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Lt. Jesse Lee “Tex” Eubank
Pilot B-26 Martin Marauder
344th Bomb Group, 496th Bomb Squadron

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, 19-year-old “Tex” Eubank enlisted in the 9th Bomber Command of the Army Air Force, eventually serving in the 344th Bombardment Group, 496th, Bomber Squadron. After basic training in Miami Beach and flight training in San Antonio and Waco he was shipped to Lake Charles, Louisiana. From there the newly married Eubank, whose full name is Jesse Lee Eubank, flew his crew in their B-26 Martin Marauder to Brazil, across to Natal Island and Africa, from where they headed north until they reached Great Britain seven days later.

Tex’s group commander was a Colonel Maxwell. He remembers that the phrase “Good to the Last Drop” underneath a coffee cup was the nose art for his colonel’s plane. The nose art of Eubank’s own plane, “Miss Mynookie,” was of the always popular pinup girl style of the day. Underneath the cockpit on the side of the plane a bomb was painted after each mission. The goal was to reach 60 bombs – that meant you could go home.

His crew included a tail gunner and a waist gunner. While they were constantly under attack from German fighters, they managed to shoot down quite a few other planes. They also made a few strafing runs after unloading their payload, with strategic hits on railroad grounds and large bridges. These were especially dangerous missions because you needed to get down to 100 feet or lower, depending on the terrain to hit your target – making you a vulnerable target for enemy ground flak.

They fought in Cologne (careful to avoid hitting the famous Cathedral) and the Battle of the Bulge as part of 36-plane formations. When their missions safely passed the 60 marker Tex reenlisted, returning to battle after a brief leave of absence to visit his family stateside.

The crew’s luck would not last the second time around. On one particular mission their plane was hit 128 times. Tex was shot in the shoulder and sadly, one of his men, bombardier George Heston, was fatally wounded. Knowing the hydraulic system was shot out, Eubank gave his crew orders to bail out of the faltering plane, but his men refused to leave him. Fortunately he was able to guide the plane down to a crash-landing on a grassy strip beside the runway – only knocking his front teeth out in the process.

After the war ended, Tex stayed on for four more months, communicating home by letter. He volunteered to go to Asia for low-level bombing in B-25’s, but before he was sent out he learned about the bombing of Hiroshima in the Stars & Stripes newspaper.

With his service over, Tex returned home and became a pilot for United Air Lines – first based in Newark, NJ and then Florida, where he would remain throughout his career. He lives with his wife Edy. He has six children, two stepchildren, five grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.

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