By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - It was a long road before "Vic" Duvic became a pilot with the 17th Bomber Group. But once he joined their ranks in North Africa, he would finally get to use his flight training.
"We flew to Sedrata, which was about 200 miles from the coast, away from the Mediterranean and we operated out of there. I think I flew my first mission June 5th or 6th, over Pantelleria, which was a small island off the coast of Tunesia."
Their job was to interfere with the supplies moving in to German troops.
"Then in November, we moved to an airfield closer to the Mediterranean, just south of Bizerte. It was obvious we had to invade Italy, but Sicily was here with German airfields, German bombers & fighters. So Sicily had to be taken before ground troops could go in Italy. So we were sent to an airfield inland Sicily to prevent airplanes using that as a base to attack the invasion."
But once the Germans caught wind of the plan they moved in and manned the artillery to protect the airfield.
"They spent the night at this airfield and they shot the hell out of us and that was incident that earned me that silver star."
His bombardier was hit by shrapnel.
"He did not say bombs away. His arm, his elbow had been shattered by a piece of shrapnel. And I was looking through this crawl space into his bomb bay and he took his hand and he had the button for the intercom and he took his hand, he showed it to me... blood trickled down. I could see he was incapacitated."
The man's artery had been severed.
"After we got away from the anti-aircraft fire, we got over the water, I crawled through this crawlspace and saved the boy's life."
Duvic would also go on to receive a purple heart, for a minor injury in a later mission. After he hit the so called "magic number" of 40 missions, he was able to return to the states. But Korea was right around the corner.
"I was at Keesler, of course they needed pilots badly. I was still in the reserves so they called me to active duty. I got to Korea. Colonel Alexander asked 'do you want to fly combat?' I said 'Hell no, I been shot at & hit,' so he made me the food service squadron commander which lasted a few months until he went home."
The new personnel officer put an end to that, and assigned him to a combat squadron. He hadn't flown in combat for some time. He felt unprepared and essentially trained in the field.
"We were flying at night primarily. And then I flew, I think 8 mission. By that time I finished my 21 months and so I got home."
He went back to the states in January 1953, becoming a longtime salesman and father of eight children.
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