The mission to keep the pilots and planes of the 99th Fighter Squadron (Red Tails) safe from enemy saboteurs while on the ground in Italy between aerial sorties fell to the 366th Infantry Regiment—the only all-African American infantry regiment deployed during World War II. The story of Will and his 366th Regiment comrades in arms is told the 2009 historical/action/romance novel, Will and Dena. See an excerpt from Chapter 29 below from this 5-star novel.
© 2009 by Bob Rogers. All Rights Reserved.
Joe was outraged. “Well, I’ma tell y’all one damn thing. I didn’t sign up to guard no damned airplanes!” Nixon stood erect and brought himself to his full height. “Private First Class Bevins, that’s enough. You don’t get a say in what assignments are made. So, can it! Understood?”
Joe snapped to attention and avoided eye contact with Nixon. “Yes, Sergeant!”
For the first time since the regiment was formed, companies and platoons were split apart and assigned to provide anti-sabotage security for the Fifteenth Army Air Force at aerodromes scattered over Sardinia and southern Italy. Company N boarded a Navy LST for the slow voyage around the sole and heel of the boot to Ramitelli Aerodrome near the city of Termoli on Italy’s Adriatic coast.
* * *
“Red alert! Second Squad, saddle up. You’re going out on emergency patrol. Briefing in ten minutes!” Nixon’s head was gone from the tent flap before Will could comprehend that he was being ordered into action. The Four Musketeers stood slowly and exchanged unbelieving glances. It was late June. This was their first red alert. Will dropped his bid whist hand on his folding cot and ran with his squad members to the latrine.
Eight minutes later, the squad, in full gear, with rations, ammunition, and water, assembled in the briefing hut used by pilots of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. He was surprised to see the Fourth Squad arrive. Lieutenant Black conducted the briefing using a large map of Ramitelli and an M1 cleaning rod as a pointer. Will’s hands trembled, not unlike the night the Klan came for a visit. He noted Black’s words: “kill or capture” and “capture if possible” and “two to five possible enemy saboteurs.”