April twice, first on April 20, which was an uneventful flight and the
following day when Flak shattered their tail surfaces, and they had
their hands full to nurse their ship back to the base. It was McMillan’s
68th mission and the Squadron Flight Surgeon concluded he needed
a rest. McMillan however continued flying combat missions and till
the end of April flew four more. His copilot was 2nd Lt. C. G. Cook for
all of these.
The pilot whose name was carried on the port side of the fuselage
under the cockpit was in fact responsible for the conduct of the Crew
Chief and his team. He also maintained the logbook, checked the
accuracy of the combat missions’ records, number of hours flown,
repairs and other important data. He flew that particular airplane
generally more often than the other pilots but not exclusively.
According to the veterans it did happen that the crew in the nose
barely knew crew members on the other side of the bomb bay. The
pilots and bombardier were officers, the gunners were sergeants,
a fact that also played a certain role as well in the number of men
in one bombardment squadron. For example, in the end of March
1945 the 428th BG was comprised of 106 officers and 351 enlisted
men. Opinions were heard that the crew members were „mixed” on
purpose not allowing them to form too strong personal bonds which
could be a psychological trauma in case of death of any of them.
For McLean, thanks to his medical leave, the war was de facto over.
The 428th BG did not fly any more missions at the start of May and
then the war was over...
McLean took advantage of his leisure time and visited Pisa and Florence, sunbathed on the beach, rode a bike in the vicinity of Fano…
He must have thought of returning home, to 838 Collier Drive in San
Leandro, to his wife Margaret Ann whom he married on April 19, 1944
(i.e., exactly a year before the Rovereto raid flying Angel of Mercy).
As he wrote in his letters home, he wanted to return to the university
and continue with his studies.
Photo: Oakland Tribune 1944
The tragedy at night
After Germany surrendered the leadership strived not to let the
personnel „go wild“ so they planned training flights, sports activities
and educational courses. Each of 310th BG squadrons also received
several A-26s and pilots conducted the familiarization flights with
them. Part of the flight personnel started to prepare for the return
The whole procedure of the return in their own planes was named
„Green Project “. The route was plotted via Tunisia-Marrakesh-Dakar-Roberts Field (Liberia)-island of Asension-Natal (Brasil)-Be-
Photo: Cpl. Robert A. Cooper via fold3.com
Local press report on Walter's marriage to Margaret Ann.
Inspecting the damage to Angel of Mercy. She was written off a few days later.
INFO Eduard - September 2021