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"I always felt nothing was going to happen to our crew." (Video Interview, 19:41)

   Norman C. Adams
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Norman Adams [2005]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: 93rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force; 22nd Bomb Group, 15th Air Force
Service Location: England; North Africa; United States
Rank: Major
POW: Yes
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A December 8, 1941 enlistee, Norman Adams chose the Army Air Force, with dreams of becoming a pilot. Though he washed out of pilot school, he did get to train on the new Norden bombsight as a bombardier. (He demonstrates how the Norden works at the end of his interview, which was conducted in an aviation museum.) Flying missions over Italy, he felt confident that the flak would never catch up to his plane. In the bombing raids over Ploesti, Romania's oil fields on August 1, 1943, Adams' luck ran out. After his plane lost two engines, he survived a horrific crash landing that killed several of his crew. Adams' luck returned when he was released after only 14 months in captivity, and he was home for Christmas 1944. By the end of the war, he decided to re-enlist, flying Cold War missions for SAC and remaining in the Air Force until 1967.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (72 min.)
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»Wings of War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Why he chose to be in the Air Corps; trained at March Air Base in Riverside, CA; had two brothers in service; pilot training in Arizona; washed out of pilot training; fastest way to get commission was as bombardier; graduated December 30, 1942; trained on Norden bombsight, "a super piece of machinery;" much security involved in using it; joined his crew at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson; two weeks' leave before shipping out; he got married in that time. (06:41) May 1943, went to North Africa; flew missions out of Bengazi, Libya, over Italy; bombed railroad yards in Rome; about 30 aircraft in formation; didn't use his training on Norden, as he was following the leader on when to drop bombs; his plane was first to shoot down a jet aircraft over Europe; never thought they would get shot down. (03:22) Mission on which they were shot down: bombing oil fields in Romania at low level; well-planned, but lead crew approached target from wrong direction; his plane's wrong turn took them up a heavily fortified railroad track; was lucky to survive crash, as he was in nose of plane, most dangerous place to be in B-24; untangled himself; pulled two gunners out; captured by German, who took him to a gun emplacement and watched the enemy shoot at other B-24s; 110 survivors assembled, taken to a makeshift POW camp in the mountains. (10:27)
Camp was in retirement area for railroad workers; treated well; Romanians were guarding them, more guards than prisoners; ate same food as guards; saw American planes fly over; never interrogated about Norden bombsight; Germans knew all about him already; barber smuggled radio in and they listened to Allies' progress; D-Day happened on his birthday; one morning, no guards; commandant told them Germans were pulling out; took off for Bucharest; Romanians declared war on Germany, so the prisoners laid low for a couple of days; B-17s came into Bucharest to pick them up; one officer in POW camp had been collaborator; Adams and others flown to Britain to testify against him in court martial; got home for Christmas 1944. (08:48) By time war ended, he had decided to re-enlist; had tried teaching and didn't like it; bombardiers learned navigation and radar operation; assigned to B-36s and B-52s; flying airborne alert SAC missions between Puerto Rico and Africa, carrying nuclear weapons to be used on assigned target in the USSR; flew B-36s during the Korean War; flew B-52 Gs during Vietnam War; in both cases, those planes were not involved in combat. (05:01) Demonstrating the Norden bombsight; did not have one on board on the crash mission, as they were flying low; explains some photos from the Ploesti mission. (08:45)

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  October 26, 2011
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