Hoeller Photography LLC
I was a flight engineer, but had multiple purposes, on a Boeing B-17G, 384th Bomb Group - 556th Squadron. My station was on top of the plane, in that bubble popping out, fifty caliber machine guns on each side, that’s why I don’t hear very well anymore. Behind me in my station was a tall piece of plexiglass. I wasn’t hit, but the plexiglass behind me was hit by flak one day. The plexiglass marbleized down my back, my imagination went wild. I could imagine nothing but blood running down my back. I’m yelling, “I’M HIT, I’M HIT!” The copilot says, “get up here and we’ll take a look.” He starts laughing, there’s nothing there. There wasn’t a scratch on me. Our average missions were 22,000-26,000 feet and negative sixty below zero. It was cold up there. You didn’t dare take your gloves off, if you did and touched the side of airplane, you’d let your skin be hanging. I had my oxygen hose get disconnected one day. You had about 1.5 minutes to live. Thankfully I was able to get it back together. That was scary. Another task I did was help with the dropping of the bombs. Sometimes the bombs would get hung up and didn’t drop. And I was the guy that had to go up there with a screwdriver and fix it so it could drop, the entire time you could see below. I flew on a total of 35 missions including, Battle of Normandy, Battle of the Bulge and Operation Market Garden.
My name is William, I served in the US Navy for five years or so. One day I was working in the yards and docks in Washington D.C. and I got a call to perform this particular duty. That duty was to go to the White House so, I took six sailors and myself, I was an officer at that time. I went to the White House, and on the front porch was Jackie Kennedy, welcoming me and my crew. She said, "you have the wrong entrance, you have to go to the back entrance." She met us back there. I was delivering hospital furniture and room furniture for the Lincoln Room in the White House, which was going to be Joe Kennedy's place to sleep. He had a stroke and they were taking care of him at the White House. Jackie was very pleasant, pleasant, very, very skilled public relations wise and Jack was too. During these transactions, I did have a chance to see and talk to Jack Kennedy. Once when I was at the station, Jack Kennedy came in with his staff, looked at me and came over to ask me where I was from so forth and so forth. I will never forget that I went to the White House. I also went to Rosie Road switches at the naval air station in Puerto Rico south of San Juan, huge base, and we were building there because we thought our friend Castro was going to come in and destroy it in the future. It never happened, but that was exciting. I had few instances like that. The highlight was to see Jacqueline Kennedy. She was dressed in aquamarine slacks and a white shirt. She was extremely gracious, extremely. She was different than the person who came after her. So, I went and did various things in the navy delivering things and that's about it.
I was drafted to the Army and was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. I had experience as a mail clerk from Akron, Ohio. So, they decided to put me as a mail clerk and legal clerk in the Army.