Question for Punchy.

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Question for Punchy.

Postby Whiznr » Fri May 06, 2005 10:01 am

Tell us what was going through your mind as your plane got hit by flak, and you started to bail out. Then you discovered the plane was flyable and made it back. As there are only a VERY small handful of people in the history of mankind that this has happened to, (you're the only one I know of..), it would be interesting to us to know what that was like.
"Ran out of altitude, airspeed, ammo, fuel, parts and ideas all at the same time."
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Postby Todzilla » Fri May 06, 2005 12:22 pm

I'd also like to know about your conversation with Meyer and how that made you feel prior to your decision to land it.
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Postby PunchyPowell » Fri May 06, 2005 6:53 pm

Winston Churchill once said that 'the biggest thrill you will ever have is to be shot at...and missed." I agree! Taking an explosive shell in my right horizontal stabilizer at about 50-60 feet off the ground when strafing the Herbeville airdrome was a real kick in the butt. I felt it when the plane was hit and suddenly wanted to climb because the bentup medal was like holding the stick back. I had to fight it with a lot of forward pressure on the stick to keep from pulling up too sharply and stalling out. Realizing I had taken a bad hit I called in to the other three guys on the RT and then started taking things loose--disconnecting the oxygen tube and radio, but not my seat belt and shoulder straps because I might not get high enough to bailout and I would need those if I crashed. However, as the plane slowed down in its steep climb it became a little more stable aand when I figured I could maybe maintain flight I reconnected everything and called the other pilots in my flight (Capt Sharp, Bill Furr and Jamie Laing). Meantime, Jamie had taken a hit in his radiator and had to bailout about 15 miles from Herbeville A/D, was captured and a POW. When I got some altitude I was heading west for home and the other two guys moved in take me there. One of them pulled underneath me and took a look at the hole and told me it was "bigger than a bushel basket." They stayed with me back to Bodney where I brought the plane in (a little hot) and made it.Being a fighter pilot is sometimes described as "hours of boredom interspersed by moments of sheer terror." As far as my thoughts were concerned I was too busy trying to keep my plane flying to think of anything but that. I really didn't think much about it until I got my rear back on the ground at Bodney and realized how close that one had been. My only thought was "Thank you, God, for riding co-pilot with me through that. And, I don't think I refused the Flight Surgeon's shot of whiskey at debriefing as I usually did. Actually, we had many pilots who made it back to base after being badly damaged by enemy fire, some much worse than mmy "moment of terror."
Robert H. "Punchy" Powell328th Fighter Squadron352nd Fighter Group"West 'by gawd' Virginian"
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