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  #1  
Old 03-21-2009, 08:47 PM
Jason_G Jason_G is offline
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Unbelievable 1911 WWII Story

I actually stumbled upon this about seven or eight years ago, but I re-read it occasionally, and since I couldn't find that it had ever been posted here, I figured I would. If it has and I missed it, I apologize.

A little long, but well worth the read:


Quote:
David and Goliath-2d Lt. Owen J. Baggett

By John L. Frisbee

Many extraordinary encounters took place in the skies of World War II but none more bizarre than this.

The Tenth Air Force in India was, 5 throughout most of its life, the smallest of the AAF’s combat air forces but with a large geographical area of responsibility and an important mission. It was responsible for helping to defend the supply line from India to China and for interdicting the Japanese supply net running from Rangoon, Burma, to the north of that country. Its heavy bomber force – consisting of a few B-24s – was the 7th Bomb Group, based at Pandaveswar, northwest of Calcutta, whence it flew very long missions to targets mostly in Burma. On March 31, 1943, the 7th BG’s 9th Bomb Squadron was dispatched to destroy a railroad bridge at Pyinmana, about halfway between Rangoon and Mandalay and near two active enemy fighter bases. The formation was led by Col. Conrad F. Necrason, 7th BG commander, The B-24 on his right wing was piloted by 1st Lt. Lloyd Jensen whose copilot was 2d Lt. Owen J. Baggett. On that mission, Baggett was to earn a distinction believed to be unique in Air Force history. Before reaching the target, the B- 24s were attacked by fighters. Colonel Necrason was severely wounded, and Jensen’s aircraft was fatally damaged. Oxygen bottles were shattered, intensifying a fire in the rear of Jensen’s bomber. Nineteen-year-old Sgt. Samuel Crostic slid out of his top turret, grabbed two fire extinguishers, and fought the fire in the rear of the aircraft while standing on a catwalk over the open bomb bay. The plane still was under attack by enemy fighters, taking many hits along its fuselage. To help defend the aircraft, copilot Baggett took over the top turret until Sergeant Crostic had emptied his fire extinguishers, giving the crew time to prepare for bailout. Smoke and fumes filled the 8-24. Jensen ordered the crew to bail out.

With the intercom inoperative, Baggett hand-signaled the gunners to hit the silk and, nearly overcome by fumes, put on his own chute. He next remembers floating down with a good chute. He saw four more open canopies before the bomber exploded. The Japanese pilots immediately began strafing the surviving crewmen, apparently killing some of them and grazing Lieutenant Baggett’s arm. The pilot who had hit Baggett circled to finish him off or perhaps only to get a better look at his victim. Baggett pretended to be dead, hoping the Zero pilot would not fire again. In any event, the pilot opened his canopy and approached within feet of Baggett’s chute, nose up and on the verge of a stall. Baggett, enraged by the strafing of his helpless crew mates, raised the .45 automatic concealed against his leg and fired four shots at the open cockpit. The Zero stalled and spun in.

After Baggett hit the ground, enemy pilots continued to strafe him, but he escaped by hiding behind a tree. Lieutenant Jensen and one of the gunners landed near him. All three were captured by the Burmese and turned over to the Japanese. Sergeant Crostic also survived the bail-out. Baggett and Jensen were flown out of Burma in an enemy bomber and imprisoned near Singapore. In the more than two years he was held prisoner, Owen Baggett’s weight dropped from 180 pounds to ninety. He had ample time to think about his midair dual. He did not at first believe it possible that he could have shot down the enemy while swinging in his chute, but gradually pieces of the puzzle came together. Shortly after he was imprisoned, Baggett, Jensen, and another officer were taken before a Japanese major general who was in charge of all POWs in the area and who subsequently was executed as a war criminal. Baggett appeared to be treated like a celebrity. He was offered the opportunity of and given instructions on how to do the "honorable thing" – commit hara-kiri, a proposal he declined.

