“Don’t Be Afraid”: A Tail Gunner In The “Burma Bridge Busters”

Tom Bristol


Tom Bristol grew up in Fairlawn, New Jersey. His father was an electrical contractor, and his mother was a waitress. He enlisted, based partly on the example of his father, a Soldier in the National Guard. After basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, he attended increasingly more specialized training in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Ft. Myers, Florida, Columbia, South Carolina, Biloxi, Mississippi, Denver, Colorado, and Miami, Florida, before shipping overseas. He initially arrived in Karachi, India, before continuing on to the 10th Air Force’s Hailakandi Air Force Base in far eastern India. After the war, he returned home and became an electrician. In this interview, he describes training in the states and in India, and flying a typical bombing mission against the Japanese in the China, Burma, India Theater of Operations. He recalls the worst mission of his life, when his B-25, “Erotic Edna,” crashed on landing and he was nearly trapped in the tail by flames in the fuselage. Finally, he reflects on what his service means to him.


conflicts World War II
topics War in the Air Air Force Camaraderie
interviewer David Siry
date 23 October 2019


name Tom Bristol
service Army Air Corps
unit 12th Bomb Group; 490th Bombardment Squadron “Burma Bridge Busters”
specialty Tail Gunner
service dates 1942 1945