George (Buddy) Shurson, B-17 Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

George Shurson, B-17 Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, USAAF, 15th Air Force, 398th Bomb Group,
Foggia, Italy (50 missions).
Enlisted in AAF at Fort Snelling Oct. 1942
50 Missions from Foggia, Italy
Returned to the US Oct. 1944.
Stationed at Sioux City, Iowa until Septmber 1945.
Discharged at Camp McCoy, WI.
 
Fox Sports North (FSNorth) published an article about Buddy Shurson called
when he was a flag raiser at Target Field.
___________________________

From the FSNorth website

Posted: June 17, 2010, 11:55 a.m. CT

By Jay Lawrence
Special to foxsportsnorth.com

Call him "Buddy." Everyone does. No one knows why, but for the past 88 years, Staff Sgt. George (Buddy) Shurson has answered to that name.

"I was just a baby," Buddy said. "Eighty-eight years ago. I don't think my folks liked the name George so they nicknamed me Buddy."

Buddy went on over 50 combat missions in World War II. As an engineer gunner on a B-17, Buddy and his weapon were responsible for protecting his flying can of explosives from enemy anti-aircraft batteries and interceptor fighter planes. It was an experience Buddy described as "scarier than hell."

"We flew out of Italy into Yugoslavia, Romania and France," Buddy said. "We�d fly and get near the target, they shot at us from the ground, and then we'd get away from the target, and then the airplanes would come after us. So we got shot at all the time."

After surviving the war, Buddy and his brother, who had also been in the service, went into the trucking business. "We were together for just about 20 years. My dad was in the trucking business, so we went together and bought some trucks," Buddy said. "I think we had 13 at one time.

Trucking was a good job, Buddy said, certainly better than gunning on bombing runs, but it was far from the only venture Buddy undertook after coming home from the war. After the war ended, Buddy joined the American Legion, began going to Twins games at the Met, and settled down with his family.

That family was on full display June 13 at Target Field, when Buddy, chosen as the Twins' honorary flag raiser, brought 27 of his friends and relatives to Target Field, which if not a record, is a "pretty good average."

"That�s my wife right there," Buddy said, pointing. "And that�s my daughter, and this is my daughter � where�s the other one? There� s my grandson. There's the other daughter. Great granddaughters' two little kids. We brought 27 of us here.

It was a full scale family operation, and Buddy, now hard-of-hearing but still quick-to-laugh, was the man of the hour. As his family gathered around him at the park, the cameraman put him on the big screen, the announcer read his biography, and soon the thousands at Target Field knew his name.

So if you see George Shurson, talk to him. He'll probably have an anecdote ready about flying over France, or about watching games at the Met, or perhaps about his many, many grandchildren. He's an eager smiler, and he's easy to talk to; he goes by the name of Buddy.

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The Lineup: Nine questions worth of veteran wisdom

1. Where did you get the nickname "Buddy?"
Somebody named me Buddy. I don't know why they did it. I've been Buddy ever since.

2. How old were you when you got that nickname?
I was just a baby. Eighty-eight years ago. I don't think my folks liked the name George so they nicknamed me Buddy. They still call me that.

3. And how old were you when you got in the military?
I was 20 years old. I enlisted. I was working at an aircraft factory in Minnesota. And I came home and I enlisted in the Air Force. I was an engineer gunner on a B-17 bomber.

4. What does that mean? What did you do?
B-17 bombers had a lot of guns, and I was the top turret gunner or the waist gunner, whichever was open that day.

5. And you were out of Italy?
Italy. We flew out of Italy into Yugoslavia, Romania and France. D-Day we flew into France. It was a long flight, an eight to ten hour flight that day.

6. Walk me through what a combat mission was like - what was the first thing that
happened once you found out you had a combat mission?

Well, we�d fly and get near the target, they shot at us from the ground, and then we�d get away from the target, and then the airplanes would come after us. So we got shot at all the time. At least near the target.

7. What was that like in the air?
Uh, scarier than hell.

8. What's the strangest thing you ever saw up in the air?
We were all gone quite a while. And we saw a plane peel off and kept going, circling, circling, circling. And we counted parachutes coming out. It looked like the engines were running. We counted nine parachutes coming out. And we knew there were 10 men in that plane. And pretty soon that plane turned around and went back home. We thought, "What the hell happened?" So we got back to our base, and we found out. They had a fire in the radio room, an electrical fire. They couldn't put it out. You don't have electricity you got nothing. So the pilot went down where they could get oxygen, and he told the crew to bail out. And he put the plane on automatic pilot, and he going back to jump out, walks through the radio room, where the electrical stuff was; the fire had burnt itself out. So he flew the plane back all alone. That scared you, didn't it boy?

9. Quite a crowd you brought with you.
Yeah. That's my wife right there. And that's my daughter, and this is my daughter - where's the other one? There's my grandson. There's the other daughter. Great granddaughters - two little kids. We brought 27 of us here.

That must be a record.
Well, if not a record, it's a pretty good average.

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