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In 1942 - In1942,asthewarprogressed,.InOctober,he ,...

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In 1942, as the war progressed, Heller joined the Army and worked as a file clerk. In October, he  switched to the Army Air Forces, as the aviation branch was known prior to the establishment of the  United States Air Force in 1947. Joseph initially intended to be a gunner on a bomber; when he was  told, erroneously, that the average life span of a gunner in combat was three days, he quickly  enrolled in cadet school to become an officer and bombardier. After graduating from cadet school as a first lieutenant early in 1944, Heller was assigned to the  488th Squadron of the Twelfth Air Force in Corsica. Heller later said that, as a twenty-one-year-old  officer, he initially had no serious complaints about his life in a combat unit. He enjoyed the  camaraderie of his fellow airmen on the base and the pleasures of visits to the group's officer  apartments in Rome, following the city's liberation in June. The bombing runs went well enough.
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