16 June, 2008

Profile 8 - KAY III flown by Sanford "Sandy" Moats

Sandy Moats is accomplished at many things - leadership (he's a retired Lt. General in the Air Force), being a fighter pilot (he's an Ace with nine victories) and a craftsman (he builds airplanes, too). He's also one of the most interesting story tellers I've ever been around. His passion for history, sociology and fact comes out in ways that make me wonder if Sandy would have been an even better High School teacher!

The then-Lieutenant flew an eventful mission a few days past the June 6 invasion at Normandy, France. His P-51 developed engine trouble and he was forced to land on a hastily converted airstrip on one of the French beachheads. One has to appreciate the huge number of Allied aircraft going back and forth over the English Channel at the time - aside from the obvious hazards of combat, these aircraft were worked thin and mechanical breakdowns were inevitable.

Being a continual student of life, and a pilot, not a foot soldier, Sandy was curious to get a little "sight seeing" in on the fresh battlefield. Standing near one of the now-relic concrete bunkers of Pointe du Hoc near Omaha Beach, he described a time 60 year's prior, examining a belt of ammunition hanging from a silenced German machine gun - not so unusual save for the fact the bullets were wooden.

For those who are experienced with shooting, the idea of wooden bullets working in the violent and volcanic breech of a machine gun may sound impossible. However, wooden bullets were indeed used. There are a lot of reasons - wooden bullets conserved strategic resources, they inflicted nasty wounds...nevertheless, I'll never forget the mental pictures his story inspired, the ground-bound fighter pilot, recalling his awestruck taste of what life was like for those who had to fight on the ground below...