Flying high: WWII veteran raises flag
At 6 feet, 3 inches tall, a 24-year-old Glenn Hill barely fit into his cramped, nose-gunner turret position during World War II B-24 bombing missions.
“Getting in there with a parachute was a real squeeze,” said the 92-year-old Fairfield resident last Saturday. “If I didn’t have someone pushing me into my seat, it was easier just not wearing one sometimes.”
Hill’s neighbors on North Main Street asked the Fairfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2271 to replace the veteran’s tattered, front porch flag. The VFW’s George Aplara, neighbors Linda Stallone and Jeanne and Ron Learn, and Hill’s wife Emma were on hand Saturday afternoon for the presentation.
The Hills were thrilled by it all.
Hill’s clear bubble perch on the nose of the B-24 was his post for 35 bombing missions over Germany during his time in the Mighty 8th Air Force. The planes would take off from Attlebridge, England. He set up the bomb racks, handled the bomb controls and was the nose gunner.
I stood in Hill’s living room and kept on asking questions that I should have asked my dad. He served with the Marines in the South Pacific.
There were once more than 16 million World War II veterans. They’re dying at a rate of about 1,000 daily. My dad died in January 2000. There are about 2 million left.
Ken Burns’ public television documentary, “The War,” in late 2010, was described as “a rush to capture the voices of a fading generation.” I was glued to my television set for the whole 14-hour series.
Listening to Glenn Hill Saturday was a treat. He described the scenery and destruction like the missions happened last week.
“There were some very rough ones,” he said. “Some of them I thought might be our last. I’d ask myself, ‘Why am I flying?’ Then the next morning you’d be back up and mad if you couldn’t go.”
Aplara and Ron Learn hoisted the new flag. Glenn Hill kept smiling.
Jeff Wilson is publisher of The Fairfield Ledger.