This episode should not be considered to be in any way disrespectful. Certainly not any disrespect to the President of the United States. Every combat soldier who is going into battle has an anxiety about the forthcoming excitement and terror. Also, a very deep concern for his personal, continued existence! These two items are uppermost in the soldier’s mind, and, it even grows more intense the more that a particular soldier is under combat conditions. He cannot at that time and place be too interested or concerned with other things, that are secondary and, particularly, concerning people that are far removed from him at that time.
Time: Wartime. Place: Airfield at Chelveston, England, home base of 305th Bomb Group.
Time: Pre-Dawn Conditions: Rainy, cold.
Occasion: Crews in a truck being hauled to their airplanes for a bombing mission.
On this particular day we had been roused from our stupor sleep at about 3:00 o’clock in the morning, fed breakfast and hauled to briefing. I forget where we were bombing that day; it doesn’t really matter. After briefing, we were put in GI 6x6 trucks and hauled to the planes. In the truck that I was in, there were twelve to fifteen crewmen, in flight gear, huddled in the back end of this truck.
As the truck approached the control tower area, it stopped. A soldier came out from the command headquarters; came around to the back, open end of the truck and yelled at the occupants, “Have you fellows heard the news?” I said, “No.” He said, “President Roosevelt is dead!” Some fellow, lying on the floor near the back end of the cab, said, “No shit!” That was all! There was no conversation. Nobody said a word. The truck started; took us to our planes, we got in, took off, flew the mission, came back and that was that. Another day!