By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - George Mitchell had one semester of college under his belt when he tried to volunteer for the Air Force. They turned him down. Just two months later, he was drafted.
"I went in, in March of 1943. After basic training, they sent me to radio school in Scottsdale, Illinois and I was a radio operator gunner on a B24.
I was an old country boy. I never had flown any. I didn't really know what to expect but I really enjoyed the air force and it was an exciting time. And I enjoyed the flying hours that we put in on the B24s. We did a lot of practice flying.
My job was to stay in contact on the radio. Had to stay on the radio all the time. You did not tell anyone anything. You kept radio silence. You had the radio just in case headquarters sent out a message, you had to take it down in code and decipher to the pilot and navigator.
I flew 33 combat missions. I flew 32 with my crew. My CQ woke me up one morning and told me that the radio operator with another crew was sick. And I had to fly in his place. We flew to Germany that day and that was a rough place to fly to. They had a lot of antiaircraft guns. They put up a lot of flak that you had to fly through. But luckily we made it through.
We got hit with flak a lot of times. Of course, we never got a direct hit. If you got a direct hit, you were going down. We got holes shot in our planes several times, but nobody was ever hit."
Even though he managed to escape injury, he faced some frightening situations.
"Well the scariest moment was one time we lost an engine and we couldn't stay in formation. And if you was a single bomber, flying, the German fighters would pick on you. But we was just lucky that day. We made it across the English Channel into England and we didn't see any fighters but it was a scary moment that we might contact German fighters that day."
Mitchell says he wants future generations to know the patriotism he and his fellow soldiers shared.
"Back in that day, we loved our country. And I want them to know that what we was fighting for was our country, a country we loved. And they would have a future and a normal life."
And he encourages future generations to serve in our nation's military.
"We have the best armed forces in the world and we have to keep it there."
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