Whitesburg KY

My first rescue mission

I was at Scott Field, Ill., for many weeks attending a class to become a radio operator on a B-17 bomber. After the war, radio operators were not called for as they were during the war. I was discharged a year later, and went into the Reserves at Godman Field, Ky.

I went home to Jenkins look for work for almost a year. But with all the returning vets, I did not stand a chance when all I ever worked was on a farm. Most of my family had worked in the coal mines all their lives, and I’ve always said I would not go underground to work.

I was still under age and when I became 18 years old, I reenlisted in the Army Air Corps. Like most young men in those days, I wanted to fly.

I was assigned to the largest Air Sea Rescue Unit on the east coast of Langley Field, Va. My new career field was as crew chief of an L-5 aircraft. I would service my plane, pre-flight it, and repair the plane from bird strikes during our flights.

Orders came down from our headquarters that three of our aircrafts with their crews would be sent to Greenland for an aircraft that was abandoned on an icecap on July 15, 1942. We were not the first rescue mission to be sent to look for this aircraft. The Army Air Corps had been looking for it for five years.

The plane was a P-38F, the fastest fighter at that time in the world.

We covered all of Greenland in less than a week, and found nothing. I had never seen that much snow or been that cold in my life. I was so very happy to get back to Langley Field.

On August 1, 1992, the P-38 was recovered from 268 feet inside of a glacier. The plane was named “Glacier Girl”, the Lost Squadron. I understand the plane was restored back to like new condition in Kentucky.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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