I have some more editing to do on these stories, but my desire was to get them published as soon as I could. If you chose to use any of these stories in other publications including web pages, please credit the source.

I'll try to get to editing these sometime in the next few years!


315th BOMB WING (VH)




The anthologies contained in this booklet were voluntarily submitted by the indicated authors. They contain eyewitness accounts of events that happened during the tour of duty of the 315th Bombardment Wing (VH) on Guam in World War II. These accounts present first hand information not available to historians. The booklet contains 47 stories. Future Volumes of the anthologies of the 315th Bomb Wing will be published as additional stories are received from its former members.

Published by 315th Bomb Wing Association, Inc.
4600 Ocean Beach Blvd Apt 505
Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931
: Reprints of the stories contained in the booklet can only be made, if credit is given to this publication.

Printed By:
Byron Kennedy & Company
St. Petersburg, Florida 33733

Please note: The 47 stories from the Anthologies booklet are not yet completely transcribed. They come from a microfilm version acquired from the Air Force Historical Research Agency on roll number 41298. I am endeavoring to get them done as soon as I can. You may find numerous typographical errors which I correct as I find them. [lm]

Table of Contents

Armament Section Men by Harry Abernathy , 16th BG
The 485th Squadron by Harold Atkins , 501st BG
We Fought the "Battle of Boredom" on Guam by Bruce Beacher , 501st BG
My Most Memorable Mission by Clayton Bisnett , 331st BG
An Interview With Ray Blaskey, 501st BG
Ants in the Gun Turret by William Boggs, 16th BG
Brothers were on the Same B-29 Crew for Awhile by John H. Bye, 331st BG
"The Ghosts of Five, Nine, Three" by G.M. Withee, 331st BG
History of Crew of Swoose Squadron by Glen L. Clark, 501st BG
Crew #8 History by Roy E. Davis, 16th BG
There Was No Room in the Latrine by Woodrow Friddell, 331st BG
Post, Hostility Activities of the 21st Squadron by Sam Gillespie, 501st BG
Recollections by George R. Green, 501st BG
A Collection of Stories by Robert F. Griffin, 331st BG
A Squadron Commander's Story by Andrew Gordon, 331st BG
Westway Project by Ivan Gulick, 331st BG
Rainproofing Our Barracks by George E. Harrington, 315th HQ
Building a Chapel by George E. Harrington, 315th HQ
Memories by Ed Hering, 501st BG
The Admiral Nimitz Story by Boyd Hubbard, 501st BG
My Life in the 331st Bomb Group by Clarence Juett
Anecdote by George W. Johnson, 75th ASG
The Last of the Bombardiers (author unknown)
We Bartered with the Japs on Hokkaido Island by Walter C. King, 502nd BG
The Last Mission by Nevada Lee, 502nd BG
The Case of the Dream and D, Day in Europe by C.H. McCuistion, 315th HQ
Texans Talked Big in WWII of Did They? by C.H. McCuistion, 315th HQ
Wing Operations by John B. McPherson, 315th HQ
Double Rainbow as Memorial of "Indianapolis" by Larry McCarthy, 331st BG
Rotating Prop Chops Jeep by Larry McCarthy, 331st BG
The Eagle Pilots by J.C. Mitchell, 501st BG
My Uniform by George A. Salway
Ed Nelson's Stories by Ed Nelson, 16th BG
Monkeying Around by Max Rynearson, 502nd BG
Skeet Shooting by Lloyd Sciaroni, 331st BG
Maintaining the B-29 by Ralph Schell, 16th BG
R & R to Cocos Island by William Shine, 502nd BG
Crew 1102 Aborts the Takeoff but Completes Its Mission by Horatio W. Turner, 502nd BG
The Wartime Odyssey of Three Men Named Wilson by Willard Wilson, 331st BG
Excerpts from Letters to My Former Wife by George M. Withee, 331st BG
The Wreck of Crew 6C4 by George M. Withee, 331st BG
Everybody Remembers Kilroy by Who Remembers D.H. McGillicudhay by George M. Withee
Army 4263593, Slicker 23 by George M. Withee, 331st BG
Hokkaido, Japan to Washington D.C. by George E. Akerson
Ready for Action, Living in Peace by Crew 816, 501st BG
B-29 Crew Takes Wild ride
Thank You Letter from Former POW, Carol J. Bulow
Comments on 315BW (VH) Bombing Success Against Japanese POL Targets
      by Ed Sharkey , USAAF consultant on radar bombing


Armament Section Men


Harry Abernathy
16th Bomb Group

      One day in June of 1945, several of us, Harry Jerome Edwards of Johnstown, New York, John C. Hockaday of Detroit, Michigan, Charles E. Ohse, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Cecil G. Westberg of Mojave, California, and myself were out looking for war relics.

      We found a Jap skeleton and I had found a broken trench shovel. I was carrying the handle in my left hand to take back and nail in my ten pegs better, and was carrying the skull in my right hand.

      We were going through a coconut grove when the savannah grass was head high. About that time three Japs jumped across the trail and we could see the rifles and the hand grenades they were carrying. I do not know who was the more frightened , the Japs or us. Anyway, Hockaday and Westberg wanted to fight them barehanded, and Edwards and myself said it was time to return for supper. This was about 3 PM and we both knew supper was not ready until another several hours. About that time, Edwards, Ohse and myself started to run, and a bang came from somewhere and Westberg and Hockaday ceased yelling to come out and fight barehanded and ran with us. I do not know if any other men of the 16th Squadron, 16th Group ran from the enemy or not, but we five certainly did.

      Another time, we had gone to the movie, open air type, and when we returned to our tent, someone had been through it, and ransacked it. Robert G. MacDonald of Atlanta, Georgia, had left his wallet on a box in the tent, and I had left my razor out, and some stationery, and John C. Hockaday had left some stationery out. We think the Japs went into our tent as MacDonald had all the pictures in his wallet stolen and left the money. All the stationery was gone and my razor and a box of blades were gone. We reported it and was told it was Japs doing it as a GI would have taken the money and left the pictures. It was to hurt our morale, or so we were told.

      Also, as I was going up the gang plank on the SS Exchange, I told the 1st Sgt that I could not go overseas, as I was a minor, and he did not have my parent's permission. He told me to get my ass up the boat and to shut up. Needlessly to say, I did, only to get off the SS Exchange on April 14, or 28 days later, after going to Hawaii, Eniwetok, and on to Guam. We threw all our worldly possessions overboard into a LCVP and climbed down landing nets and went ashore. The first night there, Herbert E. Rowsey of Detroit, Michigan and myself pulled guard duty from midnight to 2 AM with empty carbines. No moon and we were walking a L shaped area, with a big fire at the end of the horizontal L part, and we were afraid to stay there as we were a perfect target. We stayed next to the jungle and all of a sudden it sounded like Solomon's Army coming through the jungle. We both lay down and shined a flashlight by holding up the light so if it were Japs and they shot, it would only hit an arm when in the beam of the light two beady eyes were coming toward us nodding from side to side and coming closer all the time. Then we noticed it was a three foot long lizard and guessed it was harmless. I wrote home about it the next day and the Intelligence Officer, Lt. Joseph W. Lewellen of New Albany , Indiana called me up about it as he said it would look like we came ill, prepared. He was wearing .45 and I asked him if he had any ammo and he said yes, and I asked him how he would have felt out there at night, no moon, and an empty rifle.

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The 485th Squadron


Harold F. Atkins
501st Bomb Group

      Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Listen my children and you shall hear a story of a yesteryear. No, no, its not Paul Revere, but it will sound just as good over a can of beer.

