Presumably, the Flying Hellfish was first dispatched to Normandy for the Invasion of Normandy.
Burns was always the unit’s troublemaker. The Hellfish got stuck with Burns because he obstructed a probe from J. Edgar Hoover, thus resulting in his demotion. He faked his own death several times and even ruined Simpson’s chance to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
At one point, near the end of the war, the unit stormed a German castle. While searching through it, Private Burns found a collection of stolen paintings. While discussing what they should do with them, Burns mentions the idea of tontine, where the members must enter into a contract of when the last surviving member inherits the paintings if the others pass away. The unit agrees for their own personal reasons (Gumble wanting to buy his way into high society, Abe not wanting to end up “in one of them old folk’s homes”). Everyone signs and shakes on this prospect.
Ox was the first member to die because of a hernia he got while taking the crate out of the castle. Five more were killed in a parade float accident in 1979. After Asa Phelps died, only Burns and Abe remained. Later, Simpson gave Burns a dishonorable discharge from the Hellfish for trying to kill him and his grandson Bart, expelling him from the tontine and declaring himself the sole possessor of the paintings in default, much to Burns’ dismay. Unfortunately for Grampa and Bart, their victory was cut short when the U.S. State Department arrive and took the paintings, as they have been searching for them for 50 years to avoid any international incidents with the German government. The State Department then returns the paintings to their rightful owner’s descendant, Baron von Herzenberger.