On February the 3d, 1942 with the help of one of my high school friends to join the Air Corp Ground Crew with me we reported to Ft. McPherson Georgia near Atlanta, Georgia after being notified that there were openings ready for us. With a tag around my neck with a piece of hemp string that itched like the devil, I began to get my tag initialed. The first line on the tag had my name on it, the second line had my long serial number on it which was 14079304 the third line had a group number of 48 on it, the next line was company D, the next said Training films, next was Intelligence test, next was Classified with only an initial on it, next was Records, next was C.& E. which I assumed meant clothing and equipment as I was given a barracks bag full of clothing with other things such as a razor, shaving brush, tooth brush, comb and etc.
Those G.I. brogan shoes were murder on my feet, being a city boy most of my life I had always worn low cut shoes or the old fashion high top cotton tennis shoes. I laced them brogans up to the top of each and when I started to step down the stairs my ankles would not bend and I wound up in a heap at the bottom. That was the first of many lessons I learned in the service. The last line on the tag was Medical and before they finished with me I thought I was going to die with rigor mortise. Those shots were something, especially the Tetanus. That evening I couldn't even raise my arms to salute. I did manage to go to the Base Theater to get my mind off the but for the life of me I can't remember what was playing.
The next morning I was greeted with a notice on the bulletin board that I was on Latrine Duty after breakfast. With the help of one other recruit we shined the equipment to the best of our ability, but the barracks chief advised us that we could do better, so we started all over again and this time we were given an O.K. and released until bed check, but we were to stay on the base. ~ went to my bunk to change clothes as we had on our fatigues and to my surprise some one had stolen my heavy new overcoat. Well I spent the rest of the day reporting the loss and looking for it with a corporal assigned to help me. By late afternoon we gave up and returned to the First Sergeants office to tell our story. He made me sweat all night with the thoughts of having to pay for it. The next morning at breakfast he told me to come by his desk sometime that morning. I had no idea what it was going to cost me and with our salary at 21.00 dollars a month, I resigned myself to a miserable few months of doing without. When I arrived he was busy and I sat down and waited, shortly he called me and with a big grin he handed me an overcoat and said, I hope this will fit as one of the soldiers had turned it in last night. I asked him what it would cost me and with another big grin he said "This one is on the house" and be careful with your clothes from now on. I thanked him and I went back to my barracks with a better feeling of the Army that day.
Within a week I was on a train headed for an unknown place called Keesler Field, Mississippi. Upon arrival on February 7, 1942 I was assigned a tent and then we were assembled to advise us what to expect before beginning our Airplane Mechanics Course. The first morning us southern boys were awaken by the yelling of a Sergeant from Brooklyn along with a bugler on the loud speaker. His first words to us was "Alright all you rebel rats, fall out of your holes' and go wash up for breakfast, then report back here at such and such an hour': I don't remember what time he said but we were there on time. We arrived back at our tents and he took us out to the drill field to intro-duce us to his favorite pastime. First it was about an hour of calisthenics and then what he called close order drill. The only good thing about it was that we didn't have a gun to carry. This went on until noon even in the hot sun with a five minute break every hour. We then went to the wash room to clean up for lunch. We had an hour to eat and rest then back to the drill field for a few more hours. We did get some relief at times with some train-ing films and lectures. I don't know exactly how long it was before I got a pass to go to Bi1oxi for the day but with a buddy away we went. Upon arriving in town one of the first things we saw was a sign saying "No Dogs and Soldiers Allowed" I thought, well we know where we stand with them. For the life of me I can't remember what section of town we were in. We exercised and drilled five days a week and if lucky enough not to be on a detail we could get a pass for a day on the weekends.
We heard the Camp Shelby which was nearby was on quarantine and all sold-iers being sent there were routed to Keesler Field and we were over populated. They notified a group of us that we were to report to Chanute Field, Illinois by March 8th 1942 We had sweated every day at Keesler while drilling if it wasn't raining, which it did quite frequently, but upon our arrival at Chanute Field near Rantoul, Illinois it was snowing. What a change in weather! We were taken to a hanger and assigned our quarters and where to go for meals. When we got to our barracks they were quite a happy surprise as they were the two story wooden type we had at Ft. McPherson, Georgia. Our next happy surprise was the next morning when we had fresh eggs for breakfast along with a carton of fresh milk if we wanted it. At Keesler our daily breakfast was powdered eggs or the famous S.O.S. and you could have milk only if you wanted some cereal.
We began our classes shortly after settling down at Chanute with eleven classes of seventy hours each.. They were Basic Instruction,Airplane Struc-tures,Airplane Hydraulic Systems and Miscellanous Equipment, Airplane Pro-pellers, Airplane Instruments, Airplane Engines, Airplane Electrical Sys-tems, Engine Induction fuel and oil systems, Engine Operation and Test, Airplane Inspections (single engine airplanes). Airplane Inspections (Multi engine airplanes), this was a total of seven hundred and seventy hours. I finished and graduated from AIR CORPS TECHNICAL SCHOOL on July 6, 1942 with a final weighted grade of 80.7
Still being a private l pulled my share of K.P., Latrine Duty and other special duties while at Chanute, but being there made it a pleasure to have these slight inconveniences. Upon leaving Chanute Field I was assigned to go to The Army Air Force Technical Training Course at Ford Motor Company Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant at Ypsilanti, Michigan for a five week course on B-24"s. There were twenty three men and myself assigned to this class and I was put in charge of the men to go by train. We had a little prob-lem in changing trains in Chicago as we had to go to another Station and some of the men wanted to stop on the way to buy some spirits. Upon arriving in Ypsilanti we were met by a Captain Mercier, who took us to a small tent area located on a small island in a lake near the Bomber Plant. We understood that this area was a farm that Henry Ford had for young boys to come out and work during the summer. They grew vegetables and had a roadside stand to sell their crops. This was before the Bomber Plant was built. We used their shower room and rest rooms that they had. One of the odd things was a V-8 Ford engine rigged up to heat the water when it was running. We were able to go back and forth on the island by a small bridge that was in use when the young boys were there. I'm not sure of the date but during the time we were there for our training, Henry Ford and his business or personnel manager Mr. Bennett along with his personal pilot at that time, Charles Lindbergh was brought to our camp by a Colonel Saunders and our Captain Mercier. They all shook our hands and praised our efforts and spent a little time looking over our quarters and asking a few questions. This was quite a moral booster for us.
In the evenings and on weekends we had the privilege of some of the young ladies who worked in the plant to take us out on the town in their cars. It was not uncommon for us to return to our tents with more money than we started out with, as they would pay for the meals and drinks and then when the change was brought back the would insist that we take it. They would also take us to their parents home for meals on the week ends. I hope that as the new classes took our places that the people never regretted being so nice to us.
