Sunday, July 26, 2009

Forever Young

This past week I spent an afternoon with Ralph Conte in Columbia, Missouri. This active nonagenarian was a Bombardier/Navigator with the 669th and 670th Bomb Squadrons of the 416th Bomb Group during WWII and authored the Group history Attack Bombers We Need You. Most of his 65 combat missions were flown in the A-20 Havoc. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and numerous other U.S. and Allied Nation decorations and awards. Ralph graciously consented to sitting for a video taping session and for three hours he shared many remembrances of his days in the 416th, some delightful and some insightful—all of them interesting. At the very end of the session, Ralph reflected on the process of looking back. It was a poignant moment that I thought worth sharing now. The remainder of this interview will serve as source material, along with other interviews, photos and remembrances, for an eventual documentary about the 416th.

Ralph Conte

By the way, there is a photo of the "sprightly" Wayne Downing and his charming wife Norma at: