Biographical Notes re

Charles A. (Chuck) Stone

Page 6 of 6 Pages, of Chapter 6,


As our stay at Lakenheath continued, I had the opportunity to be seen by a well known Orthopedic Surgeon stationed in the area. After a checkup, he acknowledged that I had every reason to have back problems, partly due to old polio effects and possibly other complicating factors. He found that one leg was shorter than the other and gave me a prescription for a special heel-lift on one shoe. He said he would like to do more, but he was being transferred stateside within a few days. I took this news back to our wing flight surgeon and he still thought this whole thing was some kind of a joke.

Our TDY coming to an end, my Squadron Commander, knowing of my complications, chose to ride along with us in the crawlway area of our B-47. A courageous act on his part. We made our takeoff late in the day, met a top-off air refueling over Scotland and headed for Thule Air Base Greenland for our next refueling. Although a bit uncomfortable, I got my fuel from the tankers out of Thule and we headed down to the USA, Lincoln AFB and the arms of our loved ones. As we flew down over Minnesota I swear I could almost make out the lights of the Rainbow Inn, at Park Rapids. Such a feeling of fulfillment remembering the history that brought me to this time, this place, at 34,000 feet. The winter night was clear as a bell and our approaches and landings were routine. To say it was special to step out of our aircraft, climb down the ladder, and take our wives into our arms was most heartwarming. Our commander had gone all out to make our homecoming memorable and had succeeded beyond all expectations.

In the coming months I strived to continue my combat crew responsibilities while being in and out of military hospitals. Our local base had nothing but a dispensary. It is interesting to note that we had a friend, a Major, who came down with a mysterious illness. The local doctors kept him coming and going, locally, trying to figure what was wrong. Finally he and his wife insisted he be sent to a qualified diagnostic hospital. They did so, but the doctor complained to him that he was the first serious, challenging, case he had encountered and how could he learn anything if this fellow up and went to another, larger, hospital. He was found to be seriously ill and soon medically retired. I never did hear the rest of his story.

One day our crew was asked to test hop a B-47 that had had some problems. As we poured on the coal down the runway, I could feel the cabin pressure building up as though we were diving deep into the ocean. My Bomb/Nav was screaming with pain that his sinuses were about to burst. As we broke ground, I popped the pressurization relief handle to go to outside air pressure. There was a big “FOOM!” and the air in the cockpit instantly turned into pea soup fog. For a few seconds I could see nothing and just tried to hold my climb attitude until we had some visibility. We came around the pattern and landed, turning the sick B-47 back in for some more work. The next day they asked us if we would give it another try. They said the pressurization levers had been set in the wrong position. We taxied out and as we took the runway with partial power on, I moved the canopy lever to the closed position. As the canopy sealed, here we went again. My Bomb/Nav immediately started screaming from pain and I could tell things were not right. With my hand still on the canopy lever, I just pulled it back to the open position. As the pressure buildup was released, the canopy was lifted out of its tracks and was sitting askew. The maintenance autopsy concluded they had placed that valve in yet another wrong position. Now they had a canopy change on their hands.

One of the finest, most skilled and tenacious pilots I have ever known was Bob Haston. An A/C with the rank of Captain and a member of our squadron. His crew was often tapped for a test hop. One day as they were taxiing out for a test, they smelled cordite in the cockpit. Both pilots immediately got out of their seats. Bob reached across his to try and install the ejection seat safety pin. While he was stretching across the seat, he and the canopy were blown through the air, Bob landing on the concrete, on his head. He was too tough to die and after fighting for his life, then fighting to remain on active duty, he was finally retired with a major disability. He was, at one time, the pilot of a B-17 where, in WW II, a German shell had set a box of flares on fire in the cockpit of his aircraft. He was badly burned, trying to dump the burning box, the aircraft blew up, and he, terribly burned, was almost killed by German farmers with pitchforks. Making it to a German prison camp, there was a captured British surgeon who saved his life and working parts, permitting him to move forward with a productive life. It was such a gift to me to have the privilege of working with such men on a daily basis.

Bob and Ann Haston,
attending a 98th BG/BW
Reunion, September, 1992

However this all may sound, I found the B-47 to be a most remarkable aircraft to fly. I know men who, in their career-span accumulated many thousands of hours in the B-47 and I would suggest that every one of them would agree with me.

In spite of the wing flight surgeon’s efforts to document me as a malingerer, my supervisors would not be convinced. It was decided that, until my status was cleared up, I would give up my combat crew and take on some staff work that needed serious attention. I reluctantly parted company with my crew, not realizing that I was making a major change in my role and future as a USAF Officer. By this time my rank was raised to Captain and I was thankful for that.

This seems to be a good place to move on to a new chapter, because that is what it turned out to be, for me.

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