MOUNT VERNON — Jack Poland has gone through a lot in service to his country. He fought in World War II and survived as flight engineer when his B-24 went down in the North Sea north of England after an aborted bombing run on Strasbourg, France.
The plane went down in 38-degree water, 80 miles out to sea. Injured when the turret fell on him in the crash, he spent three months in the hospital after his rescue. Only four of the nine crew members survived. Since that time, Poland has not been back in a B-24. That is, until last Friday.
Julie Herman, a friend of Poland’s, arranged for him to take a ride on a B-24 at Dayton’s Wright Brothers Airport.
“When I walked in the first hangar a young man came up to me and said, ‘We’re looking for you,’” Poland recalled. “He’d seen my cap [with a B-24 insignia] and he went and got a chair and set me down under the wing of a B-24.”
Poland said he received a lot of attention and was asked a lot of questions by others taking the flight.
“There must have been 50 or 60 people there,” he said.
Flying to Akron from Dayton, the flight lasted about 80 minutes. Poland got to ride in his old spot, the flight engineer’s seat.
“That’s the first I’ve been in a B-24 since we crashed,” Poland said. “That was 65 years ago. The 8th of September it will be 65 years.”
After all those years and the unpleasant memory of going down, the ride might not have been enjoyable for Poland. Such was not the case.
“I was a little hesitant about it at first,” he said. “But as I thought about it, I figured, what am I going to lose? It was real enjoyable. After I got back in the air it all came back to me like it ought to.”