Date: December 14, 2022 at 8:17:43
Subject: John Barone's 100th birthday party today
Mr. John Barone, Deacon Jim Baca’s old friend from the 90th Bomb Group (the Jolly Rogers) had his 100th birthday today, and the New Jersey town he lives in gave him a parade on the street in front of his house. A link to the news coverage is here: https://www.app.com/picture-gallery/new ... 0898896002
John Barone and Jaime Baca were the same age and were both gunners on the crews of different bombers, but those two crews flew together in the same squadron of the Jolly Rogers throughout the war, so Baca and Barone were always in the same camps together. The two crews were friendly rivals in many things, such as a bet they made when they left Hawaii in 1944 on which of their bombers would get to Australia first.
That contest ended on May 25, 1944, when Barone’s crew (pilot Lt. Dale Holland) successfully took off from the island of New Caledonia, a fueling stop on the way to Australia, while Baca’s crew got their bomber stuck in the mud on the way to the runway. Mr. James Horner, the pilot, told me that the New Caledonia airport had very narrow taxiways that were actually intended for fighter planes, not bombers, and with his whole crew hollering at him to "go faster, faster!” to get to the runway ahead of Barone’s crew, he accidentally let one wheel of his bomber slip off the pavement on a curve and it instantly sank into deep gooey mud, and one wing tilted down and nearly touched the water of a nearby swamp. It took a whole day for a tractor to pull Baca’s crew’s bomber out of the mud, and Barone’s crew won the bet easily.
Deacon Baca, during one of the many breakfasts that we had together, told me that he and John Barone always had fun joking about their accents; Baca had a Spanish accent and Barone had a Brooklyn one; in fact Barone was known as the Brooklyn Kid. They had fun making fun of each other’s different ways of pronouncing the same words.
John Barone's son Joe, says that his father’s mind is still sharp and he remembers everything that happened on the many bombing missions he flew during the war.
When their bombers passed through Hawaii from California on their way to the Pacific war theater, both crews examined the damage that Pearl Harbor had suffered during the recent Japanese attack, and Mr. Baca said that there were still large piles of wrecked American aircraft that had been bulldozed to the sides of the runways that they landed on and took off from.
Baca's and Barone’s crews both survived the war, and Baca made it to age 96, and here is Barone today still doing fine at 100.
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