Airbase Arizona - Commemorative Air Force

Learn More About Our Legend SSGT Paul Roberts

B-17G Ball Turret Gunner aboard Bombshell
8th Air Force, 390th Bomb Group
KIA: December 1944 over Germany while on 23rd mission

This letter is about the grandfather I never knew because SSGT. Paul Roberts was a ball turret gunner aboard the B-17G Bombshell that went down on her 23rd mission over Germany on December of 1944.

My grandfather was a short man and had to be in order to fit inside that ball – his office for 23 missions.Today, I was given the opportunity to view that ball turret’s position for the first time – up close thanks to the crew of the visiting “Sentimental Journey” B-17G at the Oshkosh air show. I feel that while I was able to touch the seat and equipment I can now feel closer to the grandfather I didn’t have the opportunity to meet – but now I know what he went through day in and day out in those cramped quarters. Additionally, I had the honor and privilege to speak with the only crew member left ( one of three that was able to bail out and were captured) – taken as POWS that day.

My respects to all who flew in the B-17’s and prayers to those who still morn their losses.
This letter is dedicated to SSGT Paul Roberts of Chicago.
May he rest in peace.

Thank you,
Gene Spanos
Lieut. Ret. RPD
Sgt. USMC – Vietnam Marine Veteran
Park Ridge, IL

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