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Interview with Wilford Keller Craig [1/25/2009]

Bobbie Ames:

This is Sunday, the 25th. We are taking W. K. Craig called "Kay." Glad to have him here. We are in Pasadena, Texas. I'm Bobbie Ames; I'm the interviewer and I'm interviewing Wilford Keller "Kay" Craig, a veteran of World War II. This interview is taken for the National Court Reporters Association to be filed with the Library of Congress for the Veterans History Project. How are you today, "Kay"?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I'm just fine. How are you?

Bobbie Ames:

Pretty good.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Fine.

Bobbie Ames:

Would you state your full name.

Wilford Keller Craig:

My name is Wilford Keller Craig.

Bobbie Ames:

And you go by "Kay"?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I've been "Kay Boy" for 85 years.

Bobbie Ames:

May I call you "Kay?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

That's fine.

Bobbie Ames:

When were you born, "Kay"?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was born August 21st, 1923 on a Gulf Platte B Lease in Southfield Eldorado, Arkansas.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Are you ready for your interview today?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. What did your daddy do for a living there in Eldorado?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Daddy was a cable tool driller for the Gulf Oil Company.

Bobbie Ames:

And your mother was a homemaker?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Homemaker for eight kids.

Bobbie Ames:

You had seven siblings?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

Where were you on Pearl Harbor Day?

Wilford Keller Craig:

You mean the day that Pearl Harbor blew?

Bobbie Ames:

Yes, sir.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was somewhere around Eldorado, I believe.

Bobbie Ames:

Had you graduated from high scool yet?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

You were in high school?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

You were in the last grade?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No. I was in about going into Juniors.

Bobbie Ames:

Going into your junior year?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Uh-huh.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you think when you heard about Pearl Harbor? Did you know where it was?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Partially. Partially knew where it was. And I thought, "Well, that's bad." I thought, Yeah, I'm going to tell you something. Roosevelt was sitting up there hating war. "I hate war; my wife, Eleanor, hates war; my son, James, hates war." And the Japs was over here trying to make some kind of a deal with him and about that time, they was over there blowing up Pearl Harbor.

Bobbie Ames:

I remember that. What did your daddy think?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Just about like I did. He never did think much of Roosevelt.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you have the feeling you couldn't wait until you graduated to join up?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I didn't never graduate.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

My friends and neighbors chose me. I was too mean to go to school; I went to work in the oil field. I worked for a pipeline contractor for awhile, and then, I got a job with Gulf Oil Corporation in the Pipeline Department.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that where you were working when Pearl Harbor happened?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, ma'am. I didn't go to work for them until '42.

Bobbie Ames:

What year did you quit school?

Wilford Keller Craig:

'41.

Bobbie Ames:

And you went straight to work in the oilfields?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

When did you join the Air Force?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I joined the Army.

Bobbie Ames:

Army Air Force.

Wilford Keller Craig:

My friends and neighbor chose me in January '43.

Bobbie Ames:

So you were drafted?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Drafted.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you think then?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I thought, "Well --" I mean I had tried to get in the Navy in the Seabees. And there I would have gone to New Orleans to have enlisted. And I said, "No, I'm not going to do that." I went back to work for the company and I was off a few days at Christmastime. And then, along in the early part of January, I was out laying out some connection for a pump at a tank farm down in Louisiana, and the clerk came out there with a telegram.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh. It came in the form of a telegram?

Wilford Keller Craig:

To him, yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did you report?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I reported to the draft board in Eldorado, Arkansas.

Bobbie Ames:

And where was your basic?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, my basic was at Panama City, Florida. No, no, no. I lost it again.

Bobbie Ames:

You'll think of it.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Down in Florida.

Bobbie Ames:

Orlando?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, no, no, no, no. Way down.

Bobbie Ames:

Miami?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Miami Beach, Florida.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you have any idea in what capacity you wanted to serve?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, when I went in -- when I was drafted in the Army, and they interviewed me, they looked on my little record and all my tests that I made, and he saw that I was an acetylene man and did a lot of acetylene welding and a lot of acetylene layout and cutting. That was my job; I was an acetylene...

Bobbie Ames:

Did you want to do that in the service?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, they said the Air Force could use some of those, is what they told me.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

The Air Force -- Air Corps, rather -- was part of the Army.

Bobbie Ames:

So you had further training in that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, when I went through the basic training at Miami, well, after just a few days -- well, I wasn't in there but about 18 days, and after that, they called me in and said, "You are scheduled to go to welding school."

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

But, said, "Welding school was full and it would be six weeks before another class starts" and said, "We need some mechanics and you've had a very high mechanical aptitude score."

Bobbie Ames:

Did you go to mechanic school?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They said, "Would you consider going to mechanic school?" And I said yes.

Bobbie Ames:

So did you go?

Wilford Keller Craig:

So I went to mechanic school. I was sent to Shephard Field, Wichita Falls, Texas.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And when did you ship out and where from?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I shipped out from West Palm Beach, Florida which was the last place we stayed before we left to go overseas.

Bobbie Ames:

On a B-24?

Wilford Keller Craig:

B-24.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that the same B-24 you served with or was it a different one?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The first one, that was the first one I served with.

Bobbie Ames:

And you actually went on missions on that one?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes. Five missions on that one.

Bobbie Ames:

How many total missions did you go on?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Thirteen.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Where did you go when you landed from West Palm Beach?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went to -- well, you want the places I stopped?

Bobbie Ames:

No.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I went to England, to Valley Wales, England so I landed in England, but my air base was at North Pickenham, England.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And the trip over, how was it, uneventful?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Pretty much so. We worked on the airplane all the way over. Every time we stopped, we was trying to adjust all the linkage on that new engine and make it work so all four props would be just right for the pilot.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it a brand new plane?

Wilford Keller Craig:

A brand new plane.

Bobbie Ames:

What was the pilot's name?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Bill Prewitte.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Lieutenant "Bill" Prewitte.

Bobbie Ames:

How many men on your crew?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Ten.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that your permanent crew or did you change around?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Permanent crew.

Bobbie Ames:

How about the chow on the way over; was it a combination of C-rations, and then, when you landed, food there?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No. We didn't eat the C-rations; we eat when we landed. They usually had pretty good food. We had excellent food in Trinidad and Brazil. And it wasn't the best over in Dakar, Africa but it was fast.

Bobbie Ames:

Who cooked that food?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The ground personnel that was there.

Bobbie Ames:

Were their bases like fuel bases?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, there was air bases there.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Of a sort, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Pretty good food, huh?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Pretty good food.

Bobbie Ames:

And going over, how did you sit on the plane?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, I --

Bobbie Ames:

Did they have regular seats for you to sit in, or did you sit in your nose gunner seat or what?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, yeah, you have to sit in a seat somewhere. Part of the time I got up on top of the wing because the wing came through over the bomb bay, and I got up there and took me a nap and slept up on top of the wing.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, that's interesting.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah. But, there was some places you could sit. You could sit on the floor back in the waist section or up on the flight deck or up in the nose compartment, there was places you could just sit down on the floor.

Bobbie Ames:

But, there were no regular seats for you all to sit in?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Not a whole lot of regular seats on there.

Bobbie Ames:

And you wouldn't utilize the nose gunner's position in non combat situations.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Not necessarily.

Bobbie Ames:

No. Had you ever flow before you entered the Army Air Force?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Never been in a plane before that.

Bobbie Ames:

Had you ever been on a train?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I went on the train when I was drafted. The first trip we made to Little Rock, for examination we went up on the bus.

Bobbie Ames:

A bus and a train and a plane?

Wilford Keller Craig:

And when we got up to Little Rock, and they examined me and we passed, and then, they sent us back home.

Bobbie Ames:

That's all right. I was just asking --

Wilford Keller Craig:

And then, when we went back, I rode a train. That's the first time I rode a train.

Bobbie Ames:

Listen real carefully to my questions and just answer what I'm asking you.

Wilford Keller Craig:

All righty.

Bobbie Ames:

And then, if it's something real important, make me listen, you know. But, the details I will spend four days up there typing it up, if you don't.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Okay.

Bobbie Ames:

Nobody cares about you know going back to there.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Okay.

Bobbie Ames:

I know it was great and we appreciate you, but we are going to get the highlights of this.

Wilford Keller Craig:

All right.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. How did you like England?

