Emmett MacKenzie, B-24 Nose Gunner

Emmett G. (Mac) MacKenzie, B-24 Nose gunner, Staff Sergeant, US Army Air Forces, Fifteenth Air Force, 376th Heavy Bombardment Group, 514th Squadron, (San Pangrazio, Italy) flew with Crew 313 during 1944-45. He was author of the very well written book Ten Men, a "Flying Boxcar," and a War: A Journal of B-24 Crew 313, 1944-45 (2005) ISBN: 0-595-34738-X.
Emmett taught high school mathematics including calculus for 32 years. (He had a Masters degree in Physics and Math,) Then he taught module software to air traffic controllers, retiring in 1989.
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Emmett MacKenzie at home in front of his computer (2011).
From the back cover of the book:
       "... the simple fact is that ten men, boys really, came together out of nowhere...did what was asked of them, and returned to their nowhere." These are the no-nonsense words of Crew 313's navigator, Mike Oczkus, that hint at the comaraderie, skill, danger, and sacrifice required for missions over Nazi-occupied Europe in the B-24 heavy bomber, known not-so-affectionately as the "Flying Boxcar."
      Nose Gunner, Emmett (Mac) MacKenzie weaves the memories of his crewmembers with historical accounts about air combat during the Second World War. Every daunting mission demanded heroism, yet Oczkus modestly wrote that their actions wouldn't warrant even a "footnote in history." Crew 313 is the story of ordinary Americans who answered their country's call to do the extraordinary. MacKenzie brings their history alive in this testament to courage."
Here is a typical short excerpt:
       "On at least one occasion after dropping our bombs and heading back to base, our plane was hit by flak causing serious damage to the electrical and hydraulic systems. In this instance, the problems were the result of as many as 125 flak holes penetrating the plane. Paul [O'Steen, Flight Engineer] and Jim [Snell, Top Turret Gunner] attempted to fix or jerry-rig the failing or damaged equipment. That day was just one of those special days that the crew owed their lives to Roy [Hatem, the Pilot] and Bill [Anclam, the Copilot]. Roy had kept his continuing promise to get the crew back home safely. We were never as glad as when we were able to jump out of the plane and plant our feet on the parking pad."

Ten Men, a "Flying Boxcar", and a War : A Journal of B-24 Crew 313, 1944 to 1945
by Emmett MacKenzie.

If you are interested in his book, it can be ordered from an online bookseller.

His Crew No. 313's Roster included:
Roy Hatem, Pilot; William Anclam, Copilot; Michael Oczkus, Navigator; Guy Bretilotte, Warrant Officer; Paul O'Steen, Flight Engineer; Lou Birnbaum, Radio Operator; Jim Snell, Top Turret Gunner; Byron Hunsicker, Tail Gunner; Andre Duval Belly Gunner; Emmett MacKenzie, Nose Gunner.

Emmett MacKenzie

I first met Emmett at the Wednesday luncheons of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota, which he had been attending off and on for about ten years. He was very well liked and had many friends.

He had clear memories about his experiences on the aircrew of a B-24 Liberator in Italy with the 15th Air Force and he was one of the few veterans I met who wrote a book about his experiences during WWII, for which he deserves great credit. It is very readable and, along with his family, is a part of his permanent legacy.

    I always enjoyed talking to Emmett when we'd drive to a meeting. He could talk about Physics, Cosmology, Politics, Economics, Current Events, Teaching, History, Medicine, Computers, his life in the 1930s, and many other things. He had a wealth of knowledge and experience and a great sense of humor. We tape recorded his memories of December 7, 1941 on one of those trips.

Emmett was an old Calculus teacher and was well educated and highly intelligent. He had an active mental life and was always reading new books and writing. He was working on writing his family history and autobiography on his computer.

 Emmett was empathetic, and always very concerned if Pauline wasn't feeling well. He was always very thoughtful and frequently had me pick up some little thing for her like a hot chocolate or a triple chocolate extreme ice cream blizzard.

He was a soft spoken man, considerate of other people, and well liked by his many friends. We were privileged to have known him.

--Kevin Callahan, 8th AFHS-Mn 


Emmett MacKenzie

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Age 88, of Rosemount Passed away peacefully at his home on February 25, 2012. He was a member of the Army Air Force, nose gunner of a B24 Bomber during WWII and staff sergeant in the Korean War. He taught mathematics in the Denver Public Schools for 32 years. After moving to Eagan in 1986, he worked at Unisys until 1989. He was an author, musician, painter, math tutor, and devoted member of Easter Lutheran Church. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Alma Pauline MacKenzie; his daughters, Ruth (Rebecca Flood), Robin (John MacKenzie-Taris), Rebecca (Bradley Warner); granddaughter, Madeline Hampstead; and sister, Lillian Worth. Memorial service will be held Friday, March 9 at 3:00 p.m. at Easter Lutheran Church on the Hill, 4200 Pilot Knob Road, Eagan, with a gathering of family and friends 1 HR prior to service. Private burial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. White Funeral Home Apple Valley 952 432 2001 www.whitefuneralhomes.com

Emmett's former students wrote in his Guest Book 

March 15, 2012
Mr. MacKenzie was a terrific calculus teacher, learned to love math next to him. I owe a lot to him.

Willy Benko, Budapest, Hungary
March 14, 2012
I was a student of Emmett's, or more, he was my mentor for three years. I went on to become a mathematician and computer scientist, and I always think back to the day he talked to me and told me I had real talent. Love and warm wishes to his family. Thank you, Emmett.
Scott Lett,
Hightstown, New Jersey
February 27, 2012
Thanks, Emmett, for sharing your time and talents with the students at Eagan High School. Your thoughtful dedication to kids, math and growth made the difference for dozens of students over the many years. You will be missed and remembered fondly by students, faculty and staff at EHS!

Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson,
Lino Lakes, Minnesota
February 27, 2012
My deepest sympathies, I considered Emmett a good friend.
Larry Janke
March 05, 2012
We'll all miss Emmett at the weekly Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Mn luncheons. Kevin Callahan
Kevin Callahan,
Mpls., Minnesota