By Eugene Spearman

By March 30, 1945, I had already flown 23 missions. The sergeant woke me and said, “Spearman, briefing at 0400. You are flying with the Ed Nicolai crew.” I got dressed and got on my little English bike and rode down to the mess hall. We called it Ptomaine Tavern. I wondered how many other airmen had ridden this same little bike. You acquired them by going down to the flightline and getting one that some previous crewman left because they did not return from a mission.

bremen mission

S/Sgt. Eugene Spearman. (Photo courtesy of

After breakfast we went to briefing where the flight commander would tell us the target for the day. If it was a rough target you would hear some “Awes and groans.” Today it was the submarine base at Bremen. Next, the weather officer would tell us about the weather over the target as well as at the base when we returned. Then a navigation officer would talk about the rout in and out of Germany. Then with a “Good luck Boys—hit the target” send-off, we would file out, pick up our equipment, and ride the trucks out to the dispersed planes. Dressed in the heavy flight suits, I always thought everyone looked like stuffed toad frogs.

We then taxied out to the end of the runway and awaited our signal to take off. Standing there during most of my missions even in rain or snow stood a man, Bro Billy, holding a Bible. His being there was such a blessing for me. Just knowing someone was praying for me made me feel better.

And then we roared down the runway and into the air. The 384th history log showed the mission to Bremen was mission #300 flown by the 384th BG. There were 39 aircraft from Grafton Underwood and the total bomb load of 500lb bombs was 105 tons. The elevation at target was 26,000 feet and bombing was by PF. Flak was moderate and accurate. We were in the left hand wing position and made a left hand turn off the target and were struck by flak shortly after releasing our bombs. The pilot was slightly injured when cockpit plexiglass and copilot controls were hit. The waist gunner was hit by flak in the upper chest by saved by his flak suit. The tail gunner was KIA when flak hit the tail. Two engines were knocked out and we left formation, hit the deck and headed home with some 200 holes in her. The plane’s name was Snuffy, ol’ 42-32106, and I thought she would be scrapped, but she flew again after we departed with 34 missions to our credit.

bremen mission

B-17G 42-32106 Snuffy aka Worry Bird. (Photo courtesy of

For more history on the 384th Bomb Group see:

For More Stories on the 384th Bomb Group See:

LEISNIG – Witness to Disaster: Sergeant Marlyn Bonacker’s Short War

For More on the Eighth Air Force Check Out:

Blood and Fears: How America’s Bomber Boys of the 8th Air Force Saved World War II

Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany

The Boys In The B-17: 8Th Air Force Combat Stories Of WWII

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