Original Writings and Interviews by Barrett Tillman

 

GREASE JOB

“Very nice landing”
Dad said to me.
But I was surprised
As a pilot can be.

“I didn’t do it,”
I quickly replied.
“I thought you had it”
And that was no lie.

For Dad was up front
And I being thick;
Neither could see
The hand on the stick.

Once in awhile,
From out of the blue
I surely suspect
God shoots landings, too.




WORKOUT

At the fitness center I once did enter
To firm up unused muscles.
With iron to pump my heart would jump
To circulate corpuscles.

At circuit’s end I went to spend
With the nutritionist some money.
And sitting thar, behind the bar,
Was a youngish blonde-haired honey.

At forty-odd my poor old bod
Was wracked with gasps and heaving.
But she, sweet thing, was fresh as spring;
I’ve flown since she’s been breathing.

With tossing curl this lively girl
Said, “I have just what you need.
This book will do a lot for you
And bring you up to speed.”

Aghast was I at what I’d spy,
For she held out in her hand
A book of shame, most low, profane
Yet sold throughout the land.

My mind raced back, retraced the track
Of the grim days of my youth.
Images of HER: of Triple A and NVA
And treason, too, forsooth!

“Sweetheart,” I said with words of dread,
“Put that book under lock.
For there is no doubt
Jane Fonda’s Workout
Should be a lifetime breaking rock!”

 

 

SCHRAGE MUSIK

By Barrett Tillman

 

Do not ask me “Who started it?”

This war is long past the point of argument.

You say that we sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind.

Warsaw, Amsterdam, and Coventry burned beneath black-crossed wings.

I do not care.  Those were other cities, other nations, other people.

Now the burning cities are Berlin, Cologne, and Dresden.

This abomination, tonight, is happening to Us.

My wife and child sleep in concrete bunkers, faintly remembering feather beds.

 

Please do not speak to me of Reich and Fuhrer.

I have heard that drumbeat since the age of twelve.

And I bought into it: whole-heartedly, completely.  Fervently.

Then I grew up.

Some never do, you know.  But I grew to maturity with a '110 beneath me

And I know something of what I speak.

Dare I speak what I feel?  Certainly not.

I am a flier, not a fool.

 

I am twenty-four years old and I have lost my youth.

Long ago, as a boy, my flying was limited to weekends.

Now I fly only at night.  Almost every night.

I have spent the last three years hacking down Terrorflieger from flak-pocked skies.

I hunt them and know them by their spoor: cockaded wings, heavily laden Viermots each with five to seven terrorists.

I would bomb their cities as easily as they bomb mine.

The only difference between them and me is the paint on our airplanes.

 

What a weapon I hold in my hands!

An engineering marvel from Professor Messerschmitt:

Two powerful engines, a scientific wonder with forked antlers and six cannon.

With my radar operator behind me, I swim upward into the moonlit darkness,

Twenty and thirty millimeter vengeance beneath my thumb.

Linked by radio to argus-eyed sentries, I worship the modern gods:

Wurzburg, Freya, and Lichtenstein.  Their electronic eyes pierce the night.

But in the last 300 meters, human vision is what matters.

 

There he is.

Lancaster? Sterling? Halifax?  Das macht nicht.  All are fair game.

Aha!  He is alert.  He goes into his choreographed routine: the famous “corkscrew.”

It’s a game I have played many times before.  Dive, climb, roll, reverse; repeat.

He is good, this Tommi.  He knows his business. 

But I am better.

Alternately, gravity pushes me into my seat, then lifts me from it.

The tail gunner fires but he cannot draw a bead on me.

 

Almost flying formation, I match him move for move.

His belly is framed in the orange glow of my “roof mounted” Revi.

Why do the English not put ventral turrets in their bombers?

Steady…steady…tracking…THERE.

Behind me the “jazz music” beats a 20mm cacophony.

Two MG-151s, scientifically angled at 65 degrees: tracers converge overhead.

Fire again.  Bright motes of API snap and sparkle across his airframe.

Time to get out from under.

 

I roll right, watching the result of my skill.

“A flamer!” cries Bodo behind his scope.

I make the call:  Pauke!  Pauke!

It’s a call I have made dozens of times. 

The novelty has long since abated, but the tingle remains.

My Schrage Musik is empty, but no matter. 

What does matter, you ask?

Very well, I shall tell you:

 

My controller tells me of another “customer” nearby. That matters.