      One day in November 1944, there was gathered together in one room the most motley bunch of characters this world has ever seen. After calling Alexander's name three times and hearing nothing, Big Bill (Bill Chochrane, Sq CO) pulled out the last hair in his head and went to Hastings to drown his sorrow.

      Three days later, in roared Big Doc Alexander, bitching as usual. Needless to say, this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Big Bill and Big Doc (Jay Alexander). Four interpreters were shot by these feuding mountaineers as they tried to bring peace to the Squadron.

      At this time there were six crews: Pete Arnold, Big Doc Alexander, Jim (no hair) Chasey, Bill Baker, Duke Campbell, and last but not least bob Cotanch. This made up the A.C.'s. With these men came such notables as Jim Moore, Harry Carter, Pete (2 tour) Haney and a real character, Dick Martin.

      A few days later came Jack (Runt) Joseph, Super Haley, Big Moose Clark, Joe Chapman, Paul Mason, Glen (Silent) Huset, Pappy Baldwin, James Mitchell, Francis Roth, plus their crews.

      There is no need to mention the staff, as they had very little affect on the fine record of this squadron. We must add the name of one gravel agitation, Charles Neville, Park City, Kentucky's best still operator.

      Soon after these latter crews arrived, training started. The month of December was spent by getting everyone his flying time. The most notable thing to happen was our going to Ground School Christmas Day. This, of course, endeared us no end with the staff. Two crews spent Christmas Day in Cuba. there was much talk about this trip but the rest of us didn't get to go.

      The new year dawned with a lot of bloodshot eyes , some of them hadn't cleared when the men left Guam for home. January and February were spent in concentrated Ground School and standing by. Now and then a crew would fly. Some of the incidents that helped make this bunch of birdmen into crews were: Pete Arnold's stopover in St. Joe, Paul Mason's emergency landing at Carlsbad, Jay Alexander's stop at Las Vegas, Clark and Joseph's R.O.N. in Tulsa, Huset's stay in Denver, Chasey's stop in Wichita, and of course Bob Cotanch's stay in Chicago.

      In March we started Big Bill's Morale building program: PT twice a day and training films we'd seen five times before. Most of the radar men spent the month in sunny California at Q, 7 school. Also crews started leaving for Jamaica a little training and a lot of drinking.

      The weather conditions were the best. Thundershowers lasted for six hundred miles of flight, and the flights were plotted so you could get full advantage of the storm.

      Once in Jamaica, things went well. We found out what a P, 63 looked like. We had waves spotted as bombs, and most of us found out what a filthy hole Kingston was. On the good side there was a nice swimming pool, and everyone got a nice tan, and Duke Campbell's crew painted Miami red. One night they had the able assistance of Pete Arnold's crew.

      We all returned stateside with ten day leaves which were spent in various ways. A couple of the boys got married; Dick Martin and Teddy Wingate. But those that didn't, as well as those that were, had a very good time. On their return to the field they met the gracious lady that was to take them to combat, their aeroplane. It was theirs. They were going to live or die with her. After a few shakedown flights the squadron was processed to leave Harvard.

      And then it hit the fan. Saturday prior to our departure for Kearney, the squadron got drunk. Mr. Joseph, Jack's dad, did his best to stay with the boys, but fell behind. Chloe was very much in demand, and someone was laying somebody two to one.

      It was stated that Burhman was chicken, and fisticuffs resulted in the gym after a few eggs were heaved. Super Shit Haley did a very good job of refereeing as yours truly cheated on the time.

      The next night was the squadron beer party, which was attended by all. (It was compulsory.) This was a quiet night. Then Monday came. We left the next morning. This was the night to bid Harvard a fond farewell. Never had anyone carried on like Chasey and Adkins did that night. They drank whiskey, beer, milk, and generally raised so much hell that the boys are still talking about it.

      The next morning, the exodus to Kearney. Buses and cars were utilized. Then started the most orderly processing line of them all. When finished, you had all new gear, also one man picked your pocket while another made out a bill for whatever amount you happened to have.

      Then started the rough part of the whole deal, waiting. Some of the men kissed their wives good, bye so often that their lips were chapped for weeks. Harry "Pat" Tetak got blind one night. Everyone got to know the rest better, and the stay cost us a fortune. No wonder, they had a good club.

      And then the squadron started for overseas. One, two, or maybe four each day left. In rapid succession came Mather field and its Shack Shack, John Rodgers, and Honolulu (what a hole!) Kwajalein and its lagoon, and then came Guam. It was better than we expected, and most of us were pleased.

      The tents were already pitched when we arrived, but floor had to be built, and this too at least one day. Since there was no estimate on how long we would be in tents, some were quite elaborate affairs.

      The second day was Ground School. Much of the information was the same old stuff, but everyone was listening now since the subject under discussion might save their life in the very near future. This went on for three days. Then after a calibration mission and a night orientation mission the big day came. We were to hit Jap territory at last, a mission to Rota. Twenty bombs to be dropped by radar. The flak was nil to meager. No casualties resulted, either on the ground or in the air.

      Next came the mission to Truk. This was our fist night mission. Everyone wondered how it would go. No one stayed around to see if the Japs would shoot at them. There was no flak. Crew coordination was brought to a fine edge and things shaped up fast. After this came a daylight mission to Iwo Jima, dropping bombs on Pajores.

      Then things really began to hum, and on the 2nd of July the squadron participated in an Empire Strike. Six crews took part. Bill Baker was chased by a Baka Bomb or Venus, and several crews saw night fighters or stars. Results were poor. The target was Maruzen Oil Refinery, Shimotsu.

      On the 6th of July the same target was hit; in fact it was blasted. Ninety five percent destroyed. Eight crews took part and fewer stars were mistaken for fighters. The squadron began to talk and look more like a combat outfit. A few men even bragged about the fine record we had.

      Next on 9 July, nine crews hit Utsube River Oil Refinery, Shimotsu. bombing results were good. Flak was meager, but it looked heavy when they were shooting at you.

      Then came Tokyo on July 18th. Many men had trouble getting to sleep the night before. After the briefed altitude of 15,000 feet was give, men went around yelling Banzai and making like a Jap. Things went very well. Weather was fine, a solid undercast. Flak was nil to meager. Twelve crews went out. Twelve returned. Results were fair. Several other targets were damaged. Most notable of these was a flour mill that was wiped out.  On the 15th of July, for a breather, after Tokyo, the target was the Nippon Oil Refinery at Kudamatsu. Fourteen crews were in on this strike which was 1/2 of the wing total. Seventy, five percent damage was credited. Flak was nil, and no one but the Japs were hurt.

      Then on 19 July came Flak Alley. Unlike most alleys, it was very well lighted. In fact, too well lighted. This was Amagasaki. The Nippon Oil Refinery was the target. It lay halfway between Kobe and Osaka. Twelve crews went out, twelve crews were scared, and twelve thank God. If it hadn't been, someone else would be writing this history. Results were good with twelve of fourteen buildings damaged plus the Synthetic Oil Plant.

      The next milk run was to be the Ube Liquefication Company at Ube. Eleven crews took part. Results were good with fifty percent damaged or destroyed. The date was 22 July.

      Next, on July 25th came Tokyo again, and the roughest of them all. Flak was so heavy that Jap infantrymen were marching up on it and firing on the planes with small arms. Pappy Baldwin lost six feet of a wing. Barklay scratched his arm on an old rusty nail and got the Purple Heart. Paul Mason's "Dotties Baby" had some instruments shot out. Flash Haley looked down and saw a leering Jap yelling "Here comes Haley" and jumping for joy every time he fired a shell. Everyone lived through the ordeal for which we are all grateful.