While we were at Willow Run obtaining our training we were given our first ride on a B-24. It was for fifty minutes and my ride was on July 16, 1942. Upon completing our course we were given orders to report to Salt Lake City Assignment Center. As on the last train ride I was put in charge of the same 23 men. Chicago wasn't as bad this trip but when we got to Cheyenne Wyoming we had a fifteen lay over and every body had run out of spirits again so they struck out for the booze stores and most got back ok. Naturally there was a couple who were still missing and it was getting close to pull out time so I headed their way to rush them up. While looking for them I was surprised to see so many people with guns on their hips like in the cowboy and Indian movies. I located them and away we run for the train station. Just as we run in the station the train began to move and we turned on the steam and grabbed the end just in time.
Every thing was fine until we reached Salt Lake City, Utah. We were met by a cattle type truck with a stake body trailer behind it. Some of the fellows were still a little bit under their spirits and started to give the truck driver some lip about his transportation. I had to do a little apologizing and finally straightened things out so we could go without the M.P.s, We were loaded aboard went out to what I think was Fort Douglas, Utah. It was a barren area with Army barracks and other buildings. This was August 12, 1942. We had nothing to do but check the bulletin boards often. We could volunteer for some type of duty such as K.P., Guard Duty, Soil Erosion, etc. and be given a one day pass after doing that duty to go in to Salt Lake City. I went in one time and I think I saw the whole down town area. I visited the famous Mormon Tab-ernacle and one other thing that I remember was on the main streets was that to cross the street you went under ground rather than walk across like we do in every other city. It seems to me also that there was a rest room down there also.
Back at the Fort or Base, what ever it was called they had an area that was called the Chissom Trail and was used for punishment for different types of infractions. It was out in the hot sun and the men were made to walk it with full field pack for a certain length of time, I noticed that the consistency of the ground was like Portland cement before it is mixed. It would boil up around your shoes like powder. We were there about two weeks before our orders came through for us to report to Davis Monthan Field in Tucson, Arizona. on August 28, 1942.
I don't remember the train route we took, but after riding along side of the Great Salt Lake for a good while I think we rode all over the west-ern part of the U.S. before reaching Tucson. There we were met by trucks and taken Out to Davis Monthan Field. On arrival at the field we were assigned our barracks and briefed on what to expect. We began our training, on B-24s with all types of duties. One in particular was given to us by a Lieutenant who had come to us from the infantry, he was to get us in good physical condition. we mechanic were climbing up and down ladders, work platforms and all over the inside and outside of the planes and we felt like we were getting our share of any thing that was like calisthenics and didn't need any more. It is my recollection that we were over rode and continued to receive it but on a much lighter means. Even to this day we remind him that we still think of him because of that. To give the devil his dues his name is Bob Lane and we all still think highly of him.
We were given flying duties after proving our knowledge of the duties required of an aerial engineer. These flights were about three and a half hours long and in doing so we drew flying pay for it. Our duty was very she as all we had to do was tell the engineer what his duties were and show hi what he probably already knew. Then we would either go back in the waiste compartment and take a nap or sit by the window and look at the view. The only bad part of it was it could be at any time of day or night.
After being there for about two months I finally was able to get a furlough to go home for fifteen days. This sounds like a long time but it took three days to go home and three days to return. So in truth I only had a nine day leave at home and I was thrilled to death because this was the fir time that I had been home since I went in service. It had been only nine months that I had been gone but it had seemed like a life time. The round trip was four thousand two hundred miles by rail and those trains were not like they are today. While I was on leave I made Private First Class but with our salary about sixty dollars a month and my round trip ticket cost-ing me forty five dollars and twenty cents I didn't have much to spend.
While at Davis Monthan Field I had three real frightening incidents. The first was one evening on the line an officer came out of the nose wheel opening and walked into one of the turning propellers, he died instantly. I had just walked up when it happened and I was frozen with fear as this was the first death I had ever seen. It taught me the meaning of being extra careful around airplanes. The next incident happened on December 3, 1942 and I found out what another type of fear was. I was told to report on the line to a certain B-24 right away. On reaching the plane I bent over and come up in the bomb bay area as we always did, but this time I saw a bomb bay full of some type of bombs that I had never seen before. I started to back out as I knew that I must have got the wrong plane number. It was then that either the Pilot or copilot called me by name and informed me I had the right plane. I was to fly as engineer as his crewman was on leave. I did my best to explain that I was a ground crewman and not an aerial crewman. This made no difference so I shakily climbed aboard and away we went.
I learned on the flight that there was an unidentified submarine off the coast of California and we were to bomb if it wasn't identified. Fortunately before we reached the coast it was ident-ified as one of ours so the mission was scrubbed. There was one catch we couldn't return to Davis Monthan with a load of live bombs so we were told to land at an airfield in the Mojave desert area, I believe it was Edwards Air Force Base, but I think it was called Muroc back then. There they unloaded our bombs and after a short stay we returned to Davis Monthan to my great relief. The third incident was the crash of a twin engine plane used for gunnery practice. At this particular time they were shooting landings and for some reason it slipped off on a wing and crashed in one of the tennis courts behind the Base P.X. it slid over against the back wall of the P.X. I was in the P.X. at the time and heard and felt it when it hit us. I ran outside to see what happened and got around there just before it began to burn. I heard some hollowing inside the plane and as I started towards it I looked up and I was looking at a gun pointing right at me and with the plane smoking. I was afraid that the bullets may start flying. The position of the plane had the men trapped inside and none of us could see an instant way to get at the crewmen. They were screaming inside by the time the rescue truck got there but I don't believe they were in time to save them: or aleast that was what I heard later. This tended to lower my desire to fly a few more notches. That was a helpless feeling standing that close and not being able to help.
On December 30, 1942 we were shown a Japanese Zero fighter plane that had been restored from a wreck in Alaska. It apparently was making its round of the Bases for Bond Raising and to let the Air crews get a first hand look at one. During our training at Tucson my closest friend and buddy Cleon Barber who had the same last name as me but no kin, got married. That stopped a good deal of our Steak dinners and visiting the clubs and bars. We having the same last name' and Cleon being over six foot tall and me only five foot eight the fellows called us every thing from Mutt and Jeff to Etch and SIM. We were together from the time we left Chanute Field to the disbandment of our Group in September of 1945. After a forty year separation we again picked up our friendship and it has continued to this day. On one of our passes at Tucson, Cleon and I went to a club and saw Louis Prima and his then wife Keely Smith and their Band. We also were fortunate to have seen Red Skelton give a show on the base at Davis Mon-than. I finished up my training on planes at Tucson on March 3, 1943 with a total of ninety two hours and thirty minutes flying time.
