|The Incendiary Blonde. 91st Bomb Group. 322nd Squadron, flying out|
of RAF Bassingbourn. My father is the young man all the way to the right. I
believe he had reached the mature age of 19 when this photo was taken. It was
late in the war, and his friend Blaine Corbin, the mid waist gunner, had just been
killed. Life is full of ironies, and he died from shrapnel wounds on the last day
mid waist gunners were used. The crew was headed by 2nd Lt. William K.
Snipes, shown at center front. The navigator, 1st Lt. Otto Bremer, is on his
left, and the co-pilot, 1st Lt. Glen Crumbliss, to his right. Standing: 2nd Lt.
Ivar Hendrickson, Bombardier; Staff Sgt. Bufford Brown, Engineer; Staff Sgt.
Paige Paris, Radio Operator; Staff Sgt. Edward Fitzpatrick, Ball Turret Gunner.
And then there's my father, hand on hip, the teenage tailgunner...
I remember my maternal grandmother, Lila Eugenia Arnold Morris of Collins, Georgia. She was said to have worn holes in her bedside rug, so often was she kneeling, praying her five sons home from World War II. They all came back to her--Louis, Marvin, Hugh, Leonard, and James, although they have now been returned to her in another way, the last Morris brother having died a few years ago. Only my mother, the baby among Miss Lila's children, and her sister Julia remain among the living.
My father, Hubert Lafay Youmans, and his brother Dafford (a version of the Welsh Dafydd, it seems, as I also had an aunt named Dilly, close to Welsh Dilwys) also returned to Georgia and my paternal grandmother, Kate Deriso Youmans. My father joined the Army Air Corp when he was seventeen, and served as a tailgunner in World War II. They are all gone now, passed into the peace of death.
Patriotism is long out of fashion with writers and artists, it appears. And yet I thank the boys and young men they were for risking their sweet lives to bring on what they hoped would be a better world.