The B-17, the Flying Fortress. A U-S. bomber that helped bring Nazi Germany to its knees. Crews of 10 risked their lives during bombing runs that were a one way ticket for many.
Flight Officer J.F. Dodd was co-pilot of a B-17 and he survived 29 bombing runs.
Joachim Firman Dodd grew up outside of Boston and had to get his parent’s permission to enlist at age 17 in the Army Air Corps. After extensive training, he was stationed at Bassingborne Air Base in England.
His plane was part of the Mighty 8th Air Force, 91st Bomb Group, and 401st Squadron. The plane was nicknamed “Little Patches” presumably because it had been hit and repaired many times. It was part of same bomb group as Memphis Belle which was the first plane to complete 25 missions over Europe.
When the film Memphis Belle hit theaters, Dodd took his wife and son Kevin to the movie. They were amazed that he had lived through such a terrifying experience. But Dodd saw the movie differently.
“We came out the theater I was all shook up and he was laughing saying gosh it was a lot worse than that, said Gloria Dodd, wife of Firman Dodd.
During war years, Gloria Bland remembers news of the fighting, rationing and a lack of boys to date.
“Well the one thing I know is that all the guys were gone. I was glad to see them come back, yes,” said Mrs. Dodd.
She met Firman Dodd after war, after he graduated from Xavier on the G.I. Bill. They married and raised their children Jennifer, Kevin and Kristin in Terre Haute.
Son Kevin said his dad told him about sub-zero conditions during the missions.and once had kick a bomb out of the plane that was frozen.
His Daughter Jennifer remembers her dad said once a gunner on his plane froze with fear and they had to threaten him at gun point, so that he would keep shooting at enemy aircraft.
Through an online search we found more, including a 1945 mission log. Things we never knew. Like on the 30th of March the group attacked the submarine and shipbuilding yards in Bremen. Bombing was done visually with good to excellent results. And on 12th May 1945 the squadron participated in the Revival mission picking up prisoners of war after the cease fire.
50 years later, Firman Dodd passed away shortly after retiring from Wabash Fiber Box. But, like many World War II veterans, the role they played in the war, the price they paid for victory resulted in countless opportunities for their children and grandchildren to live in freedom.