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A letter to home dated 12 September 1944
from 2nd Lt. James E. O'Brien, a new member of the 63rd Bomb Squadron

From Owi:

Dear Mom & Dad.

There has been a tragedy in our crew. W----------, our radio operator, is dead: we buried him yesterday on a larger island [Biak] cemetery. C----, the engineer, was expected to die but he's still hanging on--- he's tough & the Doc says if he pulls through tonight he'll make it. We all gave blood transfusions, but that's all we could do. That's what you call fate!

Went on a day mission a few days ago as co-pilot for another crew. We were lead plane & Butts [1st pilot of his regular crew] was on our wing. There were fighters all around and Butts told us later that he thought one was going to get us. We were sailing under a stratus layer of clouds when this Jap tracked us from above. He pushed on ahead of us, turned over on his back and came shooting down. Just after he left the clouds I saw him and started to yell for the turrets to fire. In the excitement I forgot to press the mike switch. For some strange reason he didn't continue his attack but slid off of our nose. Over the target I looked down, saw the anti-aircraft guns belch with flames; then I pulled my head in, cuddled up in my seat & began to count. Sure enough, at the allotted seconds, the bursts would start spitting close by. I'll have to close---will have a busy day tomorrow.

[The incident with the two casualties occurred, apparently, when while walking the beach on Owi they disturbed an old rusted piece of ordnance and it exploded]

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