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Harold E. Pruett

I am a retired Chief Master Sergeant United States Air Force... the following is a true story of an incident which occurred during my early training days.

It was dark.

I was alone.

I was in the isolation ward. Why is this happening to me? I wondered. My thoughts turned back to Sunday morning when I had first felt nauseous. My buddy Jake, has awakened me and asked if I was going to lunch. I advised him that I didn't feel well. Later, I stumbled out of bed and made an attempt to shower and shave.

Jake presently returned from lunch. He and I had attended gunnery school together. Now, in early 1944, we each were assigned to a six-man crew of a B-26 medium bomber. We were entering transition training at Barksdale Field, Shreveport, Louisiana as radio-operator gunners.

I always steered clear of the card games which were a normal occurrence in our barracks each Sunday afternoon. Today was no exception. Jake sat in as usual. I endeavoured to read the paper but had difficulty focusing my eyes and my mind.

Jake soon noticed that I was becoming worse. He suddenly bolted upright and stated that I was breaking out in red splotches. I was very frightened, and rendered no argument when he suggested that he accompany me to the dispensary.

Upon arrival, it was quickly determined that I had contracted German measles. I was placed in the isolation ward and the shades were drawn.

It was dark.

I was alone.

On Monday, I felt better when I was visited by my crew members. I felt especially honoured that all the officers {my pilot, co-pilot and navigator} had taken time from their busy training schedule to come by the hospital to chat with me. They all wished me a speedy recovery and a swift return to duty. I felt a keen sense of disappointment that I was not able to immediately continue training with the crew.

The following afternoon, Jake arrived with a copy of the local paper and a drawn look. He asked if I had heard the news.

"What news?" I inquired.

He silently handed me the paper pointing to the following headline:

There were no survivors. My entire crew was gone.

It was dark.

I was alone.

the end

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