Wilford Keller Craig:

It was different. It was quite different there. I liked it all right, but they didn't like me.

Bobbie Ames:

They didn't like you why?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They told me so.

Bobbie Ames:

They did?

Wilford Keller Craig:

One day, the first pass we got after we had flown a few missions, well, they gave us a 72-hour pass. Part of the crew went to London and my good friend who I had buddied up with before we ever started flying, we wound up on the same crew. We had gone to mechanic school, gunnery school together and then, we wound up on the same --

Bobbie Ames:

Why didn't they like you? They didn't like your friend either?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We were up on a pass up to -- right out of North Bingham, in a little town up there. And we had had a few snorts and was walking down the sidewalk, my friend and I, and was trying to get back to the room. And you had to get back in before a certain time or you couldn't get in. We run on to an Englishman and he said, "Hey Yank, why don't you get this bloody war over with and go on home?" He said, "We don't want you over here in the first place." And said, "We would just rather you wasn't over here." And it was bam, bam, I hit him and he hit the concrete.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And we run like hell to get to our room.

Bobbie Ames:

When was your first mission out of England?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The first mission was the 12th day of May, 1944.

Bobbie Ames:

And where were you headed?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went to -- our first mission was to --

Wilford Keller Craig:

To Germany.

Bobbie Ames:

And were other planes along with you?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

How many do you think?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, probably about forty-five or fifty of our group.

Bobbie Ames:

My goodness. What do you call the group of 45 or 50 planes?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, our squadron made up of -- well, our group had 72 planes in it and it was four squadrons.

Bobbie Ames:

So, when a group like that 45 or 50 head out, what's that called, just a grouping of planes?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, I know there were so many echelons you have. Like we have about four echelons with so many in each echelon planes.

Bobbie Ames:

But, the grouping doesn't have a name like a bunch of us went, four squadrons went?

Wilford Keller Craig:

492nd. Well, 856, 57, 58, 59 squadron. Each one of them had so many planes up in there.

Bobbie Ames:

And all B-24's?

Wilford Keller Craig:

All B-24's.

Bobbie Ames:

And a lot of them new?

Wilford Keller Craig:

All new.

Bobbie Ames:

All of them had permanent crews?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Had permanent crews, yes.

Bobbie Ames:

And you flew to Germany. What were you looking for?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went to an airplane factory.

Bobbie Ames:

"A" airplane factory?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

What were your main targets on all of your missions; munitions depots?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No. Refineries, airplane factories, air bases, bases where they shot them V-2 rockets off towards London.

Bobbie Ames:

"V-2"?

Wilford Keller Craig:

V-2 rockets.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

V-1 rockets; I'm sorry. Buzz bombs.

Bobbie Ames:

And was that your only target this trip?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Different trips.

Bobbie Ames:

No, this first trip I'm talking about.

Wilford Keller Craig:

The first trip we just went to one airplane factory.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, it didn't take 45 planes to destroy one factory, did it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, they destroyed everything when they dropped all of them bombs down there.

Bobbie Ames:

Must have been a large place?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

A very large place.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you run into any opposition, any German fighter planes?

Wilford Keller Craig:

There was few fighter planes saw, but we never did see them. Some of the escorts that was with us, said they saw some German fighters. But, we saw very little flak; we thought this was going to be a "gravy train."

Bobbie Ames:

So, an escort is a fighter plane?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Fighter planes, yes.

Bobbie Ames:

One of ours is called a P-38?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, we had P-38's, P-47's and P-51's.

Bobbie Ames:

How many do you think?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, you usually had about six or eight of them with you most of the time.

Bobbie Ames:

So on every mission, you had some of our fighter planes escorting you?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Escorting.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did they stay, up above, below, all around?

Wilford Keller Craig:

All around or up above or different places.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. That's interesting.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Then they flew all the way there with you and all the way back?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, the P-38's could go far, and then, they had to go back. P-47's could go a little bit further. And they had to return.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

But, a P-51 could go with us as far as we could go and stay 15 minutes and they had to go back, and another squadron of them would come up as escort.

Bobbie Ames:

Where would they come from?

Wilford Keller Craig:

England -- I mean fighter bases somewhere in England.

Bobbie Ames:

Yes. Closer to where your target was?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No. Closer to where our air base was.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, if the P-51's had to go back after 15 minutes, the new ones would also, wouldn't they?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The new ones would be there for about 15 minutes.

Bobbie Ames:

So just 15 minutes per --

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, they could stay with us for about 15 minutes and if we were 800 miles away from our base.

Bobbie Ames:

Isn't that something?

Bobbie Ames:

And they escorted you back or did the target take longer than 30 minutes?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, the target didn't take long. When you got over the target, you dropped your bombs and you headed back.

Bobbie Ames:

What size bombs?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We had different bombs, anywhere from 250 pounds to 2,000 pounds.

Bobbie Ames:

How many do you think different?

Wilford Keller Craig:

It's according to how many, or whatever you were carrying. You could carry probably -- on a B-24, you had two bomb bays and you could carry about eight 2,000 pound bombs; you could carry about 16 1,000 pound bombs. And 24 more of 500 pounds, and then, on down to 250 pounds, you could carry a whole bunch of those. I don't know exactly how many but quite a few.

Bobbie Ames:

So all the 45 or 50 made it back, no problem?

Wilford Keller Craig:

On the first mission, yes, no problem.

Bobbie Ames:

Were all your missions pretty much Germany or elsewhere?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Germany and France. We bombed some in France.

Bobbie Ames:

Was France further?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, France was nearer.

Bobbie Ames:

Good. Did you ever -- was your usual grouping 45 or 50 or smaller sometimes or larger sometimes?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Sometimes they would be 500 of them.

Bobbie Ames:

Really? That's impressive.

Wilford Keller Craig:

But, it would be several different bomb groups together.

Bobbie Ames:

I'll bet you that made a roar.

Wilford Keller Craig:

It made a roar. A lot of times when you would be heading into the coast and you'd see a bunch up ahead of you and then, when they went over the coast, you could see some of them going down because antiaircraft had done knocked them down.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. Did you experience any antiaircraft on that first mission?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The first mission anti aircraft flak, it was there, but, very little and I don't think any plane was damaged any whatsoever on that first mission.

Bobbie Ames:

That was a good start, huh?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We thought it was, you know, going to be easy.

Bobbie Ames:

Any of your friends get shot down from anti aircraft?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We did.

Bobbie Ames:

You did. Which mission was that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

On our fifth mission.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And where were you going?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went to Stefpeen, (ph) Germany, up on the Baltic Sea. An oil refinery.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

A Polish oil refinery.

Bobbie Ames:

Did all of your crew survive?

Wilford Keller Craig:

All of our crew -- no, no. We was badly damaged, I'll put it this way. Our plane was badly damaged. No. 4 engine was shot out. We went right by Sweden and we didn't know if we could go into Sweden. We knew we could go into Sweden but we thought we would be interned for the duration of the war. And my pilot was eager; he wanted to fly combat. He had been a personal pilot for an Inspector General, and he volunteered for combat. So, he said, "No, let's try to get back to England." So, here we were 700 miles away from our base, kind of limping along on three engines, and we tried to transfer all the gasoline out of the No. 4 tank to our other tanks and we lost it; we didn't get any of it back.

Bobbie Ames:

I didn't know that; you can transfer it from one tank to another?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Whose job is that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, engineers. And I was an engineer-gunner; I wasn't a head engineer; I was second engineer.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, that's a heart breaker. What did you mean by you were afraid you would be interned in Sweden?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, Sweden was a -- they were a few country; they wasn't --

Wilford Keller Craig:

-- they was a neutral country. And you could land there in Sweden, but you would be interned for the duration. But, we didn't know it at the time, but they would get them out of there in a free months; they'd go back at night with a sub and pick them up, and get the crews out of there.

Bobbie Ames:

Our forces?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Air Force crews.

Bobbie Ames:

And so, they were interning the Germans, too, not just the Americans?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, just Americans. They didn't intern Germans. They wouldn't fool with them Germans.

Bobbie Ames:

That doesn't seem fair if they are neutral. I know you couldn't land in Switzerland; somebody told me that last week.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, you could bail out in Switzerland.

Bobbie Ames:

So your crew bailed out?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, we was headed back towards England.

Bobbie Ames:

Right.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Let me give you the dope. It's just a little short. We had a trailing antenna on the plane that went out about 200 feet and had a little winch on there, and let that thing out. All of that was shot out, the whole bottom of the plane was tore up right in there where it was.

