A Special B-17 Ride

    By Chris Henry, EAA Membership Services Representative

    May 22, 2013 -
    June "Smokey" Morris (maiden name) riveted on the night shift during WWII at Boeing in Renton Washington. She installed the aux gas tanks on each B-17 that left Boeing for England. Hers was the last task and the bomber would fly out the next day for the European arena. Smokey is 90 years old this June 8, and she never got to fly in her bombers.

    The day Smokey heard over the radio that the German wolf pack had sunk a freighter in the Caribbean on which her father served as engineer, Smokey reported to her night shift at Boeing anyway. That happened to be the night the union went on strike. When the union rep told her she had to go on strike with the union, Smokey said No. She told him that the Germans had just killed her daddy and she was going to personally make sure that this bird was ready to go after Germans tomorrow morning. The union rep could not persuade her to strike and finally he got mad. He told her that he would drag her out of the hangar if he had to. She invited him to come up onto the wing and get her. Her bucker, Helen, echoed the same challenge, and the union rep backed off and left. The giant hangar was empty except for those two women riveting through the night. Their supervisor, not daring to argue with them, reluctantly stayed and kept the lights on. That bomber lifted off for England the next day.

    She is flying on EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” this Saturday morning.



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