His name was Al. He was in the Army Air Corps during World War Two. He enlisted thirty days after Pearl Harbor. He was shipped to Europe six months later. And, as he told me: "We didn't have any planes. They hadn't been built yet. So we sat around being bombed by the Germans until we finally got something we could fight back with."
Dude. Yeah, tell me how important that DA Form is. Sure.
Al ended up doing four years. After the war, he became an architect. He pointed out a building that he had designed. Doesn't like the war in Afghanistan, thinks we never should have gotten involved. "Let 'em just kill each other. That's what they do. They've done it for centuries, why get involved?"
They were given high altitude fighter planes. They could go up higher than anything the Germans had, so the Krauts didn't even bother going up after them. So the wing commander told his unit to put a bomb on the plane, so that they could drop a few bombs, the Germans would think there were bombers in the air and scramble their fighters. Al designed the bomb release latch. Each fighter could carry one bomb. The unit mocked up enough for twenty planes. Al said they worked like a charm. "They'd come on up thinking they were gonna shoot down a bomber, and we would just dive at 'em. They were coming up slow, we were coming down fast, we'd blow them out of the air and then haul ass outta there. We didn't want to stick around after that first hit. We didn't dogfight. One punch, and gone."
Al said they sent one of his latches back stateside, and the factories here put out hundreds within a week. He was constantly amazed at how fast America could produce what was needed. I wonder if we still have that capability now. In fact, I know we don't.
I was glad I met Al today.