      The next one came on 28th of July. It was Shimotsu Oil Refinery. Six crews took part. The entire target was damaged beyond repair. With sixty, nine percent destroyed being given as the figure for the records. Pete Arnold's "Liberty Belle" didn't fly well on two engines and returned to base soon after takeoff.

      On the 1st of August it was back to Tokyo. With eleven crews getting in their flying time for the month. Flak was meager to moderate and quite accurate. Minor damage was inflicted on most aircraft. But, no one was hurt, and no one received major damage. This was the third strike on these targets, and they were completely wiped out.

      Next came the trip to Ube on August 5th. Hiroshima took the Atomic bomb and survived as did Nagasaki. But the 485th with eleven crews and obsolete 500#G.P.'s were too much for Ube. The target sank. One hundred percent destroyed. This was the first known land target to be sunk by bombers.

      On August 9th the squadron returned to Amagasaki with nine crews, and with a little help from the rest of the Wing's eight, six planes, they completely destroyed the refinery there. Flak was meager to moderate and very inaccurate. Pappy (full throttle) Baldwin landed at Iwo as usual to refuel and hurry home.

      Then came the mission we were looking for. The last of the war. The target was the Nippon Oil Refinery at Tsuchizake near Akita located on the northern part of Honshu. Total distance was 3740 statute miles. The wing dropped a greater tonnage of bombs (953.9 tons) on this target than any other. For results, I quote from Fifteen Missions Oil "Results of photo, interpretation of damage brought the now familiar words, 'Almost completely destroyed or damaged.' Photographs disclosed that no portion of the target was untouched." While returning from Akita the crews received the news that the war was over. They flew from the war they had been waging into the morning dawn that meant Peace. We had worked ourselves...

      When we returned to Guam, liquor flowed freely. Those who drink, got drunk; those who didn't, stood by and took care of those of us who did.

      One more mission was flown. After back, breaking job of loading POW supplies at Saipan, they were ferried to the Empire and China and dropped to Americans and other Allies who, less fortunate than ourselves, had fallen into Japanese hands. No matter how tired the crews were on return, the mission was a pleasure.

      A few crews flew the Display of Force mission at the time of the signing of the surrender.

      Most everyone received a sightseeing tour to the Philippines, with Arnold's and Haley's crews staying for two weeks. These crews made an extensive study of Luzon and Manila and brought back a complete report to the rest of the squadron.

      In closing, I would like to say, the men in the 485th Squadron are probably the finest bunch of characters ever to be assembled in one unit in the history of the Army. We have come down one path, with one purpose in mind, for a year. Our mission has been completed. We now go our separate paths, with separate purposes. I hope everyone completes his mission well.

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We Fought the "Battle of Boredom" on Guam


Bruce F. Beacher, Radar (APQ, 7)
41st Bomb Squadron, 501st Bomb Group

      By the time our group made it to Guam the war was pretty well in the bag and our involvement in World War II was mostly "tail end Charlie" stuff. So this little tale will deal with a different type of battle, the battle we waged against boredom after the hostilities ceased.

      Our portion of the air war against Japan wasn't exactly a cake walk, but enemy resistance was greatly suppressed by that time and our missions consisted of mostly long, being over water flights to bomb oil refineries and storage centers at night. So I'll leave the telling of combat stories to others.

      However, we did become experts in combating boredom. Since most of our life on Guam was non-flight time, many of us remained there until May of 1946, nine months after the end of the war.

      I don't know how it was on the other islands but Guam was full of the natural life: toads, bats, lizards, and most of all, rats. The latter provided an immediate project to relieve our boredom.

      Perhaps because we were shunted to the northwest corner of the island along with all of the rest of the critters, we had an abundant share of rats. Our first quarters were makeshift shelters built right on the ground out of empty bomb crates and anything else that would serve as shelter. The rats promptly moved into our quarters with us and it immediately became a "them or us" situation as they proceeded to take over our living space, food, and water. The battle was joined.

      American ingenuity quickly asserted itself in the ensuing combat. Not only did a vast assortment of Rube Goldberg traps and killing devices appear, but the conflict became a competitive sport with rules and scoring added. Kills had to be confirmed by witnesses, carcasses, or body parts and the dispatch of the live captives was a spectator event much like the Spanish Inquisition. The victims were tossed into a steel drum containing water where they swam about until they became exhausted and drowned. "Kills" were recorded by painting rat silhouettes on the side of the drum just like we recorded bombing missions on the sides of our planes.

      There were also some hairy experiences in the air after the war. Many of the more experienced crew chiefs had enough time in for early discharge and aircraft maintenance became a problem. On one flight to Okinawa we loaded our B-29 with K and C rations for some troops who had been hit by a typhoon. On the way up we lost two engines and limped into Naha Airfield where we spent a week or more sleeping in our plane until replacement engines could be brought in.

      On another occasion we made a similar trip to the Philippines. Instead of engine trouble, this time we headed right into a typhoon and spent all night lit up with lighting and peppered with hailstones. Our radio and electronic equipment was damaged so badly that our navigator feared we might miss our destination and end up in China. But our luck held and we set down at Florida Blanca with a sigh of relief.

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My Most Memorable Mission


Clayton Bisnett
331st Bomb Group

      As a member of the 331st Bomb Group, 315th bomb Wing, my training was based on a one plane, one crew concept. At the end of World War II, September, 1945, the Japanese surrender left many prisoners-of-war stranded in camps throughout the islands of Japan.

      The military services were faced with the task of getting medical and basic food supplies to them as soon as possible. The missions were assigned to the Air Forces. Supplies were stockpiled and special wooden racks were built to hod the supplies within the bomb bays of the B-29. Cables were slung under the racks and attached to the bomb release shackles. Parachutes were packed on top of the supplies with the straps anchored to the interior to insure deployment of the chutes when released by the bombardier.

      While this planning was in progress, my crew was picked by the Squadron Commander for a mission to China to bring out his father and others who were held as POWs. The tail gunner, Sgt Bye and the bombardier, myself, were taken off the crew because of the nature of the mission and to make room for two additional passengers. This placed us in pool, and we were available to fly with other crews as needed. I was assigned to composite crew for a POW mission to Ube, Japan.

      When the assigned B-29 was loaded, each crew member inspected his responsible areas. During the inspection of the bomb bays, I discovered a dangerous crack in the rack slung in the forward bomb bays. This condition was brought to the attention of the pilot. For some unexplained reason, he dismissed it as of no consequence. I was very much concerned because we had not carried cargo of this nature and I feared the problems it could cause, should it break loose and wedge in the bomb bay.

      Our takeoff was smooth and uneventful and we took up a course to take us close to Iwo Jima, which was approximately half way to Japan, and had an airfield in event we experienced any problems. Once past Iwo, we took a course to Ube, which is located in the southwestern section of the island of Honshu.

      As we approached the area, we encountered real bad weather. We tried to penetrate it to the inland sea on which the POW camp was located. We were in the clouds and radar was picking up mountains all around us. The pilot turned 180 degrees to exit the area. When clear of the weather, he climbed above the clouds took a course for the sea of Japan. This area was found to be covered with a thick cloud cover, but when an open area appeared, he dived through in such a maneuver that I prayed the broken rack would hold. The cloud coverage was low and we could not climb above 700 feet and still see the water. Fortunately, we located the entrance to the Shimoneseki strait. This navigable water separates the islands of Honshu on Shikoku and is 2200 feet wide at its narrowest point with hills on both sides. We flew at 700 feet through this pass and I was directing the pilot right and left to avoid the hills on each side.

