Veteran shares story of WW2 air raid, escape, time with Yugoslavian partisans

BENBROOK -- Working a .50-caliber gun from the top turret of a B-24 Liberator, Dale Hulsey fought in one of the most dramatic air battles in U.S. history and still the single most decorated mission in Air Force history.

He survived the bombing run and the anti-aircraft fire, survived a crash landing when a German fighter jumped his plane, survived a frantic run into the woods to evade the enemy who had seen the bomber go down.

He survived 319 days on the run by linking up with Marshal Tito's Yugoslav partisans, survived a brutal winter in the mountains and survived a daring rescue by secret agents.

But rarely did he talk about his war over the years or his hard-earned membership in the Air Force Escape & Evasion Society.

His wife of 61 years, Velma, and daughter, Darlena, knew little until recently. His co-workers and acquaintances in the utility business over the years knew even less. He'd tried a few times when military service came up, but he gave up in disgust.

"People didn't believe me, and I got tired of trying to talk to people who acted like I made it up," he said.

Hulsey's got nothing to prove, not anymore. He passed that test a long time ago, along with the men he served with. He turns 90 on Tuesday, a cause for a major celebration for his family and close friends, who are hosting a party for him Saturday at the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth.

His daughter organized the party not only to honor that milestone but also to honor his service. U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, is scheduled to pin on medals he earned but had never received.

"When I was filling out paperwork for VA benefits recently, I was reading his discharge papers, and I never knew about all he had done or experienced," she said. "Every girl's hero is her daddy, but after reading about what he'd done, it made him more of my hero."

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