November 14th, 1941 - Forward Romanian Airfield, Location ClassifiedThe two officers in their dress uniforms sat smoking cigarettes on the other side of the table. Captain Jan Gogean just stared in disbelief at Locotenent Niculaie Croditier. Niculaie had always been an aggressive pilot and the months of inactivity of the squadron due to that stomach flu would have an impact on anyone but this was beyond the pale.
Blowing a smoke ring up towards the ceiling, the base commander leaned forward and said, "Please state your report just one more time. I want to make sure I fully understand what happened this morning."
0945 hours - Earlier that dayNiculaie looked over his shoulder and out the glass of his IAR-80 aircraft. His wing man was a new boy, Marin Bucsa. They were flying above the formation of four SM79 bombers. They had just crossed into enemy airspace just a few minutes earlier. He continued to scan the sky for the enemy.
Below the bomber formation was the other two aircraft element of his flight under the command of David Selymes. He was a steady hand. He had Emilian Miklos as his wing man.
In the distance he spotted a flight of four Soviet bi-planes.
"Heads up men. 12 o'clock and above us. The Russians have come to the party."
The acknowledgements rang out from his fighters. He also warned the bomber formation. They replied that they had eyes on the incoming aircraft.
The bomber that was in flames managed to get all of its crew to bail out before the flames consumed the aircraft and pulled it from the sky. Of the two remaining bombers, the lead bomber suffered structural damage and had to return to base. The other was able to complete its mission but lost two of its gunners as casualties. All of the Romanian fighters returned to base with two having suffered combat damage.
1535 hours back at baseHaving recounted the action for the fifth time, Nicolaie broke down and began to sob. Captain Gogean's face turned form shock to disgust. The base commander snuffed out the stub of the cigarette in his hands before speaking.
"Your actions require disciplinary action. Fortunately for you, your actions did not cause any casualties that you can be held responsible for. You will be dismissed from the service. You will be held while we contemplate any further charges against you. Please return to your quarters." Calling out to men outside the room, "Guards, please escort Mr Croditier to his quarters."