      As we entered the inland sea area, we were able to climb to 1300 feet. Tension which I experienced earlier in the turbulent weather continued to haunt me. We finally located the POW camp, but could not climb higher. In passing over the camp, we could see the POWs milling around the area. The pilot repeatedly cautioned me not to drop the supplies where they would endanger the POWs. (This situation had occurred on previous drops by other planes.) I had no knowledge of how much the speed and wind drift would effect the descent of the racks and parachutes.

      On the first pass, I selected an open area north and adjacent to the camp, and dropped the rack from the forward bomb bay. On the second pass, the POWs were milling around the camp and the drop area, so I picked an area south of the camp and dropped the second rack. On the third pass, I directed crew members in the rear compartment when to push out a container of medical supplies. This container floated down onto the target area designated by the POWs. After all three passes, I felt confident that I had not caused injury to any of the prisoners.

      The pilot immediately took a course back to Guam and started a climb out of the area. He directed me to pull in the parachute straps so that the bomb bay doors could be closed. I tried to respond, but found that I was unable to rise out of my position. I turned to him and simply replied, "I can't." He quickly realized my problem and had ice water brought forward to me. After crew members pulled in the parachutes straps, I closed the bomb bay doors.

      The return trip was routine, but I sweated out the fuel supply for we had spent extra time in getting to our target area. We landed with minimum fuel. I was relieved to get back on good old terra firma.

      The mission with a composite crew was far more demanding than any combat mission I had flown with my regular crew. However, this was a humanitarian mission, I was proud to have successfully assisted in the delivery of those vital supplies to one of the many POW camps through Japan.

      Forty years later, I was pleased to hear the story of a former POW who was a recipient of such an air drop. While attending a reunion of the 315th Bomb Wing in Omaha, Nebraska, our group was approached by a gentleman with a question. He asked if we were a part of the 20th Air Force. When he was assured that we were, he emotionally, and dramatically thanked us for dropping supplies to his POW camp. He had been held in a POW camp in northern Honshu. His description of the air drop was compared to a railroad box car dumping supplies as he witnessed the bomb bay doors opened and the supplies came floating down. He stated that he had waited 40 years to thank the 20th Air Force for that air drop.

      My story is written to relate the experiences of what one air crew encountered during their mission to deliver those vital supplies. This mission was an over water flight of approximately 3000 miles and we were airborne for more than 14 hours.

Go back to table of contents...

An Interview with Ray J. Blaskey
501st Bomb Group

      Ray Blaskey entered the United States Air Force in July of 1944. After receiving basic training and then going to Bombardier School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama he was commissioned a second Lieutenant and assigned to the 315th Wing of the XXI Bomber Command (later to become the 20th Air Force). In December 1944, the Air Staff in Washington decided that the 315th's Boeing B-29's would be used to test the new AN/APQ, 7 airborne radar known as "Eagle." The 315th was the first combat organization to be equipped with it. A part of this order also was to remove all the turrets and guns in the aircraft except those in the rear. By omitting the armament it was thought the aircraft could carry greater bomb loads, have greater speed and be able to fly at higher altitudes.

      Mr. Blaskey describes his first experience with this new theory; "We were in Jamaica testing this theory. It was thought that we could go to altitudes that fighters couldn't reach. We were at 25,000 feet when Jones (the pilot, Leonard D. Jones) radioed down to send up a P-39. The P-39 was built for maneuverability and, therefore, was thought that because of the high pitched wings to achieve this maneuverability it wouldn't be able to reach this high an altitude. Well in about two minutes here was this P, 39 right off our wingtip. We climbed to 30,000 feet and right away there it was again. This pretty much proved that there would be fighters even up at those altitude."

      About a month later the 315th wing was assigned to Guam. Shortly before they were scheduled to go into operation the XXI Bomber Command decided that oil refineries on the Japanese mainland was to be the first objective of this organization.

      Mr. Blaskey describes the flight routine of a bombardier. "Guam was well suited for the takeoff of B-29's because of the cliff at the end of the south runway. The engines would get extremely hot during takeoff and with the cliff there we could drop down to just above the water where the air was cooler due to the evaporation taking place. This cooler air would help to cool the engines. Then we would start to climb, but slowly so we wouldn't overheat the engines. During the flight I helped the navigator. Sometime during the flight I had to go to the bomb bay and arm the bombs by pulling out a pin on each bomb that looked like a bobby pin. I liked to do this while it was still light out. We always carried 500 pound General Purpose Demolition bombs. We would fly toward a specific point on the coast called the landfall, then change heading so we would be going straight toward the target. At a point called the initial point the bomb run would start. Here is where I took over control of the plane. The Norden bombsight had three auto, gyroscopes, one each for pitch, roll and yaw. Then the radar, in addition to my sighting would spot the target while the gyroscopes kept the plane level and heading straight. All that had to be done then was open the bomb bay doors and release the bombs. As the bombs fell out our altitude increased because of the lighter load. Then we would change course, called break away and continue on until we reached a point on the coast which was called the lands end where we turned again to head home."

      The first strike against the empire by the 315th wing was against the Utsube River Oil Refinery in the city of Yokkaichi on 26 June 1945. Mr Blaskey says of this, his first mission: "LeMay (Major General Curtis E. LeMay, Commanding General of the XXI Bomber Command) set the bombing altitude at 15,000 feet and our method of attack was called synchronous radar bombing, which meant that the bombsight was used in conjunction with the radar equipment. A night mission was planned so we could takeoff and land in daylight. I remember that our radar went off right after takeoff, and the LORAN went out a little ways from the target. Even with the radar failure we decided to go on and do visual or dead-reckoning bombing, depending on the circumstances. It was slightly overcast and we could see the fires started by the previous ships so we decided to do visual bombing. At the same time searchlights and antiaircraft guns opened up. Bombs away went smoothly but about two minutes after breakaway we very narrowly missed colliding with another B-29. Being right in the nose of the aircraft I was the first to spot it and it was only about 100 feet away. I yelled to the pilot to dive to avoid collision. The left gunner was thrown halfway through the camera hatch when we dived. He was throwing out rope, which was strips of aluminum foil that would throw off Japanese radar. The right gunner was knocked out for a second as he stepped in a hole in the floor of the ship when he was going to rescue the left gunner. The right gunner quickly recovered and pulled the left gunner out of the camera hatch. They administered first aid to themselves and were okay. We never did find out who was at fault in the near collision."

      The target for their second mission was the Maruzen Oil Refinery. Mr. Blaskey's story; "Again our radar went out, only this time it lasted until we got to Iwo Jima. About thirty miles from the land fall the tail gunner picked up two enemy fighters about 1000 years away. We went into routine evasive action, but the fighter stayed right with us and closed to 500 yards. We increased our airspeed to about 230 MPH and the fighters fell back, but only for a second, then they were right back, 500 yards away. By this time we had passed the initial point which was the start of the bomb run, so we had to fly straight and level. The fighters made passes during the bomb run, putting a few holes in the wings, but most of their shots deflected off. After bombs away there was a fire ball accompanying the fighters. A fire ball was a Betty (Mitsubishi) bomber with a spotlight attached. This was supposed to blind our gunners and give a good target for the fighters to shoot at. We started violent evasive action, descending at 6000 feet per minute with an airspeed of 350 MPH. This is more than the plane was supposed to withstand but we lived through it."

      They flew 13 more missions before the Japanese asked for peace. All these missions were to destroy oil refineries and tank yards. The radar became more reliable and the bombing altitude decreased with more missions. An average of 95% of the aircraft in the 315th Wing bombed the primary target throughout these 15 missions, which is amazing accuracy and durability. Interrogation of Japanese leaders after the war brought a diversity of opinions as to the affects of the bombing except on one category , fuel. The 315th Wing played an important role of this crippling of the fuel industry in Japan.
After being discharged in April 1946, Mr. Blaskey returned home to Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He has taught mathematics at Antigo High School for the last 23 years.

