Grady Rozzell at age 19 was a B-17 pilot in the 401st Bomb Group operating out of Deenethorpe Army Air Base. On Friday, May 30, 1944, Grady and his crew made their first combat mission. Their target was an airplane factory in Oschersleben, Germany. Highlights from his diary tell this story. This is his first diary entry: "10:26 . . . Over to the left front, a patch of sky is literally filled with black crust; that’s flack, my first sight of the dreaded flack I’ve heard so much about. 11:30 . . . We’ve just been attacked by enemy fighters. Those babies came within a few hundred feet of our plane and not one of my gunners shot at the fighters. Too excited to do anything but gape—and gape they did. The fighters got the ship directly behind me. I looked back in time to see the big bird go into a vertical climb and spin-off on one wing. I saw two chutes pop and stretch out their lazy canopies. There’s eight more men in that plane. Off to the left and lower is a crippled B-17 trying to fight its way home. . . . There’s about five fighters making swift passes at the ship, trying to knock it down. They look like vultures gathering around, ready for the kill."
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