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Dargo

96 y/o B-17 bomber pilot I met yesterday and we talked classic WWII Air Force movies

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While on one of my little part-time job shuttle runs yesterday, I picked up an elderly gentleman of 96 years named Wayne Daniels at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport and dropped him at his home in Cornville AZ. Here's a local newspaper article which was dated back in 2007 I found on the net about him:

https://www.cvbugle.com/news/2007/nov/10/wwii-the-b-17-pilot/

Mr. Daniels was still as sharp as the proverbial tack, and when the discussion inside the minivan--and which also included a couple of very pleasant older ladies that I also picked up at PHX--got to the subject of classic movies(gee, I wonder how that happened ;) ) I asked him if he thought the films Twelve O'Clock High and Command Decision might have depicted his own experiences the best of any films he had ever seen. Without a moment's hesitation he replied in the affirmative, and then went on to regale the rest of us with some of his war stories.

If you have clicked onto that link I supplied above, then you'll know that he was shot down over Germany in late-1944 and became a POW for about 6 months and until the Russians liberated his stalag.

I'm tellin' you, the gentleman was absolutely amazing with how well at his age he could recite these experiences to us. At one point he also told of meeting a fellow USAAF pilot of his, one Capt. James Stewart, and who he even did a pretty good impression of.

And when I later brought up my favorite movie of all time, The Best Years of Our Lives, this grand old man started talking about some of the most memorable scenes in that film, too!

(...it's times like this which make this little retirement gig of mine a true pleasure)

 

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Btw, I forgot to add that because this shuttle service I work for only accepts cash or check for their services, I accompanied Mr. Daniels to his den once we arrived to his residence and so he could retrieve his checkbook.

His den's walls were covered with pictures and photographs of his WWII experiences and with some of the airplanes he flew during and after the war. Among them were the very photo you'll see if you click on the newspaper link and of his B-17 crew members, and one of a P-51 fighter he would fly after the war's end.

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Cool Dargo, it's these little vignettes in life that are sometimes pure magic. I have a similar story related by my stepfather in law who actually knew a guy who was at Custer's Last Stand, which is a pretty cool story also.

And in a WWII related tale my father was a 13 year old kid on a coastal schooner with a cargo of benzene sitting in Taranto Harbor on the night of 11–12 in November 1940 when The Royal Navy launched a torpedo attack from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious on the Italian Naval fleet six battleships, seven heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and eight destroyers. The Italian fleet lost half of its capital ships in one night. 

The Imperial Japanese Navy's staff carefully studied the Taranto raid during planning for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

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your friend shoulda brought up air force with john Garfield. I think it is on it's way to status as a classic.

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7 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

your friend shoulda brought up air force with john Garfield. I think it is on it's way to status as a classic.

Good movie too, Nip. However, because Mr. Daniels served in the European theater during the war and where both Twelve O'Clock High and Command Decision were set, and whereas because Air Force's action takes place in the Pacific theater, I would think the two former mentioned films would have had a little more personal identification with him.

(...btw, there's one scene in Air Force which I always thought a bit amusing...it's the scene in which Garfield grabs a .50 caliber machine gun and shoots down a Japanese fighter plane which had been strafing him and his fellow soldiers...the plane crashes in a great ball of fire and burns right down to its frame, but somehow and inexplicably the Japanese pilot survives this burning wreckage and attempts to extricate himself from it...Garfield sees this, shouts out with something like, "You dirty ****! Take some more of this!" and opens up on the guy with another barrage of machine gun fire, and of course finally killing him...every time I watch that scene I think to myself, "Uh-huh, I'm sure THAT'S true-to-life action alright. Uh-huh, suuuuuure.")

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