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As told by Al's grandson Jonathan Garfinkel:

"My grandfather, Al Alcabes, was a B-24 bombardier based in Italy during WWII. Those units had some of the highest casualty rates of any combat unit in the war (I remember hearing somewhere that it was like 60% or something ridiculous.) 

Because his crew was not turned into a flying fireball by the Nazis, they eventually became the lead plane on a number of missions. This meant that the rest of the formation was looking to him for their cue to drop. If he were to drop early, everyone would miss. On top of this, for a lot of their missions, they were too far from home for fighters to protect them. He said that he used to make himself a little tent out of flak jackets to prevent himself from being turned into swiss cheese by anti-aircraft fire until they made it to where they needed to be. No matter how much his crew was screaming at him, he never dropped the bombs early. 

Once they had obliterated whatever the target was and had escaped from the anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters, he had one final task. Inevitably, a couple of the bombs would fail to release, so Grandpa had to walk out into the bomb bay on a catwalk about a foot wide, off oxygen, in the freezing cold, with the bomb bay doors open below him at 20,000 feet, and basically kick the stuck bombs until they dropped. Apparently if you tried to land with them, they (and you) would just explode. He joked that he tried to hit Hitler's mountain house using his big toe as a bombsight.


Once they had finished their 25 missions, his crew volunteered to stay and lead a few more before they went home. I guess they were having too much fun.  

I don't think he ever realized how ridiculously badass he was...he was mostly just bitter they wouldn't let him be a fighter pilot. 

He was a pretty incredible guy in a lot of ways, and one of my personal heroes."

Thank you Al, from all of us here at Chubbies HQ.

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