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From the clipping above:
Recently discharged from the air forces with 154 points Daniel “Dean” S., the first Bridgeporter to participate in a B-2 air raid over Japan, was able to celebrate, for the first time in 5 years, a birthday at home. He was 24 years old on November 13th.
A former technical sergeant, aerial engineer and tail gunner, he holds the air medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, The Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Presidential Unit citation, four battle stars and the Purple Heart. The latter was received for wounds sustained for bailing out of a plane in combat over Osaka, Japan. He was the only survivor.
The vet of 5 years of service, 42 months of which were spent overseas, is credited with 29 missions in the Pacific and 600 flying hours. He participated in the Burma-China campaigns, the air offensive campaign over Japan, and the Formosa and Yawata raids.
While on the Yawata raid on Japan in June of 1944 he and his crew were forced down in free China and escaped the Japs. Of this flight he wrote “I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be on the mission, even when we were over the target and the search lights caught us…when the ack-ack started firing at us, I watched it with a strange fascination. It came closer and closer, I heard the bombardier say “bombs away”.
“We finally got out of the target area but about daylight developed engine trouble and were forced to land at an emergency field in free China. We were near the Jap lines and right after we landed an enemy observation plane spotted us. Later two Jap pursuit ships came over and staffed us with machine gun fire…No one was hurt though….”
Born and raised in Bridgeport, Daniel was graduated from the Sanata Maria Incoranata elementary School and Lindbloom High School. Daniel enlisted in the air corps at 18. He received his basic training at Chanute Filed, Ill., and then left for active service in the Panama Canal Zone. In April of 1943, he returned here and went to Great Bear Kan., for further instruction on the mechanical details of the B-29. From there he transferred to an advanced air base in Tucson, Ariz., and then to India.
S. hopes to go back to school under the GI Bill of Rights.
Now what this story does not go into detail about, is the fact that his plane was shot down over the Pacific during combat over Osaka…he did in fact bail out as the plane had been and survived after floating in the Pacific Ocean with a gash in his thigh that was easily 12” long for a number of hours. The story also does not detail that 11 men died that day…everyone in his crew perished except for my Dad. He was the lone survivor.
This fact would go on to haunt him for the rest of his life. My dad passed away in 1990 at the age of 69 from cancer.
He was miraculously picked up by a US sub which was in the area. The medical staff on that sub, saved his life. The crew gave him a white sailors hat which they all autographed. My husband had it framed in a box for me. I display it proudly in my home.
I recall sitting at his knee when I was a child..hearing only bits and pieces of the story of his service. He never embellished the stories; he never said disparaging remarks about the enemies of that war. He didn’t often talk about it at all. But we knew…we had seen the scar and we and we had heard his screams in the middle of the night when he had his nightmares. But he never complained. It was simply what he had done to serve his country.
My father visited the families of every one of those other airmen after he was discharged. They were his best friends, his buddies, and his family. He told them what brave men their sons, brothers and husbands were. Many of those families wrote him letters to thank him for his visit. They let him know, that having met the man who saw them last was somehow comforting and that they were happy that he had lived, even if their son died that day. He kept all of those letters. I have read all of those letters. They are beautiful, incredible and humbling.
He saved many mementos from his service, photos, passes, meal cards, NCO Membership card, etc and articles and pictures of his fallen buddies. I have all of it. He of course saved all of his medals, which my brother has now.
I just wanted to share this incredible story with you, dear readers and friends. I hope that each one of you will say a prayer for all the brave men and women that have died in service to this great country of ours.
You know..my Dad always said to me, that there must be a reason that he alone survived that day….I couldn’t agree more.
~ I originally posted this a year or more ago, but I thought I would re-post it. You see today is my Dad's birthday, he would have been 87. I miss him and honor him today and everyday. I love you Dad.~