wasn’t nearly as fun, the road can be long and unforgiving. Most places we stopped we dirty and unfriendly, with the one exception of PJ’s freakin’ coffee in McComb Mississippi!
It was the only place outside of New Orleans where someone actually smiled at me. Thanks PJ’s!
My dad doesn’t do the internets, so my mom will probably have to tell him, but I just want to thank him for being awesome, and I want him to know that I have a truly excellent time. Thanks dad!
P.S. Here are some bonus weapons!
This was the same gun that would have been issued to my grandad in the war———–>
(according to Dad, he always carried two, with an extra clip)
That’s a flamethrower that American troops used to burn things (and people) in the Pacific:
This is a freakin’ katana! It was taken off of a dead Japanese officer and donated to the museum: