1944-45 — Corsica, France
FOOTNOTE has BIRTH wrong, Victor was born in 1924, The correction has been submitted) The Enlistment is CORRECT. Victor has been the EDITOR of the "Men of the 57th" Journal for many-MANY years!
Victor resided in San Francisco, Calif and entered directly into the AAC on 23 Nov. 1942, He was born in Oregon in 1924, comleted high school, is White, Citizen and was single at emlistment.
4 Nov. 2006 Barb Ennis Connolly has begun asking the Vets for Stories; This is from Victor J Hancock, 321st Bomb Group, 445th Bomb Squadron, B-25 Pilot, Corsica/MTO.
Transmitted via the '57th Bomb Wing Research List'
**** We all know Pearl Harbor Day was Sun. Dec.7,1941 How many know ? V E day was Tues. May 8, 194 V J Day was Sun. Sept. 2, 1945 I recently asked where my parents were. How many of you know or have asked ? "I would like to hear your stories, please." Blessings, Barbi
Victor said; " Hi Barbi: Interesting question. I had just got off of work on the docks of San Francisco and was eating lunch at the Embarkadero YMCA when the news came over the radio that we had been attacked at Pearl Harbor. Everyone stood around the radio as we listened to the news. Soon the word was given that all military personnel were to report to their bases immediately. There was never a doubt that we would win. And the hatred for the Japs was visceral, at least on the West Coast. I had one older brother in the Army at the time and another older brother entered the Navy the next day. I was still in high school and did not volunteer until April or May and that was for Aviation Cadets. I was a high senior at High School and was to graduate in January 1943 but got my orders and reported to duty in early November and shipped out to Buckley Field.We had been expecting some type of hostility to break out for some time and spoke of it in our history and civic classes at high school.
WWII vets: They changed the world Victor comments on "What it means to be part of the Greatest Generation"......
We wait alongside them in the grocery checkout line and hurry past them on the street. They are members of our churches and grandparents to our children, but how often do we pause to ponder the content of their lives?
As teenagers and 20-somethings, they traveled to distant countries, knowing they might die there, and returned to lives forever altered by their experiences. They risked their lives, left jobs, and cast passions and aspirations aside until their missions were fulfilled.
Indeed, all who served in World War II — in battle or supporting roles — deserve unyielding gratitude, but as each Veterans Day passes, the time for thanks dwindles. We can still shake their hands and hear their stories, but for how much longer?
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the ranks of World War II vets are shrinking by about 1,200 a day nationwide.
A few of those who have retired in Far North Dallas take time to recall, for those of us who weren’t there, an era that shaped the world.
If you run into one of them today, it might be the right time to say “thank you”.
“We all waited for those words: ‘Bombs away, let’s get the hell out of here.’ ” — Victor Hancock
Before the war, Victor Hancock had never been afraid of anything. But the war changed his life.
“I came face-to-face with the reality of how you would react if someone tried to kill you,” he says. “I got plenty scared. Once the engine starts, you go about your business like you were trained.”
Hancock was two months from graduating high school when he volunteered for the Army Air Force in 1942, just as his two older brothers had done. (The Air Force became a separate branch of the Armed Services in 1947; until that point, it was part of the Army’s Air Corps and collectively known as the Army Air Force.)
“There was a war going on, so there was no doubt you were going to be in it,” Hancock says.
He joined thousands of others for preflight school at Kelly Field in San Antonio. He finished training in May 1944 and became a pilot in the 57th Bomb Wing’s 488th Bomb Squadron. He was stationed on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic and then headed to a base on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. By January 1945, the war in Europe was ending, and the Germans tried to escape to their country via the three-mile wide Brenner Pass within the Alps.
“Our job was to close the pass,” Hancock says. “We all waited for those words — ‘Bombs away, let’s get the hell out of here.’ Then you had the long flight back to Corsica over enemy territory.”
They’d often return with bullet holes in their B-25s, which Hancock describes as some of the most durable aircraft in the Air Force.
“It could take a tremendous amount of damage and still bring soldiers home. There were 875 crewmembers lost. It would have been four times that [without B-25s].”
Hancock co-piloted six of the missions and encountered a few close calls that could have resulted in more than just a few holes in the plane. Once, while they flew through the mountains at 5,000 to 6,000 feet, the Germans fired anti-aircraft guns. Hancock says he approached a box canyon with no way out. They had to quickly pull up or crash right into the side of the mountain.
“The Germans were shooting at us with flak busting on our tails. It’s all very slow motion.”
Hancock knew he wasn’t invincible. His brother had died in combat the year before.
“I was absolutely devastated. I was, no doubt, aware of my mortality. I was not a man who thought I couldn’t die.”
U.S. forces dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the war in the South Pacific before Hancock’s squadron arrived.
Today, he lives in the Canyon Creek neighborhood with his wife of 65 years. He retired in 1992 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. His home office is covered in papers, old photographs and maps because for the past 16 years, Hancock has edited a quarterly journal, “Men of the 57th”, published for his fellow crewmembers from the 57th Bomb Wing. It includes updates about veterans and personal accounts from missions.
Hancock, now 87, sometimes speaks at neighborhood elementary schools, sharing his experience of being a part of the “greatest generation”. “Our reaction to circumstances made us a little different. One of the kids asked me, ‘Could we do the same thing?’ I said, ‘Of course you could.’ ”
*** "We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?" ***
http://farnorthdallas.advocatemag.com/2010/10/they-changed-the-world/ Other Vets represented here as well ! GREAT Stories :) Thank you for all of the "Children of the Greatest Generation" we had no idea how priviledged we are/were !
Barbi Ennis Connolly PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com 57th Bomb Wing Historical Researcher and 321st Bomb Group Historian.