The Super Man crew was fifteen thousand feet up when the lost B-24 was found, lying on the ocean floor not far offshore. All ten crewmen were dead. Coxwell had barely made it past takeoff. He had cleared the runway, turned, and slammed into the water. Several crewmen had survived the crash and tried to swim to land, but sharks had found them. The men were, Louie wrote in his diary, “literally ripped to pieces.” Five, including Moznette, had lived in the pornographic palace with Louie and Phil. Carringer had just been promoted to first lieutenant, but had died before anyone could tell him....
In 1943 in the Pacific Ocean Areas theater in which Phil’s crew served, for every plane lost in combat, some six planes were lost in accidents. Over time, combat took a greater toll, but combat losses never overtook noncombat losses.
Note: Chilling. Apparently planes in WWII were death traps.
Louie was once asked to join a crew whose bombardier had gotten sick. Louie, too, was feeling ill, so the crew found another man. During the flight, the tower warned the pilot that he was heading toward a mountain. The pilot replied that he saw it, then flew right into it.
After a three-week journey, including a stopover at Truk Atoll, the ship docked at Yokohama, on the eastern coast of Japan’s central island, Honshu. Louie was blindfolded and led out. Solid ground came underfoot. Through a gap in his blindfold, Louie’s first glimpse of Japan was the word CHEVROLET, stamped on a hubcap.
Note: A moment of levity in a Japanese POW camp.