A few months later, Col. Harry Melton, commander of the 311th Fighter Group who had been shot down, passed through the POW camp and told Baggett that a Japanese colonel said the pilot Owen Baggett had fired at had been thrown clear of his plane when it crashed and burned. He was found dead of a single bullet in his head. Colonel Melton intended to make an official report of the incident but lost his life when the ship on which he was being taken to Japan was sunk. Two other pieces of evidence support Baggett’s account: First, no friendly fighters were in the area that could have downed the Zero pilot. Second, the incident took place at an altitude of 4,000 to 5,000 feet. The pilot could have recovered from an unintentional stall and spin. Retired Colonel Baggett, now living in San Antonio, Tex., believes he shot down the Japanese pilot, but because that judgment is based on largely indirect and circumstantial evidence, he remains reluctant to talk much about it. We think the jury no longer is out. There appears to be no reasonable doubt that Owen Baggett performed a unique act of valor, unlikely to be repeated in the unfolding annals of air warfare.

Thanks to Colonel Baggett and to Charles V. Duncan, Jr., author of B-24 Over Burma.

AIR FORCE Magazine / July 1996
Crazy, ain't it?!!

Jason
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2009, 09:05 PM
11,43mm 11,43mm is offline
 
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One of my favorite 1911 stories. Go look at a few more there, if you haven't yet: http://www.sightm1911.com/1911%20Myt...gt. Alvin York.
It's great reading and a must see for 1911 lovers. Some stories always get me! They should make a movie as a compilation of shorts based on those.
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  #3  
Old 03-21-2009, 10:29 PM
TracerBullet TracerBullet is offline
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Jason, thanks for a re-telling of a great story. I heard rumors of this event over the years, but they were casual stories. This is wonderful.

We cannot heap enough praise upon these brave men of this most wonderful generation. I only hope their successors will do as well when called upon.
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  #4  
Old 03-21-2009, 11:13 PM
jwc41 jwc41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnR View Post
I only hope their successors will do as well when called upon.
They have, and they will.
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  #5  
Old 03-21-2009, 11:45 PM
chifus chifus is offline
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Great story.

Still reading the ones on the link. Very good read.
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  #6  
Old 03-22-2009, 12:53 AM
fugedaboudit fugedaboudit is offline
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There is a show on TV that does forensic re-enactments of famous shootouts and such. This would be a great story to investigate. It is certainly possible IF the plane was in the effective range of a .45 1911. If it was in range with the canopy open it could have happened.

I say we give that GI the benefit of the doubt
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  #7  
Old 03-22-2009, 01:03 AM
11,43mm 11,43mm is offline
 
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Some stories are a little too good to be true, but it's so good to believe...That's why they came up with Santa, among other things.
I actually believe the story of the downed Zero. During WWI, pilots often shot at each other from plane to plane armed only with handguns. They didn't make passes at each other like jets do; it was CQB in the air.
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  #8  
Old 03-22-2009, 01:39 AM
BoulderTroll BoulderTroll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 11,43mm View Post
During WWI, pilots often shot at each other from plane to plane armed only with handguns. They didn't make passes at each other like jets do; it was CQB in the air.
Unless I'm mistaken didn't the "little bird" pilot that was first on scene at Cliff Wolcott's crash site shoot at Somalis with his M9 pistol during the rescue? I know it's not quite the same, but still bad a$$.
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  #9  
Old 03-22-2009, 02:35 AM
11,43mm 11,43mm is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoulderTroll View Post
Unless I'm mistaken didn't the "little bird" pilot that was first on scene at Cliff Wolcott's crash site shoot at Somalis with his M9 pistol during the rescue? I know it's not quite the same, but still bad a$$.
I only saw the movie and the scene was epic and heart-wrenching. But it's not quite the same as dumping a fighter plane!
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  #10  
Old 03-22-2009, 08:29 AM
R_CRUZ R_CRUZ is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 11,43mm View Post
It's great reading and a must see for 1911 lovers. Some stories always get me! They should make a movie as a compilation of shorts based on those.
That would be AWESOME! Too bad that many of those heroes were KIA.
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  #11  
Old 03-22-2009, 12:13 PM
dcsans dcsans is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoulderTroll View Post
Unless I'm mistaken didn't the "little bird" pilot that was first on scene at Cliff Wolcott's crash site shoot at Somalis with his M9 pistol during the rescue? I know it's not quite the same, but still bad a$$.
Yes, I believe that to be true. I can tell you that OH-58 pilots fire out the door at BGs on the ground. During the summer the doors are removed to provide a better 'fighting position'

Anyway on more than one occasion they have shot the main rotor blades when in a steep bank and they get a little too excited
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  #12  
Old 03-23-2009, 02:37 PM
Paladin42 Paladin42 is offline
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Navy Honors Pa. Survivors of Pearl Harbor Attack with Ceremony at State Capitol


