The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 12, 2013

VIDEO: Veteran, with help of son, checks out B-17 at Joplin airport

JOPLIN, Mo. — Boone Neal Ruff gently passed his 96-year-old fingers over the skin of Sentimental Journey, a B-17 Flying Fortress. Riveted aluminum was something he had touched a long time ago when the world was at war.

“It was a wonderful airplane that did a wonderful job over there,” he said.

When asked if he wanted to go up in the plane, he said, “No. I’ve had enough flying.”

Ruff was a World War II fighter pilot in the Pacific. He knew about the Boeing B-17 and its role in Europe, but he knew a lot more about the Consolidated B-24 bomber, which saw plenty of action in the Pacific.

Still, he was happy that his son, David, had brought him to the Joplin Regional Airport on Wednesday to see the plane. For Ruff, it truly was a sentimental journey.

Climbing up a ladder to peek inside the plane, Ruff could identify where the plane’s crew sat, and he knew a thing or two about the .50-caliber machine guns on board.

But it also brought back memories of a time when many young men took to the skies and never came back. He recalled how his P-47 fighter was nearly brought down by enemy gunfire that caused an oil leak. His Pratt & Whitney engine locked up as he was touching down on the runway.

“My wingman told me he could see oil on the underside of the plane,” he said. “I throttled down to save oil and radioed ahead for an emergency landing. I had less than a cup of oil left when I landed. The P-47 holds 40 gallons of oil. It was a dead-stick landing. To this day, I believe that 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney engine saved my life.”

Another pivotal moment that Ruff recalled was a flight on Aug. 9, 1945.

“I was on a mission about 100 miles from Nagasaki,” he said. “I saw this bright flash to the side. The sun was shining, and this light was brighter than the sun. We later saw this mushroom cloud tower above us.”

The mission was so secret at the time that it was not until later that he would learn that he had witnessed the detonation of “Fat Man,” a plutonium bomb.

“It was over within a few minutes,” said Ruff, who could be among the last surviving witnesses to the last major act of World War II. The Japanese would surrender within days.

As he walked around Sentimental Journey, Ruff said, “The kids today need to be educated a little about the war and things along those lines.”

Mel Tiensvold, the captain of the plane, said that is the mission of Sentimental Journey. It is a flying museum that visits as many as 60 cities in a year. The plane will be in Joplin until Sunday to support some local residents and aviators who want to create a Freedom of Flight Museum at Joplin’s airport.

Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter