Aki Solomos

Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.

Interview With WWII Veteran Army Airborne Private Ted “Badass” Cross

C-47 Skytrain dropping paratroopers in WWII

C-47 Skytrains dropping paratroopers in WWII

WWII Veteran Interview Series, 2015
            June 6, 1944 marks the date when the Allies launched their massive operation to take back Europe from Nazi Germany.  D-Day.  Not all of the action took place on the ground though.  Despite the German’s lack of air superiority by this time of the war, being in the sky in any capacity was still not considered a safe place to be.
A squadron of C-47's during Operation Market Garden, Sept. 17, 1944

A squadron of C-47’s during Operation Market Garden, Sept. 17, 1944

Ted Cross’ service to his country began in March of 1943 when he joined the Army.  Like any new recruit in WWII, he was determined to do whatever was needed of him.  A year later, now with the Army Airborne as a C-47 Transport Supply Dropper, Private Ted Cross and his crew flew over the D-Day operation, dropping off supplies for the invading Allies in an effort to keep them fighting.

From D-day, he and his crew flew all over France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria, with many harrowing missions which included Bastogne and Market Garden.  “We flew through lots of flak from ack-acks.”  Anti-aircraft batteries, or ack-acks, doesn’t necessarily have to hit the planes directly.  With exploding shells, all it needs is to go off close enough to shred or shake the airplane apart with its explosion.  If the explosion doesn’t take down the aircraft, the shrapnel from the explosion can tear through the skin of the aircraft to kill or injure those inside.  “We were hit once.  Some of us were wounded.  I was lucky, but I kept at it, dropping off those supplies.  I suppose that’s when they gave me my nickname ‘Badass’.”

After his tour in Europe, Ted was supposed to go to the Philippines, but the war had already ended.  On December 1945, he finished his service to his country.  “There was the point system.  The more missions, the more points, then you get sent home.  I guess I can say I’m lucky to be alive.”

Take care Private ‘Badass’.  We are the lucky ones to have people like you.

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