≡ Menu

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

[Hard to believe that the “Biden Military Machine” will be able to recruit anybody within one hundred light-years this brave. The Animatronic Biden Puppet Masters seem to be looking to enlist ten divisions of America’s pre-op transexuals and other ready-made cowards. Now that might be a way of turning America’s sexually confused into cannon fodder, but my money’s on new boy war brides for the resurgent Taliban and Isis warriors.]

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jack May 18, 2021, 2:15 PM

    “……but my money’s on new boy war brides for the resurgent Taliban and Isis warriors.”

    LMAO….wouldn’t that be a hoot! All of the Reds would wet their pants laughing over that kind of result.

    No doubt The Big Guy would put his son in charge of them….Joe’s Killer Trannies or Hunter’s Hellions….masters of meat.

  • gwbnyc May 18, 2021, 2:20 PM
  • ghostsniper May 18, 2021, 2:28 PM

    By the end of bidens term the us military will no longer exist, but in name only, and even that may change. In it’s place will be something like “gL0b4l fa9 all-5oCi4l 5C0Ut5” (l337) and it will be decked out with every type of humanoid misfit you can imagine and the highest ranking will be the kind you can’t imagine, yet all will be considered “equal”. The role of this institution will NOT be the security of the nation but rather a very large loosely organized facility for wasting huge sums of stolen money and causing as much mayhem as possible worldwide. Anyone on the entire planet can become a member and will receive benefits like never seen before.

    Instead, what you will quickly get used to will be small, tightly held, groups of local people capable of dealing with the shortcomings of all forms of current gov’t. There’s a new world approaching and it will not waste any time with criminals and parasites. This new world will require all members to pull their own weight in whatever way they can and in effect become mostly self sufficient. Eventually this new system will run like a well oiled machine without all the wasteful ballast the old system took on. It’ll be rough, for sure, in ways you cannot now imagine, but it will slowly get better.

    The old way will become irrelevant and ignored, then beaten and killed, while simultaneously a new way will take over, one person at a time. Along the way a whole lot of dead weight will be sloughed off in various ways. If you are brave, intelligent, willing to work hard and persevere no matter what, you will do well. It won’t be a gravy train, but you will be a free human for the first time in your life. Then, you will find out that freedom is a coin with 2 sides. One side says “do whatever you want” and the other side says “be responsible for everything you do”.


  • The Universal Spectator May 18, 2021, 3:01 PM

    Jeez, talk about synchronicity: I’m reading Victor Davis Hanson’s THE SECOND WORLD WARS and I came across a reference to that poem just yesterday.


  • gwbnyc May 18, 2021, 4:03 PM

    there are no coincidences.

  • patvann May 18, 2021, 6:30 PM

    Nobody they want, want’s in.
    Nor will they EVER want in, no matter the “promise” of the coming utopia.

    Now what?

    My son still serves. Has since 2008. Surrounded by many like him.
    He serves the Constitution and the Corps, not the Pres.
    He is a smart, wise, quiet, and powerful “duck” that lets the drops roll off his back.

    Our host once posted a picture of me hugging him home from his first tour in Afghanistan, back in 2010….

    -He did another tour there, a year later, and a couple of years ago helped wipe out the “Little Green Men” in Syria with his cannons… His group got to come home early for that one….

    We still have great young MEN in this country.
    I know.

  • Casey Klahn May 18, 2021, 6:58 PM

    World War II was a whole ‘nother planet. It’s useless to compare today to then. Ball turret? Most all of the WWII soldiers or sailors had 2 fukn ball turrets each, and carried them around in a wheelbarrow. Then, they thought absolutely nothing of it. Throw your life away? It was the job.

    Will a new breed of patriotic Americans face the shitstorm to come next? Likely, yes.

    Ghostie’s eerie predictions got me thinking. Yes, maybe we’ll become Balkanized. To some extent. I am imagining an America with the same “cover” laws as now, but where cities and “blue” enclaves are apocalyptic hellholes, with pseudo-welfare and a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome atmosphere. At the same time, you’ll have huge swathes fo free peoples, resilient and living by the Code of the West. They will produce goods, and in some ways thrive. Some form of reckoning will ensue, where the “red” places will refuse to pay for the corruption and laziness of the socialist “blues”. Some blues will see the profit of the red people and change their stripes.

