(WISH) – Bob Pedigo served as a staff sergeant in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II.
“So when they play a salute to the Army and the Army Air Corps I stand up twice!” Pedigo laughed.
Pedigo flew as a nose gunner with his crew on board the Silent Yocum. During his three years of military service, Pedigo flew a total of 30 missions, which was a rarity, since most crews were shot down well before reaching that number.
“My 13th mission was Berlin,” Pedigo said. “(The) most heavily defended city in the world against air attack. The antiaircraft fire was so thick, it was like you could get out and walk on it. Made it look like a cloudy day on the ground. I saw German fighter planes get shot like fools coming in on their own aircraft fire. I saw German fighter planes get shot down by their own manned aircraft fire…I saw a lot of buddies go down. Saw planes blow up from their own bombs inside and loose bombs. Blown to bits.”
“It was the most frightening thing you could do,” Pedigo continued. “It was like going out to stand before the firing squad to be executed. Can you image how you’d feel if you were being marched out to stand before the firing squad?”
But Pedigo and his crew all survived the war and were able to live to see the future of an America they fought to protect.
“I’m very proud,” Pedigo said. “And very aware of how important our service was in World War II. Even though only six percent saw combat, the other 94 were very important in support of that six percent.”
Nearly 75 years since the war ended, Pedigo says he’s been able to get two high school diplomas, educate others about the war, and join the lead crew of the only restored version of the B-24 Liberator.
Pedigo added that he hopes in the future, nobody will forget what he and countless others did to create peace.
“Be aware and thankful for the effort we did to save the world,” Pedigo said.