Bobbie Ames:

What was its purpose?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The purpose is to give you longer range where your radio wasn't near, communications.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And so the radio operator kept sending an SOS and position reports, but he wasn't getting anything back, because all he had was just a little short fixed antenna from the radio compartment up to the vertical stabilizer. And he had it souped up as much as he could, then. He kept giving position reports. We threw everything away; we threw all -- I threw all my ammunition away, my 250 caliber machine guns.

Bobbie Ames:

To lighten the plane?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Anything we could throw out, we threw out. All of our machine guns were thrown out. We tried to drop the ball turret; we couldn't get it out.

Bobbie Ames:

How much does it weigh?

Wilford Keller Craig:

A considerable amount; it's a great big turret.

Bobbie Ames:

Like a ton?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Probably less than a ton, maybe a thousand pounds or something.

Bobbie Ames:

Frustrating as the devil, huh?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah. And we worked as hard as we could trying to lighten the load. And so, we were going out over the North Sea on the way back to England, and the radio operator kept sending position reports and wasn't getting anything back. And we wasn't supposed to use the UHF frequency. That was for the fighter planes, but some bomber crew was on there and he just kept jamming it. So, "Hoss" finally caught it when there wasn't anybody on it and he jumped on the UHF, and he told them -- give them a position report and this, that and the other. They said, "We know where you are; we know exactly where you are; you are right over our sea rescue boat." So we just put our little parachutes on and bailed out over the air sea rescue boat.

Bobbie Ames:

What was that other person talking about on the channel?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They were just having problems, too, just like we were.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And using the channel they wasn't supposed to use.

Bobbie Ames:

So all ten men bailed out?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Nine.

Bobbie Ames:

What happened to the tenth?

Wilford Keller Craig:

He stayed on the plane.

Bobbie Ames:

Who was that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The bombardier stayed on the plane. Eight of us bailed out, and I was the last one to go out of the waist. And the bombardier flew as waist gunner. Now he was supposed to have been the nose turret, but I flew as nose turret because he couldn't do it. He was on communication with the pilot. And when I went out, he said -- he said, "Okay, 'Bill,' I'm going now; they are all out back here." He says, "Hold on, 'Hank'." His name was "Hank." Henry Miller and we called him "Hank." And so "Bill" said, "Well, I'm going to turn around." He said, "We're too far from that --"

Bobbie Ames:

Rescue boat?

Wilford Keller Craig:

-- "rescue boat" and said, "I'm going to turn around and fly back over it, and we'll bail out."

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

When "Bill" got back, he lost another engine when he turned around.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

When he got back over the boat, well, he bailed out. And he said, "Okay, 'Hank." "Hank" said, "Okay; I'm going." And "Bill" bailed out. And that water was some kind of cold. You wasn't supposed to live in there probably about 30 minutes or so. So, anyhow, we lived in there longer than that, but, when I was picked up -- just before he was -- and I was so weak I couldn't even climb the net over the side of the boat. They had to reach down there and pull me on board.

Bobbie Ames:

Do you think that he bailed out?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I don't think he bailed out, because he had told me that his mother told him when he went in the service, said, "You won't get killed in the service; you are going to drown when you die."

Bobbie Ames:

Oh Lord!

Wilford Keller Craig:

And I'm assuming -- I think I was the only one he ever told that to, and I'm assuming that he probably looked out there and saw all that water and said, "Oh, me."

Bobbie Ames:

She did him a real big favor?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Did him a real big favor. Well, maybe a better favor than that, because the man that replaced him and the man further along in my story replaced them both later on I'll tell you.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. What happened on the rescue boat?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, we were picked up, and we went down below and got out of all of our wet clothes and everything. And they put a nice pair of wool slacks on us and a white sweater that was about a half inch thick, and I would have loved to have kept that thing, but when we got back to the British Naval Base in England, they said, "Okay. Here is your uniform; you've got to turn that stuff back over." I said, "Oh, I want to keep that sweater." "No, no, no, you're not keeping that. That goes on back on the rescue boat.

Bobbie Ames:

You had a Maye "Vest" on in the water.

Wilford Keller Craig:

In a Maye "West." It's a Maye West.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, they are calling it a Maye vest in this. (Indicating)

Wilford Keller Craig:

That's what he called it, but we called it a Maye West.

Bobbie Ames:

Sure, sure.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Because when you inflated it, thus, Maye West.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah. I'm glad you survived. How long did it take you to start feeling better, "Kay?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

From that?

Bobbie Ames:

No. On that boat, on that rescue boat.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, well.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you have hypothermia?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I'm sure I had a certain amount. But, we went down below and they give us a few shots of "inside overcoat." That's Scotch.

Bobbie Ames:

That's cute.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I told somebody, I said, "Two fingers full." Like your little finger and your index finger.

Bobbie Ames:

So you started feeling better right away, huh?

Wilford Keller Craig:

And then, we ate some little cans of soup that had a fusey sort of thing in it. And they would light that thing and it just said "whoosh" and you had a hot can of soup that quick.

Bobbie Ames:

That's good.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And we drank a couple of cans of some kind of tomato or some kind of soup.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it too hot, though?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, just right.

Bobbie Ames:

Just right. Well, thank you, whoever invented that.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, ma'am.

Bobbie Ames:

All right.

Wilford Keller Craig:

It was great. But, when we got back to Great Yarmouth Naval Base, well, we stayed there a couple of days and we were in the officer's quarters kind of, and they had tea every so often, and they had Scotch if you wanted it at certain times of day.

Bobbie Ames:

How long were you -- but, you didn't get hurt?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No one was hurt.

Bobbie Ames:

But you got to fly again in how many weeks or months?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, that was the 29th day of May in '44 when that happened, on our fifth mission.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went back to flying -- When we got back to our base, they sent us to R&R and we were there about a week and had an enjoyable time.

Bobbie Ames:

In London?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No. We went to Redding, England.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And what did you do there?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We just rode bicycles around; we swam in that nasty river.

Bobbie Ames:

What river was that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Thames River. We were right on the river.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We were in a big country mansion.

Bobbie Ames:

All the guys together?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Our crew together.

Bobbie Ames:

You all stayed together.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Together. And we --

Bobbie Ames:

And you really missed your two buddies, didn't you?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, one buddy. Just them. All six of the enlisted men were there. The officers went to another place. That was for enlisted personnel there.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And the three officers that were left went to another place.

Bobbie Ames:

So you lost one officer and one enlisted man?

Wilford Keller Craig:

One officer then; that's all, on that crew.

Bobbie Ames:

How was it in Redding?

Wilford Keller Craig:

It was great. They just fed us fine. And a butler came in every morning with some tea and some coffee.

Bobbie Ames:

In a big house?

Wilford Keller Craig:

In a monstrous of a house.

Bobbie Ames:

Who owned it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I don't know who owned it for sure.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, that's so nice.

Wilford Keller Craig:

They called it a -- I think it had been a big horse ranch, I forget. They called it The Stud or called it something like that. But, it was a mansion, I mean a great big thirty-something room home.

Bobbie Ames:

So the British there treated you good; you didn't have to sock anybody down?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes. The Red Cross people was there more or less.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

A lot of our people was there.

Bobbie Ames:

So you started flying again in how many weeks?

Wilford Keller Craig:

After we went back -- we went back through London, and the first time I had been to London, and we went on back to the base. And then, our next mission -- I don't know exactly, but it wasn't too many days after we got back to our air base. They give us another airplane.

Bobbie Ames:

What's the name of that base again?

Wilford Keller Craig:

It's North Pickenham.

Bobbie Ames:

Yes, I got that. You got two new crew members.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, at that time, we got one. We had only lost one man at that time.

Bobbie Ames:

I thought you said you lost an officer and an enlisted man.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, after I got hit, that was later on.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We had only lost one person on that when we bailed out.

Bobbie Ames:

And that's the waist gunner?

Wilford Keller Craig:

He flew at waist gunner, but he was a bombardier officer.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And the new guy's name, do you remember it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The new guy came, and then, they sent him on to Navigator School.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. He didn't last long.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We flew it -- he might have flown one mission with us.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did you go on that mission? Do you remember the first, or the second time around?

Wilford Keller Craig:

With him?