    The army was almost on its ass once in my lifetime. After Vietnam, the NCO corps was emptied-out and severely weakened. Part of my job was to put that back together. Biden will try to corrupt the military, but will only succeed in part. Besides, there is a national guard, and a militia of veterans who swore an oath to the constitution. That general who sits as the SECDEF, and the general officers now serving, will find out quickly what actual leadership is like.

    Actual leadership is crawling into the belly turret on a B-17, and wanting to be anywhere but there, but doing it and then not bragging that you did it. It is talking up your cohort and guys who had it tougher than you. It is not sitting around while corrupt politicians bullshit and piss on your heads like they do today.

    OK. I’m pissed enough for one day.


  • Lance de Boyle May 18, 2021, 7:44 PM

    Joe P. was a ball turret gunner on a B 24 Liberator. Held in by the Lord, Joe landed with the plane, half the turret blown off at two miles up. The way Joe and his pals talked, you’d think they were kids recounting mudball fights.

  • PA Cat May 18, 2021, 7:52 PM

    Jarrell’s name reminded me of a war poet from the previous slaughterfest, namely Siegfried Sassoon. “Memorial Tablet” recounts a different type of death, but equally ugly:

    Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
    (Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
    (They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
    And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
    Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
    Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

    At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
    He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
    For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
    ‘In proud and glorious memory’ … that’s my due.
    Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
    I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.

    Once I came home on leave: and then went west…
    What greater glory could a man desire?

    Of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died at Passchendaele (about 244,000 men), 90,000 were never identified and another 42,000 were never recovered from the mud in which they had drowned.

  • mmack May 18, 2021, 8:11 PM


    Thanks for posting the animation and the poem. I read it in an English textbook back in high school, back when they could teach such things. Being the son of a WW2 veteran who had a pilots license, an airplane, and took me to museums and airshows, I learned about aircraft of that era from him. Between that and building multiple Airfix, Revell, and Monogram models of B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators I knew what a ball turret was, and that it was manned.

    The manned Sperry ball turret was a step back to solve a technical issue. Early airplanes just had an opening in the bottom of the fuselage a gunner pointed a machine gun through. It worked well enough if the enemy attacked you coming straight up from underneath. Later came the “dustbin” turret that looked like garbage can lowered underneath the plane in flight. It was open to face the tail of the plane and the poor gunner had to climb in, but it didn’t rotate.

    Then engineers introduced the “bathtub” gun position riveted to the belly of the plane. The lucky gunner got to kneel down in the bathtub and point a machine gun out the aft end of tub towards the aircraft’s tail. German efficiency and cruelty gave a Heinkel He-111 gunner a machine gun at each end of the tub to jump back and forth between. But it was better than the dustbin.

    American engineers thought they had the answer with the Sperry and Bendix remote control belly turrets used in B-17s, B-24s, and B-25 Mitchells. Except the installation meant the poor gunner had to sight the gun through a periscope gunsight looking down and backwards. They were lucky they hit anything. And the periscope or gunsight dome would get covered in mud or dirt when flying from grass or dirt airstrips.

    So the B-17 and B-24 got manned turrets like the one in the video. The North American engineers eventually removed the belly turret completely from the B-25, which was what squadrons in the field were doing anyway, along with riveting aluminum sheet over the opening.

    Towards the end of WW2 B-24 crews in the Pacific went full circle, pulled the ball turret out, and put 2 .50 caliber machine guns on a simple mount pointing out of the now empty ball turret opening.

    Brave men one and all.


  • lpdbw May 19, 2021, 6:12 AM

    My dad trained as a B-17 ball turret gunner.
    On the way over to England, the tail gunner offered to swap positions, so they did.
    It seems the other guy had heard that if you keep the ball spinning, bullets would bounce off.

    Both of them survived 25 missions (only got credit for 17) and were back in the States training for Pacific duty when VJ day came.

  • gwbnyc May 19, 2021, 5:38 PM

    I have read that at the moment of his brother’s death in combat, Sassoon saw an apparition of him.

  • Johnny Johnson May 22, 2021, 6:03 AM

    It was always the little guys selected for ballgunner. Someone who just met requirements for height and weight were ideal. A normal sized guy might get in the ball but could hardly move around which became claustrophobic. We often think brave men are tall and good looking but it’s the small guys who step up when others hide….Curious isn’t it.