Segment 3

Annotation

When Holloman got to Ramitelli [Annotator’s Note: Italy] there were no P-47s [Annotator's Note: Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighter aircraft]. They were flying P-51s [Annotator's Note: P=51 "Mustang" fighter aircraft]. They reported to their squadrons. One of Holloman's friends took him and another friend to the 99th [Annotator's Note: US 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group]. They were told to read the book and take a couple of flights in the P-51. Holloman had 4 or 5 flights before his first mission. His first mission was to escort a group of B-24s [Annotator's Note: American B-24 bombers]. There were five wings of B-24s in the 15th Air Force and one wing of B-17s which totaled 15 groups of B-24s and six groups of B-17s. Holloman had been trained to adjust his altitude when he encountered flak [Annotator's Note: antiaircraft artillery fire]. Sometimes the flak was very thick. When a flak shell hit an airplane the airplane would disintegrate.Because of segregation the men in Holloman's unit all knew each other and were friends. They had been together all through training. The white classes [Annotator’s Note: that did not train at Tuskegee] were broken up several times so the cadets usually didn't graduate with the people they started with. St. Louis produced 22 pilots. Five of them were lost, about 20 percent. Holloman thought that flying was safe. His father had told him about the trenches in World War I. After the war he learned that percentage wise more airmen were lost than men on the ground. Holloman learned this in the 1960s. He had gone through World War II and Korea and was about to go to Vietnam.

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