Bobbie Ames:

No, your first mission after being in the drink.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Probably to one of them buzz bomb launching places in France. Then, we went to Tours, France on another mission.

Bobbie Ames:

That buzz bomb, is that the same thing as that fragment bomb that breaks apart?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Somewhat, yes.

Bobbie Ames:

So they were launching buzz bombs from someplace?

Wilford Keller Craig:

France. And they would launch them about every fifteen minutes.

Bobbie Ames:

Toward what targets?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Towards London.

Bobbie Ames:

Really?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They had about a thousand-pound bomb or two-thousand pound bomb with a wing on it and a little jet engine on it, and they would have just enough fuel on it to get to London. And it would run out of fuel, and as long as it was buzzing, you knew it was going on, but, when it started saying "ut, ut, ut, ut, ut," it was coming down.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you ever see one of them land or be close to it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was close to one. We went on our next -- well, we went back to that same place that we got so much flak that we had to go down. We went back to Stefpeen, (ph) Germany on our -- on the 20th of June. We went back up there. The fighters was so heavy that day, we lost one whole squadron.

Bobbie Ames:

My goodness. How many is that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We lost 16 of our planes on that one mission.

Bobbie Ames:

Wow! My goodness.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went on back. We didn't have any damage. I mean, our plane didn't. We made it back. But, right after that, we went on a leave to London.

Bobbie Ames:

Because of the sadness or trauma?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, well, we just had a little time off, you know.

Bobbie Ames:

Who invented these buzz bombs, the Germans?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The Germans. It was German buzz bombs.

Bobbie Ames:

And they didn't care if they targeted a school, a hospital, just as long as --

Wilford Keller Craig:

They didn't care just as long as it fell. They didn't care where it fell.

Bobbie Ames:

Terrible.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And so, but, when we were in London, we were staying at the Picadilly Hotel. And the pilot and the navigator, they were somewhere else, but, the co-pilot and the rest of the crew, the enlisted personnel was there at the Picadilly Hotel. And one of them buzz bombs come over and it hit somewhere not far from the hotel and the whole hotel jarred. The British said, "They are not bad; they are just harassing." So, Lieutenant Clary and I went down -- that's the co-pilot -- we went down to see where the harrassing was, and it just took out everything on both sides of the street for a block, so, that was "a little bit harrassing." So he said, "Let's get out of London." So, we went back to the hotel and --

Bobbie Ames:

Was that during the day or at night?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, this was the next morning after that.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, it was bound to kill people.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I'm sure it did; I'm sure it did.

Bobbie Ames:

What would you think a buzz bomb was equal to in poundage to one of our regular bombs?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, they were -- a buzz bomb, I understand, has about 2,000-pound bombs.

Bobbie Ames:

Really?

Wilford Keller Craig:

What we were told is it had that much, and it could have had a thousand. Who knows for sure.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you get out of London?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went down to the depot; we gathered up the rest of the crew of enlisted personnel, and the pilot and navigator was off somewhere else in London with some chicks. And so, we went down to the depot to catch a train to head back to Norwich, or "Norridge" is what we call it; but they called it "Norwich."

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And while we were there waiting on the train, well, there was a Lieutenant Colonel standing there. And I said something to Elmer about it. Elmer was the co-pilot then. And I said, "Who is that? Who is that fellow?" And he said, "Well, that's James Stewart."

Bobbie Ames:

Yes.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I said, "Who in the world is James Stewart?" He said, "Well, he's a Hollywood actor." He said, "You don't know him?" I said, "A country boy like me from Arkansas?" I said, "I know about 'Buck" Jones and all them cowboys, but, I don't know about them love pictures."

Bobbie Ames:

Did you talk with him?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I didn't talk to him. He just stood there kind of off by his self, and none of us ever said a word to him.

Bobbie Ames:

I took someone else who ran into him. He plays the piano beautifully. And my videographer was a pilot in the Second World War, and he ran into him at a party, and he was playing any song anybody asked. They said, "He was one of the nicest guys in the whole world." He's my daughter's favorite.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, come to find out he was the second in command of the 8th Division, which we were part of. He was one of our commanding officers. He wasn't at our air base, but he was in the Second Division, which we were a part of the Second Division.

Bobbie Ames:

So you got a new guy to replace the guy who wound up in Navigator School?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, no. We flew with a nine-man crew.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh! How long?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Until I got hit.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And where was that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I got hit on our 13th mission the 27th of June of '44. Creil, France.

Bobbie Ames:

Creil, France?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Creil, France. That's right north of Paris. The French underground had got word to the Allies that the Germans had a trainload of V-2 rockets, and they were rockets stored in a tunnel -- in a Martialling Yard at Creil, France.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind of yard?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Martialling Yard. You know, where all the trains was. They had some on a train in a tunnel.

Bobbie Ames:

Were you shot by anti aircraft?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Anti aircraft. But, the day was really soupy and probably was waiting to go. They kept delaying it and delaying our mission. And while I was out there, it was just so foggy you couldn't see anything. And it's just like somebody was standing behind me and said, "Flak at 12:00 o'clock." We finally took off in the soup and came out at 25,000 feet and gathered up 21 planes. Some of them ours, some PFL ships, which was pathfinder frequency ships. We went over to Creil and we were going down a railroad track and we had 250-pound armor-piercing bombs with no nose fuse and a 30-second delayed action tail fuse.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind of fuse, the first one?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The first one didn't have a nose fuse. It was supposed to be a fuse in the front and a fuse in the back.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

There wasn't a nose fuse on them, and the back fuse was set at 30 seconds. So, they would go down and penetrate in the ground, or, somewhere and then, they would blow up. That way maybe we could knock the tunnel out or wherever.

Bobbie Ames:

Right.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Just as I dropped the bombs, I don't know whether it was before or after, what I would do I would toggle the bombs out. I had a toggle switch in my turret. And I would just say, "Okay." "Ed" Grooms was the navigator and he would go back there and the control panel over there would show that the bombs, as it went out -- as the lights went out on the little panel, well, he would say, "Bombs away."

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. He would say "Bombs away?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

He would say, "Bombs away." About that time a burst of flak hit right out in front of the plane, just like something had told me. And a piece came through there, through the bottom of the turret and hit me in the left leg right above -- a little bit above the ankle and just tore it half off, crushed both bones.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

I tried to get out of the turret and we had a hydraulic-operating turret and I turned the valve off and everything and locked my turret, opened my doors and Grooms opened the door going back into the navigator's compartment. And there is two big rings up here and I got ahold of them, and I was trying to pull out of there, and I couldn't pull out. And he went up over my shoulder and went down in the turret head first and got my foot out from under my little bench that I sat on in the turret. And it was so cold in that turret, the wind coming in there, and cracks in the front and around the back doors, and I had like that jacket I have on over there (indicating) --

Bobbie Ames:

It's beautiful.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And I had that over my heated suit and I took the element out of my gabardine jacket and put that in. I had that on. So, he got me out of there and got me down there and it was bleeding so bad, well, he took off and went up on the flight deck where the pilot and co-pilot was. The radio operator came down and he said he had had some first aid training. We had a little packet on our parachute horn and it had a tourniquet in there and had some sulphur powder and a bandage. And a little morphine styrette. So, we put the tourniquet around my thigh over all of that heated blanket is what it amounted to about like an electric blanket. So, all of my suit was shorted out because it just tore up down there where my leg was hurt. And so, I was lying there and just bleeding bad and where we put the tourniquet on on the thigh, he put some sulphur powder in it, and got the morphine styrette out and gave me a shot.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it enough to knock you out?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, it didn't knock me out. I was hurting. I was in shock so I didn't even know I was hurting anyhow.

Bobbie Ames:

Did they turn around and head back?

Wilford Keller Craig:

As soon as we -- Well, we were on our way back then. We had dropped the bombs --

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

-- and we was headed back then. And we stayed with the formation until we got to the French coast, and "Bill" put that thing in a glide, and we went across the English Channel at red line, it was red line at 212. And I could see the speed limit thing up there in the bombardier's --

Bobbie Ames:

To try to get you help?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They got me across there as quick as they could get me, and we came across about as fast as a B-24 ever flew across the English Channel.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We landed at the first air base we came to, which was the 47th Fighter Base. And they put me in a tent -- well, when they drug me out of that plane, that's when I asked the boys that pulled me out of there, I said, "When can I fly again?" They said, "Oh, about six months." Six months nothing. 45 months later I finally got out of the hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

Where?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I got out of Battle Creek, Michigan, the last hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

An Army hospital?

