My blown chance to present a WWII flier’s story

A down side to interviewing aging war veterans is that if you put one off, you might miss the opportunity completely.

That was the case with Carl Manone, a retired educator who was a Hellertown High School grad and a bombardier on a B-29 Superfortress during World War II.

A colleague at The Morning Call, columnist Bill White, put me on to Carl last summer. Bill had known Carl for years but hadn’t seen him in quite a while. Carl had emailed a story he wrote, three-and-a-half single-space pages.

His title was “Tokyo destroyed – 16.6 square miles incinerated in most horrific aerial bombardment in history: an introspective account by Carl Manone, pathfinder and lead bombardier on Crew 4001, Earthquake McGoon.”

Bill forwarded the account to me, suggesting it was a ready-made story for my Morning Call series, “War Stories: In Their Own Words.”

A few days later, Bill and I got a message from Carl that reflected the aim of many vets to get the facts right.

“Since sending you my B-29 article, I’ve been double-checking my grammar and data,” he emailed. “I’ve discovered a few errors – a major one being the weight of the plane. It should read 135,000 lbs. instead of 68,000.”

He attached a corrected copy.

I got back to Carl about a month later, saying a good time for his account to run in the newspaper would be March 9, 2012, which would be the 67th anniversary of the mission he wrote about. I asked if we could get together early in 2012.

Another month passed, and I didn’t hear back from him. Then on Nov. 19, I got an email from Carl’s wife, Dani, who said he had been hospitalized for eight weeks and was now in rehab.

“It’s a long road with lots of detours along the way,” she wrote. “But Carl is always a soldier at heart, so I’m hoping that he’ll keep marching on.”

The March anniversary passed and I didn’t hear from the Manones.

A few weeks ago I found out that Carl died March 14 at age 88. I had blown my chance to interview him about the daring low-level B-29 raid on Tokyo that he had helped lead as a 21-year-old first lieutenant in the Army Air Forces. An interview could have been weaved into his written account, complementing it.

Morning Call reporter Adam Clark wrote a story that ran May 8 saying that Carl was to be buried that day at Arlington National Cemetery.

Carl’s story need not be buried with him. I have it, and I can still get it into the newspaper so that readers can appreciate what he did on the B-29 nicknamed Earthquake McGoon and that there will be a permanent record of his experience.

That’s the least I can do to honor the memory of a flier whose decorations include two Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism.












4 responses to “My blown chance to present a WWII flier’s story

  1. Gregg Heilman

    David my father went into the Pacific with the 11 TH BGH soon after the Attack on Hickam. His Unit fought at Midway, Guadalcanal, Espirto Santos, the Solomons etc. Admiral McCain actually awarded his Air Corp Unit and Squadron with the same DUC that the Navy and Marines received. This was the FIRST TIME ONE MILITARY SERVICE RECOMMENDED AND AWARDED A MEDAL TO ANOTHER BRANCH.

    By 1943 they were running out of bombers and crews and came back to Hickam. My father was used as an instructor for training replacement Armorer 911s. Three of those men survived and I was able to speak to them.

    This book came out last summer

    Finish Forty and Home:

    The Untold World War II Story of B-24s in the Pacific (Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Series) [Hardcover]
    Phil Scearce (Author)

    It is my fathers’ Unit and squadron, I know the author and he signed three copies for me written in dedication to each of the three men I had gotten to know. I surprised them and sent them each their autographed copy. I almost waited to Christmas. Warren Coats called me he was so excited to get the book and knew everyone in the story. Ken Crothers sent me a photo of Trixie in the book a French Lady who took good care (respectful, decent care) of our Air Corp Crews in her small dinner establishment.

    Had I waited a few more months to Christmas Warren would not be with us anymore. By sending the books out immediately Warren Coats had the opportunity to read the book cover to cove before his death. I THANK GOD I SENT THEM OUT IMMEDIATELY as you said if we wait too long with these heroes they may not be with us next time.


  2. Gregg Heilman

    P.S. When I spoke to the men last summer I learned that Lou Zamperini was in their 42 Squadron as well and his book Unbroken was on the top ten book list as well for sometime.


  3. Was Mr. Manone’s story ever published? My father was the pilot of the B-29 on that mission, and I would like to read the full account.


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