NOTE: Ray Blaskey was the Bombardier on the B-29 "The Moldy Fig." The A/C was Leonard D. Jones.

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Ants in the Gun Turret


William J. Boggs
16th Bomb Group

     A believe it or not happening occurred on Capt Ceronsky's B-29 #57 better known as "Capt Chuck."  The air crew before leaving the states had planned on bringing a small dog to Guam aboard the B-29.  Since dog food was necessary for the pooch, a good supply of Red Hart dog food was purchased in cardboard containers, metal cans not being available, and stored in the lower front gun turret well.  Because all guns were removed from the plane except the tail gun, this made an excellent storage space and would even prevent detection by final inspection for the pane to go overseas.  Somehow the dog never arrived on Guam and apparently the air crew forgot about the dog food.  After a few missions, a write, up report appeared on the maintenance form complaining of red ants in the cockpit area.  Upon removing the cover of the gun turret well, all that remained was empty Red Hart dog food cartons and a few red ants.  They had somehow come up the nose wheel, made their way to the gun turret well and consumed the dog food completely.

     Also a little GI ingenuity did occur regarding mechanics tools and an agitator for a washing machine.  We were told that the tools would be available when we arrived on Guam so to make sure we removed the trailing nacelle from the right inboard engine and put in the above item,  sure enough we had the only spark plug wrench when the plane landed on Guam and a washing machine to clean some clothes.

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Brothers Were On the Same
B-29 Crew for Awhile


John H. Bye, Tail Gunner
355 Squadron, 331st Bomb Group

     Had it not been for a congressional order, my brother, Burgess J. Bye, and I would have been crewmen on the same B-29 and would have participated together on missions against the Japanese Empire.  But a national policy that prevented brothers from serving on the same aircraft separated us.

     I had been in the Air Force for a bout a month in 1944 when my brother enlisted.  We took our basic training together at Miami Beach and were sent on to Fort Myer.  Shortly after arriving at Fort Myer, I learned that my two year old son had died and was given a three, week pass.  I returned in time to attend gunnery school with Burgess and we were sent on to McCook Field in Nebraska together where we were both assigned to the 313th Wing.

     I was designated at tail gunner and Burgess as side gunner on the same aircrew at McCook.  After our training and on the day before we were to leave for the staging field to prepare for going to Tinian where the 313th would be located, a sergeant came up to me and said that either Burgess or I would have to transfer to another outfit because it was against government policy for brothers to serve together.  Why this had not come up before, I still don't know.

     Burgess and I tossed a coin and I lost, so he stayed with our crew and left for Tinian with the 9th Bomb Group.  I had a chance to replace a tail gunner in another squadron and turned it down, but a friend of mine from Corbin, Kentucky, Bill Landrum, took the job.  I eventually ended up in the 331st Group of the 315th Wing.

     In another ironic twist of fate, I saw Bill Landrum again when we were coming home.  He told me that his crew was forced to ditch on their very first mission and he was picked up by a submarine.  He never flew again and finished out his time as a cook on Guam.

     After the war ended, my crew made a trip to China and the Philippines to drop some Red Cross packages and to pick up our CO's father who had been a POW since early in the war.  For some reason I didn't go with them, but they brought back some Chinese money and cigarettes.  After forty years I still have them.      

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"The Ghost of Five - Nine - Three"
(Army B-29 42-63593)


G.M. Withee
331st Bomb Group

'Twas ever so long ago, my son
When the Jungle ruled this land
That this self, same road was a jungle, trail
With wilderness at either hand.

Where the "Beach Club" stands at Tumon Bay
And blares its neon lights
Stood a "pill, box" grim, with angry eyes
That scanned the tropic nights;

And the pleasure boat just off the reef
That swings with ebb and flood
Casts eerie shadows ten fathoms down
Where the coral;s stained with blood.

And those monstrous birds, the "dreamboats," lad,
That dimmed the rising sun, ,
Oh this land was seared, and scored, and scorched
Where're their wheels had run.

There was one I knew, Old five, nine, three,
That roamed this boundless blue,
Her voice was heard from Hilo to Maug,
And Okinawa heard her too.

She stalked the sky with "The Hunter."
She saw "The Cross" shine dead at dawn,
And I somehow think this very day
Her spirit carries on;

For e'en now I hear a wailing voice
And 'tis not the sea, wind's blast.
That mournful, wailing, hollow roar
Is a voice from ages past.

And what's that dark against the moon?
It's not a jungle bat;
For long ago the jungle fell
And we have no more of that!

See it, son, that shadow there...
There's but one thing it could be...
That, my boy, is the spirit thing,
The Ghost of Fine, Nine, Three

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History of Crew of
Swoose Squadron


Glen L. Clark ("Moose")
Glorified Taxi Driver for Bombardier
315th Bomb Wing VH, 501st Bomb Group
485th Bomb Squadron
Crew # 73

     Reading a story by George R. Green, Flight Engineer Extraordinary, I feel very humble but very proud to have been a part of such a great crew.

     Having been a pilot instructor for B-17s and B-24s at Chanute Field, Illinois for 14 months, when in September 1944, Colonel Ogden called me to inform me of being selected to transfer to a new B-29 Wing that was just being formed.  He said it was to be a complete new outfit with highly sophisticated aircraft and equipment and with a very special mission to perform.  I was sent to Lincoln, Nebraska, where they told me the Wing did not have facilities as yet so subsequently sent me to Alexandria Army Air Base, Louisiana, where they put me to instruction B-17 Combat Crew Phase Training.  Finally on 27 November, 1944 back to Lincoln for assignment to 485th as an Airplane Commander.

     The 315th Bomb Wing was really a very special outfit of handpicked personnel.. It had been a dream for a long time and the missions with known targets were planned before the Wing was formed.  We were to bomb strictly at night using radar.  Very unique as it had not been done before.

     In the interim while facilities were being completed at Harvard, Nebraska, which was to be home of the 501st Bomb Group, for overseas training, the personnel of the 485th were assembling at Dalhart Army Air Field, Texas, under the command of then, Major Franklin M. Cochran.  Some of crew 73 were there training in their specialties, Blair Artz, Aircraft Gunnery, Edward A. Andreassi, mechanics and gunnery, James N. Anderson, electrical and gunnery.  These fellows weren't just gunners, there were highly trained in electrical and mechanical systems.  During this time our flight engineer George Green and the members of the ground maintenance crew were training, I believe, at Wichita, Kansas.  All the other crew members were receiving their specialized training prior to assembling at Harvard.  Pilot, Jay K. Thomas as I was, still flying B-17s, because there were no B-29s available yet.

     When we finally started training at Harvard, there was a lot of catching up for me to do.  The rest of the crew had been receiving B-29 schooling and their Airplane Commander had not yet seen a B-29.  So we diligently set about to learn our job, perfect our procedures and try to master the monster B-29.  The entire crew was a wonderful group of men, very cooperative and we developed an excellent Esprit de Corps.  We were the best airplane crew, not just in the 315th but in the whole damned World.

     In its time, our combat version of the B-29 was the largest, most sophisticated aircraft in the World.  The B-17 and the B-24 were both very good airplanes, I had a lot of flying hours in each of them.  The B-29 was developed from the best features of both the B-17 and the B-24.  The B-29 was an easy airplane to learn to fly but there was a lot more to learn other than take off and landing.  To perform the mission planned for us to accomplish we had to fly the airplane as a team.  Following is a little bit about each member of our team.

     John S. Frye, Navigator, was a very valuable asset to our team.  John had already flown 50 missions in B-24s over Europe.  At first he resented being made to go overseas another time but he fell in with the crew, was one of the better navigators and a stabilizing influence on the entire crew because of his prior combat experience.