Wilford Keller Craig:

An Army hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, the last time.

Bobbie Ames:

So, when Prewitte veered off from the other planes, they were going the same place you were, but just slower?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The other planes went to our regular air base, which was up in the northern part of England.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And you went to --

Wilford Keller Craig:

We landed at the first air base we came to after we got to England.

Bobbie Ames:

47th Fighter Base.

Wilford Keller Craig:

It was the 47th Fighter Base.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you get good care there?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, the flight surgeon put me in a tent and they were all packed up; they were going to move to France. They was the first fighter group that was going to move over to France. And he put me in a tent and started giving me plasma. And he gave me nine units of plasma.

Bobbie Ames:

So you got good care there?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Good care.

Bobbie Ames:

When did they ship you out toward home?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, the next day after that, they sent me to a field hospital. And that's -- well, on the way to the field hospital, that's when the ambulance driver was admiring my jacket, and he asked me where he could get one, and I said, "Well, they told me I could fly again in about six months." And I just peeled my jacket off and give it to him.

Bobbie Ames:

You were more generous than I would have been.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And 62 years later, I finally bought one just like it.

Bobbie Ames:

Where did you get it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I ordered it from Cooper, the manufacturer that manufactures them for the Air Force.

Bobbie Ames:

It's beautiful.

Wilford Keller Craig:

It is a toot flight jacket.

Bobbie Ames:

I bought one for my son-in-law the first couple of years they were married, and it was like $500.00, you know.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah. Well, my daughter and them had bought me a jacket, and it wasn't an A-2 jacket. It was a nice jacket but it was always a little tight. But, anyhow, I'll tell you about that later. But, anyhow, when I got to that field hospital, they put me to sleep, and when I woke up, the nurse said, "I know more about you than you know about yourself, because they had put me to sleep with sodium pentothal.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, my goodness.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Which was a truth ....

Bobbie Ames:

I know, I know. Where were you?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was at a field hospital somewhere between the Coast and London. I was right on the path of those buzz bombs coming over there.

Bobbie Ames:

My goodness. How long did it take to stabilize you so you could get home and get really good care?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I spent three months in England, two different general hospitals.

Bobbie Ames:

Really.

Wilford Keller Craig:

They took me from the field hospital that I spent one night in and those buzz bombs come over there and they would ack, ack at them, and I was so nervous I didn't know who I was.

Bobbie Ames:

Because of the buzz bombs or your leg?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, the buzz bombs mostly. The ack, ack would come over pretty often and they was shooting at them, and that stuff falling back down and I needed...

Bobbie Ames:

Can they shoot them out of the air?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, they did some of them, and the planes could -- the fighter planes could knock them down too.

Bobbie Ames:

Very good, very interesting.

Wilford Keller Craig:

But, they --

Bobbie Ames:

What on the land would shoot them down, anti aircraft?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Anti aircraft, different anti aircraft guns.

Bobbie Ames:

Not a very good success rate, but at least they were trying.

Wilford Keller Craig:

They were trying. They were trying and I'm sure they got a lot of them.

Bobbie Ames:

So you got good care in England?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, from there I went to Oxford, England to the 92nd General Hospital, or maybe it was the 98th, I don't know; one or the other. And I was there a short while and that's when the doctor came in and decided that that leg wasn't going to work. And he mashed my toes and they turned white and they would just stay white. And he said, "It looks like we are going to have to take it off. Do you want it above the knee or below the knee?"

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, my goodness.

Wilford Keller Craig:

He said, "We can give you a good stump above the knee or below the knee." And I said, "Sir, if you are going to cut my leg off," -- I put my finger up here by my throat, and he said, "What do you mean, soldier?" I said, "Just cut my throat and be done with it."

Bobbie Ames:

He was an orthopedic surgeon?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, he was the head surgeon there at the hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

Young or what?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Older man.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

Probably on up maybe. And he said, "What do you mean, soldier?" I said, "Well, just cut my throat and be done with it." So they started giving me sympathetic nerve blocks. And just turned that blood loose and let it rush down to my lower extremities, and they would mash my toenails down and it turned white and turned back red.

Bobbie Ames:

So you were there three months in England?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was there a short while, and then, they sent me to Glouster, England.

Bobbie Ames:

I mean, just total so we can move on.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes. And I was down there a couple of months or longer.

Bobbie Ames:

So you got good care?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Good care.

Bobbie Ames:

Once you told the guy "Don't try it."

Wilford Keller Craig:

"Don't try it" yes. I got quite a bit of treatment, and then, they shipped us up to Scotland and put us on THE QUEEN MARY.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

And we came out on THE QUEEN MARY and escorted out for awhile, and then, they would change course every five minutes. They'd zig to the right, and then, they would zig back to the left and zig to the right. We zig zagged across the ocean. We left Scotland on the 3rd of October of '44; we landed in New York on the 8th of October of '44.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it considered a troop ship, modified troop ship or hospital ship?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, it was a troop ship, but they had part of it set aside like for -- we were in some bunks and they considered that a hospital ship.

Bobbie Ames:

Were you in a bunk with your leg hurt?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes. I couldn't -- I just sat right there; I didn't go anywhere.

Bobbie Ames:

They didn't have a hospital bed better than that for you?

Wilford Keller Craig:

It wasn't a hospital bed by any means; it was just a bunk.

Bobbie Ames:

A bunk in a hospital section?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

How many men do you think were in the hospital section?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, I don't know for sure. There was several in the section I was in. About eight or ten in there or more.

Bobbie Ames:

Were there more than one section?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I'm sure there was.

Bobbie Ames:

By a "bunk," what do you mean?

Wilford Keller Craig:

A small bed.

Bobbie Ames:

Attached to the fuselage or separate?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Maybe to the wall or just kind of, you know -- just kind of -- it wasn't like a twin bed; it was smaller than a twin bed.

Bobbie Ames:

Was it comfortable?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, you didn't care if it was comfortable or not; you was headed home.

Bobbie Ames:

Did they give you pain medicine all the way home?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, they give me pain medicine and probably at that time I was taking penicillin and about eight shots.

Bobbie Ames:

How many men were in the ward you were in?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I'd say about eight.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Could you sit up ever?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I doubt it. We never sat up much, more or less just laid there in that sack all the time.

Bobbie Ames:

I'll bet that got old, didn't it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, it got old and kept getting older. It was like years went by.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you get bed sores or anything?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Not then, no.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. I love THE QUEEN MARY. My daughters and I went on THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II to where my husband -- he was in the invasion of Normandy. He was a paratrooper. I wanted to see it, you know, Cherbourg. And we got off in Cherbourg instead of England.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

I love those old ships. Now they have 3,000 people on them.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

It loses something. So when you landed, where did you land?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We landed in New York.

Bobbie Ames:

And how did you get to Michigan? What was the first hospital you went to?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The first hospital I went to was over in Staten Island, New York, and I was just there a short while. When I got there, they put me out on a platform out of the ambulance, and there I was kind of on the gurney, and there was a bunch of German PW's working around there. And two of them walked up there to me, and whoever was in charge told them to pick me up and put me in there and "Yam, yam, yam, yam." And I had on that 8th Air Force shirt with an 8th Air Force insignia on it. At that time, we was the only people who had been to Germany much, and they were jabbering back and forth, and I hollered at the man in charge and I said, "Don't let them two 'cats' pick me up; they'll drop me for sure."

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah, or bump you or something.

Wilford Keller Craig:

He called two more American corpsmen to pick me up and take me in to the hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

What was their job there?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, they were just extra help, whatever they could do. They used them different places, different hospitals I was in, a lot of them did yard work and different things. But, at that place, I don't know really what all they did.

Bobbie Ames:

Any others move the gurney or anything, actually help the wounded, besides those two?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, well, there was more there working there, but those two was the ones they assigned to move me.

Bobbie Ames:

That doesn't even make smart sense at all. Where did you go in Michigan?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, I didn't go to Michigan then. When I left there, I went to Jackson, Mississippi.

Bobbie Ames:

How long?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I stayed at Jackson until they cut the cast off and the whole back of my heel just popped off with it. You asked about a bed sore awhile ago. I had a pressure sore on my heel.

