Porter remembers 125 missions over Europe Says he was but one of many to fly
By By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
When George Porter survived being shot from Italian skies in 1944, he was given the chance to go home. It was his 62nd mission as a P-40 fighter/bomber pilot in World War II.
His plane hit by ground fire, Porter ejected and parachuted into Italy, where he was picked up by civilians and carried to American medics. Even with shrapnel wounds in his neck, left arm and side, he decided to rejoin the war.
His attitude toward fighting had changed little through nearly three years of war. Before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Porter had served one year in the field artillery. He was released from that duty in September 1941. When America entered the war, Porter joined the Army Air Corps.
After being shot down, he would go on to fly 63 missions in the new P-47 fighter/bomber before the war ended. In total, he flew 125 combat infantry-support missions over North Africa, Italy, Corsica, France and Germany.
Escort fighters’ duty was to engage enemy fighters trying to shoot down Allied bombers flying from England to bomb German targets in occupied Europe.
Flying at speeds between 340 and 430 mph with a 500-pound bomb under each of his wings, Porter and his squadron strafed German infantry and armored units. They could also bring napalm, phosphorous bombs and 100-pound fragmentation bombs to bear on the Germans.
Flying against the Germans, whom he said were “mean as hell, but excellent fighters,” Porter “shot up convoys and locomotives.”
In 1945, Porter was stationed in France, near the German border.
Asked how he feels about his role in the war so many years later, he said that “all war is brutal … is cruel. There’s a lot of suffering going on and a lot of innocent people are killed. But if you know the truth about it, the U.S. was fighting for its life.”
Edna, Porter’s wife of 54 years, said that “if it hadn’t been for his generation fighting, we wouldn’t have the country we have now.”
Porter insisted that he was but one of 16 million Americans that served in the Second World War, 850,000 of which were killed or wounded. For his service, Porter was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart from the American government and the Croix de Guerre by the French, amongst other decorations.
Having heard his father’s stories since childhood, Bobby Porter simply added, “he is a hero.”