WWII Fighter Pilot: The Forty Year Nightmare by Lee Rorex

Captain Lee Rorex and my dad flew in the 389th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, of the 9th United States Army Air Force in Europe during World War II. Dad flew 75 combat missions, earned at least three Air Medals, and a Presidential Unit Citation for destroying 40 German locomotives during a 36-hour period. Capt. Lee flew with him on many of those missions. This is where I got my middle name – Lee – after Lee Rorex. In the 1980s he wrote a number of essays about his experiences during the war. He may have published them, so I suppose my putting them on my website without permission is piracy, but I thought the stories were too good to lie forgotten. Shortly after my dad passed away in 2000, Capt. Lee sent me these stories. My dad rarely talked about his war experiences, which is a common reaction among people who have seen real combat. So this was a welcome insight into my own father’s experiences. I dedicate this work to Maj. Dean Todd (ret.) and Capt. Lee Rorex, who flew these missions together. — Gary Lee Todd Continue reading

WWII Fighter Pilot: The 12,000 Pound Wasp by Lee Rorex

Captain Lee Rorex and my dad flew in the 389th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, of the 9th United States Army Air Force in Europe during World War II. This is their stories. See intro to previous post for more. I dedicate this work to Maj. Dean Todd (ret.) and Capt. Lee Rorex, who were ordinary men who did a great job and are true heroes, though they would never call themselves that. — Gary Lee Todd Continue reading

WWII Fighter Pilot: A Semi-White, Dirty-Water World by Lee Rorex

Captain Lee Rorex and my dad flew in the 389th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, of the 9th United States Army Air Force in Europe during World War II. This is their stories. See intro to first post for more. I dedicate this work to Maj. Dean Todd (ret.) and Capt. Lee Rorex, who were ordinary guys who did a great job and are true heroes, though they would never call themselves that. — Gary Lee Todd Continue reading

WWII Fighter Pilot: TAILBONE GLOW by Lee Rorex

This is the 4th of 6 autobiographical accounts by a P-47 pilot in the 366th Fighter Group of the 9th Army Air Force in Europe in 1944-45. Lee Rorex, the author, sent them to me in 2001 shortly after my dad passed away. He and my dad had flown together, and in many ways these essays tell the story my dad rarely talked about. I didn’t want the stories to be forgotten, so I decided to put them on my website and give them to the world. —Gary Lee Todd (and this is where I got my middle name, Lee) Continue reading

WWII Fighter Pilot: Peek-A-Boo Pinkerton by Lee Rorex

My dad was a writer, too. He was aviation and business editor of the Rockford Register Republic from 1954 until he retired in 1981. He edited and actually did much of the writing of Fish Hassell’s autobiography, A Viking with Wings. But so far as I know, he never wrote about his own experiences as a P-47 pilot with the 9th AAF. Lee Rorex did, 40 years after the war was over. He told me my dad – Dean Todd – was with him on most or all of the missions he wrote about. So this is my dad’s story as well as Capt. Lee’s. —Gary Lee Todd Continue reading

WWII Fighter Pilot: Genius, A Twenty-four Hour-A-Day Thing by Lee Rorex

This is the 6th and last of the essays Lee Rorex sent me in early 2001. He and my dad flew together in the 389th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, 9th U.S. Army Air Force, the tactical Air Force in the European Theater. I remember in a letter to me he once referred to himself as a “hired assassin.” This surprised me. Vietnam had made me decidedly cynical, but I had thought World War II was the “good war.” But my dad almost never talked about it, and Capt. Lee was still having nightmares 40 years later. I guess there really is no “good war.” —Gary Lee Todd Continue reading