HILLSBORO, Ore. -- The Memphis Belle, a large four engine, B-17 bomber, which starred in the movie of the same name, landed softly in Hillsboro Monday.
It is one of a handful of B-17s still flying anywhere in the world. It's in Hillsboro to honor World War II veterans like Bob Schuberg.
The 87-year-old watched the plane’s arrival and remembered the courage he had as a 19-year-old tailgunner.
“Danger is not an issue,” he said, remembering back to the days when enemy flak would explode all around his plane. “My first mission was a very harrowing experience because the plane just to our left was hit and I watched as it rolled over and went down."
Charlie Gallagher is another WWII veteran who showed up to see the big plane. He was a flight engineer and a top turret gunner on a B-17.
“At times it was a delight, at times you didn’t really want to be there,” Gallagher said.
Bill Frostick was a top turret gunner too. The plane brought back memories.
“The good ones you remember, the unpleasant ones you forget. I’ve forgotten a lot,” said Frostick.
But they each recalled the sound of the big engines and the thrill of being in the air.
TheLiberty Foundation flies the plane around the country to honor veterans. It offers paid flights to the public on weekends. Click on the link for details. This day, the veterans got a free flight.
When we were off the ground, they were able to move around and look out the side machine gun doors, out the top of the plane and even the Plexiglas front nose of the bomber.
Back on the ground, Bill Frostick remembered what he did not like about the plane.
“They’re just as noisy as it ever was. Hasn’t improved a bit,” he said with a smile.
And Bob Schuberg noticed how his body has changed. “As a 19-year-old, I could get around much better than I can now,” he said.
They are aged warriors now, but the B-17 flight helped bring back memories and feelings from 1945 as if it were yesterday.