19th Bombardment Group Stories - Staff Sgt. Jim Orr

19th Bombardment Group Stories - Staff Sgt. Jim Orr

This account of the experiences of Staff Sgt. Jim Orr originally accompanied a series of paintings by Pfc Ernest Berkowitz, who painted a series of pictures of the aircraft and men of the 19th Bombardment Group while they were all based at Dyersburg Air Force Base, Tennessee, after their exploits in the Far East. Although we don't have the paintings, the stories themselves are still of great interest. Berkowitz later went on to become succesful artist under the name Ernest Berke, mainly producing paintings of Native Americans and their horses.

Many thanks to Dennis Gagomiros for sending us these documents.

Staff Sgt. Jim Orr is a Ball Turret Gunner although he is classified as an engineer and should be stationed rightfully at the gun position in the top turret of the Flying Fortress.

Jim is typical of all of the young men of the Army Air Foreces. Tall, deeply tanned, quick to smile, and as all young men, full of the nerve that is part of his equipment. This is what it takes to be the man in the ball turret--flying beneath the plane as though suspended by a cable with nothing to lean on but the air around. He crouches in the compact little cell with two 50 calibre machine guns mounted to either side of his head and somhow, he is often thought of as the guardian of the plane - he has a clear view in all directions. It is truly an important position because it guards the entire underside of the plane. He also watches to confirm bomb hits and to sing out when enemy fighters are shot down.

Even though Jim Orr is a tall man he filled in at the Ball Turret position for seven months. He downed three Zeros over Guadalcanal while it was being bombed several weeks before the Marines "took the situation in hand". It was the 19th Group and the 11th Group that blasted Guadalcanal until it was softened up sufficiently so that the landing could be made.

There are many like Jim Orr and it is good to know that there are many more yet untrained to back him up, for it is these boys who will be helping to win our battles of tomorrow high in the sky.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 February 2021), 19th Bombardment Group Stories - Staff Sgt. Jim Orr , http://www.historyofwar.org/Pictures/pictures_19th_BG_story_08.html

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies