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-   -   "We'll ride her down together" (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=41706)

snopes 29 January 2009 09:47 PM

"We'll ride her down together"
 
http://www.snopes.com/glurge/military/ridedown.asp

Quote:

President Reagan was renowned for repeatedly telling the story of a bomber pilot whose plane was shot down in WWII. Everyone had bailed out except the pilot and a seriously wounded bombardier.

After squawking the pilot and explaining his predicament, the bombardier received this reply: "That's OK, son, we'll ride her down together." According to President Reagan, the pilot posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

Ah, but who reported the story if everyone either bailed out or was killed in the crash? No one: The story is apocryphal. President Reagan had seen the movie, but he told the story so often that it became reality for him.
http://www.wiscnews.com/bnr/opinion/434881

chillas 29 January 2009 10:43 PM

Considering most of his folksy stories were apocryphal (including one about the importance of honestly!), this should come as a surprise to pretty much no one.

Sounds like Michael has a bad a case of "my daddy can beat up your daddy".

ASL 31 January 2009 03:46 AM

The idea of a 21 year old bomber pilot calling a 19 year old gunner "son" is hilarious.

snopes 31 January 2009 03:56 AM

http://0perationjackbilt.typepad.com...se_days_o.html

Quote:

In these days of polls, focus groups and writers, no political manager much cares whether his candidate can make a speech or not. But it seems to me we are missing a lot if we don't require speech making as a necessary part of being a politician.

In the House of Commons, everyone reads their speeches. No more the wonderful ad lib stuff that once could move the other parliamentarians and sometime even alter some legislation. The great ones are long ago --John Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, Stephen Lewis, all the way back to Laurier and Macdonald.

The United States presidential race appears to have one compelling speaker in Barak Obama but the rest fall to speech writers. I know of only one candidate I covered who could move an audience to tears and laughter . . . Ronald Reagan.

I never had much use for the man but I will never forget the one occasion he left my eyes wet, at a rodeo of all places.

It was on one of those hills overlooking Los Angeles and Reagan was running to be Republican presidential candidate.

"America needs heroes," he said, "and I know about heroes because during the war it was my job to pick out the men and women who deserved medals, men like the pilot of a bomber running to England after a raid on Germany."

"They were hit by flak and barely staggered to the English coast. "Bail out everyone," yells the captain and the crew headed for the exit door. All but one. The waist gunner yelled he was stuck in his turret and couldn't move. The co-pilot tried to pull him loose but no luck so he headed for the hatch.

"Just as he was about to jump, he saw the pilot approach the kid and squeeze in beside him. The pilot put his arm around the boy and said:" Hang on, kid, we'll ride her down together."

"The co-pilot jumped and the plane spiraled to its doom. That pilot is what heroes are made of," said Reagan.

There wasn't a sound from the crowd, who had their handkerchiefs out.

It may have been an old movie script but, my God, it was moving.

BoKu 31 January 2009 06:57 AM

Quote:

...It may have been an old movie script but, my God, it was moving...
"Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue!"

Eddylizard 31 January 2009 07:19 AM

In the first tale he's a bombadier, but in the second he's a waist gunner. :confused:

If he was a waist gunner, would he have had a turret to get stuck in - as the second story puts it. I thought the waist gunners crouched in the main body of the fuselage, unlike the tail and ball turret gunners who had an actual turret they occupied.

Nick Theodorakis 31 January 2009 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eddylizard (Post 868028)
In the first tale he's a bombadier, but in the second he's a waist gunner. :confused:

If he was a waist gunner, would he have had a turret to get stuck in - as the second story puts it. I thought the waist gunners crouched in the main body of the fuselage, unlike the tail and ball turret gunners who had an actual turret they occupied.

The story might have made more sense with the ball-turret gunner, since I believe that is the hardest spot to get out of. But if I was in a similar situation as the stuck guy, I sure would want the pilot to bail, since I wouldn't want to be responsible for a senseless death.

Nick

Beachlife! 31 January 2009 10:35 PM

I always assumed the story meant that the pilot was going to make a desperate attempt to ditch the plane, taking a long shot to save both of their lives.

The second version of the story doesn't make any sense. I don't know of any WWII bombers which had waist gunner turrets. The waist gunners were in the main fuselage of the aircraft, a place that's difficult to get stuck. I'm not sure why they are yelling in that version, and while I understand comforting someone who's injured and facing death, cramming one's self into the turret they are mortally stuck in doesn't seem very comforting. I believe that second story is a poor retelling.

Nick Theodorakis 01 February 2009 12:39 AM

There is a story that Andy Rooney tells (recounted here. Also it appears in his book My War; an excerpt from google books is here) in which a damaged B-17 is forced to make a belly landing, but the ball turret can't be ditched and the gunner is still trapped there... Interestingly, in the book Rooney mentions the fictionalized account Reagan gives.

Now, in googling for this story, I ran across several accounts that indicate that if the ball turret is not jettisoned from a B-17 before a belly landing (it can be manually jettisoned by removing some bolts, as indicated in this account), it can actually break the back of the plane, which suggests the turret might actually survive such a landing; see this post on an aircraft forum, for example.

Nick

snopes 07 February 2009 05:00 PM

Comment: Robert Osborne commented after a showing of "Dr. Strangelove" on
TCM that Ronald Reagan was surprised when he got to Washington that the
War Room did not resemble the set of Dr. Strangelove. This interpretation
suggests that Reagan actually believed a movie set was reality. The
story, as related by Osborne, lacks the ring of truth. His summation,
"True story," makes me think he doth protest too much.

