Mission #2 - May 15, 1943
With only one mission under its belt, the Group was alerted for the third day in a row. This time it would raid right into Germany proper. Twenty-one aircraft took off for the marshaling yards at Emden. The 96th was designated Lead Group -- a dangerous but prestigious position that it would hold in many missions to come. Colonel Old, despite the mishaps of the 13th, had great confidence in the men of his command. To prove their worth, he volunteered for the lead slot many times.
Five aircraft had to abort but 18 bombed the target and their bombing accuracy was rated fair. E/A (enemy aircraft) activity was light and the few that tried to press home direct attacks were kept at bay by the combined firepower for the formations. All aircraft returned: there were no casualties. Except for the Luftwaffe, that is. Aboard Captain Bender's Tarfu, ball turret gunner S/Sgt. Frank Cardaman became the first 96er to be officially credited with an enemy aircraft. This one happened to be a yellow nosed FW-190. There would be others to Cardaman's credit. By the time he completed his tour he would rack up credits for seven and a half.