One last post from my visit with Mr. W.:
Mr. W.: I cheated death a few times but none quite like in 1942.
Me: What happened?
Mr. W.: I was supposed to make a training flight (as an Aviation observer) one morning but got rip-roaring drunk the night before and was so hung-over that I couldn't get up in time. When I came stumbling in at around 2 o'clock in the afternoon everyone came up and gave me hugs. I thought my commanding officer was going to faint, he was so pale. "How are you here?" he said, "the plane went down, everyone on board died, we thought you were dead." All I could say was "I'm here, alive and well, want to come give me a slap? I'm so sorry for the guys that died, I should have been on that flight but I was too sick this morning to make it." I still think about it all the time. I was one lucky son of a bitch.