A P-38 pilot in our organization once said…
“My crew kept me alive.”
That about says it all.
Although the pilots are often given the recognition and the glory, they wouldn’t be in the air without the crew keeping their Lightnings in tip-top shape for their missions.
A nice poem dedicated to all the crews and written by a crew chief.
WE ALSO LOVED THE LADY
by Fred L. Montgomery, S/Sgt-Crew Chief
Those of us who filled her ever-thirsty tanks with “”Fightin’ Blue,”
Who cleaned and oiled her arsenal and hung her deadly bombs,
Who kept her “ears” and “voice” always loud and clear,
Who patched the combat wounds in her sleek skin.
Who checked and tuned her after every flight,
Who guarded her through torrid desert days
and bitter, frigid nights,
Who pulled her preflight before each dawn
to make sure that she was fit
To take you into combat
and bring you safely home again.
Who strapped you into cockpit nest
and squeezed your shoulder for good luck,
And who waited through the endless hours for the thrill of seeing
You and our Lightning lady do the Victory Roll one more time!
Sure, there were times when you took her
But we understood. In fact, we were proud
to think that you trusted us both with your life.
Believe me, we were with you every second,
monitoring her heartbeat,
The steady scream of her superchargers,
the instant response of her controls.
And when you brought her back to us,
weary and sometimes wounded,
We gladly worked into the night to heal and make her fit to thunder
Once again into tomorrow’s dawn with you.
These things we did because we, too, loved
and were proud to share with you
Our incomparable Lady Lightning!
TO THE P-38 GROUND CREWS
By Tom McGuire
The fighter pilots got the medals, the acclaim, and the glory,
And nearly everyone agreed that their awards were just,
But the veteran Lightning pilots tell a grateful story
Whenever ground crew capability and dedication are discussed.
Just as a permanent building needs a solid, firm foundation,
A squadron needs the indispensable skilled ground crew:
Crew Chief, armorer, radioman, and their total dedication,
Without them, no plane or pilot zooms into the blue.
The ground crews’ day starts early, long hours before the dawn,
They work in cold, silent darkness, while pilots are asleep
Patiently, painstakingly, their pre-flight work goes on,
Pride in the craftsmanship and lofty standards they keep.
Who are these valiant men who keep the Lightnings flying?
Who worked their amazing wizardry “twixt dusk and dawn?”
Repairing battle damage with speed and skill most edifying,
So what limped in shot-up today, tomorrow was fit and gone.
Of U.S. fighters, the Lightning was biggest and most complex:
Single seater, but everything else was deluxe double:
Twin engines, propellers, turbos and carburetors would vex
The rookie mechanic, as he muttered “dammit, double trouble.”
In every theater they suffered: bitter Aleutian arctic cold,
Burning Tunisian sun and sand, New Guinea mosquitoes, steaming heat
English fog and chilling drizzle, Chinese mud, Burma mold,
Malaria, Dengue fever, malnutrition, the ills they had to meet.
These are the unsung heroes who kept the Lightnings flying
In every single theater of the war-torn seven seas.
They willingly worked in weather and bases most trying,
And they helped so much to bring the Axis to its knees.
So here’s a grateful toast to the gallant P-38 ground crews,
You skillful craftsmen who helped to win the war
Your work was so excellent, how could we lose?
You were the firm foundation of the Army Air Corps!