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SANTA FE, N.M. – Thousands of feet above the Pacific Ocean during World War II, the bullets were coming fast and the flak was flying. Japanese fighter planes whizzed around like bees as the American forces in their lumbering B-24 bombers tried everything to reach their targets, save fuel and stay airborne for the long trip home.
About 70 years later, the few remaining members of the 13th Air Force's famous 307th Bombardment Group, their relatives and Ancestry.com's military records site Fold3 are working to keep alive the group's memories by collecting and digitizing thousands of photographs, military orders and other memorabilia.
The effort is taking on particular urgency because only a handful of the veterans — known as the "Long Rangers" because they battled over open water with no landmarks — are alive today.