Pacific War B-24 Liberator pilot remembers World War Two experience

Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Fitzhenry who flew a B-24 Liberator in the 72nd Bomb Squadron during World War Two’s Pacific War has told his recollection of the war.

Now 94, Oscar recalls how he flew during 1943 and 1944 over the Pacific. He was part of the 5th Bomb Group, 13th Air Force and took part in more than 60 operations. Oscar stayed in the US Air Force for more than 20 years all together.

Oscar remembers the devastation of the war as he saw shootings, capturing and killing. At one time in 1943, he was in Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands in the South-Western Pacific. He remembers that they were ordered to attack in bad conditions, 18 B-24s and 40 fighters were sent out. He says that only five aircraft turned up at the meeting point, one of which was his plane.

Oscar and his comrades started to get ready to drop a bomb on a Japanese ship stationed in the harbor. But before they could finish their mission they were attacked by the Japanese air force.

They were attacked for more than an hour, with one pilot taken down, but they all worked together and survived.

Oscar says that it was teamwork that saved him and his fellow soldiers that day. He says they trusted each other, prepared completely and were all dedicated to the task at hand.

On another occasion, Oscar was flying whilst being attacked by a fleet of Japanese fighters. They began working out what to do, but Oscar saw a plane below him in his formation catch fire, the fighter had missed them. He watched as the plane below went down and the crew jumped out. Oscar says what saved him that day were the machine guns defending him.

Oscar was invited to speak and tell his World War Two experiences at an event held by the US Air Force Association, the Standard Examiner reports.

In the Pacific region, China and Japan were at war throughout the 1930s, ever since Japan invaded Chinese Manchuria in 1931.

After World War Two erupted, the Pacific War started between the American and Japanese forces towards the end of 1941. It began when Japan invaded Thailand and began to attack the British ruled states of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong in addition to US military bases in Hawaii and the Philippines.

The Pacific War took place over a huge area across the Pacific Ocean. It included the Pacific Ocean and its islands, South West Pacific, South East Asia, and parts of China.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE