During the war, it was Albert Riffle’s job to bomb airfields, refineries and rail yards to cut off supplies to German forces.
His day started between 3 and 4 a.m. each day. After breakfast, an officer would brief him and the 10-man flight crew on that day’s targets, and by daybreak they were in the air. At noon, they would be over their targets, Riffle said.
“We were trying to stop Hitler from moving on,” Riffle said.
Riffle completed 33 flights as a gunner in a B-24 — a four-engine aircraft — with the 782nd Bomb Squadron of the 465th Bomb Group with the 15th Air Force.
Despite the size of the plane, the crew remained concerned of anti-aircraft guns far below on the ground, which could shoot them out of the sky. The plane was occasionally hit. After one flight, Riffle found a 2-inch piece of metal laying next to his seat, which he kept in a box.
Before he was drafted, Riffle had never been in a plane. When the Army Air Force asked for volunteers, he stepped up and was selected for gunnery school at age 18. As a “youngster” the prospect of getting to fly a plane was too tantalizing for him to turn down.
“Wouldn’t you take a shot at it?” Riffle asked.
— Samantha Hogan