Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Last Of A 10-Man Aircrew – A Beaver County Veterans Day Story

Albert Tripodi’s Army Air Force squadron was limping back to England after successfully bombing a Merseburg, Germany, oil refinery in 1944. His plane had been hit by German ground fire when the Beaver Falls native noticed something ominous.

“I looked out and saw contrails. It was our gas line. Usually when that happens, you blow up,” said Tripodi, a Patterson Heights resident who turned 96 on Nov. 3.

These days, Tripodi is a kindly great-grandfather whose relatively unlined face has a ready smile for visitors. During World War II, though, he was a young right waist gunner aboard a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Shoo Shoo Baby, after a 1944 Andrews Sisters hit song.

But with two engines hit and one of them spewing fuel, the Shoo Shoo Baby and its crew were in grave danger of being shoo-shooed out of earthly existence.

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Sandra Donovan
Sandra Donovan
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing reporter. She previously spent 17 years as a reporter and editor with the Beaver County and Allegheny Times and another dozen years as a freelancer for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. She has won local and state journalism awards. A graduate of Penn State University Park, she also holds a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

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