Bobbie Ames:

What did they do?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They looked at that thing on that bad leg and they said, "We can't do anything for you here; we are sending you to the McCloskey General Hospital at Temple, Texas" which was the largest amputation center during World War II.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, "amputation" again, huh?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

So you went?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah, they put me on a train. This is a little amusement. They put me on a train and they -- with two corpsmen on a Pullman. As soon as the train started rolling, they had the porter give them some beers, and by the time we got to New Orleans, they was getting pretty tipsy. And we stayed there a little while, and then, we went on through Houston to San Antone.

Bobbie Ames:

Just get to the hospital, please.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We got to San Antone and I was there for eight hours --

Bobbie Ames:

I don't need that.

Wilford Keller Craig:

-- and then, they sent me to Temple, Texas to McCloskey General Hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that still there?

Wilford Keller Craig:

It's a veterans' hospital now.

Bobbie Ames:

Is it still called McCloskey?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I'm sure it is.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Wilford Keller Craig:

But there I had no telling how many surgeries. They decided maybe they could save it.

Bobbie Ames:

Good.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And I had a lot of little pinched valves; I had a complete pedicle about three inches wide and about nine inches long on the right side.

Bobbie Ames:

A pedicle screw or what?

Wilford Keller Craig:

A pedicle graft, full thickness graft.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. Is that what you really call it, "pedicle?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

A pedicle. And they put me in a cross-legged cast like this -- (indicating)

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

-- or hip like this (indicating) and then, when they cut that loose, about 90 days later, they did a massive sliding bone graft. They split me from just below my knee to my ankle and split this bone up here and put it over that.

Bobbie Ames:

Good. And that was at McCloskey.

Wilford Keller Craig:

At McCloskey.

Bobbie Ames:

Why did you go to Michigan?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They closed the hospital at McCloskey and sent me to Springfield, Missouri, and the only thing I got at Springfield, Missouri is I met the cutest little gal you ever saw up there.

Bobbie Ames:

You married her?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They closed that hospital and sent me to El Paso to William Beaumont General Hospital.

Bobbie Ames:

My goodness.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I corresponded with that cute little chick, and her brother introduced me to her. He told me one day, "Let's go out and see 'Sis'." He said she was up there going to college. She was from Arkansas. So when I got to El Paso, we corresponded, and we decided that we needed to be more than that, so...

Bobbie Ames:

That's great.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Whenever after Wayne got out of the hospital, well, he told me and said, "Well, you might ought to check on 'Sis' she's up here by herself." So, I went home to South Arkansas and got my little '39 Ford coupe and went back and --

Bobbie Ames:

What was her name?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Mildred.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that your wife?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Mildred Quick, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Q-u-i-c-k?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Right.

Bobbie Ames:

So you went to Michigan after that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, considerably after that.

Bobbie Ames:

You still weren't well?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was in El Paso from September to -- I mean, from August to May -- August of '46 'til May of '47.

Bobbie Ames:

Were you in a lot of pain?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, not too much.

Bobbie Ames:

Why did you go to Michigan?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, they decided after I had been out at El Paso for awhile and my leg was still draining, where they had done that bone draft, and the only time they ever got it stopped was when they put this pedicle on and it was still draining and they had a big consultation with a whole bunch of doctors and they looked at that thing and said, "You have been in here three years and had 25 surgeries and it's got to quit draining a year before we can do a bone graft and that will take another year and you have been in here three years, and that will be five years in the hospital." They said, "We can take it off and you'll be out in a few months."

Bobbie Ames:

Take off your leg?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Take my leg off. So my wife and I decided, "Well, that might be the best; I've been in there long enough and fought that battle." So I brought her to her mother's then, the family up in Arkansas. They lived on a farm in Arkansas. I left my cute little '39 Ford coupe and I caught a bus and went to Battle Creek, Michigan and when I got up there, they said, "We can't get to you right now. So, we are going to send you home on furlough, and if it don't drain too bad in that cast, you can get a 15-day extension." So, when I got back to the farm, my mother-in-law said, "Brother William Branham is going to be up here in a few days and if you go up there, he will pray for you and the Lord will heal it." I said, "No, I don't believe in none of that." But, they quit talking to me and started talking to the Lord and when the time came to go, well, we was in my father-in-law's truck, and that's the end of the story. We loaded up his truck and a neighbor lady and her daughter wanted to go with us, and we went up to Jonesboro, Arkansas and --

Bobbie Ames:

You are getting off into details again. Please skip all that.

Wilford Keller Craig:

The most important thing I can tell you.

Bobbie Ames:

What?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Is what I'm fixing to say.

Bobbie Ames:

All right. But I don't need about neighbors and stopping and all that.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We went to that meeting and the minister there said, "I don't want you to be prayed for; I want you to see some of this." He knew I didn't believe nothing. He said, "I'll get you prayed for before you leave." On Wednesday night, well, he took me in the office and Brother Branham came in and he sat down and prayed for me. Took hold of my hand and prayed for me and he said, "Well, it's gone." So, I went on back home and I went back to the hospital and they cut the cast off and the doctor said, "I don't know what happened to you while you was gone, but something did." I said, "I was prayed for and the preacher said I was healed." He said, "Something happened." He said, "I'm going to put you in a little short cast and send you right back home." So I came home and wore that cast out and went back and he said, "You've done so good, I'm going to put you in another little short cast and you can walk on the bottom, and send you right back home." When I got back then, after that, he cut it off, cut the cast of, and he said, "You don't need a cast anymore and we'll just put you in a brace." So, I said, "Okay." And so, they sent me home and when I got there, we were looking for this thing right over here. (Indicating his daughter) We were looking for Reta.

Bobbie Ames:

When did you marry?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I married September 6th, '46.

Bobbie Ames:

And where?

Wilford Keller Craig:

At Springfield, Missouri. I came back to Arkansas -- I got a fellow when I was in El Paso and came back to Arkansas.

Bobbie Ames:

I don't need that, please.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And got "Mil" and we went to Springfield to get her stuff.

Bobbie Ames:

Mr. Craig, you have got to stop this.

Wilford Keller Craig:

To me, this is important.

Bobbie Ames:

I know, but this is about the war, and it's not where you're stopping in Jonesboro and somebody wanted to ride with you. (Discussion off the record)

Bobbie Ames:

When were you in the hospital again?

Wilford Keller Craig:

June of '47.

Bobbie Ames:

What was that for?

Wilford Keller Craig:

To have my leg amputated.

Bobbie Ames:

After all of these casts?

Wilford Keller Craig:

After all of these casts.

Bobbie Ames:

What happened?

Wilford Keller Craig:

He said, "Well, we can't get to you right now; we are going to send you home." So I went home and was prayed for, and then, when I got back to Michigan, they just said "Your leg is healed; you don't need to have a cast -- don't need to have it amputated."

Bobbie Ames:

So you weren't in the hospital in Michigan?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was in the hospital in Michigan from June of '47 'til the first day of April of '48.

Bobbie Ames:

Still healing?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Still healing.

Bobbie Ames:

Two more years?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Another year.

Bobbie Ames:

Well, you really had it bad.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was in the hospital like three months of being four years. I was in the hospital 45 months.

Bobbie Ames:

But, in Michigan, over a year.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, no, not quite a year.

Bobbie Ames:

And they were just watching you and said, "No, you don't need the amputation?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, when I prayed, the Lord healed it.

Bobbie Ames:

How many children did you have, "Kay?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

We had three children. Reta the first one and she was born the 31st of December, '47. I have another daughter, Carol, born in 1950; another daughter born in '52.

Bobbie Ames:

What's her name?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Deborah.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay. And did your wife pass away?

Wilford Keller Craig:

My wife passed away the 1st day of June, 2007.

Bobbie Ames:

I'm sorry.

Wilford Keller Craig:

After 61 years.

Bobbie Ames:

Did she live here?

Wilford Keller Craig:

We lived in Dickinson.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. That's what I mean.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We moved to Dickinson. We came down here in 2000 to keep Reta's "granddaughter" who was born, one of our granddaughters, and kept her. And then, went back home and found my wife had colon cancer and the --

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, no.

Wilford Keller Craig:

-- doctor said "If it would be me, it would be at M.D. Anderson." And we came back and we stayed with Reta after she had surgery, and then, we had a home built there in Dickinson and we lived in Dickinson.

Bobbie Ames:

You moved from where to Dickinson?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Eldorado, Arkansas.

