Interview with 'Woodie' Spears, Tuskegee Airman
The Russians were in Poland and they were advancing about 25 to 35 miles a day. At about the third day I heard all this ripping androaring, and the building was shaking and everything. All the glass was out of the windows, but I pulled a board off a window area and the first thing I saw was this huge Russian tank. There were 40 or 50 guys surrounding it going through the town blowing up buildings. This scared me because I thought that they would blow this building up that I was in. I was screaming and hollering to them and a guy that looked like a Russian officer looked up and saw me. When I saw him looking at me I had a A-2 flight jacket on with a large American flag on the back. I put my back to the window so he could see it and I could hear him yell. "American! American! " He came up and gave me a big bear hug!
Q: Please relate your first combat encounter with enemy aircraft.
Spears: I had an air combat encounter in "Kitten" when my flight of about five aircraft escorted a... I believe it was a British
Mosquito reconnaissance plane over a target area. He led us while we kept him in sight. We escorted him to the Munich area to this German ball bearing factory. As soon as he started his photo run, we backed off a little so he could do his work. He had to fly straight and level. The Mosquito was a very fast plane. When we came back from the target area he just out ran us. We could not keep up with him because of his speed. We heard him say on the radio "ta. ta. chaps!", and just keep on going past us. As we started after him we noticed a He-111 bomber turning in our
direction. Well, we turned into him. When he saw us turning, I could see little specks coming out the bottom of the bomber, which meant he was firing his hand-held machine guns. He did not hit us. I think he waited too long to fire because we were just right on top of him. By the time he made his turn we started to fire on him. We keep firing and I could see pieces coming off and then smoke and fire would come out and then the plane went in toward the ground sideways. Both me and James Mitchell destroyed this aircraft and shared the victory.
Q: Were you allowed to put ground victory markings on your plane?
Spears: No. I did get quite a few ground victories.
Q: What squadron were you in?
Spears: When I first got overseas I was with the 302nd Fighter Squadron, which was later disbanded. The guys with the 302nd Fighter Squadron went to the 99th Fighter Squadron, the 100th Fighter Squadron and the 301st Fighter Squadron. I went to the 301st Fighter Squadron, 332 Fighter Group.