Dec 20, 2006

Ted Hallock, "Young Man Behind Plexiglas"

Oregon land use pioneer Ted Hallock, who recently passed away at the age of 85, was a B-17 bombardier in World War II. Hallock completed thirty missions over Germany and Europe. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart for wounds he received over Augsburg, and also the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross. Here's an excerpt of an interview with Hallock from the August 12, 1944 New Yorker. (Also featured in Reporting World War II, American Journalism 1938-1946, Samuel Hynes, p. 513-528)

From the New Yorker article, here’s Hallock talking about the Augsburg raid:

“There was never any predicting which targets the Germans would come up to fight for. I was over Berlin five times, over Frankfort four times, over Saarbrucken, Hamm, Munster, Leipzig, Wilhelmsmshaven. . .”

”We had a feeling that this Augsburg show was bound to be tough, and it was. We made our runs and got off our bombs in the midst of one hell of a dogfight. Our group leader was shot down and about a hundred and fifty or two hundred German fighters swarmed over us as we headed for home. Then, screaming in from someplace, a twenty-millimeter shell exploded in the nose of our Fort. It shattered the Plexiglas, broke my interphone and oxygen connections, and a fragment of it cut through my heated suit and flak suit. I could feel it burning into my right shoulder and arm. . .”

". . .I crawled back in the plane, wondering if anyone else needed first aid…. I found that two shells had hit the waist of the plane, exploding the cartridge belts stored there, and that one waist gunner had been hit in the forehead and the other in the jugular vein. I thought,‘I’m wounded, but I’m the only man on the ship who can do this job right.’ I placed my finger against the gunner’s jugular vein, applied pressure bandages, and injected morphine into him. Then I sprinkled the other man’s wound with sulfa powder. . .”

Talking about his plans for after the war, Hallock said, ". . .We don't think too much about that. We're not ready to settle down and have kids and all that stuff. We feel as if we'd been cheated out of a good big chink of our lives, and we want to make it up. I want to go back to college. Damn it, I want to play drums in a band again, in Ted Hallock's Band. I want to feel that maybe I can look two days ahead without getting scared. I want to feel GOOD about things. You know what I mean. It seems to me that sooner or later, I'm going to be entitled to say to myself, 'Ok kid, relax. Take it easy. You and Muriel got a lifetime in front of you. Do what you damn please with it.' I want to be able to tell myself, 'Listen, Hallock, all that cannon-fodder stuff never happened. You're safe, You're fine. Things are going to be different for Muriel and you. Things are going to be great. You're not a damn little cog anymore. You're on your way'. "
Ted Hallock, Young Man Behind Plexiglas
The New Yorker, August 12, 1944

Ted Hallock, thanks for a lifetime of service.

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