Technical Sergeant (Ret.) Louis Salinas began his military career as a B-29 Superfortress tail gunner in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. During the first combat sortie of his 52 combat missions in the Pacific, the aircraft he was on took substantial damage, causing it to crash into the water. The entire aircrew survived and later rescued.
“To me, an aerial gunner has one duty,” Salinas said. “If the enemy comes toward your aircraft, you shoot!” During his time as a tail gunner, Salinas said he saw a lot of people die. “I had a good friend who was a gunner who was killed,” he said. “It bothered me for awhile at first, but over time, I figured out how to deal with it.”
After the war, he became a crew chief and was responsible for five jets until he was promoted to technical sergeant and became a flight chief. Salinas retired from the Air Force after 20 years, 6 months of honorable service.