THE "SUPER GUNNER"

THE "SUPER GUNNER"

From Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul

The “Super Gunner”

Until I went into the Army, my only experience with guns had been with a Daisy air rifle or a BB gun. Then I found myself at the Army Air Force gunnery school at Tyndall Field, Florida, where to graduate and win gunner’s wings, the student had to disassemble and then reassemble a fifty-caliber machine gun—blindfolded. This act served as the ultimate test of a rookie gunner’s mechanical skill. But, I wondered, will I need it for daytime air combat in the months ahead? It didn’t matter—it was part of the training. So for many weeks, we had been taking apart and putting back together the fifty-caliber machine gun—with our eyes open.

I was pretty pleased with myself when I passed the “test” in well under the time allowed. I was so proud that I went to the nearest pay phone and called my folks and sister in Fords, New Jersey, telling them of my achievement. They were pleased, too, although I’m not sure they truly understood what an accomplishment it was.

The story of my outstanding feat was immediately passed on to my grandma, Lena Yedlin, and grandpa, Heiman, who lived a few doors down from us on MacArthur Drive. Lena, who knew I was now in the Army Air Corps (transferred from the Corps of Engineers), in turn telephoned her cronies, most of whom still lived in Brooklyn, where we’d come from originally, to inform them of my success. Bursting with pride, she told them that Benny, her “sunshine,” had taken apart and put together an airplane blindfolded. (I don’t think she specified single engine or multiengine.)

Looking back now, what amazes me most is that, as far as I know, not a single one of her friends questioned the feat.

Benedict Yedlin

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