Bobbie Ames:

And what were you doing up there as a career?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was retired. Working on a farm.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you do as a career when you got out of the service?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I went back to work for Gulf Pipeline Department, and I retired August 31st, 1982 with 40 years service. All of my service time counted just like I was with the company.

Bobbie Ames:

That is great. And then, you just farmed after that, piddled around or what?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, I went -- my brother-in-law had bought an old farm and I went up there and was staying with him and looking after my inlaw's.

Bobbie Ames:

You need to take a break?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I've got to go. That water. (Short break)

Bobbie Ames:

"Kay," I want to ask you about the day you got shot and even before that when you were in your little turret, you called it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Are you locked in there?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

Who handles unlocking it and locking it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, the navigator, I had to come back out through the navigator's compartment.

Bobbie Ames:

The navigator handles unlocking it so you can get out.

Wilford Keller Craig:

He can unlock his door. I can probably unlock it out of the turret, but it's usually left up to him to unlock the one door.

Bobbie Ames:

Anybody else that can unlock it? Like if he got shot and he was dead?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I might could get it open if he wasn't there, but normally on a bombing mission, the bombardier and the navigator both should be right there in that place. But, we didn't -- our bombardiers didn't do the bombing; we did mass formation bombing. The only bombardier that used his bomb site was the lead bombardier on a lead plane and when he dropped his bombs, he had a smoke grenade attached to them, and when it came out of that plane, you knew you was on the --

Bobbie Ames:

Target?

Wilford Keller Craig:

-- going towards the target. When that bomb come out of the plane, and that smoke grenade was on it, well, you just dropped the bomb.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

You just target them out of the turret, the main turret.

Bobbie Ames:

Now you said that it was very cold in there.

Wilford Keller Craig:

58 below.

Bobbie Ames:

In your little turret?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes. Up there 28 or 25,000 feet, it was 58 below.

Bobbie Ames:

And there was no heat coming from the plane?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, no, no.

Bobbie Ames:

So what all did you have on?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I had on an electric heated suit and it was kind of like an electric blanket. And that's what I had on.

Bobbie Ames:

What kind of shoes and socks?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I had on some GI shoes and heavy socks is what I had on. We were supposed to have some little slip-on boots over that.

Bobbie Ames:

One pair of heavy socks?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Insulated boots.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you have them on?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

And did it help?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, I don't know. I think my little toe on my right foot, I think got frost bit because it wasn't long until the toenail just swiveled up and it's still that way.

Bobbie Ames:

So you really didn't spend that much time in the turret; you stayed out in the fuselage?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

You just got in there when it was time to ...

Wilford Keller Craig:

You stayed in there from the time you took off.

Bobbie Ames:

From England?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes.

Bobbie Ames:

How many hours was that?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, some of the missions, it was eight hours or longer.

Bobbie Ames:

There is no way you could stay in the fuselage and get in there when it's time to --

Wilford Keller Craig:

No, that's where you rode. You got in there because who knows when there are some fighters was coming to come after you.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. So, the other gunners, too, were in turrets that were --

Wilford Keller Craig:

They were in turrets, the top turret, the ball turret, the steel turret and the two waist gunners was there.

Bobbie Ames:

Six, six gunners?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Was at their position.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, my. And a boy from Arkansas, Eldorado, was in that cold. When you knew that you were going to crash land that day, how high up do you think you were?

Wilford Keller Craig:

When we --

Bobbie Ames:

Not crash land.

Wilford Keller Craig:

We bailed out at 4,200 feet.

Bobbie Ames:

Yes. 4,200 feet?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that kind of low?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, that's less than a mile.

Bobbie Ames:

Is that kind of low?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah, pretty low. We were just flying along there at 4,200 feet. We had got down that low from around 25,000 feet.

Bobbie Ames:

Did any of the men have repercussions from the cold in the turrets?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Not necessarily in the cold in the turrets, no, because we were pretty warm in there with those heated suits.

Bobbie Ames:

So, did you make any lifelong friends while you were in the military?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I made some and then, life got short with them.

Bobbie Ames:

Did any of them come to visit you or you go to visit them?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I never did finish my whole deal of my crew. I lost my whole crew. You might say I lost the man that -- you are not taking this, are you?

Bobbie Ames:

Yes.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, you are. Well, the man that replaced me and the man that replaced "Hank" and all of them they were on a -- after I got hit, they sent a man back that replaced "Hank." He came back from Navigator School and they brought another navigator bombardier to replace me. And they put them in another group. They busted up our group. We had the largest bomb group to go to Europe during World War II and it lasted 80 days. We took the first all silver group over and Axis Sally said, "Welcome to Europe during World War II; I hope your stay is short." It was. Officially I think there was 42 planes altogether lost out of the 492nd bomb group. So they put them in another bomb group.

Bobbie Ames:

Your crew was lost? Tell me about what you are talking about.

Wilford Keller Craig:

That's what I'm fixing to tell you. They put them in another bomb group and they was made lead crew. They made them a lead crew. And they had four squadrons up on a training mission up over the North Sea. A gunner had a malfunction gun and he was fooling with that and the turret come around and shot the lead plane and set it on fire.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh, no.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And the man that replaced me, and the man that replaced "Hank" was injured. Now, I don't know whether he was hit. I don't know for sure. The plane was on fire. The pilot -- they had a substitute co-pilot that day, and the pilot -- the squadron commander was with them.

Bobbie Ames:

Was Prewitte still the pilot?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Prewitte was the pilot, but the squadron commander was along just on that, because he was the one that worked up the training mission.

Bobbie Ames:

Do you remember his name?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The pilot? I mean --

Bobbie Ames:

Yes, the squadron commander.

Wilford Keller Craig:

The squadron commander was -- I don't remember his name.

Bobbie Ames:

That's all right.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I remember his name, but all the sudden it missed me. But, anyhow, they were on this training mission, and the plane was on fire and they told them to bail out. And they had a substitute co-pilot that day because our co-pilot was flying with another crew that never had flown a real bombing mission, and they sent him along, you know, to help out. And so they bailed out, and "Bill" and this substitute co-pilot and them two men was on the plane, and "Bill" said, "I'll try to get back to England." The plane blew up and got them four.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

And when they bailed out, the 16th day of August of '44, the navigator and my best friend that I had in the service, who was a top turret gunner, hypothermia got them.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh! They bailed out?

Wilford Keller Craig:

They all bailed out.

Bobbie Ames:

Into the water?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Into the North Sea.

Bobbie Ames:

And they died from hypothermia?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Died from hypothermia on the 16th of August.

Bobbie Ames:

Had they been rescued?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Not at that time. They didn't get rescued. They just --

Bobbie Ames:

-- died in the water.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Meredith sunk.

Bobbie Ames:

"Meredith?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

That was my buddy.

Bobbie Ames:

All right.

Wilford Keller Craig:

The top turret gunner, he just sunk.

Bobbie Ames:

I saw where he spelled his name a different way than the usual Meredith. How old was he?

Wilford Keller Craig:

He was about a year older than I was. At that time, I was in '44 21; he might have been 22.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

The oldest one on the plane wasn't but about 25.

Bobbie Ames:

He was a navigator-gunner?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Who, Meredith?

Bobbie Ames:

Yes.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Meredith was the top turret gunner.

Bobbie Ames:

Top turret gunner. What is the advantage of a navigator-gunner over the rest of the gunners?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, the navigator-gunner -- the navigator never did -- those that came in -- we didn't have a navigator -- we had a navigator and he wasn't a gunner.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

He was a navigator.

Bobbie Ames:

You said the gunner went to Navigation School, and then, came back so --

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, the bombardier went to Navigator School.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I don't know why they sent him off to Navigator School unless they needed to make sure that they was up there in the nose and if something happened to the navigator, they could help get back. That's the only thing.

Bobbie Ames:

What was Meredith's last name?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Albert.

Bobbie Ames:

And he was your best friend.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Best friend. We had gone to Mechanic School, Gunner School and all our training together and he wound up on the same crew with me.

Bobbie Ames:

Did any of those schools help you in your life professions or your home repairs or auto repairs or did you learn anything that was beneficial?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I was already a pretty good auto mechanic before that.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you utilize the GI Bill in any way?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I didn't use the GI Bill for anything.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you --

Wilford Keller Craig:

I tried to. But, I couldn't get in.

