The next morning after breakfast, I visited “Wham Bam” and learned from Popeye that all was well. The plane was ready for the mission that afternoon.
All my crew members were present for the briefing at 1000 hours. Col. Timberlake entered the briefing tent and went to the podium. The combat crews were pleased that the “Old Man” was briefing us because it meant that he was also going to lead the formation.
“This will be our mission,” he began. “To destroy the harbor at Naples, Italy, and the ships docked there. The formation will consist of twelve B-24s. Each B-24 will carry five 1,000-pound bombs. Bombing altitude will be at 22,000 feet, takeoff at 1500 hours. We will have a full gas load, oxygen, and ammunition. We can expect good weather to and from the target site, as well as on our return to base tonight.
We started our climb just before dusk, went over the IP at 22,000 feet and straight to the target zone. Kelly, our bombardier, worked our bomb sight, opened our bomb bay doors, and dropped the bombs on range; the formation made the course setting. There was only a small amount of flak and it was inaccurate.
I called Oscar, our navigator, and told him we would be by ourselves and would fly at 4,000 feet. “OK, we’re on the correct heading,” he replied.
Three or four Italian fighters appeared out of range on my right. They seemed to be doing acrobatics and put on quite a show. Then one fighter approached our formation with his .28-caliber gun ablaze… (more in the book)