Today was a very, very special day for me. The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour has stopped by the Plymouth Municipal Airport in Plymouth, MA., from Sept. 12th - 15th. My family and I had an opportunity to join Maurice Rockett and his wife Grace to see a B-17 and B-24 up close and personal. This was my first such experience.
We arrived at Plymouth Municipal Airport at about 11:00 AM. Immediately, I was overhwelmed by the presence of three, well kept WWII aircraft that are of the utmost importance in American aviation history. The aircraft and those who manned them are true pioneers of aviation and freedom as America knows to this day. These planes and the young men who flew them know the meaning of the word "fight" in a way that most will never understand.
Here is Maurice just after meeting my wife and kids. Note the two young gentlemen standing behind my wife Sumio eager to say hello to Maurice and ask questions:
Two young men, having their questions answered by a man who knows and understands the meaning of the B-17:
Of course, one of the first features of the B-17 to grab my attention was the ball-turret, as that is the position in which my grandfather served. I could hardly believe how small that space was! How could anyone stay in there for 6 hrs or more at a time, let alone being separate from the crew and shot at! The ball-turret is even smaller and more cramped in real-life than I imagined by looking at photographs:
Maurice's wife Grace arrives at the scene:
Maurice and pilot Frank Tedesco of the 15th Air Force that flew out of Italy strike up a conversation:
Maurice (lower right) with the three other officers in his original crew in 1943:
Dan Culler (bottom row, 2nd from left) and crew of B-24 "Hell's Kitten" in 1943: