Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #144 – Taking Flight

This post is dedicated to the memory of my father and all of the other men of the U. S. Army Air Corps who flew American bombers in Europe and the Pacific during World War II.

When I first saw Tina’s challenge “Taking Flight” my first instinct was to feature the hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies that are flying around my yard right now. But then I thought about my Dad and how he dedicated his life to flying airplanes for the U.S. Air Force. I decided to focus on his story instead.

My Dad grew up on a small farm high up in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. After high school, he left the farm to find work. He had a job installing sprinkler systems which involved traveling to different locations in the U.S.

He was working in Alabama when he enlisted in the Army after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was told to go back to work and he would be notified of when and where he was to report. He was working on a job in Florida when he received his orders to report for Basic Training.

After completing the training the men were rated according to their ability. Dad was rated a Bomber Pilot. After flight training in various places around the country he received his wings in the Army Air Corps.

During World War II he was assigned to a base in Italy where he flew 50 missions flying the B-24 Liberator shown at the top of the page. Dad returned to the states without injury after he completed his 50 missions.

After the war, Dad made the United States Air Force his career. He flew various other airplanes throughout his career including B-52s in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He retired in the early 1970’s after about 30 years of service.

B52 – photo from one of Dad’s old slides

Flash forward to 2002. Dad and I had an opportunity to go to an exhibition which featured a restored B-24. My Dad was a big man and I was amazed at how small the inside of the plane actually was. I could only imagine how difficult it must have been for him to be in that plane for those long missions.

B24 Liberator Cockpit

I’m so grateful Dad and I had that day together. He loved seeing the plane and talking to people about his experiences.

One of few remaining B24 Liberators in 2002
One of few remaining B24 Liberators in 2002

Whenever people would thank Dad for his service he would always say “I was just doing my job.”

WILD BLUE YONDER

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder,

Climbing high, into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,

At ’em now, give ’em the gun!

Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,

Off with one helluva roar!

We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!

Nothing’ll stop the U. S. Air Force!

The U. S. Air Force Song, Updated Official Lyrics 1 May 2020

Many thanks to Tina for this Photo Challenge: Taking Flight. Please be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists Challenge #144: Taking Flight

Photo credits: Black and white WWII B-24 Liberator and B-52 images taken by my Dad. All others by me.