I turn to the heading and Bodo begins his scan.  That matters.

I have ample fuel in my tanks.  That matters a lot.

I still have ammunition in my four nose guns.  That matters a great deal.

Eight thousand meters beneath me, my country burns.

And that matters most of all.

 

2004

 

The following was inspired by the meteoric career of Ltn. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the Luftwaffe's leading ace in the Mediterranean Theater of WW II.  Flying Bf-109Fs (usually with a yellow 14 on the fuselage) he scored 151 of his total 158 victories in North Africa.  He died in September 1942, age 22.

STAR OF AFRIKA

Smoke in the cockpit

Have to get out.

Make the quick call:

I can't mess about.

 

Canopy jettisoned

Dive over the side.

SMASH in the ribs

With the tail collide.

 

Pain in my body

Falling through space

A terrible end

For the world's greatest ace.

 

It was always so good:

I'm known far and wide.

I'm young and I'm handsome

And awesome besides.

 

How could this happen

Especially to me?

My God, I'm too good

On that all agree.

 

Farewell my 3rd Staffel

and JG-27.

Farewell my dear comradres

As I plummet through heaven.

 

No Tommy cold beat me

In the skies over sand.

The best of the best

Eyes, head, heart, and hands.

 

No Hurri or Kittyhawk

Put a round thru my skin.

It took Yellow Fourteen

To do poor Jochen in!

 

 

I WILL FIGHT

Fought for power, fought for glory, fought for kingdom and my kind
Fought for conquest and survival, fought for eons, through all time.

Fought for avarice and ego, fought for land and fought for gold.
Fought for food and fought for women, fought in deserts and in cold.

Fought from horseback and from camels, fought from warships' slip'ry decks.
Fought in chariots and in panzers and in supersonic jets.

Fought with spears and fought with missiles, fought from castles and from forts.
Fought with arrows and with cannon, fought for money; fought for sport.

Marched with Caesar and Pizarro, rode with Custer and the Kahn;
Sailed with Nelson and with Nimitz; flew with Goering and beyond.

Stormed a hundred bloody beaches, besieged a thousand bloody towns.
Vanquished scores of foemens' armies, saving others for the Crown.

Conquered Incas and Apaches, colonized the New World through;
Mastered Zulus and the Mahdi, beat the Moors and Carthage too.

Lost to Shaka and to Rommel; got whipped oft by Bobby Lee.
Was by Bonaparte defeated every time he battled me.

Yet through all the years and battles never once did I decline
To pick up a pike or musket, and to take my place in line.

For I came to love the battle with its own blood-stained appeal,
Giving little thought to rightness or the cause my sword to wield.

From the Tigris and Euphrates on to Nippon's distant shore,
From Sparta on to Vietnam I just lived and died for war.

As a sniper or a lancer, as an archer or dragoon,
Wherever there were wars to fight I regarded that a boon.

I have been a samurai and a bold Teutonic knight:
Giving rulers east and west equal fervor in the fight.

My cause was war itself, you see, for I relished in the feel
Of foemens' blood upon my hands, and the mastery of steel.

The clash of arms around me, joyous pounding in the brain,
And the bagpipe's eerie skirl were all part of my domain.
I have killed a quarter million and have died a thousand times.
But like Valhalla's warriors I arose again each time...

And then, one dreary battle dawn while pondering my fate,
It finally occurred to me: Perhaps it's not too late!"

I thought upon my history, and the times I felt most use,
Were when we fought for freedom and yet knew that we might lose.

The names across the centuries came quickly back to me:
Those heroes fought for freedom, broke the yoke of tyranny...

With Spartacus and Prince Charlie at Capua or Culloden Field,
At Lexington and Concord, where those free men would not yield.

Call me rebel, call me traitor, call me patriot if you like.
But if you infringe my freedom, then I promise: I WILL FIGHT!

The Stand - Original Short Story by Barrett

Interview with P-38 Ace Joe Forster

 Interviews and Articles with Barrett

Excerpt from Clash of the Carriers

Excerpt from The Sixth Battle

Excerpt from Dauntless

Excerpt from Warriors

Remembered Friends

D-Day Remembered

Airplane Stuff

 

Joe Foss' Foreword to Above & Beyond: the Aviation Medals of Honor

Home Bio Books            Reviews Events Contact
         
Orginal Writings Book Order Author/Editor Services Blog Links