Hatteberg's People - Bennie Jefferies

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Wellington, Kan. -- On Veteran’s Day we remember those who fought for our freedoms, but for some of them, they can’t forget. Bennie Jefferies of rural Wellington, was a tail-gunner in World War II. And for Bennie, the war still goes on.

“You can’t escape it. There are too many reminders.”

“I do have people who walk up to me and thank me for my service.”

“It’s just an experience that once you’ve been there, it doesn’t go away.”

“Today, I’ve had people call me ‘hero’ and I don’t feel that way.”

“I’m real thankful that I came home without even a scratch.”

“The Eighth Air Force, based in England, as a single unit suffered more causalities than any other single unit during World War II.”

“Before we left the states, I few training missions as a tail-gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. The position I flew was right back here at the very tail end. I could see where we’ve been, and that was the position I flew in 31 times.”

“My wife’s name was Twila and she was a real pretty girl and things just kind of fit and nine months later to the day, we were married.”

“After I flew my first mission, I knew I had wished I had done something else.

“We come back from one mission and we were the only plane in the squadron that made it back.”

“I know it wasn’t a pleasant time for her, in that time, Twila wrote: ‘I married a kind affectionate young man and I did not marry a soldier. A few years later, the Air Force sent home a basket case, a bundle of nerves and he’s been fighting the war ever since. I’m ready for war to end, I want my kind, caring, affectionate husband back.’

“It makes me sad that I had to affect her feelings like that, but I don’t know what else I could have done.”

“I just was a different person when I came back from the war.”

“There are things that happened that you just can’t forget.”

“It’s there and it ain’t going to go away.”

“If I’m a hero, there are thousands of other guys who should be heros too. I’m not a hero.”

No matter what he thinks, he is a hero, and by the way, on his way back from one mission his aircraft had to drop bombs on civilian areas or crash. To this day he wonders what those bombs it and to his day he will never forget.


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