Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Veteran Flew Top Secret Missions over German Territory ; Veteran: Book Available on Amazon

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Veteran Flew Top Secret Missions over German Territory ; Veteran: Book Available on Amazon

Article excerpt

Royce Fulmer was in his early 20s when he flew on low-altitude, top-secret missions in a specially-equipped bomber, dropping spies and guerilla fighters -- as well as supplies -- to the French resistance in World War II.

Flying in a blacked-out B-24 bomber, Fulmer and his crew did their missions without other bombers or fighter escorts. His experiences during the war were recorded in a recently released book entitled "A Drop in the Night," which he co-authored with Topekan Thea Rademacher.

"The nice part about our flying is we were in charge of our destiny," Fulmer said.

Fulmer, a technical sergeant, and his crew flew their missions alone and always at night.

"Our drop zone was low and slow," meaning the planes flew only about 130 mph and at an altitude of 250 feet when the spies and saboteur teams parachuted into their drop zones.

Fulmer was in the 856th Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Force.

Their missions were code-named "Operation Carpetbagger," and the Carpetbagger crews were based at a secluded air field called Station 179 near Harrington, England.

Fulmer was born in 1923 in Winsboro, S.C. As a youngster, Fulmer first flew when a step-uncle arranged for him to ride in a small plane at an airport. As a high school junior, he earned a license to be a mechanic from the Palmetto School of Aeronautics.

In October 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in Fort Jackson, S.C. Fulmer intended to enter the fighting as a crew member of a bomber. He became an assistant crew chief and cross-trained as a gunner.

Fulmer was assigned to the training command to help replace the staggering losses of crews the American bombers were suffering. Fulmer wanted to get into combat, but his application to transfer to combat was turned down.

But Fulmer had a plan.

"I always gambled a little in the service," he said.

After he was caught gambling two times, he was punished by being assigned overseas. The plan worked.

While attending gunnery school, he met actor Clark Gable, who did limited service as a gunner during the war.

Fulmer and Lt. William L. Borden, the plane's pilot who was a graduate of Yale University, meshed as a team.

"There's no question in my mind, he was an intellectual guy," Fulmer said. "But he didn't know anything about mechanics. I don't think he could start his car.

"He had the brains but not the experience," Fulmer said.

Borden and Fulmer had similar habits.

"He and I didn't drink, didn't smoke," Fulmer said.

In England, the call went out for eight-men crews to fly special missions, air dropping small saboteur teams called "Jedburghs," spies and supplies -- including guns, ammunition, money and gasoline -- to French resistance and other partisan groups fighting the Germans. …

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