Interview with B-17 Pilot Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

World War II pilot, Jimmy Fitzpatrick was part of the 388th Bomb Group out of Knettishall, England and flew 36 missions (one more mission than a normal tour) and didn't lose any of his crew. He was on the 560th Squadron and was dispatched in May of 1943 to help win the War there.

Jimmy was a former news photographer for the Birmingham News in Alabama before he joined the War. Before joining up, he was taking photographs of Southeast Conference Football.

560th Squadron Logo

560th Squadron Logo

His longest mission was 11 hours and 15 minutes, flying from England to Poltova, Ukraine to refuel for a mission based out of Ukraine. Just before his arrival in October of 1943, the Germans had destroyed 60 B-17's in the second Schweinfurt raid. 

Jimmy had an opportunity to meet a few famous people on his tour. Jimmy Stewart and Joe Kennedy.  You can hear him talk about those experiences here:

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

I met Jimmy when I was commuting home from work in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009 and learned about his Wartime experience through amateur radio. We met on a 2 meter repeater and talked every now and then. I heard that there was a Special Event coming up in October of that year and thought he might be interested in coming along to it because the Aluminum Overcast was going to be there. Jimmy was excited about the prospect. I offered to take him there, but his son ended up hearing about it and was interested too, so his son brought him to the event.  

Jimmy enjoyed the trip and I ended up recording almost an hour of interesting discussions about his experience in World War II. You can listen to the entire interview here:

In 2009, Jimmy was about to turn 93 on October 13, so that'll put him at 98 years old if he's still around as of this writing. I did a search on the Silent Key database and couldn't find his callsign there, so I pray he's still with us and just as sharp as ever. 

I posted this interview years ago on my previous blog, but realized it wasn't there anymore so I decided today to repost it for everyone to enjoy. 

73 de N5PRE

 

UPDATE: I just heard that Jimmy was active in the North Fulton Amateur Radio League until his passing in 2014. RIP, Jimmy.