From Nate Hicks, 40th BG Association Webmaster.
Following is a quotation from Sir Max Hastings comprehensive, unflattering history of the WW2 offensive in the Pacific, “RETRIBUTION”:
Chapter Twelve – Burning a Nation: LeMay – p.293
“Those who made it to the Marianas after another seven hours over the unfriendly ocean, sometimes nursing a damaged plane, bumped heavily onto the runway, taxied in and cut engines. Somebody took out the “honey bucket” for emptying. Crews stretched stiffened limbs, and climbed unsteadily out of the fuselage. Even then, the ordeal was not always over. Ground engineer Bob Mann saw a plane land with bombs still hung up in its bay. Armourers refused to touch the lethal ordnance, saying that their job was to arm the aircraft, not disarm them. With infinite care, the plane’s bombardier and another crew member unscrewed the fuses.”
Personal notes from Nate Hicks:
Bob Mann is a deceased member of the 40th BG Association. The plane involved was #42-63455 (genie) #10 of the 25th Squadron piloted by Capt. Tom Turner. The bombardier was Dick Fisher and the other crewmember was Nate Hicks, Radar Operator. The Radio Operator who was responsible to report the front bombbay ‘clear’ after bombs away was Cpl. Bill Hixenbaugh who recalled the incident during a conference phone call with Nate that was set up by a TV station interviewing him on his part in the War’s history. “I really got reamed out for that goof” was his recollection.
The plane had made an emergency stop at Iwo for fuel that included a “hard” landing. Evidently the bays were not opened, fuel was taken on, and then the trip back to Tinian for another hard landing. At the hardstand, Fisher and I were always responsible for the recheck of the bombbays. It was then that we found a 250 pounder in the front bay, hung up by the rear shackle, with the nose dropped to free the arming wire. Someone said to call Armament who came and declined to help as all others beat a hasty retreat. The crew chiefs ladder was laying on the ground which we grabbed. I held it and Fisher climbed up and unscrewed the fuse. When we had it safely on the ground, personnel began to filter back to the area.
It has been my contention that Fisher should have been cited for the Bronze Star for this effort. Had it gone awry, at least our plane would have been lost, and probably several more nearby. Unfortunately, in the heat of combat, thoughts such as those are not high on the list of concerns.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Dick Fisher at his home in Burlington, VT briefly soon after the war along with my crew mate, John Constandy, and again later when winding down my recall duty for the Korean War. At that time he was under the care of a full time nurse for what I believe was ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and passed away only a few years later.