Hi Dave. The only bit I have about your grandfather was the fact he was the navigator and survived the bail out. Here is some of the info I accumulated about Emmet:
Emmet E. Cook Sr. was born in Fort Worth Texas on March 5th
, 1918. His father was a Superintendent at Armour and Company meat packers and his mother was a housewife. Cook had studied Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University and enlisted in the Cadet Air Corps in September 1940. Eliminated from pilot training at the Allen School of Aeronautics, Cook returned to Texas and obtained his commercial pilot’s license in 1941.
Before America’s entry into the war, Canada had joined Great Britain in declaring war on Germany. The Royal Canadian and British Royal Air Forces actively recruited American pilots for fighter squadrons battling Germany’s best airmen. A contractor called the Clayton Knight Committee contacted Cook to see if he would be interested in flying with the R.C.A.F. Cook passed the contractor’s flight exam and was on his way to Canada by train when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Cook was recalled and reported for bombardier training at Ellington Field on December 10th
, 1941. In 1942 Cook’s unit, the 301st
Bombardment Group, flew to England and it was from there Cook flew his first ten missions.
Cook recalled, “Our first mission in August of 1942 – well, the British said during the briefing that going over in daylight, no one would return! As it turned out, it was a cakewalk. The sky was full of FW-190s and ME-109s but none made a pass and the flak was not accurate. I believe the Germans were leery of the Flying Fortress. We missed our target by at least ten miles on the first mission. I think my bombs went through a church at Rouen.”
“But, the fifth mission was a lot different over Lille, France. The Abbeyville Kids
shot the Hell out of us. We lost two engines real quick, had two wounded airmen, and were lucky to make it back over the Cliffs of Dover landing on an emergency field. There were over 450 holes in our plane. We named her Holey Joe
. That day I was too busy to be scared. I did get credit for one FW-190 and was awarded the Air Medal. The only time you really got scared was after the mission is over and you are having a Scotch and water.”
Cook’s plane, Holey Joe
, was transferred to General Doolittle’s 12th
Air Force stationed at the Tafaraoui Airfield in Oran, Algeria, North Africa. From this base the 301st
Bombardment Group participated in Operation Torch and raids on Bizerte, Tunis, Sfax, Souses, La Goulette, Medinite, Tripoli, and the Kasserine Pass.
On March 22nd
, 1943, Holey Joe
was out of service with mechanical problems in engine #3. Emmet and his fellow crew were reassigned to a plane named Junior,
which had previously participated in only three operations. The targets on this day’s mission were several ammunition ships anchored in Palermo Harbor that were destined for Rommel’s Afrika Korps.
During the raid Junior
was hit by flak between engines #1 and #2. The bomber’s left wing caught fire and eventually tore-off, sending the plane into a spin. Five men including the Pilot 1st
Lt. James Hair, Co-Pilot 1st
Lt. Lonnie Miers, Engineer T/Sgt. Louis Patriquin, Radio Operator S/Sgt. Edwin Byrnes, and Ball Turret Gunner S/Sgt. Andrew Seman were trapped and perished in the crash.
Lt. Emmet Cook was able to bail out. “[I] had a rough landing in cactus as large as Texas cactus. [I] was captured by six goat herders, one with a gun. [They were] all very scared. The older one with [the] gun spoke broken English. He acted very nervous and scared. Later that evening they turned me over to the military. Treatment was okay except for medical attention. Our Tail Gunner had a severe head wound and they had nothing to help him.” Besides Cook, the survivors included Navigator 1st
Lt. Alexander Yonych, Waist Gunner S/Sgt. Jimmy McLaughlin, and Tail Gunner T/Sgt. Douglas Upton.
Emmet was eventually transferred to Stalag Luft III taking up residence in Block 108 in the North Compound. “I was impressed how well the senior R.A.F. officers and U.S.A.A.F. officers were organized. [I] stayed busy working with Flight Lieutenant Brian Evans on maps. I played on the championship softball team [and] did a lot of oil painting and cartooning in books. [I] ran about five miles every day, weather permitting, around the circuit. I stayed busy and in top physical condition despite the lack of food. I tried to stay busy – help[ed] the time to go by."
Emmet told me when he went to bail out the escape hatch wouldn't open so he started jumping up and down on it. When the exit finally popped opened he got trapped with his body half in and half out of the plane, which was then starting to go into a spin. He had no idea how he exited the plane. He said he blacked-out, and when he came to, his parachute was open and he was floating down to earth.
Edited by disneydave, 24 January 2013 - 12:01 AM.