Reddos Raiders B17 flying fortress Nashville

Flying High with Reddo: Remembering a WWII Hero on Memorial Day
Nashville, TN / USA - (last modified May 26, 2024 at 6:00am )

A Legacy in the Skies

As a pilot and a grandson, this Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart. It's a day I remember Captain James "Reddo" Redmond, not just as a World War II hero, but as my grandfather, whose stories of bravery and resilience in the skies inspired my own journey in aviation. This is an update article from one I published on Veterans Day, but Reddo and all the Greatest Generation were so amazing, I believe the deserve another mention.  Thank you to all those who served and sacrificed everything, so we can be free Americans  

The Early War Skies: Bravery Against Odds

My grandfather's journey began in the perilous early days of World War II, as a Captain of the B-17 Flying Fortress  "My Princess" in the Army Air Corps. The mortality rate for B-17 crews was alarmingly high, but this didn't deter Reddo and his crew, who flew out of Polebrook, England, with a spirit that defied the dangers they faced.

Reddos Raiders My Princes B-17 Flying Fortress

D-Day and Beyond: Extended Service

Reddo's tour of duty was initially set for 25 missions, a daunting number given the circumstances. Early in the war, B-17's were being shot down at an alarming rate. But fate had other plans. His 25th mission coincided with D-Day, a turning point in the war when all tours were suspended. Instead of returning home, Reddo and his crew flew an additional nine missions. Remarkably, every member of his crew survived the war and returned home safely, a testament to their skill and luck. The first mission after Reddo's tour of duty was complete, the My Princess was shot down. The crew had to bail but the captain and co-pilot limped the plane back to Polebrook for an emergency landing.  

B-17 Flying Fortress

Influences and Insights: Reddo's Impact

1. The Razor's Edge Between Life and Death: Each mission was a dance with destiny, fueling a determination to live every non-flying day to its fullest.

2. Before the P-51 Mustang: The Germans knew the range of the fighters escorting bombers. Their ambushes past this range were deadly until the P-51s changed the game.

3. The Art of Formation: Flying in a tight formation was vital. It was a defensive tactic that meant survival, something Reddo's crew mastered.

 

Reddo and his grandson and great grandkids

A Pilgrimage to Polebrook

In June 2000, I had the privilege to accompany Reddo and my Uncle Mike to Polebrook for the 501st Bomber Group reunion. We visited the airfield, then a farmer's field, where a monument stood in honor of the 501st airmen. The visit was profound, marked by the deep appreciation of the English people towards these veterans. They made sure their stories were shared with younger generations, ensuring their sacrifices were never forgotten.

351st Bomber Group Polebrook England

Polebrook England 351st bomber group

 

Reddo’s Raiders: Preserving a Legacy

My wife Betsy played a crucial role in preserving Reddo's legacy by compiling his notes and mission logs into a  book "Reddo's Raiders." In his later years, Reddo would attend airshows, selling his book but more importantly, sharing his experiences with anyone who would listen. His stories weren't just about war; they were about courage, camaraderie, and survival. Click to buy. 

Reddos Raiders B-17 Flying Fortress

Final Flight: A Personal Tribute

After Reddo passed, I had the solemn duty of flying his cremated body to its final resting place in Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna New York  . As I flew up the East Coast, every controller read my notes about Reddo's final flight. Fellow pilots reached out, curious to know more about this B-17 pilot who completed 34 missions with all his crew returning safely. It was a flight filled with respect, honor, and reflection.

Jim Reddo Redmond B-17 Flying Fortress pilot

Conclusion: The Legacy Continues

James "Reddo" Redmond may have been a man with his flaws, but in the skies of World War II, he was nothing short of a hero. His philosophy was simple yet profound: "You don't send a Saint to kill the Devil." This Memorial Day, as I reflect on his life and legacy, I am reminded of the courage and sacrifice of all those who served. They flew, they fought, and they returned home to write their stories. Let us remember and honor them, not just today, but every day.

Jim Reddo Redmond B-17 Flying Fortress pilot

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