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Sunday, May 26, 2013

NY Times: Two Who Did Not Return

More than 500 major league baseball players served in the military during World War II, including stars like Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio. But little attention has been paid to the two who died, Elmer Gedeon and Harry O’Neill, because their playing days were brief.

bobm Posted: May 26, 2013 at 06:24 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: world war ii

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   1. depletion Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:04 PM (#4452816)
Thank you, Elmer. Thank you, Harry.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:59 PM (#4452826)

My father didn't play baseball, but he was a bombardier in WW II who lost his co-pilot, Lt. Stevens, on a bombing mission over Germany when his B-17 was hit by enemy fire. There but for the grace of God could have gone my dad - and the rest of his descendants.

Thank you, Lt. Stevens.

   3. spike Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:36 AM (#4452832)
A B-17 crewman had a life expectancy of 15 missions.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:05 AM (#4452838)
A B-17 crewman had a life expectancy of 15 missions.

And the tour of duty was 25 missions. Not very favorable odds, but my father made it through it.

   5. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:06 AM (#4452839)
My grandfather spent a few weeks playing in the PCL, or at least that's what he used to say. He served in the Pacific, I know that for a fact, so that generations of other men could claim to have played pro ball. Good on him and all like him. (& let us not forget the various hers who served in that war and many others, as well.)
   6. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:24 AM (#4452842)
And the tour of duty was 25 missions. Not very favorable odds, but my father made it through it.


It also depended on which theater you were in, and at what time. In September 1944, when the USAAF bomber loss rate was getting better, the tour of duty was raised to 35 missions; in the MTO, it was 50. Because fighter missions were so varied, fighter pilots were rated by number of combat hours flown, rather than the number of missions. USAAF 8th Air Force fighter pilots had to complete 480 flying hours on operational missions to complete a tour of duty.

At least the Americans and British had tours of duty. Many German and Japanese aircrew simply flew until the war ended, or they were killed or maimed...
   7. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:34 AM (#4452844)
And a whole bunch of Soviet people were served up like cannon fodder.
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4452892)

My father's duty, from England over Germany, was 35 missions.

He told me a few years back that because they had to rearrange crews (missing people and all), he wound up on a crew that was finishing its 35th.

"But I told them I only had 33," he told me. "I needed to do two more. But they wouldn't listen [shakes head]."

I know the Greatest Generation thing got overplayed eventually, but ... damn.

   9. Ron J2 Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4452921)
Many German and Japanese aircrew simply flew until the war ended, or they were killed or maimed...


Getting maimed didn't always get you out of it. Saburo Sakai lost vision in one eye (and had some other pretty serious injuries) and was flying again (to be fair, he had to ask to be restored to flight status. And it did take a while -- and a desperate need for pilots -- to get him back on active duty)

   10. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4453039)
A B-17 crewman had a life expectancy of 15 missions.


Yesterday a pilot friend on mine asked me what WWII airplane I would have most liked to fly. I didn't have an answer, but we agreed on which one we would least like: B-17

Many German and Japanese aircrew simply flew until the war ended, or they were killed or maimed...


True, which is why Germany had many aces with 100+ kills, with Eric Hartmann I believe the leader with over 300.

Getting maimed didn't always get you out of it. Saburo Sakai lost vision in one eye (and had some other pretty serious injuries) and was flying again (to be fair, he had to ask to be restored to flight status. And it did take a while -- and a desperate need for pilots -- to get him back on active duty)


Hans Rudel

Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions claiming a total of 2,000 targets destroyed; including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, nine aircraft, 4 armored trains, several bridges, a destroyer, two cruisers, and the Soviet battleship Marat.[1]

In November 1944, he was wounded in the thigh and flew subsequent missions with his leg in a plaster cast.