On March 4, 1943 we moved to Biggs Field in El Paso, Texas. Part of our Group had flown to Orlando, Florida for Mission Training. Cleon went with them but I had just spent a stint in the hospital at Davis Monthan with a severe infection of my right little toe caused by athletes foot. I was having a problem wearing a shoe on that foot because of the tender-ness. We were sent to Biggs Field just to stay until a B-l7 Group va-cated Alamogordo Air Base in New Mexico. I visited Juarez, Mexico a couple times but was not impressed with it. I bought my Mother some perfume and a few trinkets but the trouble of having to take a pro on the way back across the border whether you had sex or not kept me from going too many times. The perfume was cheaper in Mexico because they did not have a luxury tax as we had in the states. Another thing was their food was usually too pepper hot for me. We stayed at Biggs Field for a month and a half and then moved to Alamogordo.
On April 18, 1943 we arrived at Alamogordo Army Air Base by trucks and busses. On one occasion after Cleon Barber got back from the Orlando area, he and I had to return to Biggs Field to get some home made work platforms that we had failed to bring with us on the move. We made a day if it and looked like a bunch of Gypsies on the move when we' got back. Our training was taking shape quite well on the line and things were almost routine as days went by. I remember on a couple of occasions we would chase those large Jack rabbits with the cleotrack that was for moving the planes with, all over the desert floor when not being observed by our superiors. On one bad cloudy day a B-24 crew was coming in for a landing while the storm was in progress and in a matter of seconds the plane hit the ground and exploded, sending pieces flying every which way. Cleon and I were using the cleotrack at the time so we struck out for the crash. Before we got there we saw an officer stumbling around with the cockpit seat still strapped to him. By the time the crash crew arrived he had fallen down and we understood that he was dead when they reached him, the rest of the crew was killed also. As I look back now I believe that what happened was they hit what they now call a windshear. I know it is beginning to sound like a broken record but this accident took a couple more notches of my desire to fly.
On the second week in May 1943, I was given a six day leave to go home. There was only one problem, it took three days to go and three days to re-turn, from Alamogordo to Atlanta and back. When I reached home I tried for a three day extension. On the third day at home my extension arrived, boy was I relieved that I wouldn't be AWOL. I got up early the next morning and Mother and Dad took me to the train station. That was one of the hardest goodbys that I had ever experienced as I knew that I was going overseas and not knowing we were going to England at the time, I thought it would be the Pacific area. I arrived at Alamogordo May 19, 1943 and resumed my duties again, but I did no more flying after we left Tucson. They did give me a B-17 to care for that was used for tow target service. The difference in maintenance was mostly that what was electrical on the B -24 was hydraulic on the B-17 and what was hydraulic on a B-24 was electrical on the B-17. There was a big difference in the size of the bomb bay as the B-24 was almost twice as large as the B-l7. While I was in charge of the B-l7 one of the crewmen somehow got the cable that tows the tow target wrapped around the hinge slot of the elevator on one side. They were lucky that the planes control was in level flight at the time. They flew back and landed it with the trim tabs they said. I never heard what the outcome of their explanation was but it took us the rest of the day to get it out of the elevator. The name of the B-17 was Ramp Happy Sue, and it had all of its armament removed.
I almost forgot to tell about the time that I helped work on replacing an engine on an airplane that I believe was a A-20. It had full plexiglass nose on it, and it was a twin engine with a single tail. This happened at Davis Moiathan Field. Anyway I don't remember if I volunteered or was sup-posed to fly with the plane on the slow time flight, but I went. We had been up about an hour or so and had been going through the required tests when the Pilot spied a formation of B-17s. He contacted someone and got permission to fly simulated attacks at them. I was sitting in the nose at the time and it was like sitting on a two by ten plank sticking out of the nose, he called on intercom and told me to buckle up as we were going for a ride. The first thing he did was run a head on attack at them, then he swung back and made a complete loop around them. I don't know how many he made but I left my stomach somewhere in the rolls. Even when we got back to the base I had trouble signing the form but I did thank him for getting us back in one piece.
In April of '1943 we had a General coming to the Base for an inspect-ion. T/Sgt George W. Kent and Sgt. Dock Jirel were appointed as color guards and I was the Color Bearer. The day of the inspection the wind was blowing just as hard as it could and I weighed somewhere in the neighbor-hood of one hundred and fifty pounds. I remember the Flag blowing me first into Sgt. Kent and the next time into Sgt, Jirel. We passed with flying colors in more ways than one that day.
Some time in the last weeks of our training at Alamogordo we had a going away party out in the White Sands area of New Mexico. The sand was so white it would almost blind you. We had cold drinks and food and nat-urally cold beer in kegs. I never understood why we didn't have it up in the mountains of Ruidoso where it was cool but I imagine that the Big Brass knew that we needed to be where we couldn't get in too much trouble after drinking all the beer we wanted. I remember riding back on one of the supply trucks that had one of the beer kegs on it with a spigot still in it. I tried my best to empty it to no avail. When we arrived back at the base, we un-loaded the truck at the mess hail. After sitting in the mess hail awhile I had to go to the Latrine, and just as I got inside I felt a rumble and heard a loud noise. When I got back to the mess hall I found out that the hot water heater had blown up. As far as I can remember no one was hurt. I'm sure there was an inquiry, but I was never called on it. I assume some one had told them I was in no condition to remember what went on. This was my first time to get in that condition and it happened only once more over seas although I did continue to drink with some moderation.
Around the last week in July we arrived at Camp Shanks, New York. This was the Port of Embarkation. The only thing I remember well was that our bar-racks bags weighed at least a ton, thats not counting our guns. We were finally taken and marched to a ferry boat, then on to the dock where the Queen Mary was waiting on us and it seemed like the other half of the Army. We were given hammocks on deck "H" which we were told later that that was the torpedo line on the Mary. The next morning we stepped out of our quarters to get in line for breakfast. I'm not sure but I believe it was near lunch time when we finished. I came back to our area and went to take a shower. Would you be-lieve it I couldn't get the soap to lather, and one taste of the water told me why, it was salty. For the rest of the trip I sponge bathed. Also I never went back to the mess hail again to eat except when I was in charge of a crew for K.P. and the place smelt so bad I didn't have to good of an appetite then.
