Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

A Couple of Tosa Veterans

Military History, Veterans

Normandy battlefield, June 1944 -

Survival in combat is like a game with misses, near misses and hits.  One afternoon we were making our way up a slight hill, moving along a hedgerow.  When our advance halted, we stated to dig in per routine in the lower right corner of a field.  About thirty minutes later we were called forward again and halted in the upper left hand corner of the same field.  We no sooner started digging when a barrage of major proportions hit the area we had just left.

- Excerpted from the memoirs of the late Tosan - Howard Gaertner.

The fella in the top row, right, is Orville Otto.  That would be Jill's dad.  Also a Tosan.  He was the navigator for a B-24 crew in the South Pacific during WWII.

In February of 1944 the 22nd Bombardment Group was assigned to fly B-24 Liberators.

Some of you Tosans might appreciate the little-known fact that they were coincidentally called the Red Raiders.

The B-24 was particularly well-suited to service in the Pacific because it was capable of flying farther and delivering a heavier bomb load on shorter order than the much popularized B-17 Flying Fortress.  

Cynics spoke disparaging of the Liberator labeling it The Flying Coffin.  However, by the close of the war the Liberator had proven its mettle in battle with a lower loss rate than the Fortress.

Orv's plane is a Model B-24L.

Powered by four Pratt and Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radial engines with General Electric B-22 turbo superchargers it was rated at 1200 hp at 2700 rpm for takeoff and was capable of maintaining this power up to 31,800 feet.

Armament consisted of ten .50 caliber Browning machine guns in nose, upper ventral and tail turrets and waist positions.  Maximum rated bomb load was 8000 pounds.

With a 5000 pound bomb load, and 2364 gallons of aviation gas, combat range was 1700 miles in just over seven hours.  Take-off weight was 61,500 pounds.  Given the quantity of combustible and explosive cargo I don't know if I would have the nerve to take off in one of these - but Orv and his crew did this on a regular basis.

From December 1944 to August 1945 the Red Raiders used their Liberators against a variety of Japanese targets including oil refineries and airfields in Borneo, Ceram, Halmahera and beginning in September of 1944 - the Philippines.  A number of their missions were nominally 2600+ miles with more than seventeen hours of flight time taking them to China and Formosa and back.

Orv and his crew celebrated New Years Day, 1945, by dropping forty 100 pound bombs on Japanese aircraft parked in a wooded area near Clark Field on Luzon.  The enemy celebrated by returning fire with an intense barrage of phosphorus shells.

Remarkably, through all of this not a single casualty to the crew until March 26, 1945.

Orv's pilot snagged a pass for some leave and hitched a ride on a Liberator making a routine ferry run. 

The ship was - Modest Maiden.

Modest Maiden (#44-41537) flew into the side of Mount Paliwan on Biliran Island near Leyte in bad weather.  Killed were Lt. Charles E. Brammer, pilot; Lt. Clarence E. Wright, co-pilot; F/O Angelo J. Rainteri, navigator; Cpl. Arthur J. Sassani, engineer; Cpl. Leslie E. Mathews, radio operator; and Lt. Ralph L. Anderson, passenger.

In the crew picture above Lt. Anderson is in the top row, left. 

Misses, near-misses and hits.

Not all veterans returned home.  They are rightly remembered on Memorial Day.

Veterans Day honors all of those who served in the United States military in all wars.  Especially living veterans.  If our dads were alive today we'd make a point to call them or otherwise thank them for their service.

So if you know a veteran make a point to recognize them and thank them for their sacrifice.

Sources - 22nd Bomb Group and the Otto family

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