"I saw men on their hands and knees with a .45 caliber pistol, shooting at airplanes as they came by. Those airplanes weren't up very high when they came by strafing. They were down maybe 30, 40, 50 feet in the air. They were right out in the open shooting at them. It seemed like every plane there was shooting at me. I wasn't too fast a runner, but that day I passed guys who were," said Hank Heim, 86, who was an Army officer at the time.

http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=33806
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  #13  
Old 03-23-2009, 03:04 PM
Trailboss60 Trailboss60 is offline
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Quote:
he remains reluctant to talk much about it.

Wow, what a story...guys that have been there, done that don't play it up...John Kerry types do and they are figured out pretty quickly.


Our church is laying a WWII vet to rest later tonight, his obituary doesn't state it, but he saw some pretty fierce combat.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/azc...&pid=125326722

Last edited by Trailboss60; 03-23-2009 at 03:11 PM.
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  #14  
Old 03-23-2009, 04:32 PM
Cactus Cactus is offline
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Originally Posted by Trailboss60 View Post
Wow, what a story...guys that have been there, done that don't play it up...John Kerry types do and they are figured out pretty quickly.
So very true. I had an English teacher in high school... we all thought he was a wimpy little geek that would have run from his own shadow.

I saw his obituary late last year and it mentioned that he was a survivor of the Battan Death March!!! I had no idea.
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  #15  
Old 03-23-2009, 05:40 PM
stuntmanmike stuntmanmike is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnR View Post
Jason, thanks for a re-telling of a great story. I heard rumors of this event over the years, but they were casual stories. This is wonderful.

We cannot heap enough praise upon these brave men of this most wonderful generation. I only hope their successors will do as well when called upon.
Where have you been? The men and women of our armed forces have been called upon for some time now and have been answering that call. If you have not read any of thier stories you should.

Mike USMC

Last edited by stuntmanmike; 03-23-2009 at 06:28 PM.
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  #16  
Old 03-23-2009, 08:12 PM
Jason_G Jason_G is offline
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Quote:
So very true. I had an English teacher in high school... we all thought he was a wimpy little geek that would have run from his own shadow.

I saw his obituary late last year and it mentioned that he was a survivor of the Battan Death March!!! I had no idea.
Wow... that'll raise the hair on your neck!

Jason
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  #17  
Old 03-23-2009, 08:57 PM
Red Dirt Dave Red Dirt Dave is offline
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One of the best hearted, easiest going, most well mannered family men I have ever known never speaks a foul word. Never loses his temper. Always has a happy demeanor. And always treats everyone like a friend. One would never guess that he ever had a single bad day. He is Glenn P. Caudell of Fries, VA.

He is also a survivor of the Bataan Death March and Japanese work camp.

Last edited by Red Dirt Dave; 03-23-2009 at 09:01 PM.
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  #18  
Old 03-24-2009, 01:40 AM
curtiswr curtiswr is offline
 
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I recommend anyone in this thread to read Etched in Purple: One Soldier's War in Europe. It follows Frank Irgang through his time in combat as a medic, in a field hospital, and then as combat infantry and a special scout. I just finished it a few days ago, and it was one of the most amazing, easy-to-read, plain cut memoirs I ever read.

Some amazing passages in there, detailing acts of heroism and just plain guts. One detailed how they were getting hammered badly by an approaching German force with armor and while they were retreating Irgang went to the machine gunner they had set up in the street and told him to pull back. As he was talking a shot from the enemy blew off the gunner's hand. Irgang then insists even more on going back, and goes on to tell how the gunner BITES the gushing artery shut and operates the gun with one hand, saying essentially "alright lemme get this guy I been going after" and doesn't get up and go until he downs the one enemy.

Geez...

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Etched-Purple-...7876639&sr=1-1
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  #19  
Old 03-24-2009, 11:51 AM
11,43mm 11,43mm is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curtiswr View Post
Irgang then insists even more on going back, and goes on to tell how the gunner BITES the gushing artery shut and operates the gun with one hand, saying essentially "alright lemme get this guy I been going after" and doesn't get up and go until he downs the one enemy.

Geez...
You'd see that in a movie, you'd go, "Oh, come on!..."
Unbelievable.
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