Off we go into the Wild Blue Yonder!

“News from the Hut”
for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
>>> by Gary Lanham

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Babe Long recently and enjoyed his recounting of his military service. You may be as amazed, as I was, when I tell you what he did in service to his country. First I have to say, like many in our ‘Band of Brothers’, he has quite a history in Hominy and is highly regarded as a community minded citizen.

Mervin (Babe) Long was born May 16th 1923. He served in the Eighth Army Air Force (later to become the USAF). He discharged October 23rd 1945 as a pay grade E-6; roughly the USAF rank of Technical Sergeant. While stationed in England, he spent most of his time as Turret Gunner on B-17s flying bomber missions over Berlin, as the Allies began to turn the tide on Nazi Germany. Though on the run, the Nazi’s fought back with extreme prejudice. Of the thirty six B-17s in his squadron, they lost seventeen. He related several stories of combat over the skies of Germany. One included a near exit with a parachute! The B-17 was primarily employed in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of WWII against German industrial and military targets. The United States Eighth Air Force, based at many airfields in southern England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, complemented the RAF’s nighttime area bombing in the Combined Bomber Offensive to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944.

From its pre-war inception, the USAAF touted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a potent, high-flying, long-range bomber that was able to defend itself, and to return home despite extensive battle damage. Its reputation quickly took on mythic proportions and widely circulated stories and photos of notable numbers and examples of B-17s surviving battle damage increased its iconic status. With a service ceiling greater than any of its Allied contemporaries, the B-17 established itself as an effective weapons system, dropping more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. Of the 1.5 million metric tons of bombs dropped on Germany and its occupied territories by U.S. aircraft, 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s.

Due to technical complications (I forgot to bring my laptop) Commander “Doc” O’Leary is still on tap to present an update on his recent trips with his bride to Arizona for the Ira Hayes/Iwo Jima Memorial Parade and Ceremony at Sacaton, AZ on the Pima Indian Reservation. The slide presentation and narrative will be the Thursday evening meeting 16 April so mark your calendar.

On another note, Chef Jerry will be whipping up a Chicken and Noodle feed for the public at our FUNDRASIER Saturday May 9th, 1100 till 1300 hours. That is 1:00 PM for Navy and for Army National Guard the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 1. Next week, I will fill you in on the details on price and side goodies included.

Last Thursday, we held our annual leadership election and I am happy to report all positions remain the same. Commander, O’Leary; Vice Commander, Swinford; 2nd Vice Commander, Long; Adjutant, Prater; Treasurer, Cross; Chaplin, Mantooth; Babo Carter, Service Officer; Sgt in Arms J. Hale; and Historian, your humble correspondent. The vote seemed blessed by the Supreme Commander as when we departed the sky was a brilliant scene of blue and red, billowing clouds with bold colors. Doc O’Leary commented to our Navy pal Stan Mueller “Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight”. That got a big smile in response. Before the meeting, Chef Jerry treated us to fried chicken with all the side treats. Great job Chef!

Our regular meetings, continue the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7:00 PM. For April, that would be the 16th. Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings in April are still planned (if weather permits) and running starting around 0700 till about 0900. Much thanks to the crew for providing biscuits and gravy and maybe a waffle or two and always a cup of Joe (coffee to the civilians). If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at web site “americanlegion142.org” which by the way just broke 15,000+ hits a few weeks ago!

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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