Shameless plug time again. I'm giving you a peek into the first WWII novel I wrote. I published it in 2008. It's called "The Bombardier," and it's about a Jew who escaped from Germany and came to the U.S. He joined the Air Corps upon Germany's declaration of war and in this chapter, he's preparing to be lead bombardier for his group of B-24s. This is a work I made up, and it's set at the end of July, 1943. You can find it at Barnes*&*Noble.com - Book Search: Genualdi and at Amazon.com: Anthony Genualdi: Books . It's also on Kindle as are my other works. I hope to get out from under some medical bills, the new insurance at work is bogus, and get a new book published this year. CHAPTER THREE The group was gathered in the briefing building, waiting for Colonel Bilders to tell them what their target for the day was. Rosen knew already, and everyone tried to pry it out of him. “Come on, Rosen, just tell us,” one of the pilots said, “It won’t hurt anything if we know now.” “No, it’ll spoil the surprise if I tell you. Wouldn’t you rather hear it from the colonel?” Another pilot jumped in, “Gee, Rosen, be a pal. Can you just give us a little hint?” “OK, for you I will.” Rosen glanced around, then leaned up to the pilot’s ear. “It’s somewhere in Germany.” “For God’s sake, Rosen, come on!” Rosen laughed. On the one hand, it felt good to be popular for the first time. When he had started with the 819th, Rosen had been made fun of for the trace of an accent he carried with him. Some guys called him “Kraut,” because of his being born in Germany. But, his crew would defend him because he dropped his bombs right on the money. That was how Colonel Bilders got to know about him and lobbied for his promotion so he could become the group’s Lead Bombardier. On the other hand, the pressure sometimes had been intense up there, over the target. He knew the risk was greater for him than the others, since he had fled from a regime that would just as soon kill him for his religion. In the eleven missions he’d flown before, he had overcome that pressure and succeeded. Now, Rosen would have to lead the group, and all of its bombers would drop on his mark. He felt the nerves more than ever going into this briefing. He was going to be in Colonel Bilders’ plane. He had to get to know another crew, and Rafferty would have to get to know Rosen’s old crew. Rosen had seen to that last weekend, when he bought a round of drinks for everyone in his then crew and for Rafferty, so they could become familiar with each other. Also, there was the bombardiers’ briefing that Rosen had to give before this little session was going to start. He’d had to tell the others about the target before everyone else, and made sure everyone had their maps marked right. Why does everyone have to chatter so loud, he thought. Can’t they keep it down? Just once, he thought, I’d like to -- “ATTENTION!” Everyone sprang to their feet at the word of the group executive officer. Rosen looked straight ahead as he heard Colonel Bilders footsteps, along with the exec and the Weather Officer. After a moment, Rosen could see Bilders out of the corner of his eye as he ascended the platform in front of the curtain, followed by his staff officers. He faced the men and said, “Be seated.” The group sat down and looked intently upon their commander. Colonel Bilders was six feet tall, with sandy blond hair, blue eyes, and a square jaw. Every fiber of his being screamed that he was a West Point man. His cap was on perfectly straight, without the jaunty tip they loved to show in the movies. His shoes shined like glass. He was perfectly clean shaven, and not a hair on his head was out of place. His voice would boom when he spoke. Bilders held his right arm straight out from his side, and his exec put a pointer in that hand. He turned to his left and nodded for the curtain to be opened. “Gentlemen, the target for today is … Hamburg.” A collective groan came up from the group. They had heard Hamburg was tough. With a quick glance, Bilders said, “Simmer down, men.” He stood still for a moment to ensure that the men were listening. He pointed at the map and large photos with the pointer and continued, “To be specific, we will be hitting a factory just southeast of the city here, along the river. This factory, according to our intelligence reports, is engaged in the manufacture of a new type of torpedo. You know how badly we need to stop German submarines from hitting our shipping as we build up on this island. So, the Germans will be defending this factory with plenty of flak, barrage balloons, and fighters.” Bilders turned to the men and continued, “Further complicating the matter for us is the fact that the British have been conducting large scale night raids on Hamburg for the past five nights. Therefore, we can expect the enemy to be prepared to throw more at us than usual.” “Three cheers for the RAF,” came a voice from the back, followed by a Bronx cheer. Everyone laughed. Even the colonel managed a smirk. Rosen had a good laugh. Maybe that’s what the Halifax group nearby had been part of. “All right, men, back to business.” Bilders pointed to the large photos, which showed the target. “You’ll note the battery of flak guns here along the river, and the two additional batteries just to the north of the factory. We will be coming in from the southeast, to try and avoid the heaviest concentration of enemy fire. Once we are over the target, you will release your bombs after our new group Lead Bombardier, Captain Rosen.” Bilders motioned for Rosen to get up and face the group. As Rosen stood, applause came from throughout the room, then someone said, “Hey Rosen, make sure we drop on the factory and not the river so we don’t kill the gefilte fish.” Laughter came from around the room. “Up yours, baby,” Rosen shot back. The laughter got even louder, and as Rosen turned to sit, he saw the colonel was laughing, too. “All right, men, simmer down,” Bilders said. “I’ll turn things over to Major Parker now. He has the rest of the story for you. Major?” Parker took the pointer from the colonel as the two men switched places. “Thank you, sir. If you will look to the map--” Parker pointed at the map, which showed eastern England, the North Sea, the Low Countries, northern Germany, and Denmark, “-- you’ll see our route to and from the target. We will be taking off at 06:30, and should be assembled with the other two groups in this mission, the 43rd and 124th, by 07:00. We will head out over the North Sea, and anticipate reaching 12,000 feet, when you’ll be starting your oxygen use, by 07:15. We then climb to our bombing altitude of 20,000 feet. We anticipate being over the first checkpoint—” he pointed to a small island off the German coast—“called Helgoland Island, by 09:30. We turn southeast from there and follow the Elbe River to a point ten miles southeast of Hamburg, where we reach our Initial Point, a small wooded area. We turn from there to hit the target by 10:10, and after the bomb run, we will turn on a northwesterly course back to base, which we anticipate reaching by 14:10. “Our bombing altitude will be 25,000 feet. We don’t want you to come home with your bombs once we’ve reached Germany. If you have trouble keeping up, jettison your load at the first target of opportunity. Our group will be in the slot, the 43rd will be the high group, and the 124th will be the low group. As for our squadrons, the 605th will be the slot, the 219th will be the high squadron, and the 84th will be the low squadron. I now give you to the weather guesser.” Major Parker stood aside as the Weather Officer stepped up. “We have a high pressure area over Holland that is keeping skies clear over northern Germany. If there are any clouds, they should be 1/10th to 2/10th over the North Sea, clearing by the time you reach the German coast.” Colonel Bilders stepped back up and finished out the briefing, “OK, men, this will be an all out effort. We can’t give the enemy any breaks. I know you’ve got it in you. Let’s go.” Major Parker called out, “ATTENTION,” and the men rose while the leaders left the building. With that, the crews filed to the back of the room to drop off their wallets and pictures, which they’d get when they came back for debriefing.