I have encountered several other versions of this subject on the web. The
most believable indicates that Reagan asked to see the War Room at the
White House, only to be informed that there wasn't one. It may be
possible to editorialize his reaction (disappointment), but this is a far
cry from the depiction Osborne gives on TCM. What did Reagan really ask,
what was his reaction, and who reported these events? Is/are the
source(s) reliable, or is this merely a cheap attempt to paint Reagan as a
dullard?

Four Kitties 07 February 2009 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snopes (Post 873376)
I have encountered several other versions of this subject on the web. The
most believable indicates that Reagan asked to see the War Room at the
White House, only to be informed that there wasn't one.

There may not be a War Room, but there's a Situation Room. Wikipedia even has a pic of Reagan in it.

IMHO it's just Reagan-bashing. Which can be fun sometimes, but it's probably not warranted in this case.

Four Kitties

Hero_Mike 07 February 2009 11:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis (Post 868404)
There is a story that Andy Rooney tells (recounted here. Also it appears in his book My War; an excerpt from google books is here) in which a damaged B-17 is forced to make a belly landing, but the ball turret can't be ditched and the gunner is still trapped there... Interestingly, in the book Rooney mentions the fictionalized account Reagan gives.

This is also the storyt of the Amazing Stories episode titled The Mission. It featured, notably, both Kevin Costner and Kiefer Sutherland.

The episode was featured in one of the three Amazing Stories movies - description here.

snopes 07 February 2009 11:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hero_Mike (Post 873607)
This is also the story of the Amazing Stories episode titled The Mission.

It is if you discount that in the real event the gunner wasn't saved by cartoon wheels and was smashed to death in the landing.

Hero_Mike 07 February 2009 11:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snopes (Post 873610)
It is if you discount that in the real event the gunner wasn't saved by cartoon wheels and was smashed to death in the landing.

But it is - the bomber is in to make a landing, the gear won't come down, and the belly turret gunner is trapped. Just like the other stories. They try to take the turret apart (but fail), they pass a parachute to him (but it rips because the opening is too small), and one of them even goes to administer a "coup de grace" and put their unfortunate friend out of his misery before the inevitable catastrophe upon landing. The Amazing part is, as you recall, the cartoon wheels that appear when the gunner - an amateur cartoonist - falls asleep and dreams the wheels.

I think it was the best episode of Amazing Stories - don't'cha think?

snopes 08 February 2009 12:38 AM

Quote:

The Amazing part is, as you recall, the cartoon wheels that appear when the gunner - an amateur cartoonist - falls asleep and dreams the wheels.
Which is, as I noted, the distinction between the "real" story and the "Amazing" version.

BrianB 10 February 2009 08:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snopes (Post 866782)
Quote:

Ah, but who reported the story if everyone either bailed out or was killed in the crash? No one: The story is apocryphal. President Reagan had seen the movie, but he told the story so often that it became reality for him.
http://www.wiscnews.com/bnr/opinion/434881

For those of you who are interested the movie in question is A Wing and a Prayer starring Don Ameche and Dana Andrews.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hero_Mike (Post 873624)
The Amazing part is, as you recall, the cartoon wheels that appear when the gunner - an amateur cartoonist - falls asleep and dreams the wheels.

Too bad Reagan didn't add that to his anecdote. It would have made it far more entertaining. :D
Brian

snopes 23 February 2009 08:37 PM

I captured the relevant clip from the 1944 film Wing and a Prayer. It's interesting that:

a) The action takes place off-screen; it's relayed through the crew of an aircraft carrier who are listening to the squadron's radio communications.

b) The gunner is not trapped in a stuck turret; he can't bail out because he's been hit and is unable to move his legs.

c) The pilot doesn't appear to be sacrificing his own life by staying with the plane, because when the gunner suggests that he bail out, the pilot responds by saying, "I haven't got the altitude." (I'm not sure why the pilot would have told the radio man to bail out, though, if they didn't have sufficient altitude. Is the pilot's statement supposed to be a bit of comforting fiction?)


<embed width=320" height="240" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" src="http://i166.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid166.photobucket.com/albums/u90/snopesbinary/Glurge/prayer2.flv">

Yleemjseg 15 April 2009 12:16 AM

The story is also similar to the actual true story of Andrew Mynarski.

http://www.spitcrazy.com/andrewmynarskistory.htm

The Lancaster (one of the two in flying condition in the whole world!) at Hamilton Ontario is painted in with the markings of that particular plane, and is known as the "Mynarski Memorial Lancaster".

ASL 16 April 2009 11:47 AM

It's not the least bit similar. That man tried to save someone at the risk of his own life but was reasonable enough to try and save himself when he realized there was nothing he could do. He ended up dying in the process, but not for lack of trying on his part.

ETA: That clip was horrible. I'd imagine there would be a lot more screaming if that really happened. "Oh, I'm not worried, I'm just on fire and severely injured and about to die. I'm perfectly calm."

UEL 16 April 2009 01:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yleemjseg (Post 930192)
The story is also similar to the actual true story of Andrew Mynarski.

On an aside, I had the opportunity in Afghanistan to work with the son of the man that Mynarski tried to save.


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