snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Military

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 29 January 2009, 08:47 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,611
Airplane "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
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 29 January 2009, 09:43 PM
chillas's Avatar
chillas chillas is offline
 
Join Date: 09 September 2002
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 11,729
Default

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".
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 31 January 2009, 02:46 AM
ASL's Avatar
ASL ASL is offline
 
Join Date: 04 July 2003
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 5,072
Default

The idea of a 21 year old bomber pilot calling a 19 year old gunner "son" is hilarious.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 31 January 2009, 02:56 AM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,611
Reporter

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.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 31 January 2009, 05:57 AM
BoKu's Avatar
BoKu BoKu is offline
 
Join Date: 20 February 2000
Location: Douglas Flat, CA
Posts: 3,809
Default

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!"
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 31 January 2009, 06:19 AM
Eddylizard's Avatar
Eddylizard Eddylizard is offline
 
Join Date: 15 June 2006
Location: Tonbridge, Kent, UK
Posts: 17,857
Default

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

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.

Last edited by Eddylizard; 31 January 2009 at 06:33 AM. Reason: Clarity
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 31 January 2009, 07:31 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
Join Date: 05 November 2005
Location: Fishers, IN
Posts: 6,657
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddylizard View Post
In the first tale he's a bombadier, but in the second he's a waist gunner.

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
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 31 January 2009, 09:35 PM
Beachlife!'s Avatar
Beachlife! Beachlife! is offline
 
Join Date: 22 June 2001
Location: Lansing, MI
Posts: 27,881
Default

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.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 31 January 2009, 11:39 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
Join Date: 05 November 2005
Location: Fishers, IN
Posts: 6,657
Default

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
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07 February 2009, 04:00 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,611
Icon18

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?
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07 February 2009, 04:24 PM
Four Kitties's Avatar
Four Kitties Four Kitties is offline
snopes minion
 
Join Date: 29 July 2003
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 23,679
Hello Kitty

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
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
__________________
“The path to true enlightenment is the ability to formulate and express one's own thoughts, and not somebody else's.” -- Auntie Witch
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07 February 2009, 10:00 PM
Hero_Mike's Avatar
Hero_Mike Hero_Mike is offline
 
 
Join Date: 06 April 2005
Location: Phoenix, AZ & Hamilton, ON
Posts: 7,265
Canada

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post
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.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07 February 2009, 10:06 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,611
Icon81

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
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.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07 February 2009, 10:34 PM
Hero_Mike's Avatar
Hero_Mike Hero_Mike is offline
 
 
Join Date: 06 April 2005
Location: Phoenix, AZ & Hamilton, ON
Posts: 7,265
Canada

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
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?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07 February 2009, 11:38 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,611
Jaded

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.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10 February 2009, 07:35 AM
BrianB's Avatar
BrianB BrianB is offline
 
Join Date: 03 March 2000
Location: Camarillo, CA
Posts: 3,504
Throw Tomato

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
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 View Post
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.
Brian

Last edited by BrianB; 10 February 2009 at 07:35 AM. Reason: Fixed VBB code.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 23 February 2009, 07:37 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,611
Airplane

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?)


Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 14 April 2009, 11:16 PM
Yleemjseg's Avatar
Yleemjseg Yleemjseg is offline
 
Join Date: 12 June 2005
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 358
Default

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".
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 16 April 2009, 10:47 AM
ASL's Avatar
ASL ASL is offline
 
Join Date: 04 July 2003
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 5,072
Airplane

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."
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 16 April 2009, 12:34 PM
UEL's Avatar
UEL UEL is offline
 
Join Date: 01 August 2004
Location: Ottawa/Fredericton, Canada
Posts: 8,481
Airplane

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yleemjseg View Post
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.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 02:38 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.