Special Duties Pilot.

ARRSE Rating
4.00 star(s)
Special Duties Pilot by John M Billings.

John M Billings I suspect would make a good dinner party guest…. Do people still have dinner parties? Born in 1923 in Massachusetts he took his first flight at three years old (as a passenger obviously). After that his path was set.

After the gentle self effacing progress of the book gos on you suddenly realise that he has flown half a tour with a B24 bomber squadron based in Italy. Mr Billings I’d suggest is a master of understatement and not a man to “blow his own trumpet”. It struck me that had this not been an autobiography then the accounts of various missions may well have been made more of.

It is clear (though again he does not really suggest as much) that he was an exceptional pilot. Halfway through his tour he was posted to the 885th Special Bombardment Squadron. A front name for a unit that was devoted to dropping agents of the OSS and supporting them with supplies into the heart of Southern Germany. Here he tells the story of his involvement in Operation Greenup. The team that gave the inspiration to the film The Inglorious Bastards. From this he developed a friendship with Fred Mayer the fearless son of German Jews born in The Black Forest. This single mission alone would have been enough to turn most people’s hair grey Billings flew countless others.

His postwar life was as you would expect nearly as eventful. He flew with TWA and Eastern Airlines until he was forced to retire by commercial pilot regulations at the ripe old age of 60 In his spare time he continued his passion to fly and as part of the Angel Flight organisation, flew over 300 critically ill patients to medical treatments.

A life well lived I would say.

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