Friday, July 18, 2008

Another View from the Section 8

Another View from the Section 8

George Pruitt passed away in Lubbock, Texas on July 5, 2008 following a massive stroke. He was surrounded by family and died with honor. May we shake hands when he greets me at the Pearly Gates.

George certainly came from the mold that pressed out heroes. I’m not implying that he was a perfect man, and he’d be the first to agree with me about his lack thereof, but George was a mighty man of valor, and his deeds are worthy of recording. In his latter years, he was a man of faith, and never once backed down from his love for Christ. He was an excellent father, husband, and grandfather. In fact, he passed away being surrounded by family—and there is no better way to go. The love and devotion demonstrated by his family lends insight to his character because those are the ones who knew him best. In honor of his life, I’m going to continue his epic struggle against the Nazi invasion of France. So, buckle in, it’s going to be an enjoyable journey.

This account is taken from his very own war journal, which was recently made available to me by Martha, George’s bride from 64 years past. George kept meticulous notes concerning the missions he flew and various odd details about each one. We know from his records that he was very generous, having lent many hundreds of dollars to his fellow airmen—most of them paid him back! I’ll share with you bits and pieces of his journal, and I’ll start with a mission he flew two-thirds of the way through his tour of duty.

Mission No. 20
April 29, 1944
Hit Berlin, Germany. On the way to the target number 2 engine started acting up, forcing us to pull military power to keep up with formation. Over target—number 3 engine was knocked out, loosing oil pressure and were unable to feather propeller. As a result, we had to let it windmill. As we were leaving target, number 1 engine was shot out, leaving us with only two engines. We were unable to stay with any of the returning formations and we were losing altitude. So, we threw out all our guns and ammunition. The ship was shot to pieces by flak. So, we were coming in “on a wing and a prayer,” just hoping and praying we’d have enough gas to get out of enemy territory, and praying we wouldn’t be intercepted by enemy fighters. And our prayers came true. We weren’t intercepted and we got out of enemy territory. But as we were crossing the North Sea, flying at about 4,000 feet, our two faithful engines run out of gas, forcing us to dead stick land in the water. The pilot made a beautiful landing and we all got out uninjured. We were in our dinghies 40 minutes when the air sea rescue picked us up. Our plane floated 57 minutes, which is believed to be the longest period of time any US Army/Air Force plane has floated. Lt. John R. Jeans, our navigator, got a few chips of glass in his eye when the plexiglass nose was hit by flak. Thanks to Lt. Suckow’s beautiful land and the wonderful work done by radio operator SSGT Joe C Spermbaur in contacting air Sea Rescue.
Now, there were some corrections he penned into his journal in a different color ink than he used originally. One of the changes documented that they weren’t in the English Channel when they went down, but in the North Sea. Either way, it’s a remarkable story. At his funeral on July 7, 2008, his photo was posted near his casket. In the photo, he wore a boyish smile on a warrior’s face. You could see in his eyes the determination that he was were he was supposed to be and he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. I asked him once if he was worried about going to war. He never hesitated in his answer, “No. We knew we were going to win before we ever left,” which reminds me of a quote from Sun Tzu, “the victorious warrior wins first, and then goes to war; the defeated warrior goes to war first, and then seeks to win.”

Along with his photo, was a small laminated card the size of an actual playing card, which documented his enrollment into the Goldfish Club. For more information on this exclusive group, see: Thanks to the Pruitt family for allowing me insight into a wonderful story and an incredible man.

Learn more about the crew of the Section 8 and their mission over Normandy on D-Day by clicking here: D-Day, A View From The Section 8.


Alison said...

It's always amazing to me to learn about the bravery of people like Mr. Pruitt. What an incredible person. It's so important that their stories are recorded and shared, just like you've been doing.

The curious part of me wonders...what did they talk about during that 40 minutes that they waited for rescue?

Dave said...

Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for all the veterans willing to risk their lives to protect us and this country (including you, Travis).

shopkins said...

Thank you for the articles about my great Uncle Geroge. Our family will be honored to ready these article about his war time service.
Again thank you Mr. Travis for writing about all our service men and women.