Robert Lopiano | Tail Gunner on a B-17

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to meet Robert Lopiano who served in the 548th Squadron, 385th Bomb Group from 1943-1944. He enlisted a week before his twentieth birthday and started out as a waist gunner on B-17s, then become a tail gunner. He flew 25 missions over France, Germany, and Holland. Out of the 100 men in his squadron, only 17 reached the mark of 25 missions. 


This photograph was for fake ID in case he was shot down and taken into the underground. 


The insignia of the 548th Bomb Squadron, featuring Bugs Bunny! 


His friend suggested that after every mission, he write a brief summary. Even though Mr. Lopiano said he was too busy thinking about girls (he received a Dear John letter from his girlfriend) and didn't fancy himself a writer, he keep a record of all the missions!


Mr. Lopiano receiving his Air Medal award ... 


"The flak was the outstanding part of this mission. It was the most accurate we have encountered so far; as a matter of fact I was hit on the chin by some fragments. I was only grazed by it thank God. I looked out of my right side window and saw that the tail's horizontal stabilizer was shot away."


"Finishing my 25th on Christmas Eve day is no doubt the best gift anyone could receive. The relief of tension, doubt, and sleepless nights over and done with."


His short snorter dollar. Short snorter dollars were signed by flight crews and conveyed good luck to soldiers crossing the Atlantic.


I wanted to be a pilot
And you along with me,
But I guess if we were all pilots,
Where would the Air Force be?
It takes guts to be a gunner;
To sit back there in the tail
While the Messerschmitts are coming
And the slugs began their wail.
Sure, the pilot's just a chauffeur,
And it's his job to fly the plane;
But it's us who do the fighting 
But we never get the fame.
So, if some of us have to be gunners,
Then we'll make you a little bet.
We'll be the best damn gunners,
Who have left this station yet.

— A Gunners Vow (Author Unknown)


It was such an honor to meet him!

-Emily

4 comments

  1. This is awesome, Emily! Really like the picture of y'all and Bugs Bunny!!!!!
    Was wanting to ask: do you still have your IG? Was looking for it, but couldn't find it!

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    1. Thanks, Morgan! It was such an honor to meet him!

      I recently got off Instagram ... too distracting! =)

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  2. Good for you for interviewing him! We must keep their stories preserved.

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    1. Yes, we must keep preserve their stories! I love our WWII vets! =)

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