By Cheryl Smith Kemp
On July 25, 1944, with 160 hours of B-24 Liberator tail-gunner training under his belt, but no combat-flying experience, Jose M. Salas was picked to fill in with a crew for a flight from a United States base near Torretta, Italy, to Linz Austria.
“It was a very rough mission. We had a lot of enemy planes hit us,” recalled Salas, who was still a teenager at the time. “There was about 50 or so airplanes shot down that day. … I had six fighters shooting at my tail.”