     Howard W. Woodham, Radar Navigator, and Richard P. Royer, Bombardier, made an unbeatable bombing team.  Richard was a very quiet, studious, dedicated type man.  Woody was perfection on radar operation, always cracking jokes, a good morale builder, every crew should have a fellow like Woody.

     Jay K. Thomas was a very good pilot, got along good with the crew, did his job well and with a little more experience, had the need arose, would have made a good Airplane Commander.

     George Richard Green, Flight Engineer, was a part of the team that I certainly could not do without.  His job was just what his title says, flight engineer.  For most of every mission George and his Cruise Control Chart were boss.  The flight engineer and the airplane commander had to work together very closely, this team also included the navigator to keep us from wandering around all over the sky, wasting fuel.  We had to fly the Cruise Control Chart and stay on course exactly as planned or we would run out of fuel before we go home.  Our planes were loaded with just enough fuel to fly to the target, drop our bombs and fly back to Guam.  Very tedious for the flight engineer because the missions were from 14 to 18 hours long.  George was perfection.

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Crew #8 History
Blueplate, ACFTSN 42-63608


Roy E. Davis
16th Bomb Group

      The crew was formed on 1 December 1944. Most of December was spent on indoctrination. We had one flight together as a crew.

      In January 1945 with the Group mission change we lost our Central Fire Control man and received a new aircraft commander. Also in January we received a replacement radar operator. The names of the replaced individuals are unknown.

      Our training was uneventful. But as part of the Gypsy Task Force, we did enjoy the weather in Puerto Rico.

      When preparing to depart Fairmont Army Air Field, Captain Malloy informed us that Colonel Samuel Gurney would be passenger on our plane for the flight to what we eventually found out to be Guam.

      We departed the states the middle of May on the first leg of our journey for Hawaii, landing at John Rodgers Field, now Honolulu International Airport. We left Hawaii on the second leg of our flight; destination Kwajalein. We had crossed the International dateline when we received a call to return to Hawaii. The explanation was our destination was not ready for us.

      This unexpected vacation enabled us to see Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field and downtown Honolulu including a trip through the Dole Pineapple Plant and a visit to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

      Our flight continued to Kwajalein and Guam uneventfully. However, when we were preparing to leave Kwajalein, Colonel Gurney asked if he could do anything to complete the preflight as he wanted to be first off the ground and first to land at Guam. This must be a first not everyone has the help of the Group Commander to assist in a preflight inspection.

      We were the first aircraft from the 315th Bomb Wing to arrive on Guam and had to land at North Field, as Northwest Field was not yet completed.

      We went through training in good time with all the crew working together to get things done.

      Our first mission to Truk went off without a hitch; however, our first mission against the Empire didn't fair so well. We had to abort due to a malfunction of #3 prop governor. This was the only abort experienced and attest to the efforts of the ground crew on this airplane as well as other support personnel.

      The complement of the crew was: Commander, Capt Bernard J. Malloy; Co-pilot, 1st Lt. Marcus T. Zambounis; Bombardier, 1st Lt. John L. Yarbro; Navigator, 1st Lt. Norton Belknop; Radar Operator, F/O Harold MacCowan; Flight Engineer, T/Sgt Roy E. Davis Jr; Side Gunner, Sgt John F. Smith; Side Gunner, Sgt Robert L. Pierce; Radioman, Sgt Constantine Decales, Tail Gunner, Sgt Robert A. Price.

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There Was No Room
In The Latrine


Woodrow Friddell
Ordnance Section
355th Squadron, 331st Bomb Group

      Our ordnance section of the 355th Squadron of the 331st Bomb Group was among the 2,000 men who were crammed aboard the Army transport ship "Cape Newenham" at Fort Lawton, Seattle, for a long "cruise" to Guam where we would join the Superfortresses of the 315th Wing.

      Our six-day stopover at Pearl Harbor was totally lacking in fringe benefits such as visiting Honolulu to observe the grass skirts we had often read about, so this was our first lesson in the joys of overseas duty.

      Our next stop out of Pearl could very well have been the last for many of us. That stop was at the island of Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. We remembered the terrible time the Marines had in capturing the island earlier in the war, but before we sailed from that place most of us had suffered an agony second only to the hardships suffered by the gallant Marines. We only spent one day and night at Eniwetok. But what a time it turned out to be.

      They fed us boned turkey for supper that night. It must have been spoiled because we all got the GI's at about the same time. If the ship had been underway we would have lost many of our men overboard, because soldiers were lined up on the ship's gunnels like roosting chickens.

      And there was no room in the latrine.

      On May 12,1945,we debarked at Apra Harbor on Guam. After spending a few weeks in three-man tents in a bivouac area at Northwest Field, we were moved into pre-fab barracks.

      There was a twelve year old orphaned Chamorro boy we called "Johnny Go Go" who hung around our area and ran errands and did other odd jobs for us. One of our sergeants later adopted him and brought him back to the States. Years later I read a newspaper article about Johnny Go Go returning to Guam to live after getting his education in the U.S.

      All of us who sweated out those long, boring days on a little piece of real estate in the middle of the ocean will recall that most of our entertainment came from the military radio broadcast stations. Some of those GI disc jockies were real professionals. They played all the popular songs and had contests to see who could pick out the top ten songs of the week.

      The Voice of America station on Saipan's call letters were KASI. One night during its most popular program, a request program, the disc jockey came on after "Don't Fence Me In" finished playing and said, "Well, we won't have to listen to that song again," followed by the loud sound of him breaking the record to pieces. This made a lot of people mad because "Don't Fence Me In" had been on top of the charts for weeks.

      My wife wrote to station WXLI on Guam and asked them to play "As Close As Pages in a Book" for me. And they did!

      I recall that a Marine D.J. on WXLI would start his program with, "Good evening all you Sack Rats. Why don't you pull off those heavy old GI boondockers and look around. Nobody watching you? Good! Now scratch that athletes' foot." At noon the newsman would always announce the time of day by saying, "It's zero, two, hundred, Greenwich Mean Time." If we had been smart all of us could have made a bundle of money from the severance pay we received when we got discharged. I still have a dollar bill from my mustering out pay and it is so rare that it is considered to be worth several times its face value by coin collectors.

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Post-Hostility Activities
of the 21st Squadron,
501st Bomb Group


Samuel S. Gillespie

      Shortly after the grand show of force September 2,1945, the "high point" men were being processed out of the units to return to the States for separation by the various means of transportation, flying, LCI's and troop ships.

      The processing moved rapidly and the normal functions of the Wing had to be carried on with fewer and fewer persons as each day passed.

      Those of us on flight crews that remained were asked to select jobs that appealed to us and volunteer for them or else there would be a duty roster prepared and assignments made by the squadron administration. In our barracks, we went to the squadron duty sergeant and asked for a list of duties that must be covered by the 21st Squadron. We felt that since we were located very close to the Mess that we should have people on the commissary detail which delivered the rations to the Group mess halls. In keeping with this idea we immediately set to making an old style "ice box" from old metal ammo cans in a wooden box with sawdust and/or blankets (insulation) around the metal cans. This meant that when the commissary truck stopped at our Mess our barracks was able to pick up (on the side) ice and an occasional turkey, chicken or beef which we cooked outside. Other men went to the laundry for obvious reasons. This activity brightened our existence while we awaited processing out in 1946.

      Flying activities consisted of hauling the mail to Iwo Jima or Okinawa during the typhoon season and these flights were rotated among what flight personnel was left in the squadron.