I ate large Hershey Bars and bootleg sandwiches from the British crewmen from then on. I also had a couple men and myself detailed to the Nurses deck for policing the area. You can just imagine what a problem I had there, they began talking to the nurses and I like to have never got them to finish. I also remember that on the second or third day out of New York, Italy surrendered and everybody was saying Turn the ship around and take us back to the USA. Somewhere near the end of the voyage we were summoned on deck because of a sub-marine alarm. It turned out to be whales we heard later. On the fifth day we arrived in the Firth of Clyde to a place called Greenock Scotland. We were unable to pull up to a dock so they unloaded us on to small boats and took us ashore. We were so crowed on the little boat that it was impossible to fall over. When we formed on the dock we were greeted by a Scotch Bagpipe Band. I don't remember how we got to the train but eventually we made it. The seats on the train were a welcome gift as we had been standing for quite some time in the unloading. Finally we were moving and we rubber necked all the way to a little railroad station called Wendling in England. There we unloaded on to trucks with all our gear and headed out. to our new home. When we got to the Air Base which was on part of a small village named Beeston and part on Wendling. Our base was called Wendling Air Base. Upon arrival we saw that the base was not quite complete. There were a lot of workers scattered around in small crews. We were told that they were Irish Free Labor, what ever that meant. Mud was every where and it was hard not to bring it into the barracks which were one story buildings with a pot-bellied stove in the middle of the isle that ran down the center. One of the first things we were told was please do not use any of your American Ingenuity on the barracks.
Our airplanes were not at the base when we arrived and I suppose it was for the best as they were still working on parts of the taxi strips.
On August 15, 1943 I was given a three day pass and C.M. Barber had one, the first thing we did was head for London. We stayed at one of the Red Cross Hotels, that evening we tried to see as much of the City as we could and also check out the Pubs. The Hotel had a certain time to be in before they locked their doors. Being our first time to London we didn't even scratch the surface in seeing the sights. They had an air raid while we were there, but it was in another part of the city, every one went to the shelter though. The two days passed fast. We stopped at a curio shop and I bought some old English coins that were real thin silver. They were called long cross coins as they had a cross on the back that went to the edges. The reason for the cross was to keep the people from trimming the edges off and melting down the sliver. One or two of them had a date of 1593 on them, they were about the size of a quarter and a half dollar with the Queen Elizabeth on the other side. I also bought a set of the small coins that the Kings gave on their birthday to the peasants. If the King was forty years old he would give forty sets of them. There was one large copper commemorative coin that caught my eye also, it had an impress-ion of Friedrich Wilhelm on the face and an Angel with wings and a halo with a bright star above it, She was half kneeling on an alter that had a wreath on it with the words and date of SAN REMO 1888. The coin its self was two and a half inches in diameter. I still have those coins to this date.
On the third day we returned to Wending. My new B-24 H arrived about August 21, 1943 and after pulling an acceptance check with my ground crew who was at that time, Sgts. Carroll. King, Delmer McCulley and Corporal Clayton Whisman, we settled down to familiarize our selves to our new baby. We were interrupted now and then by our new AirCrew who were flying practice missions and diversion missions. They were Lt. John G. Buschznan, Pilot-Lt. C.R. Waiker, CoPilot-Lt. M.A.Donlon, Navigator-- Lt. R.J. Green, Bombardier-- Sgt. J.C. Hoover, Engineer-- Sgt. Jack D. Coe, Radio-- Sgt.R.S, Adams, Gunner-- Sgt. R.W. Davis,Gunner-- Sgt. L.E. Bernard, Gunner and Sgt. D.J. Hanrahan, Gunner.
The B-24 H was number 42-7488 with a camouflage finish, a big round white circle on the outsides of both vertical stabilizers with a black D in the center of them. Underneath the circles was a white S with a white bar under it. I don' remember if the name the plane was given was painted on or not, but it was calle HELLZADROPPIN. The air crew went different types of missions until August 24, 1943 when I went with the plane to Watton,for modifications, they replaced the thin plexiglass cockpit windows with bullet proof glass about an inch and a half thick and installed armor plates on the outside of the pilot and copilots areas. I was there nine days so I visited Blackpool, England every now and then, it was a sea side town on the Irish Sea. They had what was called Winter Garden Club and it was a soldiers dream club as they had some of the most beau-tifulest girls there in the world.
On October 8, 1943 and our Groups fourth mission, S Bar, Hellzadroppin with Lt. John G. Buschxnans crew aboard was shot up over Vegesack, Germany. I heard that they also had wounded aboard. They lowered their landing gears and were escorted down to a German field.
A short while later my ground crew and I were assigned B-24 H number 42-7502 with camouflage finish and tail markings the same as before except it had call letter X Bar and named BAKADORI o Our new air crew was Lt .D.M. Fogarty, Pilot-- Lt. R.S. Walker,CoPilot-- Lt. J.W. Ott, Navigator--Lt.J.K. Parrish, Bombardier--T/Sgt. A.~.S1ama,Engineer-- T/Sgt. S. Lonizides,Radio--S/Sgt. W.D. Haskins, Gunner-- S/Sgt. C. Harrod, Gunner-- S/Sgt.W.W. Smith,Gun-ner-- and S/Sgt. G.C. Kurkomelis, Gunner. Then on November 18, 1943 our Groups tenth mission to Kjeller, Norway they were unable to transfer fuel on their way back to our Base, and was forced to land at Orebro, Sweden and interned~ I sweated out the report that I may have been at fault for the transfer val-ves not operating correctly. Later I received word that it wasn't the fault of the ground crew. The air crew was unable to transfer correctly. This was the longest mission of the 392nd Bomb Group with ten hours and thirty minutes flight.
Somewhere in this time frame, Cleon Barber and I were back in London on another three day pass. We were still enjoying the pubbing and other entertainment's available on pass. On one of these nights we had gone to bed at the Hotel and were awakened by Air Raid Sirens. I had drank just enough that evening to make me a little careless, so instead of getting up and dressing to go to the air raid shelter I just went in the bathroom and sat on the com-mode. Cleon came in with a puzzled look on his face and asked "What in the devil are you doing?" I said I'm going to sit here until the raid is over. He replied you must be crazy1.! I said no I'm not, haven't you noticed that just about every building you would see that had been bombed that the corner where the toilets were that they were still standing and if they hit this one I'll be right here when it is over. We both had a big laugh and by that time they sounded the All Clear. At that time of year London was also getting hit with the V-i buzz bombs.
After losing X Bar, they gave us a B-24 H and it was camouflaged also with serial number 42-7518 with call letter S Bar and named HARD TO GET afld our new air crew to us was Lt. Guy D. Carnine, Pilot-Lt. Kermit E. Spears, CoPilot-Lt. Victor Mastron, Navigator-Lt. Wayne E Byers, Bombardier-Sgt. Nick A. Hopson, Engineer-Sgt. Boyce B.Barbee, Radio-Sgt. Merlin N. Norby, Ball Turret Gunner-Sgt. Louis B. Ostroski,Tiij~ Turret Gunner-Sgt. Nickolas (Kwas- nycia) Kender, Tail Turret Gunner-Sgt. George R. Knies, R. Waist Gunner. This crew proved to be the honor crew of the 392nd Bomb Group as they were the first crew to finish their tour of duty at our base, with twenty five missions. This was accomplished on March the 5th, 1944. Some of the damage that HARD TO GET during her lifetime was, a flak hole in number one engine nacelle, a hole through the left wing, the replacement of the left wing flap, one bombay door replaced one supercharger change, three engine changes, a little embarrassing accident when one of the waist gunners shot three fifty caliber holes through the left vertical stabilizer, but that was overlooked by the record of one German ME-l09 on January 5, 1944 and three German FW-l90's on February 24, 1944 with two pro-babies. The last five were on the famous Gotha Raid in which our Group received the Presidential Citation Award. On March 14, 1944 that night we were visited by a lone German plane and he dropped one incendiary before he was run off by a British Mosquito plane.
