WorldWar II Veteran Charles Evans, left, with Wayne Clarke from the New York State Military Museum. Evans, 94, recently recorded the 2,000th oral history to be entered into the museum’s project.
Before the actual recording and interviewing process, participants are given a questionnaire. The information form helps Aikey andClark prepare for the interview, as well as gives the veteran a starting point.The questionnaire then also becomes part of the permanent record with the interview itself.
This February, Charles Evans sat down to give his history and indoing so became the 2,000th veteran to be entered into the project’s records.
“Wayne (Clark) called me and asked if I would do this, and I hadno objection. … I think they’ve got a good program,” Evans said.
Evans enlisted in what was then the Army Air Corps in 1941. Hewas a civilian pilot working for Vultee Aircraft Company, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant after six months of military pilot training inCalifornia.
While in the service, Evans was in charge of a 10-man crew andflew B-24 bombers over Europe in World War II, completing 30 bomber missions, the maximum allowed.
“On almost every mission you had pieces of flak or shrapnel penetrate the airplane, it wasn’t uncommon,” he said, noting too that therewere thousands of 88-millimeter shells being fired at Allied planes.
On one mission, Evans’ tail gunner was hit and flak penetrated his lung. There was a medic on board who saved the tail gunner’s life by giving him morphine to slow the bleeding for the rest of the mission, which lasted several hours.
Many missions are memorable to Evans and he had plenty of close calls, but one that he spoke of makes one wonder if it was more than luck that brought him through unscathed. “I had a piece of flack penetrate my side window about 12 inches from my head. We were on a bomb run in Belgium and all of asudden I felt the cold air on my ear. I was too involved with flying a safe course … when I finally looked it had knocked a hole out of my window. That’s all I got was the cold air, not a piece of steel through my head,” he said.