By Sgt. Hobert Skidmore

YANK Field Correspondent

AN AIR BASE IN THE PACIFIC—When Sgt. Erno Kovacs of Stratford, Conn., went on his first raid, against Japanese-occupied Wake Island, all he got was tracking and sighting practice. Not that there was any lack of Japanese; 10 Zeroes met the B-24 a half hour this side of Wake. It was just that the belly turret and the guns of the Liberator wouldn’t work.

“We couldn’t test the guns going out,” Erno explained. “The turret would cause drag and we’d lag behind. When the Japs came out to meet us, I couldn’t fire properly. But they didn’t know that. A Zero came straight for our nose, rolled over and came underneath to get a hit at our belly. I kept aiming so he wouldn’t know I couldn’t fire.”

B24 liberator wake island, pacific, germany, italy

A B-24 Liberator releases its payload.

The Liberator, known as Dumbo, came through all right, and Kovacs went back on a second raid the next day. This time his guns were working. “But those so-and-sos,” he said, “didn’t come close enough for me to get a shot.” Besides the two long missions to Wake Island, the 21-year-old gunner went on five search missions, all in less than two weeks after his assignment to this heavy-bombardment squadron.

Before he joined the Army, Kovacs painted the insides of fuselages at the Vought-Sikorsky aircraft factor. His mother, two brothers and a sister are working in war plants back home. Erno said he thinks about them often, but mostly about the girl Genevieve, who saw his picture in the paper when he graduated from Buckley Field gunnery school and wrote him.

“It was a swell picture,” Erno said. “I had on my leather jacket and a white scarf. Boy, I looked sharp. Genevieve’s pictures are swell, too. She’s been to call on Mrs. Kovacs, who sent back a fine report. “When this thing is over, I’m going back and meet her myself,” Erno grinned.

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