On March 18, 1944 just thirteen days after the Lt. Guy Carnine Crew fin-ished Lt. W.C. Raschke's Crew went down on the Fredrichshafen, Germany raid.
The report was that they were seen to do an almost impossible outside loop and then go straight down and crash. But nine chutes were observed. The crew comprised of Lt.W.C. Laschke, Pilot-Lt. JoJ. Holm,CoPilot- Lt. B.B. Petro--zzella, Navigator-- Lt. M.E. Ward, Bombardier- T/Sgt. r.w. Wagonseller,Eng~n- eer--T/Sgt.B.R. Wrek,Padio- S/Sgt. R.W. Davis, Gunner--Pvt. F. Fyare, Gunner--S/Sgt. J.H. Rankin, Gunner- S/Sgt. H.G. Doui, Gunner--. I have read later that Lt. W.C. Raschke, Lt. B.B. Petrozzella, T/Sgt.R.W. Wagonseller and S/Sgt. R.W. Davis are buried in Lorraine Cemetery near St.Avoid (Moselle), France and that T/Sgt. B.R. Wrek is buried at Ardennes Cemetery near Liege, Belgium. I have no information on the fate of the other crewmembers. This was the thirty second and last mission for HARD TO GET S Bar number 518.
My next plane arrived March 19, 1944. It was a B-24 H also camouflaged and had serial number 42-52548 with call letter S-Bar and named JAW-JA-BOY, and had the same painted tail design as the ones before it, only to have it changed in May of 1944 to a new design consisting of a silver painted vertical stabilizer with about a two foot wide horizontal stripe across the middle painted.black. On this black stripe was the call letter S about a foot high with about a six inch wide horizontal bar about a foot long painted white painted beneath it. The name JAW-JA-BOY was given the planes name by the Aerial Engineer and myself as we were both from Georgia. The new crew for our plane was not new to the Squadron as they had flown the famous Gotha Raid in Q-Plus of the 577th Bomb. Squadron and the Fried-richshafen Raid in T-Bar which was my ex-assistant crew chiefs plane named DOUBLE TROUBLE of the 578th Bomb Squadron on March 18, 1944. On this mission they were hit by a twenty millimeter cannon shell in the radio section causing a fire and shorting out the bailout button and rang the bell. The Navigator 2nd Lt. T.T. Walen and 2nd Lt. C.C. Savage the Bombardier not knowing it was a false alarm, bailed out near the French and German Border. I never heard of their fate. This was the Lt. James E. Muldoon Crew, they were assigned to our plane about March, 23, 1944, comprising of Lt. James E. Muldoon, Pilot--Lt. John J. Otis, CoPilot-Lt. Ben Ortenberg, Navigator-Lt. Ernest R. Mor-ton, Bombardier--T/Sgt. Jay M. Byrd, Engineer-T/Sgt. Lee F~oy DeHoff, Radio-S/Sgt. Steve A. Bednarcik, Gunner- S/Sgt. Junior N. Bluejacket, Gunner-S/Sgt. J.A. Carpenter, Gunner and M/Sgt John J. Svoboda, Gunner. This crew went on to help my ground crew and myself to continue our non abort record, even tho-ugh there were times I understood that some other crew besides them may have brought it back early. One of the outstanding things that happened was that every time Lt. Muldoon would go on a mission he would give me or one of my crewmen his Officers (50 Mission) cap and say "Hold this for me until I get back." and also there were a couple fellows on the crew if I remember correctly that didn't drink and they would save our crew their ration of whiskey that was given to the air crew on their return from a mission.
On March 28, 1944 a U.S.O. Show came to our Base and with it was James Cagney, Al Bernie and other entertainers and as usual they put on a good show.
On April 1, 1944 our Group had an embarrassing mission. They bombed a Swiss City by the name of Schaffhausen instead of the Ludwigshafen chemical works as briefed, fortunately they, hit a forest area. During the month of April our Group only made nine mission but one of them was Berlin on the twenty ninth.
May 3, 1944 Clayton Whisman who will become my new assistant crew chief on May 10, 1944 when my second assistant crew chief Sgt. Delmer McCulley gets his first plane called MISS MINNIE II, got his Sgt. stripes, Private Theron Har-ding then joined our ground crew.
On May 16, 1944 Lt. D.M. Fogarty, who had returned from Sweden took Jaw-Ja-Boy up for a practice mission. I believe that Lt. Muldoons crew was on pass. On Lt. Fogarty's first attempt to land he blew a main landing~ gear tire. After waiting for all the other planes to land he brought it. in beautifully under the circumstances, it skidded all over the runway but he managed to hold it on the runway. It went to the hanger and they replaced the whole left landing gear. We then replaced the tires on that wheel plus the nose wheel.
Again on May 18, 1944 another U.S.O. Show came to our Base. The lead singer in the band was from Atlanta. Earl Slider from communi-cations, who is from Atlanta also and I made a date with her for when she was going to be in Kings Lynn to go horse back riding. We spent the day with her as good of a time as could be expected where there are three along..
June 6, 1944 D-Day and Jaw-Ja-Boy didn't make the first or second wave but did go on the third one for the day. We were quite busy helping other crews on this day as you can imagine. When our plane got back it came in a heavy rain and we did some sweating for them.
On June 9, 1944 I guess you could say I was the happiest I had been in a long time. I was brought up before General Leon Johnson and he pinned the Bronze Star Medal on me. This was for thirty two missions on our planes without a mechanical abortion. I have always contended that if I hadn't had such a superb ground crew and dedicated air crew it wouldn't have been possible.
It is June 11, 1944 and two misfortunes happened in our Squadron. First our Engineering Officer, Captain Raymond Berthiaume was taxing Sgt. Carroll Kings plane Double Trouble for him and lo and behold he taxied into not one of M/Sgt. John Coitrans planes but he hit both of them. In doing so his fellow Officers appointed him a Knight of the Iron Cross for helping the Germans. The next misfortune that day was my assistant crew chief was playing ball that evening and fractured his right wrist bone. So then I had a one arm mechanic for a good while. That was Sgt. Clayton Whisman.
