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B-25 flight brings back old memories for WWII veterans

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Curtis Jasper watched every procedure that Historic Flight Foundation pilot Vera Martinovich completed while flying on ‘Grumpy’ the B-25 Monday. ‘Loved having you on board,’ Martinovich said to Jasper. Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Curtis Jasper watched every procedure that Historic Flight Foundation pilot Vera Martinovich completed while flying on ‘Grumpy’ the B-25 Monday. ‘Loved having you on board,’ Martinovich said to Jasper. Tribune photo by Gib Mathers

‘Grumpy’ flies in Park County skies this week

It was a flight down memory lane or a learning experience for those that boarded “Grumpy,” the B-25 at Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody on Monday.

Grumpy is like the planes Jimmy Doolittle’s Raiders flew to bomb Japan 70 years ago during World War II.

The B-25 is the only airplane that flew in every theater of war in World War II, said pilot John Sessions of Historic Flight Foundation, Everett, Wash.

Grumpy is the oldest B-25 flying today, Sessions said.

Col. Curtis Jasper, 86, Regular U.S. Air Force, retired, was looking forward to this day. The Powell man flew the B-25 and taught other guys to fly them during World War II.

It wasn’t as easy as it probably once was for Jasper to climb the hatch to the flight deck, but he got there.

In his U.S. Air Force leather flying jacket and cap, with his back to the fuselage, Jasper looked like a matinee idol from a 1940s movie.

“One of the loudest planes ever built,” said Michael Kopp, foundation pilot, just before the ear-splitting explosion of the plane’s engines.

There is a flight deck with two pilots, a seat for the radio operator where Jasper sat and the bomb bay; with the doors hanging open, it resembles an inverted coffin. Aft of that is another little compartment where four guys crammed in. Bob Davidson, a Korean War veteran and Ed Philips, a former Marine, sat strapped to the tiny bench like troopers.

An engine started, sputtering weakly. Then the engine smoothed. The other engine screamed to life. Soon the engines were roaring and the plane rocked like a jumpy runner fidgeting in starter blocks.

Then Grumpy rushed down the runway and was off the ground in seconds.

A bell that under extreme circumstances would tell the crew to bail-out signaled the boys in the aft compartment that it was safe to move about in their narrow confines.

The guys scrambled about, staring out the portal-like windows or snapping photos. The airplane swayed and bounced on air currents like a roller coaster.

Taking a peek from the gun turret, the clouds seemed to whiz by like streamers and craggy hills — almost touchable from the bubble-like vantage point.

“It brought back a lot of old memories,” Jasper said.

Vera Martinovich works for Boeing, but flies the B-25 for the foundation, too.

Jack and Diane Martin, who head up The Cody Patriots, organized the event.

A few rides were still available for today (Tuesday) and Wednesday. Call 307-899-2325. For every five paid rides, a World War II veteran will get a free ride.

“Being able to honor them (veterans) is a very special part of this,” Martinovich.


  • posted by Dan Bear Kelley

    July 10, 2012 11:29 am

    The B-25 may be the only *warplane* that flew in every theater of the war, but it certainly was not the only aircraft flown in every theater. The DC-3 flew in every theater as well. In fact, the DC-3 was flown by almost every combattant in WWII--both sides! The British and Australians called them "Dakotas," and got many of them on lend-lease. The Germans and Italians flew DC-3's that were purchased before the war. The Japanese started building the DC-3 under license to Douglas before the war, and continued building them throughout the war. The Allied designation for those aircraft was "Tabby." The Russians built DC-3's as well, supposedly under license to Douglas, but Douglas never saw a penny of the promised revenues. The Russians called them LI-2's.

  • posted by Vietnam vet

    July 04, 2012 8:04 am

    Thousands of ignored Vietnam vets have memories too...memories of how we were treated by these WWII people.Never forget.

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