Richard "Dick" Fixa. 351st BG
The following is a story as told by Charles Fixa, son of Richard Fixa, 351st BG
I would be happy to share what I know of my father’s experience on that mission.
Richard “Dick” Fixa flew a total of 37 missions, of which this was his last, or second to his last. His first three missions were as a waist gunner, but he was moved to toggalier /bombardier on his fourth mission as the airman ( second lieutenant) assigned to this position “ lost it” and had to removed from the crew of the Lucky Buck. Dick took over this position on the “Buck”, and remained as the assigned bombardier, at 19 years, old flying as a Technical Sergeant, for the next 30-some missions. He was always sure he was the youngest bombardier to fulfill his 35 ( in his case 37) missions from the West Coast of the USA.
The mission on 12/24-1944 was one my father would of rather forget, and not been on.
Unfortunately, his pilot on the “Buck” , and commanding officer “volunteered” him as he said for this mission, attached to a rookie (untested) crew without an experienced bombardier ( if 19 years old is experienced!) . This is something you rarely did. Dad felt the reason was so his pilot could get promoted.
Anyway, the crew did sing carols over the plane intercom to get their morale up, of which my Dad told them to stop it, and pay attention to the formation, and spot for Me-109s.. At that time, Germans could also intercept singles and try to ascertain what the target was. Dad actually saw one of these interceptor planes on a earlier mission. I am not sure when they were hit, but they lost an engine and had to limp back to a base at Bath, England.
Two interesting things happened that mission: One, as they could not keep up with the formation, USAAF P-51(s) stayed in and around them, and a couple of other damaged ships, protecting them from the possibility of German fighters attacking them. As I am sure you are aware, this was not procedure, as the fighter escorts were to stay with the main flight. Dad always wanted to thank “those guys” Second: as they approached the English channel losing altitude, two British fighters came out of the clouds ( Dad said it was miraculous) and escorted them to England. As they left, they tipped their wings. Dick wanted to meet those guys also, and shake their hand.