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Orval (Ozzie) Blower, Mid-Upper Gunner

Ozzie Blower of Lakeview, Ontario, was 19 when he signed up for active duty in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942. In early 1945, before Operation Manna, Ozzie was mid-upper gunner on a bombing mission with Windsor, Ontario native Pilot Bob Upcott and Flight Engineer Sgt. John Corner of Manchester, England. While flying back from Cologne, France both starboard motors were knocked out when a heavy flak burst rocked the aircraft just as the bomb doors were closing.

The right wing was shattered, the oxygen supply cut and the tail plane and fuselage peppered. Upcott dove to 10,000 feet and with wings tilted at 30 degrees, only two motors and without electrical navigation aids, the crew pinpointed their way across France escorted by Mustangs. Despite a tire blowout, Upcott made a superb landing at his home airfield. Sixty-six flak holes were counted by the shaken crew. Their Lancaster had to be taken out of service.

As for the test flight Operation Manna mission on Bad Penny, Ozzie says, "I was scared I would die, knowing also that I volunteered myself for something this dangerous. But I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing."

After the war, Ozzie returned to Canada and worked at a starch factory. He married June and they had two children, (Brad and Linda), and five grandchildren. Ozzie married Gail in 2002.

While always interested in aviation, Ozzie had no interest in flying after the war and he never returned to Holland.

Ozzie passed away in June of 2009. Michael Beale, past-president of the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association recalls, "Orval "Ozzie" (The Great "OZ") Blower was the mid-upper Gunner and the character of the crew. I remember Bob [Upcott] and Stan [Jones] saying he always made an effort to keep things light. Ozzie was gifted with incredible eyesight and was able to spot an enemy aircraft long before others could react."