Last weekend four World War II airplanes flew into the Richmond area. Saturday morning was wet and dreary. Frankly, I was a bit bored so when I saw the picture of the B-24 landing on the front page of the newspaper, I decided to go look at the airplanes. My wife declined to join me and my 29-year-old son professed he had work to do.
Perhaps because of the weather, when I got there no one else was around. I had the four planes to myself. You could look into all of them and you could actually get into the B-17. I may be 63 but there is still something of the little boy in me who loves planes, trains and ships (tanks, too). Wet and alone, I was quite happy on my adventure.
One of the things that struck me was how cramped the planes are. Space was very tight. In reality, even the big ones, the four engine B-24 and B-17, were not very big. Hunched over by the waist gun on the B-17, I was struck by how utterly terrifying it must have been to have flown in these machines.
In the early days of World War II, the casualties among bomber crews was huge. After 25 missions you got reassigned. However, the odds of making it to 25 were not good at all.
The generation of World War II veterans is almost gone. Even 20 years ago when we started our practice representing veterans and military families, we got quite a few calls from those veterans. No more. But we should all try hard not to forget the sacrifices made by what has rightfully been called the Greatest Generation.