Mission 31: Clean Your Guns!

Keith Lile with B-25 tail guns

Despite the wisecracks about what “cleaning your guns” might mean, this tiny contact print revealed a great shot of Keith Lile cleaning the plexi-glas blister and the tail guns of a B-25 Mitchell bomber, just as he’d noted in his diary. Probably Corsica, 1944-45.                         KBL Family Collection

March 28, 2014 — On this day 69 years ago, from base camp at Solenzara, Dad wrote:

“Standown again – still too muddy to fly. Went out and cleaned my guns – were they ever rusty. Some Joe didn’t clean the barrels or cover the guns. Boy am I ever mad.”

This little reference to cleaning the guns and discharging any left over ammo coupled with a report of an armorer who had been fatally injured because of such an event, became a key plot point for THE TAIL GUNNER story. There was the reason I needed for why Bish was a ghost angry at the loss of his life and dreams. In the story, he’d been killed at the end of the war because of an avoidable accident—someone not clearing the guns.

With only a thin metal shell and a piece of canvas between you and your attackers, I can understand how important gun maintenance was for a guy dependent on those two little sticks to stay alive.

—Stephanie Lile

Join THE TAIL GUNNER crew! Only five days left, we’re at 72% of our fund-raising goal. Help us reach our target by ordering your copy of the book today.  

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