For two or three weeks we were moving supplies into needed areas. I was involved in hauling bombs for B-25's, gasoline for fighter planes stationed in Sardinia, wing tanks to Benghazi, Libya, and for P-38's that were being transferred to Tunis. And, we carried the wounded of Patton's troops from Palermo to North Africa hospitals.

There are two stories here worth mentioning. It was a privilege to fly with Col. Cerny. He and the rest of us crewmen loaded and unloaded 50# bombs, the Col. working as hard as any of us. That one day, we flew two missions from Comiso to Italy.

Returning from the second mission it was getting dark, and we were about ten to fifteen miles away from Syracuse (Syracusa), heading right to the naval off limits area where the US navy had mistakenly shot down many troop carrier planes during the Sicilian invasion. Besides the crew, we had one passenger, an officer of another outfit. I interrupted the conversation of Cerny and the co-pilot and told Cerny that if we proceeded any further on the current heading that we'd probably get our "arses" blown off. During the day he'd not asked me for any help than working the bombs. He said a few military curse niceties, altered North and then southwest over the mountain ranges to Comiso. If I ever did anything overseas, this is where I may have saved five lives and a C-47, plus keeping the Navy from being embarrassed again.

The other story is about taking wing tanks to Benghazi, Libya. It turned that we had to wait for the P-38 outfit to install the tanks, and to transport some surplus pilots and ground personnel to Tunis. It was a three-day wait, so we were authorized to R&R in Alexandria, Egypt, for three days, staying at the American Red Cross Hotel.

That was an unforgettable experience. Leaving the plane for a carriage, then taking to a trolley car into the city. We bought some sugar cane to chew from an Egyptian that harvested it near the Nile River. The trolley was open air and we were packed along with civvies like sardines in a can. The first sighting was an Egyptian woman taking a crap on the nearby boulevard, undisturbed, and seemingly in bliss. This was no bombers moon, but a real moonie. There are more stories about Alexandria, but I defer to tell about our trip from Libya to Tunis.

On the trip back, we had a load of pilots and ground personnel. We flew mostly at sea, and about 150 miles from Tunis, we had landfall and Jordan, the 1st pilot descended to 150-200' and buzzed anything in sight, scattering livestock all around the farms and villages, and scaring the Arabs. The P-38 pilots and I were alarmed, and the fighter pilots remarked that they'd not do that. Even back then, the Arabs had reasons for not liking us. After all, we were fighting Hitler who hated Jews as Arabs do, however perhpas for different reasons.

Jordan died later in 1943. He and a good friend of Jim Lowry's, Johnny Southerland, were flying along the North African coast and had to crash land ten miles off the coast of Algiers, Algeria. The water was very rough --they had very little chance of surviving. Everyone on board was killed, except for a flight nurse, who was rescued, and escaped death with just a broken leg. Jordan's nickname was "Mo," but his real name was Jerome Bascom Jordan. He was from Georgia and went through pilot training (Class of 42E) with another 16th TCS pilot, Jim Lowry.

Jordan caught in soft ball games in the Tunisian desert and I played shortstop. There was a line of cacti out in the outfield area. He introduced me to the fruit, and the quills were something else.

Comiso, Sicily, in 1943. Left to right are Jerome "Mo" Jordan (pilot), Newman (pilot), and John W. Holmes (navigator), holding a sextant. Jordan was killed in a crash shortly after this photo was taken. The old motorcycle was put together from a variety of foreign parts. John Holmes, having recently recovering from an attack of desert fever and sinusitis, is down from a weight of 165 to around 130 pounds.

 Back to Top