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As the World War II story goes … at an advance American fighter base during the North African offensive, mechanics fixed up a left-behind medium bomber, which took on the role of squadron “hack,” including one regular mission that was never recorded on the official logs. Apparently, there was no shortage of GI beer, but refrigeration was nowhere to be found. So, when the combat flying was done for the day, one of the pilots would be “assigned” to take the bomber up to a frosty altitude over the airfield and circle while the beer got cold enough to enjoy.

During one such mission, a commanding general flying his personal aircraft dropped in for an unscheduled inspection stop. As he made his rounds, pilots and ground crew sneaked nervous glances up at the circling bomber, hoping the general didn’t notice. Time went on, and still the brass hat wasn’t leaving, stopping to make frustrating small talk with the pilots, who all knew the bomber’s fuel must be running low.

Finally, the general stopped talking, squinted up in the sky, and said, “Fer Chrissake, can someone please get on the radio and tell that beer plane to land so we can all have a cold one?”

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