Last Kill?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
I am just relaying this story from a veteran who is no longer with us.

Submitted: January 19, 2015

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Submitted: January 19, 2015

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"You know Mr. Frank died yesterday." my neighbor said. It wasn't really a question as it sounds but more like a simple statement of fact. It took me by surprise. I had spoken to him less than a week before. Sure, he was old, but he didn't appear to be at death's door. I suppose it goes to show how one can never tell.

I was at a party next door the day before Christmas Eve, 2012. Holiday music was playing on the satellite radio. People were stuffing their faces with chips and dips. The hard liquor was flowing like water, and laughter was the order of the day. That's when I spied an old man off in a corner by himself. He was slumped over his walker, apparently not interested in merriment. I wandered over to ask if I could get him anything from the buffet table.

It turned out that his name was Frank something. I had never met him before, and I never did learn his last name because people just called him Mr. Frank. Yes, he wasn't interested in the festive hoopla, and no he didn't want anything to eat or drink. Some relative had checked him out of his nursing home for the day just to get him some fresh air and a change of scenery. He supposed he should be thankful for the consideration, but he would have preferred peace and quiet.

I suppose I should have let the old man be, but I struck up a conversation anyway. That's how I heard a curious story, one that ended with a question that will probably never be answered.

Mr. Frank was a USAAF airman who had enlisted during the final year of World War II. He was trained to be an aircraft spotter. He was able to tell at a glance the make of any airplane that flew in those days, at least in theory. He was assigned to various anti-aircraft batteries. His job was to prevent our gunners from shooting down our own guys.

During the closing days of the war in Europe, he was riding in the back of a three truck convoy. The men in the trucks were being taken to an airfield. They were expecting to be flown back to the States for discharge or possibly transfer to the Pacific theater.

Mr. Frank got the shock of his life when a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 dove out of a cloud bank about a mile behind the convoy. He recognized it instantly. It didn't seem possible. No German aircraft had been spotted in the air in his op area for a week or more.

The pilot aligned his fighter along the road to make a strafing run. "Please, God," Frank prayed, "Don't let me die now. The war is all but over." The plane bore straight in at treetop level. Hell, the crazy pilot came all the way down to eyeball level, and he was closing on the convoy at 300 miles per hour. Frank shut his eyes and put his fingers in his ears. The roar of the propellor was deafening; the ground was shaking. "Just make it quick, Lord." Frank pleaded, "Don't let me suffer." He felt the downdraft from the wings as the German passed directly overhead. He then watched in awe as the plane climbed back into the clouds like some majestic bird of prey.

The German never fired a shot. Maybe his guns had jammed. More likely, however, he was out of ammunition. It was almost certain he was also low on fuel. With all German airfields in Allied hands by then, he would have to land in some farmer's field. He might even have to bail out if his engine quit while in flight.

Other than being frightened, nobody in Frank's truck was harmed. The same could not be said for the middle truck in the convoy. The driver of that one had panicked and driven into a ditch. He wasn't injured himself, but a guy in back had his head slammed into the cab of the truck. He died of a broken neck.

From that day forward, Mr. Frank had wondered if the guy who died was the last kill of the last sortie of the German Luftwaffe on the last day of World War II.

Copyright © 2015 W.C. Bell; All rights reserved.


© Copyright 2020 Whiskey Charlie. All rights reserved.

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