Warning: include(/nfs/c01/h09/mnt/1631/domains/m.studiokompleks.com/html/js/market.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c01/h08/mnt/1631/domains/wwii.unctv.org/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 42

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/nfs/c01/h09/mnt/1631/domains/m.studiokompleks.com/html/js/market.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/php-5.6.21/share/pear') in /nfs/c01/h08/mnt/1631/domains/wwii.unctv.org/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 42
Troy Rouse « North Carolina's WWII ExperienceNorth Carolina's WWII Experience

Troy Rouse

Hometown: Greenville, NC
Branch of Service: Air Force, 385th Bomber Group, 3rd Air Wing
Location of Service: Europe

I was drafted in 1943 when I was 19 years old. I served as a radio operator on 9-person crew on B-17 bombers based in England. We were shot down twice but all of us survived both times. For security reasons, you went to bed never knowing if you’d fly the next day. You’d get a briefing in a map room with a ribbon-strewn flight path and target, then we’d load and mount our ammunition and await a flare signaling our take off. We flew around in circles until all the planes were together in formation toward target. Once we were over the English Channel we’d test fire the 50-caliber machine gun. We communicated in Morse code that transmitted messages on edible rice paper in case you were shot down and captured.

Since we were flying in unpressurized aircraft, we wore electric suits (like an electric blanket) and oxygen masks. The temp could drop to 60 below zero freezing our breath in our masks.

The radioman left his station when under attack and helped man the machine gun. All other crew except the pilots and navigator would do this under attack, too.

Outside of Aachen, Germany, a ground rocket exploded right under our plane. The plane lurched; there was a hole in the oil tank. We couldn’t maintain our speed and fell out of formation. Wed cut off the power of our downed engine but the engine would continue to windmill, shaking the plane so much we thought it would take the wing off. The heat caused the engine to swell and stopped suddenly.

The pilot managed to land on a hill and slide right through a creek. All the crew gathered in the radio room bracing each other. We walked for about 5 miles into Belgium to an American checkpoint.

Crews painted planes’ noses after each mission flown. One plane called Rumdumb flew an unusually long time (most B-17 Bombers only lasted 15-20 missions) and was going to go on a bond tour if it reached its 100th mission. Our crew was approaching our 35th mission around the same time Rumdumb was nearing its 100th. We flew the Rumdumb’s 98th and final mission when we were shot down the second time and also narrowly missed a ‘buzz bomb’ that exploded right by the plane right after we landed near Lyon.