1941: Texas Goes to War Page: 70
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Andy Brown of Anson was another of the many Texas
aviators who lost their lives during the war. Before he joined
the service at age 35, Brown made sodas and filled prescrip-
tions at the corner drugstore. As a technical sergeant in the
8th Army Air Force in England, he flew 26 bombing mis-
sions, including several over Berlin. During his final mis-
sion, Brown's plane burst into flames over England. With the
fire in the cockpit growing closer to the bomber's gas lines,
Brown encouraged the nine other crewmen to parachute to
safety while he fought the fire alone. His own parachute was
destroyed in the fire, and the plane exploded before Brown
could bring the bomber down for a crash landing.
Texas led the nation in training aviators for the war.
From 1942 to 1944 more than 44,000 pilots got their wings in
the Lone Star State. With the large number of airfields and
training centers in the state, it was no wonder that so many Texans
became pilots during World War II. In the Whitson family of Den-
ton, all the boys became pilots. Bill and Warren flew B-17s in
Europe and their brother John flew B-24s. "I couldn't swim," said
Bill Whitson, "so there was no use in going into the navy." And the
brothers agreed that they'd rather fly in the air force than walk with
Bill Whitson, a member of the 305th Bomb Group, still has part
of the nose section of his plane, "Old Bill," that was shot up over
Germany in 1943. In a raid on Bremen, his squadron met a group of
Focke-Wulf 190s. Although his navigator was killed and he was
shot in the leg and the back, Whitson made it back to his base in
England. He flew a total of 25 missions, dropping armor-piercing
bombs on sub and air bases throughout France and Germany. Never
70 TEANs IN COMBAT
The North American Aviation plant at
Grand Prairie produced thousands of
these aircraft, which were powered by
Packard-built engines. The Mustangs
gave U.S. bombers the protection they
needed to penetrate the Nazi heartland.
Even Goering knew the air war was lost
when the first Mustangs appeared over
Young Capt. Chuck Yeager flew
Mustangs against Goering's Luftwaffe.
Although he was shot down and missed
months of combat, Yeager came home a
decorated ace. He finished the war as an
instructor, teaching the right stuff to young pilots at Perrin Field near Sherman. For fun, Yeager and his
wingman staged terrifying mock dog fights over the unfilled bed of Lake Texoma. Today the old field is
the peaceful home of Grayson County Junior College.
-R. E. Montgomery
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Lee, James Ward; Barnes, Carolyn N.; Bowman, Kent A. & Crow, Laura. 1941: Texas Goes to War, book, 1991; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28326/m1/88/: accessed May 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.