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- 07 December 2004
My Grandpa was a farm boy from rural Michigan and became a pilot in WWII.
He was trained to fly P47 fighters and saw action in North Africa. Flying in support of the American forces invading Morocco, he was attacked by a Messerschmidt and forced to crash-land his plane on the beach. He walked away from the crash, was picked up by a group of soldiers in a jeep, and driven back to his air base.
He was immediately put into the cockpit of another fighter and went aloft. Again he was shot down, and again he escaped without injury.
A few months later he was sent home for a break. Back in Michigan, he checked out a fighter plane from the air base in Detroit and flew north to impress his girlfriend by flying low-level passes and acrobatic loops over her house. One pass was so low that it blew all the clothes from the clothes line.
One of the neighbors recorded down the planes ID numbers and reported the incident to the airbase commander. That was the end of Grandpa's days as a fighter pilot.
For the rest of the war, he piloted military transport planes ferrying wounded soldiers from the front lines.
Back to Michigan after the war, he married his girlfriend and became a plumber. Today they still live there together.
Grandpa has never spoken about the war, and never flew again after leaving the service.
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