On 8 February 1945, a 40 mm shell hit his aircraft. He was badly wounded in the right foot and crash landed inside German lines. His life was saved by his observer Ernst Gadermann who stemmed the bleeding, but Rudel's leg was amputated below the knee. He returned to operations on 25 March 1945, claiming 26 more tanks destroyed before the end of the war.
   11. Ron J2 Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4453048)
#11 One of the things I found interesting about Rudel (quite literally a one man army. The Soviets made a serious effort to keep track of him) was that in his spare time he racked up 11 kills in an FW-190.

And the top scoring non-German ace was a Finn with 94 kills. There were 18 German aces with double that. Most (as with Juutilainen) piled up their kills on the Eastern front. Top on the West front is a mere 158 kills. Two night-fighter pilots picked up more than 100 kills which I find astonishing.
   12. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4453065)
#11 One of the things I found interesting about Rudel (quite literally a one man army. The Soviets made a serious effort to keep track of him) was that in his spare time he racked up 11 kills in an FW-190.

And the top scoring non-German ace was a Finn with 94 kills. There were 18 German aces with double that. Most (as with Juutilainen) piled up their kills on the Eastern front. Top on the West front is a mere 158 kills. Two night-fighter pilots picked up more than 100 kills which I find astonishing.


Eino Juutilainen of Finland was the top-scoring non-Lufwaffe pilot. The top scoring non-German pilot was Austrian Walter Notwony, with 258 victories. (Yes, I know that's trivial, but one thing I know is WW2 aircraft trivia. That one's on my 100-question WW2 aviation trivia quiz... :-) )

It took Sakai almost two years to get back to combat status. After he was badly wounded in August 1942, it took him some time to recover, and he was initiallt assigned to a training instructor position in Japan. It wasn't until June 1944 that he returned to an operational unit.

Mention should also be made of IJAAF ace Major Yohei Hinoki. in November 1943, was wounded in combat and had to have his right leg amputated. After his recovery, he was assigned as an instructor to the Akeno Flying School, but he eventually also returned to combat in the waning months of the war, shooting down at least one P-51 Mustang, and ending the war as the leader of the 2nd Daitai of the 111th Sentai.
   13. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4453067)
True, which is why Germany had many aces with 100+ kills, with Eric Hartmann I believe the leader with over 300.


Hartmann had 352.
   14. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 27, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4453072)
Two night-fighter pilots picked up more than 100 kills which I find astonishing.


It was a target-rich environment. The RAF bomber raids were huge and unrelenting from mid-1942 onwards. Luftwaffe night-fighter units were credited with about 7,400 kills, and RAF Bomber Command lost 8,953 aircraft (not all of those at night of course, but the vast majority were). I agree that Schnaufer and Lent showed considerable skill in racking up their scores, but I also find their scores quite believable.
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4453134)

"I didn't have an answer, but we agreed on which one we would least like: B-17"

I was in one about 5 years ago, with my then 90-yr-old father, making a return visit for the first time in almost 65 years.

First off, the turret gunners and side gunners were in spaces where they had to lie down for hours in their little slot - and then be ready to spin the 'gun' all over to fire at the enemy planes. Given the size of people today, you'd swear they must have to train monkeys to fit in the small spaces.

As for the main interior, I'd guess that if you weighed over 250 lbs, you'd get stuck on both walls if you tried to move back toward the tail gunners' spot. It's that narrow. Plus you had to do a pullup just to get into the damn plane.

The bombardier/togglier's spot is in the front, a glass bubble that might as well have a bullseye circle on it.

My father worked his way around the entire plane, something a lot of 50-yr-olds couldn't do - you have to be a little nimble. He was ticked, he said after, that he "didn't get around the plane as well as I used to."

Yeah, 65 years is a #####....
   16. OCF Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:31 PM (#4453257)
Amusing Memorial day moment. I needed a bag a charcoal. In the express checkout line, the guy in front of me (probably in his 60's) was wearing a cap with the name of a specific US Navy ship. The checkout clerk noticed his hat and said, "I thank you for your service." At which point the guy wearing the hat explained that he had never been in the Navy himself. He'd been a shipyard guy who worked maintaining those ships. (When I went home, I looked up the specific ship: an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, build in the 90's and still in active service.)

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