B-29 ‘Danny-Mite’ Flight Engineer Shares Experience

 

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Vic Morris, a flight engineer from the B-29 known as the Danny-Mite, has felt guilty for the bulk of his life for surviving the horrific experience of being gunned down above Japan, an experience which many of his crew mates did not survive. Now, at the request of Frances Corona, sister of crew mate Andrew Kierein, Morris has become willing to share his perspective on what happened to the Danny-Mite in May of 1945.

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Apparently, the May 24th mission was supposed to be a relatively easy one. Due to cloud cover, Morris and his crew had suspected they could easily find their intended bombing site without being seen by enemy anti-aircraft forces. Unfortunately for those aboard the Danny-Mite, an unexpected patch of clear skies proved them wrong. They were immediately fired upon exiting the clouds. As a result, they lost both engines and those who were able had to parachute out.

Morris states that he had every intention of helping the rest of his crew to escape. Unfortunately, gunfire had set the plane ablaze, separating one half of the crew from the others. He had no choice but to bail as quickly as possible. His escape was not an easy one, however, as the force from gunfire when Danny-Mite lost a wing threw him out of the plane past the landing gear, forcing him to parachute down amidst heavy gunfire.

Only four in total survived the ordeal, three of which—including Morris—became prisoners of war. Luckily, the war was soon to end, but Morris still had to live with the knowledge that his lost crew had families who would want to know what took place on the Danny-Mite, and he would be one of the few who could tell them. Morris finally overcame this fear and agreed to meet with Corona to speak of his experiences. She put things in a new perspective for him, assuring him not to feel guilty over a situation he could not have controlled. Hearing such a thing from the sister of a fallen comrade was enlightening, the Air Force Times reports.

Having survived the Danny-Mite disaster was tremendously stressful for Morris, and his son suspects he has battled with PTSD for years. Now, it seems his meeting with Corona has eased his condition. While Corona was unable to gain the exact type of closure she had wanted, since Morris never saw precisely what befell the rest of his crew, she still feels that their meeting was helpful. Morris has heard stories both of bodies found in wreckage and bodies buried en masse after Japanese execution, but he will never know for certain what the crew of the Danny-Mite went through after he was ripped from the plane. Whether or not he will ever know, his new ability to talk about the event has helped to heal him greatly.