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461st Bombardment Group (H)

One More Mission

A Journey from Childhood to War

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One More Mission

One More Mission: A Journey from Childhood to War is an autobiography by Jesse Pettey that is a captivating narrative of the adventures of a young boy who grows up to become a military pilot in World War II and his observations of a deadly air war from the cockpit of a B-24 heavy bomber. It will hold readers spellbound who are interested in history or those who just simply enjoy reading about an adventurous young boy who lived during a time that few can now remember.

The author wrote, "Between my fifth and seventeenth birthday, the Great Depression raged, molding the character and attitudes of my generation.  We observed and felt the sting of austerity, hardships, misfortunes, and despair during the decade of the thirties, followed by World War II that brought about more misery and destruction.  I grew up in those two decades of instability that molded my life.  When I was five years old, the complete collapse of the stock market began.  Almost everywhere one looked, there was evidence of suffering: people standing in line waiting to receive food being distributed by various agencies, men standing in line to apply for scarce employment, and if they were fortunate enough to have a job, they often worked at undignified tasks.  Classmates in school wore second-hand patched clothes, and most tragic of all, there were many stunted, malnourished children.  Yet, I enjoyed a happy childhood full of exciting adventures.  My father worked for a utility company that supplied electricity, an essential commodity, to Nacogdoches County and provided him with stable employment; therefore, we did not suffer the hardships that many farm families experienced during the depression.”

The author wrote of enlisting in the Army Air Corps at age 18 and becoming a flight cadet.  He described his flight training in various aircraft, his graduation from the cadet program as a Second Lieutenant pilot in 1944.  After serving a short time as a pilot instructor, he was transferred to a training center in Tonopah, Nevada and assigned the position of copilot with a B-24 Liberator bomber flight crew.

From Tonopah, the author wrote, he and his crew were ordered to fly a new B-24 that would later be christened "The Shady Lady", from San Francisco, by way of New Foundland, the Azores, Marrakech, Morocco and Tunis to the 461st Bombardment Group located at Torretta Field near Cerignola, Italy.  From his memory and notes, he describes in detail his 35 bombing missions over Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Greece, and France.  During these missions, he survived severe damage to his aircraft from anti-aircraft shells and German fighter airplanes for which he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals.

The author continued to write of his experiences flying cargo with M.A.T.S. (Mediterranean Air Transport Service) to various airfields in Europe, Eastern Europe, and mid-eastern countries after completing his tour of combat missions.  It was while stationed in Naples that he met and fell in love with a pretty Italian girl.  October 3, 1945 they were married by a military chaplain at the Capodichino Air Base in Naples.  His humorous description of their courtship, their honeymoon and her subsequent passage a year later from Naples to New York on the Algonquin will surely amuse and entertain the reader.  The Algonquin was a U. S. Navy hospital ship equipped to care for 800 sea sick pregnant war brides.

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