Flight Helps to Exorcise War Demons

"We used to be real scared of these planes," Anna Ohler of North Hollywood said of the B-24 she got a ride in Friday at Burbank Airport.

Ohler, a retired legal secretary, saw World War II from the other end--the German end. She was a 17-year-old girl in Berlin when it began. "The war started on my birthday. Some present, huh?"

What she remembers most of the war years was cowering in bomb shelters from 1942 to 1945, listening to the American and British bombers dropping their lethal loads. "What scared me was the sound the bombs used to make--a whistling sound. When you heard those, you ran to the closest shelter," she said.

Recently she learned that a touring B-24, the same type of plane that--with B-17s--raided Berlin, would be on display at the airport. So she called Bob Stane, president of B-17 Combat Crewmen and Wingmen, and asked for a ride to exorcise the demons of her youthful fears.

"He asked why, and I told him I used to be on the receiving end . . . I wanted to get the whole thing wrapped up, over with."

"During the flight, I was sad and happy at the same time." But after the ride, she said "I feel elated."

"I talked to a man in an old uniform at the airport who had flown 32 missions over Berlin. I told him I had been on the ground. He began to apologize. 'I'm so sorry,' he said. I told him 'It was war--you couldn't help that'."

"You never forget the things that happened in the war. This makes it easier though, especially since another human being said he was sorry he dropped bombs on me."

A B-24 and a B-17, both sponsored and maintained by the Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation, are on display at Mercury Aviation at Burbank Airport until Monday.

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