Bobbie Ames:

A lot of people told me that. That's not right.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I could have gone to school for 14 years under the thing I was under.

Bobbie Ames:

What was your rank when you got out?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Tech Sergeant.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you go to -- did you join the reserves or anything?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No. I couldn't have got in the reserves if I had wanted to. When I got out, I was 100% disabled.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh! They couldn't have found a job for you? Nobody disabled can get in the reserves?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I doubt it.

Bobbie Ames:

That doesn't seem fair.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Not that much disabled.

Bobbie Ames:

Did you go to any reunions or anything?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Never did get to go. Didn't know about them, really, for years. And I lost contact with all the rest of my crew that -- in 1988, I got my DAV. I belong to the DAV organization; I'm a life member.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I got my DAV Magazine and it said that the 492nd Bomb Group was going to have a reunion at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They said contact Elmer Clary at Los Altos, California and gave his address and phone number. That was my co-pilot.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

I called him that night and we corresponded back and forth for years, and he sent me a lot of literature and tapes of all the missions we flew and he flew.

Bobbie Ames:

What medals did you get, "Kay?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

I got the Good Conduct Medal, Air Medal, European Theater Medical, Victory World War II Medical. I got a Purple Heart and I got the Silver Star.

Bobbie Ames:

Very good. What about a boy from Eldorado, Arkansas, how are you with your rifles?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I had shot all my life. I had ahold of a gun ever since I was about six years old. I had a 22 when I was about six years old. Raised out there in the middle of an oil field.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you --

Wilford Keller Craig:

I had shot guns all my life and in gunner school, some of the things that we did there they was amazed at how accurate I could shoot.

Bobbie Ames:

I'll bet. What was your issue on board the plane, a shoulder holster?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I had a shoulder holster with a .45 caliber under my left arm.

Bobbie Ames:

Good. Any other armament aboard the plane in case you all crash landed or needed it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

That's the only thing that we had.

Bobbie Ames:

Each man?

Wilford Keller Craig:

And then, when we got over there, if we were going over Germany, they wouldn't let us carry our sidearm because they said if you bailed out there and German youth found you, they would kill you.

Bobbie Ames:

So, you had nothing --

Wilford Keller Craig:

If you had a gun with you.

Bobbie Ames:

So you had nothing on the plane?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Didn't carry a gun at that time on those German missions.

Bobbie Ames:

That's interesting.

Wilford Keller Craig:

When we went to France, they told us to go back and start carrying them, and they issued us a pair of black shoes to carry along because you had them to hook onto a parachute harness because there wasn't any brown shoes on the mainland.

Bobbie Ames:

Really. That's interesting.

Wilford Keller Craig:

So we had in case we had to walk out.

Bobbie Ames:

What did you do for R&R over the whole time you were in Great Britain? Did you all play any musical instruments or read or...

Wilford Keller Craig:

When we were flying we didn't have time to do anything else.

Bobbie Ames:

I'm talking about on base.

Wilford Keller Craig:

That's what I'm talking about. When we were at that time -- by the time you got back, you was trying to get kind of cleaned up and get back to bed, because they would get you back up at 11 o'clock at night for a mission the next morning.

Bobbie Ames:

Day after day?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Day after day.

Bobbie Ames:

You had no --

Wilford Keller Craig:

We were flying maximum effort as many planes as they could get up every day.

Bobbie Ames:

That's exhausting, but I guess you all were young.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yeah.

Bobbie Ames:

What do you think about war at this point, "Kay?"

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, it's tough. It's a tough situation and during my time in there, the news media didn't fight the war like they do now.

Bobbie Ames:

Yeah.

Wilford Keller Craig:

It kind of aggravates me to see that if we lost 16 planes on a mission, that's ten men to each one and now they make a big deal of six men or twelve men or fifteen men. That was just our group alone not counting all the other groups. See, we didn't know anything about it. I mean, there wasn't nothing ever mentioned; there wasn't any news media. When our crew, in later years when they got shot down, you know I ought to know that man's name. Taylor. When Mr. Taylor called me about three years ago, it hasn't been too long back but it may have been a little longer, about four years ago. He called me and he was a commanding officer and he was with them that day. And a man had wrote a book on our squadron. I've got a book on it that covers everything on it.

Bobbie Ames:

What's the name of it?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The name of it was One Squadron that were Two.

Bobbie Ames:

One Squadron --

Wilford Keller Craig:

Or Two Squadrons that were One, I believe, is the way he has got it.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

And it's a big thick book and it covered every crew. I don't know how they accomplished to get all of that information but he did. An old boy up in Indiana done it. Anyhow, he had given Mr. Taylor my phone number, and he called me and wanted to know about that mission. He said when he got back to the base after that, because he was burnt, and when he got out of the hospital, he said they hushed that thing up, and he said, "I never could find out anything about it."

Bobbie Ames:

Did I misunderstand? Did Prewitte survive the war?

Wilford Keller Craig:

No.

Bobbie Ames:

No?

Wilford Keller Craig:

He blew up in the plane.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. That's what I thought you said.

Wilford Keller Craig:

The only one of the officers that survived the war was the co-pilot, McClarey, and he was the only one of our crew that ever finished all the 31 missions.

Bobbie Ames:

Was he the substitute co-pilot that day?

Wilford Keller Craig:

He was with another crew.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

He was flying a regular bombing mission; he wasn't with them that day.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

They had a substitute in his place.

Bobbie Ames:

Did he die?

Wilford Keller Craig:

The substitute blew up in the plane.

Bobbie Ames:

Yes. What was his name, do you know?

Wilford Keller Craig:

I don't know what his name was.

Bobbie Ames:

Can you think of anything else, "Kay;" can you think of anything funny or silly that you remember besides socking that smart-mouth Brit?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, not necessarily over there in England.

Bobbie Ames:

That's all right.

Wilford Keller Craig:

I don't know of anything that was, you know --

Bobbie Ames:

Did you get mail from home?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Got mail from home. They sent mail free.

Bobbie Ames:

Any packages?

Wilford Keller Craig:

A few, not very many.

Bobbie Ames:

Good. You are lucky because most of the men couldn't even get packages.

Wilford Keller Craig:

Didn't get too much when I was overseas, and most of the mail that came over there when I was overseas was V-Mail, and it wasn't very often.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. Did they scan it or read the mail before they gave it to you or anything?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Not necessarily. But, what I got and what I sent had to be scanned and somebody had to approve it.

Bobbie Ames:

Right. I really appreciate you coming out here today. I hope I do a good job for you -- hope I did a good job for you today. And it takes me all the way from ten days to a month to type it up.

Wilford Keller Craig:

All right.

Bobbie Ames:

I appreciate your service. How old are you at this point?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Eighty-five.

Bobbie Ames:

Eighty-five. I think you do really well. Do you still drive your car and everything?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Still drive it.

Bobbie Ames:

What are your hobbies?

Wilford Keller Craig:

That's about it.

Bobbie Ames:

Granddaughter?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Great granddaughter.

Bobbie Ames:

Now, I've got a great granddaughter on that wall. (Indicating)

Wilford Keller Craig:

I've got two great granddaughters and I've got two, four, six great grandsons, really eight if you want to call two great newphews or great great nephews, I guess.

Bobbie Ames:

Okay.

Wilford Keller Craig:

They think I'm their grandpa, too.

Bobbie Ames:

That's great. Did you get a pension or whatever, disabled?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Yes, ma'am. I'm a disabled veteran right now. They have cut me after I got out of the service at 100% and the first time they examined me, they cut me to 50%. The next time they examined me, they cut me to 40% and when they did, they cut off the kids. Up until then, I got a little bit for having the children.

Bobbie Ames:

Oh!

Wilford Keller Craig:

Then, they cut -- I've got it increased back up some.

Bobbie Ames:

But you had a good job in Eldorado with Gulf?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Well, I worked in Eldorado with Gulf until November, 1959 and they sold us out up there and they moved me to Beaumont. And I worked in Beaumont the last 22 years for Gulf.

Bobbie Ames:

For Chevron?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Gulf before there was a Chevron. I retired before they ever went into Chevron.

Bobbie Ames:

How did you like Beaumont?

Wilford Keller Craig:

Oh, I like Beaumont all right. We lived in Port Neches; we didn't really live in Beaumont.

Bobbie Ames:

I really appreciate you coming out and it was nice to meet you. And thank you.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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