A local (to me) man is to receive the Silver Star for bravery somewhat belatedly - 65 years later. Here is the edited article from my local newspaper:
Louis Stamatakos, 84, was a navigator in the 332 Bombardment Squadron, 94th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, stationed at Bury St. Edmunds.
"On Feb. 28, 1945, there was a breakdown of equipment on the homeward leg,” Stamatakos said. “Two of the 250-pound bombs failed to drop. One was hanging by a single shackle. The second by two shackles. Everyone on the plane was in panic mode,” he said.
“Someone called out, ‘Get Stamatakos, he went to armament school.’ ”
Stamatakos took off his parachute, for better leverage, and lowered himself cautiously into the bomb bay. He straddled the bay, which was open, the two bombs at his feet. He had a hatchet handle in one hand and was clinging to a leather grip with the other.
“I looked down and knew that if the bombs were accidentally struck or detonated in any way it would most likely take out our plane right there.”
He said some of the crew members were praying. “I was so cold and the blast was coming in on us. As I looked down all I could see were two big old bombs and 20,000 feet of German sky.”
He continued, “It was intimidating, but at times like that you don’t think about what to do. You just do it.”
He used the hatchet handle and nudged the first live bomb from its shackle. He swung at the shackle trying to free the swinging bomb, which had been defused by rushing air spinning a propeller on the bomb’s nose that armed the device.
The first bomb fell and he worked about 10 minutes before freeing the second, saving the plane and the men on it.
“I climbed back up and into the tail section of the plane, and I was, well, I was shaking all over. I can’t explain the feeling. But it was like being at death’s door, and turning around and walking away. Oh, what a time that was.”