Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who were your childhood heroes?

Who were your childhood heroes?

I had a few people that I idolized when I was a kid. From singers, to actors, to family members, to friends, there were people that were popular and I wanted to be just like them. Case in point, I seriously wanted to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Commando. Just watching him kill the bad guys and rescue the good guys made my day (as did Stallone, Norris, and others).

But all of these people were not really heroes to me. These were just people that were "cool" and I wanted them to be my friend. The real hero I idolized was my great uncle (as in he was my father's uncle), Uncle George.

Uncle George (Neil George Richards) served as the tail gunner on a B-24 that was shot down in September of 1944. The story I was always told was that he was shot down and got shot in the butt with a crossbow by a Russian woman. How much of this is true, I have no idea. But in September of 1944, he was indeed shot down over Russia. As their plane took fire from the ground, he bailed out over water:
My chute would not open at first but did just about the time I hit the water. Next thing I did was to get out of it and inflated my Mae West so I could stay afloat.
And he was "captured" by a woman, but there is no account of any shots fired (by crossbow or otherwise):

Just as I had reached the top of the cliff I was covered by an armed Russian guard which happened to be a girl. She pointed her gun at me and loaded it then hollered and three more girls came up. They had guns with bayonets on them which they also pointed at me.

Regardless of what happened and how the story was told, Uncle George was always a hero to me. He rarely spoke of his time in the war and only had a few modest displays of his mementos from the war.


Neil George Richards is on the far left

- 1409th AAF Base Unit, European Division Air Transport Command, Historical Record Report, Ball Project.
- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

No comments: