Sage - #32
Standing L-R: McMillan, Milton R. 'Red' (TG); Baie, Charles F. (BG); Lightstone, Harry L. (E/LWG); Eggers, Norman L. (RO/RWG); Birmingham, John J. (TT); Estabrooks, Ivan F. (NG)
Kneeling L-R: Johnson, Roy L. (CP) [KLOD]; Sage, Joseph H. (P); Dietrick, Paul A. (N); Colavito, James J. Jr. (B)
This comes from the family of Norm Eggers, Radio Operator:
The crew was assembled in Idaho near Boise. ("...got our wings & uniforms...") then went to Hammer Field. Later moved to Calif. for further training before being sent to Florida (Miami?) to be shipped out. Dad's crew was sent from Florida to Trinidad to Brazil to Africa (He remembers Marrakesh & Tunisia) before arriving in Italy and settling in at Torretta.
"Red" McMillan, the armorer, was the eldest crew member & was often referred to as "Pop".
Joe Sage was an excellent pilot who, according to Dad, seemed to be able to perform miracles. After being hit during one mission, the crew decided to bail out because they were certain the ship could not make it home. They landed in an open field, but Estabrook broke (or badly sprained) his leg in the jump. Dad was splinting the leg when "almost everyone from the town" (near where they landed) came out to the edge of the field frantically motioning for Dad and yelling "meanie, meanie, meanie". Dad, busy with Estabrooks leg, ignored them. It was a stroke of fortune because the people were trying to warn the crew that they had landed in a mine field and shouldn't move! They formed a line to the crew members to show the safe way out of the field and thus probably saved their lives. Ironically, Sage brought the plane back & landed safely. Shortly thereafter, they were again damaged during a mission, lost one engine and had electrical failure. Again the crew voted and decided to bail out because there was no way the ship would make it home. Sage told them they could jump if they wanted, but that he was going to fly back to base and save the plane.
That was enough for the crew - they stayed to ride it out & Joe Sage did it! Brought them home safe.
On another mission, Col. Glantzberg took over as pilot. After dropping their load and heading home, they were engaged by several ME-109's. The Col. at one point broke formation in pursuit of 3 fighters going after one of our ships. Dad (radioman) not realizing he was transmitting, turned to Harry Lightstone and said, "What does that crazy son-of-a-bitch think he's doing?! This is not a fighter!" It came back across the radio, "Don't worry about this crazy son-of-a-bitch, I'm not going to let them get one of MY ships." The Col. had heard every word.