On the first day of July 1944 Lt. John Otis came out to our plane and asked me if I would fly as copilot with him over to Birmingham, England to visit a buddy of his. Not really wanting to I said yes on one condition. If you knew Otis you would know exactly what it was. He had just about run out of anybody wanting to fly with him. I said there would be no buzzin and he said OK. We taxied out to the runway and went through our routine check and away we went, every thing was fine all the way over and all I did was sit in the copilots seat and follow through on his flying. We landed just fine at the Air Base except for him fighting the controls some and I thought that it might have been me holding on to the controls with him, We taxied over to the line and he got out and left me with the plane. He was gone for a couple hours and when he came back his buddy came aboard and looked and talked a short while. Finally he left and Otis started the engines and taxied out to the end of the runway. I began to go over the check list and he reved up the engines a little and I'm still going through the check list and the next thing I knew we were roaring down the runway. I started calling out the air speed and I wont swear to it but I think he just pulled the wheels right out from under the plane. I felt it sort of drop a little I thought and then he pulled it up pretty sharp and chandelled inside the field. I was able to look over his chest and see the ground going by. I began yelling straiten up before we slip off on a wing and he finally leveled it off and went up a couple thousand feet and told me what compass reading to hold it on and take over. This sorta thrilled me as I never had to much stick time by myself. I had flown a little at Tucson and always kept the nose of the plane on the horizen, This was with planes with no nose turret and the first thing I noticed was I was losing altitude so I guess I pulled it up to sharp because he sat up real quick and said what's the matter? I explained what it was and he just laughed and pushed the control's down and away we went to the deck. I was pulling back and he would push it down and we looked like we was riding the waves. Finally I gave up and began calling out different things that it looked like we may hit including fences, hedge- rows and mainly telephone lines. This went on for it seemed ages and finally we come in sight of the base. He called for clearance to land and in we come. I'm calling airspeed and he's fighting the controls for all his worth. It sort of made me uneasy but the main thing I was interested in was getting back on the ground in one piece. When we got back to the revetment we pulled in and the crew met us. The first thing I noticed was that the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) antenna was hanging loose and when I went around in front of the plane the ends of the propellers were green instead of yellow. I said man did we get low and he said Ernie if you hadn't been along I would have put it down lower and I said yeah and you would have been plowing too. That was my last flight with him. He had two other flights similar to that one. On one he came in with the Bombardiers glass that he sights the target through knocked out from buzzin too low and the next time which was only two weeks after my flight with him, he came back with a limb sticking in the wings leading edge through the de-icer boot, and the propellers tips were green again. We had to remove and replace the de-icer boot after patching the wing.
Somewhere back in this time frame, Cleon Barber and I were hack in London on another three-day pass, as we both enjoyed the pubbing and other entertainments available. On one of these nights, after we'd gone to bed at the Red Cross Hotel, we were awakened by the air raid sirens. I'd drunk just enough that evening to make me a little careless. So instead of getting up, dressing to go to the air raid shelter I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. Cleon came in, looking puzzled, "What in the devil are you doing?" I said that I was going to sit there until the raid was over. "You must be crazy!!" He gasped. "No I'm not. Haven't you noticed? Just about every building you see in London that's been bombed, the corners where the toilets are remain virtually untouched. If a bomb hit this building, I'll be right here when the dust has settled and it's all over!!" We both got a big laugh and shortly afterward the "all clear" sounded. By that time in 1944, London was also getting hit with V-1 buzz bombs. The V-2 rockets came a little later.
On August 12, 1944 we had just moved into our new line shack that we had built mostly out of anti-personnel bomb boxes and a few articles we had obtained through mid-night requisitions. We had two ground crews in it. We also built our own bunk beds so as to take up as little space poss-ible. We built a brick fire place with mantle and all but our main heat was a thirty gallon steel drum with holes drilled near the bottom so that the old oil that we drained out of the planes could have air to burn. It vented into our chimney but was made so that we could remove it for inspections that came fairly frequent. We also had an old hand crank Victrola to play our only record, I remember only one side -- it was Sweet Kentucky Babe. We all spent some well deserved sleep in it at times as it saved us from having to go all the way back to our barracks, and in cold or rainy days and nights. Even some of our Air Crews would come out and spend time with us, we always had hot coffee (not tea).
August 14, 1944 our ground crew got another plane in conjunction with Jaw-Ja-Boy, and with it we got another airplane mechanic, his name being Sgt. John J. Kailas. The plane was a B-24 H with a camouflage finish and serial number 42-50358 with call letter Q-Bar and named Pleasure Bent. It was used mainly as a spare, Then on September 2, 1944 another long awaited leave. Sgt. Charles R. (Dick) Graham and I went to Edinburgh, Scotland on a ten day leave. Dick was an AM on one of our other ground crews. Soon after we arrived I nearly stepped out of a streetcar into the path of a car. I looked the wrong way to see if it was clear. If I had been in the States I would have been looking the right way, this was another lesson I learned the hard way. We visited all the historical sights in town that we could find out about including the Ancient Edinburgh Castle, that towered over the city from a shear wall rock out cropping on three sides. It had lot of old armored clothing and weapons that was used bank in King Arthur's days. It was hard to believe that men could wear that type of clothing and still be able to fight in them. The weapons of those day were quite interesting.
16 August 1944 was the date of one of our happy events. James Muldoon and his crew completed their tour of missions on that day. They came back in "Jaw-Ja-Boy." But on August 25, my ground crew and myself were unable to see Maj. Glenn Miller and his Army Air Force band show we had at the base because we had to replace an engine on "Pleasure Bent" and, as always, the planes came first.
On our train trip back to Wendling we met a couple nice WAF's that got on the train at Falkjrk, Sterlingshire, Scotland which is about half way between Edin burgh and Glasgow. We found out that they were from that area and that they were with the RAF in Cambridge, England. I can't say what Dick did in the future but I started going to Cambridge from then on as I was leery of London by then anyway because of the V-Two's the Germans were sending over. Those things were the rocket type and they would level almost a city block with hardly no warning at all. The WAF that I started dating was named Sgt. Frances M. Richardson, her friends name was Sgt.Paddy Faulds. I believe her home was in Glasgow, Scotland. Cambridge was only half as far to go as London. I always stayed with the Alex Thisell home with him and his wife. They treated me as if I were their son. Cleon Barber would go on pass with me at times to Cambridge also.
