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Dec-27-2011 15:18printcomments

U.S. Air Force vs. Combat Infantry: Intense Love-Hate Relationship

The Air Force had casualties in dead, missing, and wounded but nothing like the Combat Infantry, the ones who did the actual fighting.

Lacey's Bomber Inn in Milwaukie, Oregon
Lacey's Bomber Inn in Milwaukie, Oregon. Salem-News.com photo by Bonnie King

(MOLALLA, Ore.) - The following poem is titled 'A Tribute to the Queen (The B-17)'.

From the Guadalcanal and the Philippines,
at the start of WWII,
To the hostile skies of Europe
thru miles of flak she flew.
At home at thirty thousand, majestic as a Queen,
A Silver Bird flown by men,
many in their teens.
She carried war to the tyrants lair,
to keep all nations free;
She flew thru flak and flame, as far as eye could see.
She slugged it out with Hitler’s best,
brought her dead and wounded home.
Damaged and with engines out, it was often times alone.
Born of war, but seeking peace, she carried valiant men
into the very jaws of death, and brought them home again.
Berlin, Frankfurt, and countless others, courageous daylight raids,
and only God in Heaven knows, the awesome price she paid.
She met death at 30,000 or on a tree top run.
A victim of ack-ack shell, or Luftwaffe fighters gun.
Like all men who flew her, for peace and hope she yearned.
Often plane and crew went down, in a hostile place.
Others were missing in action, and lost without a trace.
Her era’s in the past, but the history that she’s made, must
always be remembered, and never be betrayed.
Generations have come and gone; Enjoyed their hopes and dreams,
yet never paused in gratitude, to this aging Silver Queen.
And to the men who flew her, Heroes everyone
who stood between our nations shores, and tyrants mighty guns.
Yes, she’s tired and weary, a little aged and worn.
But, she fought and bought their freedom,
before most of them were born.
And we who still remember, To-Jo and Hitler’s dreams,
stand a little prouder…
In the Presence of The Queen.

Author Unknown

(This was found on the wall at the Bomber Restaurant in Portland, Oregon)


Words alone cannot describe the feelings about the Air Force of a Combat Infantryman, Lucky Bastards was the most common word for us slogging through the rain, mud, snow, and cold. We also had envy, jealousy, loathing, and hatred. Some even called them the American Luftwaffe because they bombed or strafed us with machine gun fire- we guys in the mud.

We knew they were being shot at with heavy anti-aircraft artillery and also fighter plane machine guns, but they were “bulldozing” the German war machine with aerial artillery which made our advances slightly less lethal. We did capture the ground, they couldn’t do that. They also had a great advantage going back to base if they weren’t shot down as many were.

When they got back to base there was good whiskey, warm food, warm beds, clean clothes, a warm bath, and frequently a warm woman. We Combat Infantry had NONE of that. Can you blame us for some bitterness. We were literally “stuck in the mud” and getting shot at, mostly by heavy artillery, 24 hours a day with little let-up. We were in wet “foxholes” with not even a sleeping bag mostly when we weren’t attacking. A half destroyed house or basement was a luxury. K rations were relatively gourmet food!!

The “fly boys” even had better than stateside commissaries where they could buy almost anything, including Nylon Stockings.

What for you may ask?

Booze for us in the mud was a far-off memory. Although about 2,000,000 Combat Soldiers went through Britain after a few beers. About 200,000 Air Force were there permenantly to fly but about 70%, or 140,000 were there to maintain the planes. About 100,000 got married and 84,000 got venereal disease in their spare time.

The first American Airplanes got to Britain in June ’42. By July 27th there were 47 B-17 Bombers, 74 P-38 Fighters and 52 C-47 Cargo planes. Almost none of the Bombers survived their missions. The Memphis Belle was the first to survive 25 missions to great celebration!

The Air Force had casualties in dead, missing, and wounded but nothing like the Combat Infantry, the ones who did the actual fighting. In the first two months after D-Day in Europe many of the first Infantry divisions to land and fight had 200% replacements. To clarify this, the 90th Division had 30,000 replacements through the war. The 5th Division had about 20,000 replacements. Most Infantry Divisions had around 10,000 replacements.

At the end of the war in Europe and Asia, the U.S. had about 400,000 killed and about 1,000,000 wounded. About 70% or 300,000 were Infantry. The Air Force had only about 10% of the killed, missing, or wounded. The remaining 20% were Tankers, Artillery, Engineers, Navy, and Marines.

THANK YOU AIR FORCE FOR YOUR HELP, BUT THE INFANTRY CAPTURED GERMANY!!!

_________________________________
Got a question or comment for Dr. Leveque?
Email him:
Newsroom@Salem-News.com

More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole".
Order the book by mail by following this link: Dogface Soldier

If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

Watch for more streaming video question and answer segments about medical marijuana with Bonnie King and Dr. Phil Leveque.

Click on this link for other articles and video segments about PTSD and medical marijuana on Salem-News.com:
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Dr. Leveque January 10, 2012 2:49 pm (Pacific time)

12,731 B-17's were built 16,188 B-24's were built 30,000 Airmen were killed 14,000 Airmen were wounded 33,000 Airmen were taken as Prisoners of War, of which 1/2 died

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