Ask A B-17 Pilot

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by BrianP, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. BrianP

    BrianP Member

    As many of you know from reading my intoduction in the new members section, I have a great uncle who flew B-17's from England during World War II. I never met him, and all that I know of him came from stories his sister (my grandmother) told me. A few years ago, my grandmother gave me my great uncle's e-mail address. I never e-mailed him, because my grandmother made him seem such a god-like figure I was too nervous, and didn't know what to say.

    After my grandmother passed away last year, I moved back to Louisiana from Australia and began a massive genealogy project, which I've been working on for about six months now, and expect to be working on for at least a year more. I've learned a lot, but I've also learned that there are a lot of questions I wish I could ask my grandparents now.

    So, in that spirit, I e-mailed my great uncle a few weeks ago. We have been communicating by e-mail pretty regular now, sharing photos and such. I explained to him about the genealogy project I was working on, and asked if it was okay if I could ask him questions about his military service. He said it would be okay to ask him anything.

    Now, to the point of this post. I have never interviewed anyone before. I would like suggestions on questions I could ask him. Is there anything you ever wanted to ask a B-17 pilot? Here's your chance. Also, are there any questions I should not ask; anything that a war veteran generally does not like to respond to? He seems very open to any kind of questions, but I want to make this a positive thing for both him and me.

    Thank you for any advice!
  2. Stich

    Stich Junior Member

    Hi Brian! :)

    Personally I've found that if you just start out asking basic questions first, they'll give you a pretty good idea fairly quickly about how much they will talk about.

    I've had some fellas get stone faced and clam up after a few details, and I've had others really open up and talk very matter-of-factly about very gruesome details.....Just feel him out a little at a time, let him volunteer information.

    I hope this helps ya!

    Oh, and if i could ask a B-17 pilot a question??...hmmm ok, how did he keep his mind occupied on those long journeys to the target?? I would have chewed all my fingernails off on the way there! o_O


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