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Gunny

Journal of GySgt S.Thrift USMC

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Skipper,

Those last three, weren't they near the field? So why didn't you get the confirm? Is this something particular to your career or a flaw in OFF?

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It was coming in my next entry. I have 7 claims overall. When I went to fly the last mission, after I got out of the hospital that was, I got word that five were confirmed, two were rejected due to "Lack of visual confirmation". Meaning that I was probably over on the otherside of the lines when they went in and they aint gonna go over and the Kaisar, "I say ole Chap, did you happen by chance lose two of fliers on this date in this area?"

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18 June, 1917

I was brought this journal by one of my officers as he was collecting Gunnery Sgt. Thrift's possesions for transmittal back to his service branch. I have thus decided to attempt to end his journal in a manner befitting the young man that started it. If not for the benefit of other young aviators, then at least for a family the man leaves behind.

It is not often that one comes into contact with such fierce warrior and a quiet, likable young chap such as Sergeant Thrift. He never shirked any of his responsibilities and flew every mission, even the simplest as if they were of the utmost importance. He was not want for the wild life that some of the pilots live, nor was he a saint.

I noticed when he returned after his last stint in the hospital that the man was worn. Not that any of us are not. I probably should have insisted that he take a leave of absence, but I am positive he would not have taken it. The discussion I had with him on his return from his first hospital stay, ensures me I am right. When I asked if he was sure he was ready to fly, a simple yes sir was the only response. When pressed he said, "Colonel, I've been laid up for seventeen days whilst yall be fighting. Time for me to back to it."

He returned to us three days ago. During that time, he posted three scambles, two single patrols and the last, a patrol behind our lines. His claims jumped from the seven that he had before his first trip to the rear, to twenty in just those three days. All of those kill claims came at the expense of Jasta 2. It was Jasta 2 that finally did him in.

His wingman for the last flight was Ellis Reid. Capt. Reid tells me that near the area they were to patrol, they were jumped by two DIIIs. This in itself, shouldn't have been a problem. It was the arrival of six other DIIIs that sealed "Gunny's" fate. Captain Reid tried to keep track of his wingman, but during the twisting and turning, you can easily lose track. At one point, Ellis said that Gunny was on one of the DIIIs ripping it to shreds, while another was behind him returning the favor. Over the area that Gunny fought, Ellis claims to have seen three pillars of smoke and saw Gunny attempting to land in a clearing, engine clearly dead.

A French patrol found him a few hours later, slumped at the controls. He had been riddled with machinegun holes.

I didn't know him well, but what I did know of the man, I salute. The squadron and I will miss him dearly.

Raymond "Ray" Collishaw

Lt. Col. RNAS

RNAS-10 Commanding.

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