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WWII veterans honored at Salute to Davis-Monthan

Posted at 5:33 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 01:45:51-04
Two World War II veterans were honored at the "Salute to Davis-Monthan" at the Pima Air and Space Museum on Thursday.
 
Colonel Richard Bushong and Staff Sergeant Mel Sinquefield both flew combat missions in the B-17 bomber during the second world war. They shared their stories with Nine On Your Side.
 
Now, let's go back to the 1940s.
 
Richard Bushong joined the Army in 1942 at the age of 20 to be a pilot, by 1943 he flew in his first combat mission. He was a member of the 390th Bomb Wing.
 
"They said we were so accurate we could drop the bombs into a pickle barrel," said Bushong.
 
He flew 28 combat missions in the European theater - an impressive statistic considering many pilots never flew more than 20. Bushong was awarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross, three air medals, and the French Legion of Honor.
 
Bushong was part of the first daylight raid of Berlin. Years later he learned his squadron was bombing a well-known electronic equipment manufacturer that is still in business today, Bosch.
 
"I can guarantee you they're not making in that factory," joked Bushong.
 
During one raid, every man he trained with before going to Europe was shot down. The only reason Bushong survived was because food poisoning kept him out of the air that day.
 
After WWII, he continued flying till 1971 because he says he loves flying. "Some people just don't know when to quit."
 
Mel Sinquefield was the other veteran honored Thursday.
 
Sinquefield was a left waist gunner, protecting his plane from enemy fighters starting in 1942. He flew 50 combat missions in Italy. He was credited taking down three enemy planes, he received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts, and six air medals.
 
Sinquefield then showed us a yearbook from when he first joined the army. He looks young in the photograph - because he was just 15 when he joined. Legally you have to be 18.
 
"I thought it was the thing to do," he said.
 
Every generation of Sinquefield's family has served in a branch of the military dating back to the Revolutionary War. He says he wanted to join the Navy with the rest of his friends in high school, but they asked for a birth certificate.
 
"There was the end of my navy career!" said Sinquefield.
 
He then went to the army recruitment office and the officer there did not ask for the certificate, so he lied about his age.
 
"That's the way I got started," he said.
 
Sinquefield served four years before returning home, finishing high school, and graduating from Wayne State University thanks to the GI Bill.
 
Both Sinquefield and Bushong volunteer at the 390th Memorial Museum which is based at the Pima Air and Space Museum. They lecture and teach visitors what it was like to serve in World War II each week.