413th Fighter Group (SE)

Arch Gratz 2nd Top Row, 2nd from left


Rollie Weeks with Lucky Lorna. Named For Rollie's Wife, This is The Craft That Arch Gratz Crashed
Cockpit of Plane Shared By Arch Gratz & Rollie Weeks

"On my first mission I was hit by flack. I managed to reach the ocean where I was forced to bail out. I was lucky and landed in the ocean with no injuries, where I got [into] my dinghy and set up housekeeping. [June
23rd] I was a million miles from nowhere all by myself. My flying mates were forced to leave me as they didn't have enough fuel to stay with me. I floated around for seven days and did not see or hear a single human being. During my time as commander of my own ship, I was lucky enough to catch some rain water in a poncho. I also caught a seagull
and of course I ate him raw--very good!


I was resigned to my fate when I spotted a PBM Flying Boat. They had no idea I was out there. They were covering a raid in China. I signaled them with a signaling mirror and shot off a yellow smoke bomb which they saw. They started circling me and dumping gasoline in preparation for landing at sea. The ocean swells were at least ten feet high and I felt that they could not possibly land in such conditions. But, I just thought, "What the hell, it's not my airplane." They hit the water and tore off a wing float and the left wing went into the drink. I paddled over to them as they were abandoning their craft and asked them if they needed any help? They joined me instead of me joining them.


They managed to radio their location and twenty-four hours later, their whole squadron was circling above us. About thirty minutes later, a submarine, The USS Sea Devil, showed up and picked us all up. [July 1st]
There were about eight of them in the PBM crew. We were on the submarine for about three weeks. They had to complete their war patrol before we returned to Guam.


At Guam, I hitched a ride back to Ie Shima. When I got there I walked into the ready-room. You never saw so many surprised men in all of your life. They figured I was dead. It had been a month since I went down. They wanted to send me home, but I refused and went back on flying status." Arch Gratz

Courtesy of Arch Gratz