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A Flight Down Memory Lane: B-25 Bomber From WWII Makes A Stop In Cape Girardeau

Yesterday, a B-25 bomber nicknamed “Maid in the Shade” made its way to the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport as part of a nationwide tour by the Commemorative Air Force. It was built in 1944, and flew 15 combat missions over Italy during World War II. You'll hear from a current crewmember and two veterans who had the opportunity to take a short ride in the aircraft in this audio postcard.

Bob Taylor | Commemorative Air Force, Crew Captain on the B-25

This aircraft had been in the war. When it came back from the war, it was a trainer for a long time. In 1959, it went to Tucson, Arizona to what we call the ‘boneyard’, and it was bought by a smelder company that was going to smeld it down. He sold it to a sprayer, who took it to east Texas, and he sprayed fire ants with it in Texas and Louisiana for years. It was in bad shape when he got done with it. A gentleman bought it, and he had a B-25. He was going to use it for parts, and then he sold it to a gentleman that donated it to the Commemorative Air Force back in 1980, and he bought the aircraft for $1,600 for the spare engine. We got it to Arizona, it sat in the desert for a year, and then we decided to make it fly. We took 28 years to take it apart, put it back together, and it just started flying in 2009. So, it’s only been flying since 2009. We enjoy flying it- it’s fun to fly! We spend a lot of time on it and make sure it’s cared [for]. It’s a fun time for all of us. We get World War II veterans to come out, and we try to put them on the aircraft if we have any empty seats when we’re flying. They just have to be able to get up in the aircraft and, as you saw, it’s not the easiest thing to get into.

Robert Duckworth | Army Mechanic in World War II, 1943-1945

For the war, I was active, but I wasn’t in service. I was in Michigan in the early part of World War II. I helped build equipment; most of mine was automotive. I never rode in one, this was the first time I’ve ever been close enough to see... to really see.

Grojean: How Old Are you? What’s your age?

Duckworth: 81.. 90... 101! I was 101 in March. When I went in the service I was 26 years old.

Grojean: How was the flight?

Duckworth: It was noisy. You didn’t go to sleep!

Grojean: Are you glad that you could go?

Duckworth: I’m happy I could go. At my age, I wasn’t sure whether I could go or not, but they held [the door] open and I was able to make it.

Lester L. Harris | Air Force in World War II, 1945-1947

 

I’ve been in the veteran home for 2 years now. I wound up in the 5th Air Force- Kimpo Air Base. I started out in the infantry, and wound up in World War II in the 5th Air Force. In the end, I came out in the Air Force, but I was a truck driver. I didn’t get to fly anything. I worked on B-24’s over there at the air base. And that’s all it was: they had 51’s and they had B-38’s. We rode in commercials quite a bit, but never in a B-25. We had 24’s on the base over at Kimpo, and I had to drain the gas out of them cried for two days; I got burnt with gas. It was something else! When I went up to the base, the first thing the captain asked was, ‘Does anybody have a lock with a key?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I have.’ He said, ‘You’re in charge of the gas.’ So I had to furnish gas for the whole base up there. Oh, it was funny! The inside of the place was just like it was in World War II. The outside, they polished it up. But boy, it was something else to be on that flight. I loved it. Oh, it was beautiful. Climbing the ladder was a little hard. It’s all I’ve done all my life, climb ladders. Had to turn my hearing aids off all the way. I really enjoyed it... I really loved it.