Elmer Tarbox – Texas Tech All-American, WWII Pilot, Inventor, Texas Legislator


Elmer Tarbox once said that when he made his first bombing run in a B-25, I had a knot in my belly as big as a sweet potato. My hands shook, my palms were sweaty and I kind of wished I was back in Texas.” Despite his fear, Elmer had a successful run and would go on to fly 27 more missions against the Japanese in the China-Burma-India Theater. December 27, 1942 was to be his 28th and last mission. While returning from a run over the Salween River, and flying through a mountain pass only 100 miles from their base, Elmer’s plane was strafed by Japanese machine guns. He said, “The one that got me came through the side wall of the ship, just missing the armor plate. It tore through my thighs. It was a terrific wallop. I blacked out and Brownie (his co-pilot) took the ship in.” The bullet had struck one of the steel supports on the co-pilot seat and dropped to the floor. Brownie picked it up and later gave it to Elmer who kept it as a war souvenir. When the crew brought their B-25 back to base, they counted 89 bullet holes in it.