The Best – Boogie Woogie – Not Some of the Best –
The Story of the Bad Angel! Pima Air & Space Museum…
On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, 2013, Ms. Karen, my 94-year-old father, Bill Gressinger and I were visiting Pima Air and Space Museum.
We were in Hanger #4 to view the beautifully restored B-29, when I happened to take notice of a P-51 Mustang near the big bomber. It’s name? ”
P-51 Mustang “Bad Angel” in Hanger #4 at Pima Air and Space Museum.
I was admiring its aerodynamic lines and recalled enough history to know that until the Mustangs came into service, the skies over the Pacific Ocean were dominated by Japanese Zeros.
Then something very strange caught my eye.
Proudly displayed on the fuselage of ‘Bad Angel’ were the markings of the pilot’s kills: seven Nazis; one Italian; one Japanese AND ONE AMERICAN. Huh?
“Bad Angel” shot down an American airplane?
Was it a terrible mistake? Couldn’t be. If it had been an unfortunate misjudgment, certainly the pilot would not have displayed the American flag. I knew there had to be a good story here. Fortunately for us, one of the Museum’s many fine docents was on hand to tell it.
In 1942, the United States needed pilots for its war planes, lots of war planes, lots of pilots. Lt. Louis Curdes was one. When he was 22 years old, he graduated flight training school and was shipped off to the Mediterranean to fight Nazis in the air over Southern Europe.
He arrived at his 82nd Fighter Group, 95th Fighter Squadron in April, 1943, and was assigned a P-38 Lightning. Ten days later he shot down three German Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters. A few weeks later, he downed two more German Bf-109’s.
In less than a month of combat, Louis was an Ace. During the next three months, Louis shot down an Italian Mc.202 fighter and two more Messerschmitt Bf-109’s before his luck ran out.
A German fighter shot down his plane on August 27, 1943, over Salerno, Italy
Captured by the Italians, he was sent to a POW camp near Rome.
No doubt this is where he thought he would spend the remaining years of the war. It wasn’t to be. A few days later, the Italians surrendered. Louis and a few other pilots escaped before the Nazis could take control of the camp.
One might think that such harrowing experiences would have taken the fight out of Louis, yet he volunteered for another combat tour.
This time, Uncle Sam sent him to the Philippines where he flew P-51 Mustangs.
Soon after arriving in the Pacific Theater, Louis downed a Mitsubishi reconnaissance plane near Formosa. Now he was one of only three Americans to have kills against all three Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Pilot Lt. Louis Curdes in his P-51 Mustang “Bad Angel”
Up until this point, young Lt. Curdes’ combat career had been stellar.
His story was about to take a twist so bizarre that it seems like the fictional creation of a Hollywood screenwriter.
While attacking the Japanese-held island of Bataan, one of Louis wingmen was shot down. The pilot ditched in the ocean. Circling overhead, Louis could see that his wingman had survived, so he stayed in the area to guide a rescue plane and protect the downed pilot.
It wasn’t long before he noticed another, larger airplane, wheels down, preparing to land at the Japanese-held airfield on Bataan.
He moved in to investigate. Much to his surprise the approaching plane was a Douglas C-47 transport with American markings.
He tried to make radio contact, but without success. He maneuvered his Mustang in front of the big transport several times trying to wave it off. The C-47 kept heading to its landing target. Apparently the C-47 crew didn’t realize they were about to land on a Japanese held island, and soon would be captives.
Lt. Curdes read the daily newspaper accounts of the war, including the viciousness of the Japanese soldiers toward their captives.
He knew that whoever was in that American C-47 would be, upon landing, either dead or wish they were. But what could he do?
Audaciously, he lined up his P-51 directly behind the transport, carefully sighted one of his .50 caliber machine guns and knocked out one of its two engines. Still the C-47 continued on toward the Bataan airfield. Curdes shifted his aim slightly and knocked out the remaining engine, leaving the baffled pilot no choice but to ditch in the ocean.
One of “Bad Angel’s” .50 caliber machine guns built into it wings. .50 caliber ammo for P-51 Mustangs.
The big plane came down in one piece about 50 yards from his bobbing wingman.
At this point, nightfall and low fuel forced Louis to return to base.
The next morning, Louis flew cover for a rescuing PBY that picked up the downed Mustang pilot and 12 passengers and crew, including two female nurses, from the C-47.
All survived, and later, Lt. Curdes would end up marrying one of these nurses.
For shooting down an unarmed American transport plane, Lt. Louis Curdes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Thereafter, on the fuselage of his P-51 “Bad Angel”,
he proudly displayed the symbols of his kills: seven German, one Italian, one Japanese and one American flag.
And As Paul Harvey use to say “ now you know the rest of the story “ !!
Think you are having a bad day?
Fire authorities in California found a corpse in a burned-out section of forest while assessing the damage done by a forest fire. The deceased male was dressed in a full wet suit, complete with scuba tanks on his back, flippers, and face mask.
A postmortem test revealed that the man died not from burns, but from massive internal injuries. Dental records provided a positive identification. Investigators then set about to determine how a fully clothed diver ended up in the middle of a forest fire.
It was revealed that on the day of the fire, the man went diving off the coast, some 20 miles from the forest. The fire fighters, seeking to control the fire as quickly as possible, had called in a fleet of helicopters with very large dip buckets. Water was dipped from the ocean and emptied at the site of the forest fire.
You guessed it. One minute our diver was making like Flipper in the Pacific, the next, he was doing the breast stroke in a fire dip bucket 300 feet in the air.
Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed but keep reading….
Still think you’re having a bad day?
A man was working on his motorcycle on the patio, his wife nearby in the kitchen. While racing the engine, the motorcycle accidentally slipped into gear. The man, still holding onto the handlebars, was dragged along as it burst through the glass patio doors.
His wife, hearing the crash, ran in the room to find her husband cut and bleeding, the motorcycle, and the shattered patio door. She called for an ambulance and, because the house sat on a fairly large hill, went down the several flights of stairs to meet the paramedics and escort them to her husband.
While the attendants were loading her husband, the wife managed to right the motorcycle and push it outside. She also quickly blotted up the spilled petrol with some paper towels and tossed them into the toilet.
After being treated and released, the man returned home, looked at the shattered patio door and the damage done to his motorcycle. He went into the bathroom and consoled himself with a cigarette while attending to his business. About to stand, he flipped the butt between his legs.
The wife, who was in the kitchen, heard a loud explosion and her husband screaming. Finding him lying on the bathroom floor with his trousers blown away and burns on his buttocks, legs and groin, she once again phoned for an ambulance. The same paramedic crew was dispatched.
As the paramedics carried the man down the stairs to the ambulance they asked the wife how he had come to burn himself. She told them. They started laughing so hard, one slipped, the stretcher dumping the husband out. He fell down the remaining stairs, breaking his arm.
Still having a bad day ?
Just remember, it could be worse.
The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were being released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later, in full view, a killer whale ate them both.
Still think you are having a bad day?
A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically, almost in a dancing frenzy, with some kind of wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy plank of wood, breaking his arm in two places. Up to that moment, he had been happily listening to his Walkman.
STILL think you’re having a bad day?
Two animal rights protesters were protesting at the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn , Germany . Suddenly, all two thousand pigs broke loose and escaped through a broken fence, stampeding madly. The two hapless protesters were trampled to death.
What?STILL having a bad day??
Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet didn’t pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with ‘return to sender’ stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits.
There now, feeling better?
Immigration – Mexico versus US
IMMIGRATION VETTING IN MEXICO:
Tom O’Malley, Director with S.W. BELL in Mexico City:
“I spent five years working in Mexico. I worked under a tourist Visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval.
“During that six months our Mexican and U.S. attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a ‘FM3’. It was in addition to my U.S. passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. Barbara’s was the same, except hers did not permit her to work.
“To apply for the FM3, I needed to submit the following notarized originals (not copies):
1. Birth certificate for Barbara and me.
2. Marriage certificate.
3. High school transcripts and proof of graduation.
4. College transcripts for every college I attended and proof of graduation.
5. Two letters of recommendation from supervisors I had worked for at least one year.
6. A letter from the St. Louis Chief of Police indicating that I had no arrest record in the U.S. and
no outstanding warrants and, was “a citizen in good standing”.
7. Finally, I had to write a letter about myself that clearly stated why there was no Mexican citizen with my skills and why my skills were important to Mexico. We called it our ‘I am the greatest person on Earth’ letter. It was fun to write.
“All of the above were in English that had to be translated into Spanish and be certified as legal translations, and our signatures notarized.
It produced a folder about 1.5 inches thick with English on the left side & Spanish on the right.” “Once they were completed Barbara and I spent about five hours, accompanied by a Mexican attorney, touring Mexican government office locations and being photographed and fingerprinted at least three times at each location, and we remember at least four locations where we were instructed on Mexican tax, labor, housing, and criminal law and that we were required to obey their laws or face the consequences.
We could not protest any of the government’s actions or we would be committing a felony.
We paid out four thousand dollars in fees and bribes to complete the process.
When this was done we could legally bring in our household goods that were held by U.S. Customs in Laredo, Texas.
This meant we had rented furniture in Mexico while awaiting our goods. There were extensive fees involved here that the company paid.” “We could not buy a home and were required to rent at very high rates and under contract and
compliance with Mexican law.” “We were required to get a Mexican driver’s license. This was an amazing process.
The company arranged for the licensing agency to come to our headquarters location with their photography and fingerprint equipment and the laminating machine.
We showed our U.S. license, were photographed and fingerprinted again and issued the license instantly after paying out a six dollar fee. We did not take a written or driving test and never received instructions on the rules of the road.
Our only instruction was to never give a policeman your license if stopped and asked.
We were instructed to hold it against the inside window away from his grasp. If he got his hands on it you would have to pay ransom to get it back.” “We then had to pay and file Mexican income tax annually using the number of our FM3 as our ID number. The company’s Mexican accountants did this for us and we just signed what they prepared. It was about twenty legal size pages annually.”
“The FM3 was good for three years and renewable for two more after paying more fees.”
“Leaving the country meant turning in the FM3 and certifying we were leaving no debts behind and no outstanding legal affairs (warrants, tickets or liens) before our household goods were released to customs.
“Facts about living and working are above, below are different facts and/or opinions:
“It was a real adventure and if any of our Senators or Congressmen went through it once they would have a different attitude toward Mexico.”
“The Mexican government uses its vast military and police forces to keep its citizens intimidated and compliant. They never protest at their capitol or government offices, but do protest daily in front of the United States Embassy. The U.S. Embassy looks like a strongly reinforced fortress and during most protests the Mexican military surrounds the block with their men standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear to protect
COOPER LOVES ICE CREAM
Budweiser Clydesdales Commercials (ten years)