The Forgotten Man
Through the history of world aviation,
many names have come to the fore.
Great deeds of the past in our memory will last,
as they're joined by more and more.
When man first started his labor
in his quest to conquer the sky,
he was designer, mechanic, and pilot,
and he built a machine that would fly.
The pilot was everyone's hero.
He was brave, he was bold, he was grand,
as he stood by his battered old bi-plane,
with his goggles and helmet in hand.
To be sure, these pilots all earned it,
to fly then you had to have guts.
And they blazed their names in the hall of fame
on wings with bailing wire struts.
But for each of our flying heroes,
there were thousands of little renown.
And these were the men who worked on the planes,
but kept their feet on the ground.
We all know the name of Lindbergh,
and we've read of his flight into fame.
But think, if you can, of his maintenance man,
can you remember his name?
And think of our wartime heroes,
Gabreski, Jabara and Scott.
Can you tell me the names of their crew chiefs?
A thousand to one you cannot.
Now, pilots are highly trained people
and wings are not easily won.
But without the work of the maintenance man,
our pilots would march with a gun.
So when you see the mighty jet aircraft
as they mark their path through the air,
the grease stained man with the wrench in his hand,
is the man who put them there.
A Crew Chief's Lament
(by Robert Heiliger, 360th BS)
I watched those men, those 10 brave men,
As they drove up in their jeeps,
With flying suits and parachutes
And things they left for me to keep.
There was no talk, just a confident walk
To the B-17 we called "Sack Time,"
As they gathered there in the morning air,
With the target - Dresden - on their mind.
The captain asked "Is the Sack OK?
Will she bring us back alive?"
He knew I'd be sitting on an ammunition crate,
Anxiously waiting for them to arrive.
As they climbed so high in the morning sky,
I felt like shouting to the clouds,
'War is hell, we all know that,
But, Hitler left us no way out."
I worked away the hours in the English chill,
Passing the time by any means,
When suddenly, they began to return
In their battered and crippled B-17s.
I scanned the sky with my naked eye
But "Sack Time" was not in sight;
I kept the vigil into the evening hours
Then gave up long into the night.
Come cry with me,
Cause war is hell,
It takes a deadly toll
Today.... my buddies fell.