COMMENT: A little known chapter in the professional career of the late Andy Rooney concerns his work during the Second World War. (Rooney, of course, will be remembered as the long-featured curmudgeon of CBS’s “60 Minutes” show.)
During the war, he was one of a number of journalists trained as gunners on U.S. bombing aircraft, so that they could cover the air war over Europe. Paul Manning  was one of them, as was Rooney’s erstwhile CBS colleague Walter Cronkite.
(CBS underwrote Manning’s research on the Bormann organization, then declined to go with the story. The late Edward R. Murrow spurred Manning to pursue the story–they had worked together during the war.)
The Bormann capital network , about which we speak so often , is far better known than might be supposed. In FTR #145 , we examined Paul Manning’s correspondence with various journalistic heavyweights about his book.
As can be seen from the text excerpt below, Manning, Rooney, Cronkite and their colleagues were of a fundamentally different caliber than the “embedded” journalists covering the Iraq war.
” . . . Early in 1943 a small group of American war correspondents volunteered to be trained for flying with the B‑17s in their missions over Germany.
This was intended by the U.S. Eighth Air Force to communicate to Americans back in the States the eyewitness story of these air battles and the bravery of their sons. Walter Cronkite, then of United Press. I was one of these trainees, representing CBS News. There were also, Gladwin Hill of Associated Press and later of the New York Times, Robert Post of the New York Times, Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, William Wade of International News Service, Sergeant Scott Denton of Yank, and Sergeant Andy Rooney of Stars and Stripes. As a jocular takeoff of World War I’s “Fighting 69th,” we were referred to as “the Writing 69th” by Colonel Jock Whitney, a peacetime publisher and financier, and Colonel Mac Kriendler of 21 Club fame, who were among those of the Eighth Air Force who had sold the concept to General Ira Eaker. We were sent to gunnery school in England, where we learned to identify all German fighter planes and to strip down and reassemble within 40 seconds the Browning machine guns used in the B‑17s and Liberators. This was essential knowledge, for seconds saved in fixing the stoppage in a malfunctioning machine gun could be the difference between life and death. We were not flying as excess baggage but as gunners first, war reporters second. Over Wilhelmshaven, on our first mission, I shot down a Messerschmitt fighter that had come right at us from the front where I was acting nose-gunner. . . .”