Steel Rain Rising
This poem was written by my friend, Bernie Murray. His father served in the 8th Air Force as ground crew but never shared much of his experience with Bernie. Bernie is a huge fan of the Mighty 8th Air Force and, upon learning that my dad had served as a member of the Mighty 8th, he visited my dad’s old website and read through all of his journal entries. He was so inspired by what he read that he created this poem April 23-26, 2004.
I have to add a little disclaimer here: The poem was written before I had done a lot of research on my dad’s experiences. The crew’s names were from his memory and some of the names are close, but incorrect (I will be sure to post the crew’s names in the near future). OK, here’s the poem:
Steel Rain Rising
Here’s a tale of nine compadres
From the U.S. Army Air Corps,
And the 8th Air Force in England is where it starts.
After several missions flying
B-17’s all over Europe,
These nine airmen chanced to draw the Queen of Hearts.
If you close your eyes, you’ll see them all
Assembled on the airstrip,
With Her Majesty the Queen there standing tall.
There was Oliver and Dodson,
And Rung ‘a holdin’ Queenie,
Lawrence, Driscoll, Bissell, Hennings, Moody
And then Lewis last of all.
They formed up to cross the channel
And the squadron headed eastward,
To take the war to Germany by air.
“Will their fighters come to meet us?”
“Will the flak be light or heavy?”
“Is the weather at the target foul or fair?”
All the gunners strafed the fighters,
As the pilot held her steady,
Then the bombardier was shouting, “They’re away!”
So they turned back toward the channel
And the homeward leg to England.
“Lord, please hold this plane together,” they would pray.
And the Fortresses kept flying through the
Steel rain rising
From the batteries below them in Cologne.
Some came back together,
Some flew parachutes to Uncertainty,
And some were bound for Heaven, but not alone.
Bernie’s note at the end of this poem: Inspired by the flight log of James E. Rung, Navigator, Queen of Hearts. Dedicated to the personnel of the 8th Air Forces and the B-17’s they flew.