      During this same period Col. Hubbard departed and was replaced by Col. James DeMarco who was an avid "wing shot" and one of his priorities was to establish a "skeet range" and field a team to compete with other Groups, and especially the Navy at Agana.

      Three of us from our barracks stepped up to build and operate the skeet range located between the overrun area at the south end of the runways. Lt. Kassman was assigned OIC. The colonel was quick to supply the traps and necessary lumber for the houses. Shotguns were in short supply, however, two brand new Winchester pump 12 gauge were delivered in original packing. There were four or five other shotguns in various state of operation. The Colonel came through once again as he brought us a ten quart bucket full of shotgun parts. From these parts, and help from the armorers when we needed parts made, we were able to have the skeet range in operation through February 1946 when I departed. We participated in at least one match a week with the Navy and other Groups.

      Many of us were assigned to flight crews to return "war weary" aircraft. This assignment was a mixed blessing. Many of these aircraft had no regular ground crew and it was difficult to determine the true condition of the aircraft, some of us made it all the way back to the States, while others made it only to Kwajalein or Honolulu. This inability to make it all the way put the crew to a distinct disadvantage for the remainder of the trip home since they had to take their turn with the locals for space back to the States. Some of us experienced up to three weeks delay to get a billet on a boat.

      The big aim during this "post, hostility" period was to improve the quality of life in our area. We made furniture, added a porch complete with a shelter half, awning, and placed a sign on the barracks. With help from home (seeds) we planted flower beds and vegetable gardens in the area. The flowers were huge compared to stateside types, and onions and carrots were very large too; however, they had very little taste. Along these same lines, a tennis court was built and the old movie screen was redone into a very attractive outdoor movie area.

      I emphasize that all of this work was done by the "do it yourself method. Absolutely super spirit amongst the troops!

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S/Sgt George R. Green
485th Bomb Squadron, 501st Bomb Group

      The crew of Lt Glen L. Clark was formed in Lincoln, Nebraska. We were then moved to Harvard, Nebraska. There is where we flew our 13 three thousand mile training missions. There weren't many events to recall on these training missions. We had to RON in Tulsa, Oklahoma on one due to a malfunctioning engine and not enough fuel to reach Harvard and return. We were there for three days while the engine was being repaired and due to rain, snow and then sleet.

      We took our gunnery training in Jamaica. We flew a B-29 there and came back on a B-17 with a transport crew. We landed in Cuba, Puerto Rico and then in Orlando, Florida. We took off there for Harvard and never made it due to real bad weather. The Air Transport crew were not very efficient as we became lost in the area of Nebraska and Kansas. Due to the bad weather we had to fly above the heavy clouds at 16,000 feet. The navigator, a heavy set person, became useless as we had no oxygen and he kept passing out. The radio operator couldn't locate any stations for help. Finally Lt. Clark convinced the pilot, a Major, to let our radio operator see what he could do. Cpl. Jarrett finally contacted an emergency air line station at North Platte, Nebraska. We finally got down through the clouds and found North Platte. The crew chief said we were getting very low on fuel. The pilot attempted a landing over a flood swollen North Platte river and went off the runway and had to make a go around. Landing was finally made on the shortest runway which led to the big hangar. With the engines controls and brakes turned just short of the hangar when all four engines quit out of fuel. The rest of the trip to Harvard was done by train.

      We received our new stripped down B-29 at Harvard, Nebraska. We ended up in Sacramento, California before leaving for Guam. We flew to John Rodgers field in Hawaii where I had to write up a leaking exhaust stack on #3 engine. Had quite a time getting it fixed properly but finally did. Left Hawaii and flew to Kwajalein Island where we landed. Then flew on to Guam and to Northwest Field where we were to reside and fly from.

      From Guam we made our training bomb mission on Rota which was occupied by the Japs and had been bypassed by our Pacific forces. We also flew up to Iwo Jima and then were ready for the missions to Japan.

      We started our bombing missions at 28,000 feet until General LeMay decided to bring us down to 12,000 to 18,000 feet so we'd do a better job of bombing. Our Group was to bomb the oil refineries of Japan. We'd takeoff at about 6 PM and reach the targets around midnight. On one of our missions to Kudamadsu oil refinery we had an escort of 4 Japanese fighters. The first came up on our tail, then on our left wing and then one on our right wing and later one diving back and forth across our nose. We realized that they were trying to force us down as they never fired once. Our adventure reached the states and was published in the states newspapers. My father read about it in one of the paper in Saunemin, Illinois, my home town. On the bombing mission of the Hayamma Oil Refinery at Mitsubishi, the Japs were laying down a barrage of flak as we approached the target. The searchlights picked up a plane of our in front of us and was there and then all of sudden the space was blank. A direct hit exploded the B-29 and I think it was from the 502nd Bomb Group. As we approached the target the Japs quit firing barrage and started radar tracking. The tail gunner Cpl Blair Artz could see it and said it was like taking big steps each one closer to us but we dropped our bombs and got out of there before it caught up with us.

      On the mission to Kudamadsu we found out that the B-29 could outrun the Japs fighters. They followed us to the target and then swung away and attempted to pick us up after we dropped the bombs. I as the engineer closed all the flaps etc. and put the fuel mixture control in auto, rich and the pilot put the throttles to the firewall and we just plain out ran those four fighters. We were sort of surprised that we could do this but became firm believers after that.

      Most of the other missions were not too eventful. On the way back to Iwo from Japan, I'm not sure which mission, we heard a B-29 that had been hit calling for Dumbo or Super Dumbo in code. Dumbo being a rescue sub and Super Dumbo being a B-29 with fuel tanks in bomb bays to locate crippled aircraft and guide Dumbo to an aircraft that went down in the sea. We finally broke radio silence, which was against regulations, but no one answered the distress call but us. We turned and obtained a fix on the crippled aircraft until a Super Dumbo relieved us. Then we had to milk the fuel to make it back to Guam. As we were approaching the runway on Guam in the normal pattern, another B-29 cut us out of the pattern. Lt. Clark asked if we could make a go around. I told him not to bank but mush the aircraft around and we might make it. We landed but when the pilot pushed the throttle forward to reach the taxiway all four engines quit out of fuel. That was close.

      We flew a prisoner of war supply drop after the war was stopped. We were to locate an American POW camp near a race track in Kawasaki. We flew around for quite awhile trying to locate that POW Racetrack. We found the race track but no POW markings. We flew up Tokyo Bay and the area bombed by the two atomic bomb drops. We also saw the large hospital boat sitting out just near the beginning of Tokyo Bay. The Missouri warship was just entering the Bay. We dropped our POW supplies on another well marked POW camp and returned back to Guam.

      After the war our crew became the test crew for our group. On one of our test flights we were slow timing an engine on a B-29 and after completing such at 28,000 feet, a P-38 came after us. We decided to give him a thrill and he was unable to catch us. After finally leveling off at about 5,000 feet he flew so close to our plane on the right side that I could see him push his mike switch when he conversed with us. He told us he could not catch us and couldn't believe that the B-29 was a standard B-29.

      I was raised on the farm in central Illinois and just across the pasture lived a family I went to school with. Their second oldest son was in the army and was captured by the Japs on the fall of Corregidor and was held all through the war and was on part of the death march. Before we took off on the POW mission Lt. Clark put a piece of paper with his name and home address of Odessa, Texas on it. After the war was over and I had returned home and so had this neighbor son. When we met, and talked he told me he had opened one of the barrels and found the paper with Lt. Clark's name on it. Quite a fate of happening.

      Our B-29 was named the Belle of Martinez because behind the bulkhead of the pilot was a plaque that the people of Martinez had purchased enough war bonds to purchase that aircraft. The public affairs officer contacted the Mayor of Martinez about the plane and our crew. They invited us to visit them. We were hoping to be able to fly it back to the states and to Martinez but it didn't work out that way.

