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Lt. Col. WILLIAM PAUL CUMMINGS
This was a tribute in Ladoga Heroes, written by Bill Boone - love that guy - what a historian :)
Another Ladoga hero was William Paul Cummings, a 1939 graduate of Ladoga High School who spent a total of 28 years in the service and flew missions in three wars. Cummings, an Air Force pilot flew 50 missions over Europe in WW II, 24 missions over Korea and 28 over Vietnam. He once said that he always felt safest when his bomber was escorted by the Red Tails, members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the 99th Pursuit Squadron who flew P51 Mustangs and whose job it was to protect the large bombers from enemy fighters. Lt. Col. Cummings' most dangerous mission turned out to be #47, a bombing mission over Germany in WW II. The B24 Buzz crew took off with a crew of 10 including co-pilot Paul Cummings, from an air base near Verona, Italy.
According to a report by Roy Boling the pilot, "Our target was to be the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin Works near Friedrichshafen, Germany. This plant if destroyed would permanently cripple the manufacture of airplane parts in Germany." Boling continued, "In a few minutes we were over the Adriatic Sea, where we started a slow climb toward bombing altitude. They sky in front was darkened by the great numbers of airplanes, all going to various targets in and around the city of Friedrichshafen, Germany. The assembly of the airplanes was timed perfectly for each group to fall into its prearranged place in formation. This formed a line of airplanes almost as far as the eye could see." Just as the B24 released its bombs, it received a heavy hit killing the navigator, wounding two others and rendering the plane almost impossible to control. The crew was fortunate to nurse the plane back to its base where it crash landed narrowly missing the control tower and two parked airplanes. Two of the crewmen counted over five hundred flak holes in the "Mizpan" before they got tired of counting and stopped.
Boling concluded by saying, "We learned later that the plane was beyond repair and would be used for spare parts." It is interesting that the aircrafts of two of Ladoga's most famous WW II heroes never flew again after their heroic missions. Lt Col. William Paul Cummings received many medals and commendations for his service. Here are just a few of them; " Airman's Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters " Distinguished Flying Cross " Air Force Commendation Medal " Air Force Reserve Medal " United Nations Service Medal " Korean Service Medal " National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star " Air force Commendation Unit Award " Air force Liberation Service Action with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters " Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal " Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
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