On September 9, 1944 while I was still on leave in Edinburgh, Scotland we had another sad day in our crew. Lst Lt. Louis H. Stephens,Pilot-2ndLt. Piddleberger, CoPjlot-2nd Lt. F.D. Urmer,Navigator-Ff0 C.M. Smith, Bombardier-S/SGT. C. Wright, Engineer-T/Sgt. C.E. Schaefer, Radio-T/Sgt. H.J. Soda,Gunner-S/Sgt. E.L. Boyce, Gunner-S/Sgt. P.D. Johnson, Gunner S/Sgt. R.L. Serrette, Gunner-and Sgt. R.W. Pettis, Special Passenger were on a mission to Mainz, Germany on JAW-JA-BOY and were hit by flak after bombs away. It burst into flames and began to fall and about nine thousand feet it broke in two pieces and went cut of control. Only 1st Lt. Stephens and 2nd Lt. Riddleberger were thrown clear and they parachuted down badly burned. They were captured by the Germans and were sent to the hospital in grave condition to be treated. Both were returned to the States eventually. This was the forty-fifth mission and last for #548 Jaw-Ja-Boy, in it's lifetime it had five engines replaced, three superchargers, four carburetors, four or five compensating relief valves, a rocker arm came loose and had to be tigh-tend, a left landing gear and nose wheel replaced, and around sixty five patches including one on the left wing about a foot square. Sgts. E.L Boyce and P.D. Johnson are buried at Lorraine Cemetery near St. Avold(Moselle) France The other crewmen I have never heard of their fate.
Here it is only two days later and on September 11, 1944 on the planes tenth mission and going to Hanover, Germany, #358 Q-Bar named PLEASURE BENT with 2nd Lt. N.E. Jones,Pilot-2nd Lt. A.F. Cicora, CoPilot-2nd Lt. A. N. Oppenheim, Navigator-T/Sgt. A. Berezovsky, Engineer-T/Sgt. D.R. Doolittle, Radio-S/Sgt. R o I. Gust erson, Gunner-S /Sgt. C .J .Raiston, Gunner S/Sgt. A.A. Natracia, Gunner and S/Sgt. K.T. Lockhart, Gunner were near Koblenz, Germany just before noon. Other crews reported seeing Q-Bar with a stabilizer and Pilots canopy shot away. When last seen it was peeling off with no chutes seen. I later heard that S/Sgt. A.A. Matracia was buried at Ardennes Cemetery twelve miles west of Liege, Belguim. In our 392nd Bomb Group 1991 directory we have 2nd Lt.Alfred M. Oppenhiem and S/Sgt. Gerald J. Ralston listed as members. This was fortunately my last airplane to lose.
In reading my last page over I saw that I missed my August 16, 1944 entry and it was one of our happy events. Lt. James E. Muldoon's crew finished their missions today on S-Bar JAW-JA-BOY. Also on August 25, 1944 my ground crew and myself were unable to see The Glen Miller Show we had on the Base, because we had to replace an engine on Q-Bar PLEASURE BENI and as usual the planes came first.
Now back to September 17, 1964 that our ground crew got was a beautiful natural finish B-24 J number 42-51240 with call letter S-Bar and named by our new air crew WINDY CITY BELLE in honor of their Pilot who was from Chicago, Illinois. the crew was Lt. Douglas R. Wood, Pilot-- Lt. J.J. Mc Cormick, CoPilot-- Lt. D.R. Satterthwait, Navigator-- Lt. W.D. Seagraves, Bombardier--Sgt. K.W. Morgan, Engineer-- Sgt. R. Fleischman, Radio-- Sgt. A.P. WRight, Gunner-- Sgt. W.F. Stuck, Gunner-- Sgt. F.L. McCormic, Gunner, (brother of CoPilot) and Sgt. G.L. Steurer,Gunner. They went on to finish their tour of missions and I don't mean to imply that it was easy as it was a long way from that even up to our Groups last mission.
After they finished I remember a big tall Lt. bringing his crew out and fly Windy City Belle from time to time. I don't know for sure if they were ever assigned our plane or not but I did manage to get a crew photo and their names for my service record book, they are as follows, Lt. Robert H. Tays,Pilot-- Lt. Thomas B. Ferguson,CoPilot-- Lt. John 3. Holzinger, Nav-igator-- Lt. Andrew C. Sorensen, Bombardier-- Sgt. Charles C. King,Engineer--Sgt. Jack T. Berger,fladio-- Sgt. George A. Coury,Waist Gunner--- Sgt, Myron E. Turner, Waist Gunner-- and Sgt. Earl E, Fetterhoff, Tail gunner. Then came one of the most energetic aircrews we had assigned to us. They were Lt. Jack C. Clarke, Pilot--- Lt. Oak Mackey, CoPilot-- Lt. Clyde B. Eaton, Navigator-- Lt. Pober~ C. Lowe, Bombardier--Sgt. Edward C. Brunett-Engineer-- Sgt. Jay T. Brown Radio-- Sgt.George R. Peer, Gunner-- Sgt. John K. Heckinan, Gunner--and Sgt.Kevin B. Killea, Gunner. I was told about forty five years later by the Pilot that he was hoping he would run into me so as to tell me of the unhappiness of the crew when on one occasion back then they had come in off of a mission with an aileron shot up pretty bad and they all knew that the plane would not be ready for tiie next days mission. But as the story goes the next morning the C .Q. came by and woke them for the mission. They began to object and told the C.Q. he was mistaken, but he as-sured them that the plane was ready and they were to go. After breakfast and briefing they came to the line. Lt. Clarke told his CoPilot Lt. Oak Mackey and his engineer Sgt. Ed Brunett to check the aileron carefully because he knew it couldn't be ready. The truth was that my two mechanics and I had stayed up all night re-covering and doping it. And by the skin of our teeth we had it dry and working. When they told Lt. Clarke they found every thing O.K. he said he had been waiting all these years to tell me how unhappy they were. As it is today one of the crew is still energetic. He has just retired in the past few years from being an active Airline Pilot and now he is our 2nd Air Division Vice President representing the 392nd Bomb Group Memorial Association, He is none other than OAK MACKEY.
On October 13, 1944 Sgt Delmer McCulley and myself had just finished a visit in the early part of the night to the Enlisted Mens Club on the Base. As we were peddling around the taxi strip towards our shack on the line we came upon the end of the main runway. When we looked down the runway to make sure there was no planes landing or taking off we saw what we thought was a plane about to overshoot the runway. McCulley got off of his bike and began to wave his flashlight in a effort to let the plane know where the end of the runway was. As it got right above us I saw that it was a Buzz Bomb and yelled for McCulley to hit the ground which I did in a hurry. He just kept looking at it and shortly it stopped running and hit the ground and exploded. I felt the concussion go over my head but McCulley was standing and it hit him and knocked him to the ground, we also got an earful of noise too. We both said that we would lay off drinking if that's what you see from it.
Our last crew to be assigned to our Windy City Belle was 2nd Lt. John B. Howenstein, Pilot-- 2nd Lt. Loran W. Matelski, CoPilot-- 2nd Lt. Anthony J. Peters, Navigator-- 2nd Lt. John W. Smith, Bombardier-- S/Sgt. Abdallah E. Courey, Engineer-- S/Sgt.James E. Thompson, Radio--S/Sgt. Raymond B. Boecker-mann, Nose Gunner-- S/Sgt. Albert J. Chauvin, Left waist Gunner--S/Sgt.Donald B. Christopher, Right waist Gunner--and S/Sgt. George Gibson, Tail Gunner. They flew S-Bar until the end and was fortunate enough to fly it home. Even though we were still sending our planes and air crews up for missions the war was winding down. We were given an old looking B-24 H with the old camouflage paint on it with number 42-50571 on it and call letter G-Bar and named DIRTY GERTIE to go along with our other plane. It never was asigned a crew as far as I can remember and never flew a mission while we had it.
