94-year-old Denny Thompson of Sonora, CA appears on episode #443 of Hometown Heroes, airing October 28-30, 2016. A native of Fargo, ND, Thompson grew up in Staples, MN, where he trapped mink and other furs as a teenager before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Chasing a dream of becoming a pilot that had started with an eye-opening ride with a barnstormer as a 12-year-old, Denny would end up as a bombardier with the 839th Squadron of the 487th Bomb Group.
His pilot days would come, piling up thousands upon thousands of hours in the air over the Alaskan wilderness and the African bush, but first he had to survive 30 missions over fortified Europe. Listen to Hometown Heroes for Denny’s memories of his mission on June 6, 1944, and why he has returned back to Normandy on several occasions, always wearing that World War II uniform that still fits. That D-Day mission is the only one he remembers in which his bomber crew did not encounter German flak.
“The firepower of anti-aircraft was really, really bad,” Thompson recalls. “Worse than the fighters.”