The Airmen of the Fifteenth

I served in the Fifteenth Air Force, 483rd Bomb Group, 815th Bomb Squadron, stationed at Foggia, Italy. Our B-17 Flying Fortress, named “Patches,” was shot down during our twelfth bombing mission over Austria, on May 10, 1944. The left waist-gunner and pilot were killed. I was the right waist gunner and, with the rest of the crew, became a POW.

On p. 27 of the May issue, you ran a photo of a B-17 and identified it in the caption as belonging to the Eighth Air Force and flying somewhere over Germany. The truth is, that is our plane as it was going down as described above.

The parachute on the top left side of your photo is our ball-turret gunner, Joseph O’Donnell, who bailed out just before me. He lives in New Jersey and has written about our ordeals as POWs. If you look closely at your photo, the spot to the rear of the wings behind Nos. 1 and 2 engines is me at the moment of bailing out.

Carmelo A. Torres

Johnson City, Tenn.

PS Most people call me Charlie. I was recently interviewed on local TV with other veterans about our war experience.

The Real GI’s General?

With due respect to Mr. Rooney (“The War Correspondent Andy Rooney,” April 2007), his opinion of General Patton is 180 degrees out. General Patton was the finest ground commander the U.S. fielded in that war. Even the enemy recognized that fact.

Everybody in the Third Army, and else where, knew who General Patton was. Very few knew of General Bradley, a much less talented battle leader. It irks me when General Bradley is referred to as the “GI’s general.” The men didn’t call him that. That moniker was hung on him by some member of the press.

William H. Emmith

Newburyport, Mass.

A “Buoyant Marine” Is Identified

In your article “Swamped” (May 2007), the marine referred to at the bottom of p. 65 as looking “almost as buoyant as the rubber raft he’s paddling” was my grand father, Sgt. Mario DeBlasi. He is the one in the left rear of the raft facing the camera with a smile. In addition to Cape Gloucester, my grandfather participated in the other island campaigns of Tulagi, Guadalcanal, and Peleliu. He had joined the Marine Corps several years before the outbreak of war as a means to escape the poverty of the Great Depression.

Like many men from that time, he rarely talked about the details of his service during the Second World War. This changed when he learned that I would be entering the military. Among his thoughts about the war were his utmost respect for the fighting spirit of the Japanese soldier and his conclusion that those who boasted about their military exploits usually were not directly involved in combat operations and still felt they had something to prove to themselves.

His lessons taught me that there is no glory to war and that articles found in magazines such as World War II have the most relevance to professional soldiers. Those who have never been in combat should take from these articles the horror of battle as the true lesson and not revel in any supposed glory.

My grandfather passed away in October 2005 at the age of ninety-one. One memory of him that still makes me smile is that every time I would see him after I had entered the military, he would always ask me how much a current private makes per month.When I would routinely answer that I did not know, he would always respond with pride that he made $26 a month as a private and that was all he needed to survive. No wonder he was smiling in the photograph!

Maj. Anthony Brusca, USAF

Melbourne, Fla.

Guns Reversed on Avenger

Excellent article on former president George H. W. Bush (May 2007)! One exception…the illustration of his Grumman TBF/TBM-1C Avenger is wrong. It was armed with two Colt-Browning 12.7 mm/.50-caliber machine guns in the wings (one per wing), not the .30 caliber as stated on the illustration. The TBF-1 was armed with the .30 mounted in the cowling, operated by the pilot.

Having built numerous accurate miniature model aircraft over the years, I easily confirmed this.

Charles R. Hofbauer

Oro Valley, Ariz.


 In the May 2007 issue, a news column with the headline “Honor Roll” listed several notable persons from World War II who recently died. Although Maurice Papon, a French collaborator of the Nazis convicted of crimes against humanity, was undeniably a notable figure, it was clearly incorrect to include his death under this headline. World War II regrets this inadvertent error.


Originally published in the July/August 2007 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here