Our Pilot was George W. Booker "Book", 1st Lieutenant, a big soft-spoken guy from Jonesboro, Arkansas. He reminded me of a big brother, someone you had confidence in. I found out later that he had been assigned to Fighters (P-39s), but he got too big for them and was sent to Multi-Engine School. Our Co-pilot was Steven Fortunato, "Luigi", 2nd Lieutenant from Wilmington, Delaware, a quiet, cool-headed, competent individual that you knew you would fly with anywhere he wanted to go. Our Bombadier was Albert Yelland, 2nd Lieutenant from Hancock, Michigan, a little on the heavy side, hence the name "Butterball". He had a great sense of humor. Andy Walker, our Engineer, was from Hamtramck, Michigan. I always thought that he looked like Clark Gable. He was a rough, tough guy you wanted on your side. Being around Andy when we were flying, you k new he was a damned good Engineer, and really knew his job inside out. Edwin Sheldon, from Oklahoma City was our Radio Operator. He always knew his job. He and Andy were drinking buddies. More later. Manfield Pressy, T/Sgt from Muskegon, Michagn, was the old timer on the Crew, at the age of 34. Pressy was Armour-Gunner and flew Ball Turret. William Ward, from Montclair, New Jersey, was Top Turret Gunner. Bill was a very quiet person. Fred L. Goff from Nitro, West Virginia, was our Tail Gunner. Fred and I were the youngest on the Crew, at nineteen. Fred's favorite singer was Jimmy Durante. Does that tell you something? I was the Nose Gunner on this motley Crew. A few weeks later, our Navigator arrived. We were told by Book that we would get our Navigator the next day. We were in the locker room the next day getting into our flight suits and this 2nd lieutenant walked over and asked if this was Booker's Crew. Someone said yes, it was, but no one was really paying any attention to him. His face was getting redder by the second, when he reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out some name cards and handed one to each of us. It said, "Lt. William S. Springer, Navigator, U.S. Army Air Corps." We all looked at the card and as if on cue, we all said, "Hello, Lt. William S. Springer, Navigator, U.S. Army Air Corps." When we all settled down, after the laughter (including him), we shook hands and welcomed him aboard."
"We did a lot of flying, including night flights. I can remember flying over Ontario, Pamona, and Riverside on Friday nights when the high schools were playing football, and you could see the teams on the field."
"As our training continued, you could feel and see how we were becoming a team. Everything started to fit together, like a well-oiled machine. We did our share of formation flying, and sometimes that got a little hairy in the turbulence. It wasn't so bad when your wingman was moving up or down with you, but if you were going up and he was going down, that was bad news! This was when we found out that Al, our Bombardier, didn't like Formation Flying. We flew out to the desert, and we flew in the Grand Canyon. Yes, in the Grand Canyon, below the rim. I guess it was pretty, but all I know was, we were bouncing around like a cork in a rough sea. The intercom was rather busy with comments like, "Okay, already, we've seen enough", and "The color is pretty from down here, but I'll bet it's just as pretty 1,000 feet up." Book was the only one enjoying the view."
One morning, when we weren't flying, we were in the upper bay of our barracks, and we heard an airplane that obviously was having trouble. We looked out of the window and could see this B-25 coming in quite low. We all ran down the stairs, went outside and watched, as the plane was going by. We heard a couple of small explosions and the tail blew right off the fuselage. The plane came down between two barracks about two or three blocks down the street and exploded, the tail section coming down next to the theater. All aboard were killed. What a sobering experience! That was the first time we had experienced anything of this nature, but not the last."