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My friend Vincent.

You never know where this hobby will lead you.

Three years ago, a friend of mine, knowing I am a bit of a history nut and modeler introduced me to Vincent who resides at a local nursing home here. Vincent was a bombardier on B-24's durning WWII, serving in the 8th Air Force's 392nd bomb group stationed at Wendling, England.

Here is a link if you are interested in visiting the squadron's web page.

https://www.b24.net/index.html

He flew a total of 31 missions before rotating back to the USA for fighter pilot training. The war ended before he graduated from fighter pilot school in Southern California.

It was fun building Vincent's plane, the old Monogram 1/48 B-24J. I brought my progress to him for review. Amazing to get input from someone who had been there! His memory is still very sharp, and he shared many a story with me, like the time the fighter escorts' drop tanks almost took out there plane from above when they let them go! Or the time he had to literally kick a hung bomb in the bay out over Germany or it would continue to swing around in there and possible blow! His last mission the plane was so badly shot up, they did a wheels up landing that broke the plane up pretty bad. The entire crew survived, "though our front turret gunner took a piece of flak to the butt". They walked around the wreck and "stopped counting holes around 300..."!

Covid limited when I could visit him. At one point the home was buttoned up tight as a tick. He even beat the disease himself. I joked with him that neither Covid or the Germans could shoot him down! It was an honor to present Vincent his plane on Veterans Day, and it looks great in the room with his medals. Vincent will be 102 this July, 2022.

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.


19 responses

  1. This is a fantastic model, Joe! Even more fantastic is the story of Vincent and how the model was the connection. Indeed, you never know where this hobby will lead you!

  2. That's a great gift you gave him. But the more important gift was yourself - someone still interested in an old man's most important stories. Good job all around.

  3. I'm very impressed with this all around, well done. There aren't many of the WW II guys left

  4. What a fantastic reunion of Vincent and his/your B24, Joe @jboyla
    It must have been great, both of you showing interest in the same and being able to share that.

  5. Really nice thing you did for your friend Joe, and an impressive build of the B24 as well. I had a similar relationship with an old guy in my neighborhood Ronnie North ,he did 19 or 20 missions as radio operator in Lancasters , God bless 'em all.

  6. Wonderful job Joe and a great story about a vet that's "been there, done that." Sadly, they all are fading away.

  7. What else can be said but WELL DONE...what a tribute!

  8. The gift of time is the most cherished gift you can give a person. Something that always will be remembered.

    Great story. Vincent is a treasure.

    Two thumbs up.

  9. Lis said on March 6, 2022

    I love stories as yours! Great! I hope you show more photos of this great Liberator.

  10. Oh man, what a great story! 👍 That is a fine tribute to the man, and to his like, who really did "save our world". I'd say that you and Vincent both received fantastic gifts in your encounter with each other. Thank you sincerely for building that model for that veteran! Great idea and a wonderful project too. 🍻

  11. Wonderful . A great gift and it keeps the memory alive. Old timers have a lot to say and we should listen.

  12. Fantastic! Great build. Great story. So heartening when there's fewer and fewer of these guys around. I had no idea there was a 1/48 B24 either.

  13. My compliments Joe for a 1st class job of getting to know a true American Hero and letting him know that there are still many of us who care about him and his past service to our country. In addition, I'm sure he was absolutely delighted to see you working on and completing that fine B-24 Liberator model. Very Well Done Sir.

  14. Heart-warming what you did for this man. To be remembered in such a specific way goes far beyond "thank you for your service," and demonstrates a love, reverence and appreciation for what this young man did a time long ago.
    Thank you for posting, I was touched by your efforts to show this man that what he did is not forgotten.

  15. What a great tribute. Thanks for representing all of us in this way.

  16. Nicely done, and especially for elevating Vincent into the public eye once again!

  17. Joe, this is awesome! These old guys are too long gone. God bless them all; living or gone.

    I built & presented the same model to my Mother's husband Bud. We weren't close but we were friendly. Bud was the nose turret gunner on B-24s. Like my Father, Bud wouldn't talk much about what went on back then beyond a few general stories. He flew 4 missions to Ploesti ...

    I hope your friend Vincent has a great Birthday, come July!

    • Thanks Jeff. Being bombardier, Vincent mentioned he was the front turret gunner's substitute if he had to go take a leak. It was on one of these occasions they got jumped by "bandits". They had a top cover of P-51's that he looked up from the nose just as they dropped their wing tanks to engage. He watched in horror as one of the tanks came tumbling towards them. The tank passed BETWEEN the two engines on one wing, completely missing them. Crazy!

      I saw on your page you are a Desert Storm veteran. Thank you for your service. My oldest brother served in Desert Storm as well, bouncing around the desert in Bradleys.

      Best,

      Joe

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