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13th squadron logo

Gunners
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"While they were firing at the black twin engine bomber, some of the Chinese soldiers saw yellow flashes from below the fuselage. An instant later the gun emplacement was silenced as a hail of machine gun fire tore into it. Armor piercing bullets shattered the gun itself and incendiary bullets found their way into the few remaining 37 mm cannon shells. Some of these exploded immediately, and the propellant in the others stared to burn. In a matter of seconds, these started to cook off and exploded. One gun crew member was cut in half by the machine gun bullets. Another was decapitated when at least six bullets tore his head apart. Two others died when a 37mm shell exploded. Lin Wong was hit fatally in the chest as he fell to the ground, several exploding cannon shells tore him to pieces."

This is how author Lucien Thomas described a duel between a 13th gunner and a Chinese gun crew in the Korean War novel, "Pintail Three". This scene, or something close, was repeated thousands of times. The ability of the B-26 gunner to silence anti-aircraft fire quickly was the factor that determined whether or not the aircraft and crew lived or died. "Stag" Thomas, also our Gunner Chief, (with 7 combat tours) must have been the most experienced combat gunner in any Air Force.
Lucien Thomas
"Lucien Thomas"
I believe we had the greatest training we could possibly receive. When I arrived in Kunsan, I knew the turrets, the guns, the crew system, and the aircraft. I was trained by experienced instructors and given every opportunity to become expert in all phases of being a B-26 gunner - except one - combat experience. That had to be learned in Korea.

It didn't take long. My first mission was with Bill Jessup to Purple-11 route, better known as "Mig Alley". He was one of the squadron "Tigers", and according to the STARS AND STRIPES, the first locomotive ace. In fact we got a train the night of my first mission. A lot of questions were answered on that four hour mission. I know I had made the right choice in volunteering for the B-26 program.

John Adams
"John Adams"
Don Geibel
"Don Geibel"
Freddy Carroll
"Freddy Carroll"

Al Andre' and Bob Festa
Al Andre' (left) and Bob Festa (right)
Upon graduation from B-29/B-50 turret system gunnery school, ten volunteers from each class were given the opportunity to attend B-26 gunnery school with an assignment ending in Korea. Almost to the man, my fellow gunners were all volunteers. We wanted to be there.

We all knew we were the best and we trusted our lives to each other or in the care and feeding of our guns. We lived together, ate together, partied and got drunk together. We had the best leadership in the Air Force in Stag Thomas. We were the elite group of gunners in the world. We had the reputation of being cocky, confident, and deadly. To the man we knew we were the best.

-- Al Andre', B-26 Gunner

Bill Cowan
"Bill Cowan"
Bob Festa
Bob Festa was shot down and spent the rest of the war as a POW. Be sure to read his story, 13 Months as a POW.

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