George Moreland Stamps tells military stories akin to battle scenes only seen in movies. The 88-year-old Covington resident is a World War II veteran who still recalls his dangerous adventures like they were yesterday.
There were many times he was lucky to be alive, said Stamps. He believes the Lord spared him from what could have been, at many times, his last flight.
Stamps enlisted in 1942 when he was a sophomore at Wake Forest College. During the war, he was a pilot of a B-17 crew in the Eighth Air Force and completed 20 missions over Europe. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel.
He was stationed in Polebrook, an airfield in England where Clark Gable had also been stationed.
Stamps still remembers the story of V.E. Day (Victory in Europe Day), when he and his crew were due to fly on a mission to Schweinfurt, Germany. When he discovered that the Germans had surrendered, he decided he wasn't going to waste his time going to Schweinfurt, but he would retreat to Paris instead. As he flew, he said he felt oriented with Paris because he had been there before. He could point out the Arc de Tromphe, Place de la Concorde, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower with ease from the sky.
"I made a big circle, and then I went down. I went down and I passed the Eiffel Tower about half way up and I came around, over the Notre Dame and over the Place de la Concorde where there was a big Egyptian monument on the Champs Elysees, which was black with people. They were all out celebrating," Stamps said.
He said the war was intense. "Something like, 40 or 50 thousand people were being killed everyday," said Stamps. This number included everyone involved, not just Americans, although we did have the most casualties, he said. In fact, three of the causalities from the war happened to be the men he trained with in Seabring, Fla.
The four of them were roommates and best friends. They trained with crews to fly B-17s and then they all picked up brand new airplanes and flew across the ocean. Stamps was the only one who returned home.
"Two of them were lost on missions that I was on. And one of them, his plane blew up and I saw the explosion," said Stamps.
Stamps also made two dangerous missions to Berlin, the most heavily defended target in Europe, and one to Oranienburg, a suburb of Berlin. On the first Berlin mission, they lost 26 four-engine bombers to flak, and Me-262 German jet fighters. On the second mission, they lost 24. Stamps said it was worth it, because the war was won.
"When I joined the army, that was when the war started to turn around," said Stamps. "I had the privilege of serving in the branch of the military with the highest causality rate."
On the other side of things, Stamps said he knew nothing of the death camps, until they were discovered as the army started going into Germany. He and his fellow airmen found out about the camps from a daily army newspaper.
After the war was over, Stamps came back and married his wife Helen. They had originally met when they were young. They were children of missionaries, and they grew up in China.
Stamps does not take it for granted that unlike his friends who lost their lives in the line of duty during the war, Stamps is still here and able to share his story with others.