Veterans Voices

WWII veteran, ex-POW returns to the skies in B-25

'I felt like I was 24 years old again'

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – For some military veterans, reminders of war can be difficult to face. This year, though, one World War II veteran in Virginia chose to relive a piece of his time in uniform.

Russell Scott served on a B-25 during WWII. He was forced to jump 9,000 feet from the warplane decades ago. He’ll never forget that day. On May 25, 1944, both engines were shot out during one of his first missions overseas in Italy.

"I never had a bad time other than when I was in the prisoner of war camp," said Russell Scott last September. "That wasn't too bad but with a broken back... it was kind of bad."

He was just 24 when he was picked up by the Germans. And with a broken back in a POW camp in Poland, he never fully healed.

Now 98 years old, he walks with assistance because of that injury back in 1944.

Just shy of 74 years later, a B-25 showed up in Russell's hometown of Richmond on its way to an airshow in Virginia Beach.

Russell was invited to go on a ride.

But because of his limited mobility, he couldn't guarantee he would physically be able to get up the ladder and onto the plane.

He says they've tried to get him back in a B-25 twice in the past -- without success.
Still, he agreed to go and see the plane while it was in town.

He rolled onto the tarmac that hot morning in May, giving everybody around him the impression he was just visiting the re-furbished bomber.

"I haven't been inside one since I come out of it," he said.

He's sharp as a tack, though his body doesn't move as freely as it did when he sat in that tail gunner position.

But on that tarmac that day, something was different. There was adrenaline pumping through his veins.
"I don't think I need the step ladder because I think I can hit that first step," Russell told some of the flight crew.

As the group went over pre-flight instructions, Russell started climbing the ladder of the B-25 all on his own.

And once he was inside the plane, he wasn't coming back out.

"I could get in the plane easy then," Russell recounted. "Didn't have to worry."

The air was thick and hot inside the B-25. No air conditioning -- just the smell of engines.

There's no way to know what was going through his head as the plane started its engines, but he did give a simple wave out the window to his posse of supporters who came for moral support. 

For the 20-minute flight over the City of Richmond, he stared out the window, taking in the sunny skies and the James River below.

The look on his face said it all. This vet was at home away from home, inside his plane for the first time in seven decades.

"I just felt like I wanted to be back in a B-25," he said after the plane landed.

Russell was back on solid ground. But this time -- no parachute required.

"I enjoyed being there, it felt like I was 24-years-old again," said Russell. "Now I've had my last ride in a B-25."
 


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