Sexy Sal: Parks Took Out Fuses In Flight


Pottawattamie County

Lt. Edward L. Parks

Took Out Fuses While in the Air

The story of how 2nd Lt. Edward L. Parks, son of Mrs. Vera Parks, 212 Third street, Council Bluffs, a co-pilot on a Maurauder (sic) bomber, and a Colorado engineer-gunner removed tail fuses and safetied the nose fuses on [a] group of 500 pound bombs that had piled up inside a bomb-bay was released from London Thursday by headquarters, European theater of operations.

And while the work was going on, the crew could do nothing but sit and “sweat it out,” never knowing but what the next second might be their last.

“Sexy Sal,” piloted by 1st Lt. Howard M. Fender, Fort Worth, Tex., had just reached its target, a marshalling yard in France, and as 2nd Lt. James Johnston, Philadelphia, Pa., bombardier, kicked over the release switch, the entire crew heard a loud clank and felt a shudder hit the ship. Johnston went back to investigate and found that all the bombs but two on the bottom had been released and were piled up in the bomb-bay like cordwood.

“Johnston told me that the arming vane had spun off one of the loose bombs, and that he had just stopped another from spinning off before it came off,” recalled Lt. Fender.

“Sexy Sal” remained in formation and under protective cover of the fighter escort until it reached the enemy coast. The possibility of a heavy bump resulted from the fierce flak which was encountered on the way home made the return trip extremely hazardous.

“As soon as we left the enemy coasts, we pulled out of formation,” said Lieutenant Fender, “because if the bombs had gone off, they could have knocked out the entire flight. At the same time, I told Whillhoite (engineer-gunner) to transfer the rest of the gas, to which he replied, “Sir, there ain’t no more gas.” Then I told Johnston to take the fuses out of the bombs.”

The bombardier went to work on the explosives, and with the help of the co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Parks, and S. Sgt. John E. Willhoite, engineer-gunner, La Junta, Col., removed the tail fuses and safetied the nose fuses.

The bombs were rattling angrily, and there was just 30 minutes of gas in “Sexy Sal” as they approached the field which was now covered by haze making visibility very poor. Three attempts were made to land, and finally – “we started to land with those bombs loose, and the crew in a sweat. And there I was trying to make the smoothest landing in my life,” said Lieutenant Fender. And “Sexy Sal,” responded to the skillful handling of her pilot, sat down on the runway as she never had before.

S. Sgt. Derwood S. Tubbs, radio-gunner, Kearney, N. J., and S. Sgt. Everett T. Smith, tail-gunner, Kirkwood, Mo., are the two other members of the Maurauder (sic) crew located at a base commanded by Col. R. F. C. Vance, San Antonio, Tex.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Thursday, May 04, 1944, Page 7

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