On March 4, 1945 the Germans were still sending over what we called suicide missions and a lone German plane straffed one of our Kings Lynn Liberty run trucks and killed the driver and wounded the Lt. who was in the front with him. On March 20, 1945 Another German plane strafed our Field with frags and managed to knock out two planes in the 577 Bomb Squadron area and started a fire in some bombay tanks. He ran a path of bullets between our line shack and McCu1le's plane. I was in an under ground bomb shelter with Cleon Barber, Sgt. Bill Richards and a few more scared nuts. When I looked out of the small exit I saw the tracer bullets heading for the bomb dump across the taxi strip from us and I did my best to get under the concrete floor even though it was covered with water. We laughed when it was over but it wasn't funny while it was going on.
April 12, 1945 President Roosevelt died today. April 25, 1945 Today was our last mission to be flown. My ground crew and myself finished up with 143 missions without a mechanical abortion. April 29, 1945 Mussilini was tried and shot in Milan, Italy today. May 1, 1945 Hooray HITLER IS DEAD. May 8, 1945 V.E.DAY May 13, 1945 my birthday!!! What a day I had today, I was taken on an air trip of the area our bombers flew during their missions. We left Wendling at 07:05 this morning for Germany. We crossed the North Sea and English Channel as we call it. We hit the French coast at Caen and there was quite a sight of the battle field. We flew on past the Siegfried Lines dragons teeth and saw slit trenches and pill boxes everywhere. We saw air fields with more bomb craters than one could ever imagine. We flew over France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. When we hit the Rhine River we flew up to see the famous Remagen Bridge, and near by was a Prison of War camp that was just like a colony of ants, but this was a colony of German rats. We then turned around and flew back along the Rhine by Cologne which was a real mess if ever there was.
By the way I forgot to mention that right after we flew over parts of Holland we passed over Arnheim and then flew down the Rhine River to the northern end of the Argonne Forest and the made a wide cir-cle back up to Dusseldorf and then up the Rhine and all along the river you could see sunken boats and barges and the Buhr Valley had a lot of bomb out factories. On one occasion, we passed over a large area that had a trememdous amount of what looked like knocked out tanks. After flying all over for about four hours and forty five minutes we landed at an airfield in Belgium near the German border. There we got in a sixby Army truck and drove towards the Rhine River, all along the way we saw knocked out cars, trucks and tanks along with some of our planes that had been shot down. When we reached the Rhine across from DUISBURG, Germany we had to wait in line so as to cross on a pontoon bridge. After crossing we saw an endless line of German civilians leaving, pushing and pulling carts that possible had all their household goods and personal belongings. It was a pitiful sight but if that is what it took to straighten them out, so be it. We won't forget their horror camps and the way they treated our men and allies.
We finally got into the heart of the city and I didn't see a store or shop opened. We rambled around through the rubble and then drove back out along the river where all the factories were, they were bombed beyond use. We stopped and had some German beer at one of the factories which wasn't too bad. We saw the Victory Railroad Bridge that our men built in seven days, it sure was a magnificent job. We stayed in town from eleven forty five in the morning until four that afternoon.
During that time we tried to open an old safe in a bombed out building with no success, I did find a forty four caliber chrome plated revolver that had no manufacturing name on it that I still have to this day, even though I have never fired it. We returned to the airfield and after flying around awhile more on the continent we returned to Wendling about eight PM. Our group on the plane for this trip was Major George Player, Major Myron Keilman, Captain Henry Allen, T/Sgt Pat-rick Burns, M/Sgt John Coltran, M/Sgt Ernest Barber and one other that I have been unable to identify. Also someone had to take our group picture and I don't know who that was.
On May 25, 1945 I boarded a B-24 3 serial number 42-51459 with call letter Bar-C and named LADY DIANA II with an aircrew that I had never flown with before. They were Capt. Walter M. Bell Jr. Command Pilot-- lst Lt. James A. Hoover, Pilot-- lst Lt. Gerald E. Douglass, CoPilot-- 2nd Lt. George R. Fetter, Navigator-- lst Lt. Taylor H. Mackelfresh, Bombardier--T/Sgt. Jáseph D. Marlowe, Engineer-- T/Sgt. Louis J. Affinito, Radio S/Sgt. Thomas B. Fitzgerald,W. Gunner-- S/Sgt. Frank Gayda, W. Gunner--S/Sgt. Leon A. Jones,T. Gunner-- S/Sgt. Edward G. Janak, Gunner--M/Sgt. Ernest H. Barber, Cret~Chjef-- PFC. Joseph Marciante, RUO-- Corp. Joseph H. Mehi, Sheetmetal Worker-- Sgt. Dean P. Rose, Sw. Brd. Operator.
We left Wendling Air Base and flew to The Isle of Man with a little delay we went Lagen, Azores where we were weathered in and experiancing some engine problem (belching a puff of smoke every now and then). I don't know how many days we were there but I do know we were there on payday as the air base had females waiting at the gate to help the soldiers spend their money. Twenty skoots I believe is what some of the fellows said it cost to be entertained by them. Our next stop was Gander, Newfoundland I believe. And then to the good ole U.S., we landed at Bradley Field, Conn-ecticut on June 6, 1945. We were there for a few days then my orders were cut for me to go home on a thirty two day delayed in route furlough. I Arr-ived at home in Atlanta, June 11, 1945 for a time of my life. I arrived at Sioux Falls, South Dakota on July 12, 1945 to be re-deployed to the Pacific for a B-52 outfit. While waiting for orders I went out one day to help a local farmer shock oats (for pay) and found out that my hands could get blisterd real easy, I had blisters between every finger that afternoon. That was my last try at that type work.
On August 6, 1945 our bunch in the Pacific dropped the ATOMIC Bomb and they restricted us to the base. Then on August 9, 1945 they dropped another one and that convinced Japan they had enough. Shortly after that I was shipped to Charleston Army Air Base in South Carolina. I had more than enough points to get out of service but the wheel was turning slow. I was given a jeep and put in charge of a grass curing detail to keep me busy. This went on for a while and all of us began to get restless. At that time Walter Winchell was a great news commentator and we wrote him of our situation and sure enough he made a comment about us on the air. The very next morning they started processing us for discharge centers. I was on the way to Fort McPherson, Georgia and on September 17, 1945 I received my Honorable Discharge.