Freedom Fighters: Lee Chestnut - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Freedom Fighters: Lee Chestnut

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TROUP, TX (KLTV) -

By Joan Hallmark - bio | email

TROUP, TX (KLTV) - From the skies over Italy to the skies over Japan, Lee Chestnut of Troup flew as a tail gunner in World War II. Chestnut's first 50 missions were over Italy and France.

His plane was forced down on three missions straight. But it was his 16th mission that was the most frightening. The gas line to the left engine of Chestnut's plane was severed by flak and gas flooded the plane and completely soaked Chestnut. The crew chose to fly the plane back to base on one engine rather than bailing out, knowing for well over an hour that the least little spark could blow the plane up and them with it.

After his 50 missions in Europe, Chestnut volunteered to fly in the South Pacific. One mission almost took him into the direct path of the atomic bomb dropped over Nagasaki. He saw a huge mushroom shaped cloud but didn't know for weeks what it was.

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