Joseph Araiza

Chambley NCO Consults on Book, Acts

Editor's note: This is a newspaper article submitted by the Sgt Araiza's son, Corey.

Consultant on the book, THE LONGEST DAY, by Cornelius Ryan, and a part in the 1948 Warner Brothers production FIGHTER SQADRON, were the result of one of Chambley's noncommissioned officer’s World War II Experiences.

MSgt. Joseph L. Araiza, 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Maintenance Supervisor, was selected for a part in the motion picture because of his ability to handle the guns of a B-24. Motion picture representatives took advantage of his vast experience, while they were filming at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to add a touch of realism to the film.

Some years following his debut in motion pictures, Sergeant Araiza answered an advertisement requesting all personnel involved in the invasion of Normandy, to please contact Cornelius Ryan. "I answered the ad and filled out several questionnaires that he sent me," reflected the sergeant. "He also requested that I give him a detailed narrative account of my experiences in the invasion."

"At the time of the invasion, I was attached to the 446th Bomb Group, Royal Air Force Station Bungay, England. On June 6, 1944, all of the aircrews were awakened at 3 a.m., several hours earlier than usual. This stirred everyone into motion, for it was obvious that something big was about to happen. When we reached the briefing room, we learned that our mission for the day was Normandy Beach, the beginning of the big assault."

"Not long after the briefing, we were airborne. It was still dark but we could see the outlines of ships gathering on the English side of the channel. Climbing to 15,000 feet, I could see the mediums already heading back from bombing and straffing missions on the beach. As we came closer to Normandy, light flashes from the big naval guns pounding the beach became evident and soon the outlines of the larger landing ships came into view as landing operations began."

"Our first bombing of the beach went off without a flaw and by 10 a.m. we were touching down at home station. We were then debriefed and told to prepare for another run on the beach at 1 p.m. When we took off on our second mission of the day, the weather began to close in on us. We could hardly see the wing tips of our aircraft. Even as the formation gathered, the weather was so intensely bad that you felt completely alone upstairs. Finally the mission was scrubbed. That was the last I saw of D-Day action."

"However, two weeks, later, as the American forces were advancing, we were given another mission, this time to hit a synthetic oil field in Northern Germany."

"As we were flying in, the Germans hit us hard with fighters. Flying center formation, I saw nearly a dozen aircraft from the squadron on my right go down. The fighters were coming in stepladder style, one on top of the other, so that they couldn’t miss the intended target. The only aircraft left in the squadron was the lead bird. Then it was our turn as we were hit by flak on both outboard engines. We lost altitude rapidly. It was either ditch in the icy waters of the channel and await pickup or take our chances and remain with the bird. We stayed. Finally the pilot managed to bring her down in neutral territory and after a while we were brought out and sent stateside by the American Consulate."

Describing how he felt about these missions, Sergeant Araiza said: "The biggest worry that I ever had was whether or not I was going to be scared. But once we were airborne, I realized that I was too busy to think about being scared. "

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