My veteran grandpa was asked by a little girl if he would do it all again. He said, "Yes, for you."

My grandpa lived as a POW in a German camp in WW2 for over two years, but all he became was super racist by the whole experience. I am not sure I can blame him though. He was shot down at age 19 over Belgium, on his first B-17 bombing raid over enemy territory as a waist gunner (one of two guys operating a turret in the thin part of that plane).

At the time it was a heroic job, and to a generation that grew up in the depression this was also an economic godsend. My Grandpa was one of the first to sign up. His parents died when he was in 8th grade, he had 3 younger sisters, and he scraped out a living by driving trucks for those unscrupulous enough to let someone without a license drive. He said that when he saw what the army was offering, it was a no-brainer. Someone had to look out for the family.

So he signs up and goes through training, which is nuts by the way. Those old 1940s era planes were not like the planes we have today, they failed all the time. He crash landed in training twice, one time he had an 8 hour walk back to the base (in the middle of the desert, and it was 4am when they got back) where him and his crew were greeted by flight surgeons. The crew was immediately sent back up in a new plane, because the view of the army was that crash survivors needed to get airborne ASAP to avoid the jitters on later flights.

Anyway, my grandpa flew as part of a much bigger group a few times out of England, he said that they form in groups of 10 or so with 1-2 planes flying behind across the channel in case some dropped out for mechanical differences. He was back in one of those "reserve" slots a few times before being called to the big leagues, and actually flying over enemy territory to drop bombs on Germany.

His first mission his plane was hit. He watched as the two engines on his side of the plane were sequentially hit, began to burn, and then the prop stopped spinning. When the plan began to plunge he knew it was time to get out, and found his way to the open door and hurled himself into the blue and grey. He was one of two to survive on his plane in the bailout, and he kept in touch with the tail gunner until the man died, back in the 90s. The rest landed in a river and drowned, or didn't make it out alive. On the ground in occupied Belgium, he was captured shortly.

He spent some time with the Germans, and even developed an odd respect for them. Being in captivity that long, one might expect Stockholm symdrome, but it ended up being the opposite of that. In the end, I have told him for years that the Jews were the same as any of us, but he doesn't fucking listen :\

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