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1st Lieutenant Robert John McCallum, B-26 Pilot
386th B.G., 554th B.S. & 394th B.G., 585th B.S.
70 Missions

1st Lieutenant Robert John McCallum, B-26 Pilot

Wednesday, November 10, 1943 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 41:
Aircraft " ? " 131635 RU-H, Pilot Lieutenant McCallum—flak made a hole one inch by two inches in left nose wheel well door, continuing through internal and external flooring and exited six inches aft of the right rudder pedal. Elevator trim tab torque tube broken through. One inch hole four feet up on the rudder and one foot back of the leading edge of rudder, exiting two feet back on right side. Two inch tear half way between outboard and inboard edges of left aileron, exiting six inches from trailing edge, and passing right through aileron. One inch hole on right side of aft fuselage, two feet above slipstream deflectors. Flak entered through one inch hole on bottom of right aileron at extreme tip, tore and dented metal tip of aileron. Piece of flak entered fairing between wing and outboard nacelle midway between leading and trailing edge of right wing. It penetrated auxiliary fuel tank and exited inside nacelle three inches below liquidometer, making one inch hole in nacelle wall brace, also tore up liquidometer wiring.
386th BG Historian
Footnote to 386th Bomb Group Mission 41
(As told by Lt. McCallum to his family over the succeeding years)
"After the flak exited the floor, 6 inches to the aft of the right rudder pedal; it struck Lt. McCallum in the heel of his right flight boot, knocking his foot off the rudder pedal. The flak lodged in the sole of Lt. McCallum's flight boot. After the mission was completed, he was able to remove it and kept it as a keepsake."
Excerpt from a personal letter dated Nov. 24, 1943, from Lt. McCallum to Marcelle Hove (his future wife)
“A couple of weeks ago I picked up a souvenir that I’d like to show you, but that will have to wait to. It’s not at all pretty but I’m glad I can carry it in my pocket instead of inside me.”
Almost 62 Years Later:
On June 7th 2005, Robert J. McCallum was laid to rest, alongside his wife of 38 years, Marcelle. At his gravesite ceremony, I, as his only son, buried my father with his original set of pilots wings for his final flight into the heavens. I then passed out the his other sets of Wings, 1st Lt. bars, his Distinguished Flying Cross and his Air Medal, to his sister, daughter, and his grandchildren. My words to them were " We can never claim ownership of these items, but can only be the custodians of their care". I then passed the piece of flak, to Brandon, his grandson, for safe keeping on behalf of his great granddaughter, Alia, only a month old. I told the story of the piece of flak. I explained that I knew full well that my father had always downplayed how it happened. That the piece of flak was the proverbial "bullet with his name on it, and it missed it's mark".
As of the date of this writing, Alia, is the sole, 4th generation blood relative of Robert J. McCallum, and I’m sure that piece of flak will be remembered and well cared for, as the McCallum Family heirloom.
Personal Note:
As for myself, first and foremost, I am proud to say that I am a veteran like my father before me, and served in the U.S. Air Force as an Aircraft Weapons Mechanic and in Explosive Ordinance Disposal. I claimed his lapel wings, and wear one of them proudly on my own EOD hat.
John D. McCallum
June 28,2005