We were all common ordinary people gathered together from all walks of life who had been immediately thrust into a series of life threatening emotions of World War II. Our lives suddenly changed as in very short time we were given a limited technical and emotional preparedness to carry out what we were doing. All of us sensed our own way of life were threatened and every person jumped in to get the job done and get on with our lives. We were all sacrificing our youth, but with no regrets. All too soon we became clearly acquainted with fear. Knowing full well the specter of death continually hovered over all of us. She seemed to be patiently waiting for the proper time to gather us to her bosom.

Each of us has a vision of the world that belongs to every one of us alone, and when we die that world dies with us. Others around us may share in parts of it, but no one will see it exactly as we do. Nor will all experience it in the same way, for they are living with their own vision of reality. My vision of reality is based upon my life experience, the influence of people, places, books, dreams, work, all the various aspects of my existence that go to make up me.

There are many episodes, which I sense need to be told while those of us who survived are here to tell the stories. We fought a different and unique war, which opened today’s Air Power but will never be repeated. The air war, which I was a part of, was only accomplished with the devotion and cooperation of everyone. We wouldn’t have survived without the dedication and support of our ground crews, plus the support of those at home who supplied us with the airplanes and other materials. To me World War II was the last time the whole country came together and worked to accomplish the saving of our way of life.

World War II was a struggle against tyranny, and was a portal we all passed through to achieve the kind of world we believed in. The history of mankind is not a series of accidents, nor a wayward tangle of happenstance and circumstances from nowhere to anywhere. There is a meaning in every event and there is a purpose. The very worst thing about war is that it brings out things, that in ordinary civilian life we make every effort to hide - hatred, violence, inhumanity, and cowardice. Many of us walked to death’s door every day, and too often it opened wide. Those of us who were spared to see another dawn on this earth had to face another day with the knowledge that we have opened death’s door to others.
We soon found war is not ever glorious, but cruel and unjust.

Wally Hoffman, 2003.
(B 17 Pilot, 8th Air Force)