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"You can ditch a B-17. The thing lands just real easy because it's got a low wing... In the B-17 you had a much better chance." (Interview Transcript, page 6).

   Norman Dwight Smith
Collection image
Norman Smith at time of interview
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: 420th Bomb Squadron, 90th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force
Service Location: Pacific Theater
Rank: Captain
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Norman Smith enlisted in the Army Air Force in the fall of 1941, figuring he was going to be flying missions over Europe in what he saw was an inevitable war. Instead, he was assigned to the Pacific Theater, and in January 1943, on a mission off the coast of New Guinea, his B-17 was set upon by Japanese Zeros. His memoir offers a harrowing account of the chaotic moments before his plane went down in the water. He spent nine days alone on a raft before reaching land. In his month on a small island, he lived off the land, ingratiated himself with the natives, and avoided capture. Ultimately, he met a trio of Australian plane spotters who helped him gain safe passage 37 days after his ordeal began.

Interview (Video)
»Complete Interview 
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»Wings of War
 PDF Document (2 items)
Transcript of an interview with Norman Dwight Smith Missing in Action: a true story of a sole survivor of a combat mission in the Southwest Pacific area during WWII 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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