Friday, July 4, 2008

95th Bomb Group Navigator Ellis Scripture's Words Ring True on Independence Day

Ellis Scripture was an amazing man. Known to his friends as 'Scrip', he was one of the top navigators in the Eighth Air Force. After the war, Scrip spent a lot of time keeping the history of the 95th Bomb Group alive, and encouraging the study of history. His biggest project was to help put together the book 'Courage, Honor, Victory', with Leonard Herman and edited by Ian Hawkins. (The book is now titled 'B-17s Over Berlin').

Scrip passed away in February of 2005, shortly after I had one last conversation with him. He was in very poor health, but his strong spirit still shone through.

Today, while working on the 95th Bomb Group history, I came across something Scrip wrote many years ago in a box of materials, and it hit me in the gut. It is a writing by a man who deeply loved his country and did not like where he saw it going in the post-war years. Scrips words speak for themselves, and I leave you with them, to ponder on this Independence Day, July 4, 2008.

"Over the last half century there may have been a tendency to put emphasis on the great air battles which we witnessed and perhaps in which we participated. After all, this is what war is all about, the ultimate contest of man versus man, mind versus mind, strategy versus strategy, courage versus courage. In retrospect, we played all of the above games and perhaps proved some points temporarily—but very few people care fifty years later…

It is amazing that World War Two is not included in the history courses in most schools…The words Patriotism, Liberty, Honor and Love of Country have been relegated to yesterday’s memories, replaced unfortunately by How much? and What’s in it for me?
Apparently, survival and satisfaction exclude love, respect for others, and being a good neighbor. Those with power today are the members of a vociferous minority who have learned that the quiet majority of good guys would rather quietly close the door and stay home rather than fight the good fight in the gutters and in the political arena.

Incidentally, I have never been able to sing the National Anthem since World War Two—I choke up with too many memories of great guys—and wonder many times what a wonderful world it would be if the flower of American youth could have lived to make their constructive contribution to our society.

It was a cold day in March 1943 when the 369 flight personnel of the 95th Bomb Group left Rapid City, South Dakota, for overseas deployment; 44 of those men (11 percent of the total) completed their first tour of duty. Twelve (12) of those volunteered for further combat. Two (2) were still on active flying status from England on V-E Day.

I hope that there are those younger and stronger who can and will save this wonderful republic from itself before it is too late. Personal responsibility for our own actions and a responsibility to, and for, others. It is not a quick fix, but perhaps it could be the beginning of an eventual formula for helping the America of tomorrow.”

Scrip, we're not going to let you down.

This is the only photo of Scrip I could find on the internet. It is his squadron photo, from Rapid City, South Dakota. Scrip is top row, third from left, a tall man, just in front of the left side of the window frame. Nearly all of these men were either killed in action, wounded in action, or became POWs. To view all their names, go to

...Lest we forget

1 comment:

Chris said...

I was a young boy when I met Scrip. They were our next door neighbors in Upper St. Clair, PA. I was fortunate to reunite with him while in York, PA in the late 90's. I spent many evenings with him and could listen for hours as he would tell stories about the war; climbing into the nose of a B-17 bomber as if it were as simple as driving to the office. He was a true American Hero!! He called me sometime after I had left York and told me that he had a painting of the cover of the book "Courage, Honor, Victory," and that he had it signed by himself and many of the other squadron members. Regretfully, I was never able to get back to York and secure it, but it is my hope that whomever has it will treat it as a national treasure!! I think of Scrip often, always with a smile on my face!!

Chris Miller