      Our crew was made up of the following: Lt. Glen L. Clark, Odessa, Texas, Aircraft Commander, Lt. Jay K. Thomas, New York City, New York, Pilot; Lt. Richard P. Royer, Topeka, Kansas, Bombardier; Lt John S. Frye, Chamblee, Georgia, Navigator (Lt. Frye had been in Africa and had flown on B-24s and was in on the Ploesti Oil Raids, he did not have to go to the Pacific but liked the actions of the crew and decided to go with us.); Flight Officer Howard W. Woodham, Florida, Radar Navigator; S/Sgt George R. Green, Saunemin, Illinois, Flight Engineer; Cpl. Lorenzo E. Jarrett, St. Louis, Missouri, Radio Operator; Cpl. Edward A. Andreassi, Syracuse, New York, Left Scanner; Cpl. James N. Anderson, Clifton Forge, Virginia, Right Scanner; Cpl. Blair E. Artz, Hegins, Pennsylvania, Tail Gunner.

      We learned that Royer had passed away in the spring of 1983 from a heart attack. John S. Frye, who I corresponded with every Christmas, had a heart attack and stroke and passed away two weeks before our first reunion in 1984. We were able to locate everyone except Jay K. Thomas and Lorenzo Jarrett. All attended the 1984 reunion except Howard W. Woodham who had a very important business meeting at that time. Clark still lives in Odessa, Texas; Anderson still in Clifton Forge, Virginia; Blair Artz in Hegins, Pennsylvania; Andreassi still in suburb of Syracuse, New York.

      We still have not been able to locate Thomas or Jarrett although we have used every possible means we could think of to do so.

      While serving at Chanute AFB, Illinois, I found an Air Force Magazine that had all the history of the 315th Bomb Wing and of its accomplishments. It stated that the Wing had broken 7 Air Corps records. Don't know if I can remember them all: Longest mission without auxiliary fuel tanks; 98% efficiency of destroying targets (bombing accuracy); Longest bomb load carried by an aircraft (50, 250 lb. bombs).

      I just can't think of the others. I have misplaced those articles and cannot seem to locate them anywhere. After the war, I only made five different moves in the service so it was hard to keep everything during those moves.

      Oh yes, I left out that we bombed Truk also which was still occupied by the Japs. Some of the Oil Refineries we bombed were: Kudamadsu, Amagasaki, Ube Coal Liquefication Co., Mitsubishi, Shimotsu, Kawasaki, Amagasaki (2nd time), and Akita (much longer Japanese name but this is easiest to write and spell).

      I'd like to add that our crew received very high ratings by the Air Inspectors who flew over with us. As to Glen L. Clark, I'd fly to Hell and Back with him, which is the greatest credit you can give a pilot and I've flown with quite a few and he's the only one I can say that about.

      Go back to table of contents...

A Collection of Stories


Robert F. Griffin
331st Bomb Group

An Aborted Mission

      This was the day that we had trained so long for, our first bombing raid over Japanese territory, TRUK. At this stage of the war, Truk was considered an easy target, a target that green crews could whet their teeth on. The Japanese defenses had been reduced to very little of their original strength; although Truk was to the Japanese what Pearl Harbor had been to the United States. As a consequence, some non, crew officers in the squadron wanted to ride on these flights to get an easy battle credit.

      We had trained in B-29s at McCook, Nebraska using aircraft with full armament, two revolving turrets in front, and two revolving turrets in back, in addition to the tail guns. Just before departing for overseas duties, we learned that our group was to use a newer version of the B-29, all revolving gun turrets were removed leaving only the two 50 caliber machine guns and the small cannon in the tail. The theory was that we would bomb by the new radar at altitudes of 30,000 to 33,000 feet where the air would be too thin for an enemy fighter to maneuver to maintain a firing lead without washing out directly into our tail zone. Our tail gunner could then pickoff the fighter.

      These planes were to be equipped with the new APQ-7 radar which scanned a plus and minus 35 degree sweep along our flight path. Synchronization of the radar scan with the bombsight cross hairs was claimed to give a greater pinpoint accuracy than could be relied upon in cloudy weather or in night bombing.

      About noon of the day of our mission, I heard a comment from another bombardier that in our new planes the bomb "salvo" switch was inoperative in certain circumstances. I found this hard to believe and went down to the flight line to check it out.

      In the B-29, the bombardier sat on the floor of the pilot's cockpit between the two instrument panels, one for the airplane commander and one for the copilot. The bombardier's feet rested on a lower platform that supported the bombsight in the nose blister. The bombardier could lean over his bombsight or kneel on the platform to work over the bombsight. To his left was an instrument panel containing the meters and switches necessary for his duties. On the front edge of this panel was a switch protected by a red metal cover, the cover was wired to the panel to prevent accidental operation. This was the "salvo" switch which, when activated, pneumatically opened the bomb bay doors in approximately one-half second followed by a sequential triggering of all the bomb rack stations. The bombs would fall out of the bomb bay starting at the lowest point on each rack and progressing upward to the top of each rack. The bombs would be dropped with the arming wires still attached to the bombs so that the bombs would not explode on impact. Two other salvo switches were provided, one next to the airplane commander and one in the rear compartment near a waist gunner.

      Another switch panel was located in the bombardier's compartment near his left elbow. This panel was different than that in the older B-29s. This panel had three switches to control the bomb bay doors. Two were used to select either the front door alone, the rear door alone, or both doors together. The third switch opened the door or doors selected by the other two switches.

      Since the takeoff run was quite bumpy and could jostle a person from side to side, it had been my practice to keep the two door selector switches "off during takeoff so that an accidental bumping of the "door open" switch would not cause a door to open, thereby creating a handling problem for the pilot. The anomaly of the new planes compared to the ones that we had flown at McCook was that neither the bombardier's nor the airplane commander's salvo switch would function with the bomb bay door selector switches in the "off" position. The waist gunner's switch would salvo regardless of the position of the door selector switches.

      After discovering that this wiring anomaly did exist, I spent a little time verifying that the salvo switch did in fact trigger all the bomb stations and that all brackets would properly release the arming wire so that all bombs would drop "safe." Being by myself, I could not verify the sequential triggering of the stations nor could I determine the time it took to sequence from the bottom to the top of the racks.

      Northwest Field was on Point Ratidian, a neck of land that jutted out into the Pacific Ocean with an elevation of about 500 to 600 feet. A perimeter road encircled the field and the ends of the runways went almost from the road on one side of the point to the road on the other side of the point. The edges of the cliff were only a few hundred yards past the road at each end of the runway. The two parallel runways ran downhill toward the center of the point of land and then uphill to the roadway and cliff at the opposite end. It was customary on takeoff to charge the heavily laden bombers down the hill at full engine throttle of 2600 rpm and then up the hill to the other end. As the plane approached the end of the runway, the pilots would lift off the ground enough to "mush" over the road and the yards of brush to the edge of the cliff. Once over the edge of the cliff, they would point the nose down to the sea to gain flying speed, it often required long distances skimming over the water surface before enough speed was attained to begin climbing.

      That evening as we prepared for takeoff, several events occurred that would adversely affect our mission. Operations announced that 11 aircraft would takeoff with landing lights "on," the operations officer (a Major) elected to accompany us for his battle credit, and the clouds opened up in a veritable deluge of rain.

      As we roared down the runway this night, the landing lights reflected back from the raindrops quite like the high beams of a car's headlights in a fog or snow storm, it was almost impossible to see the end of the runway or any detail on the ground. As we lifted off to go over the perimeter road, number 2 engine began to runaway. The scream of the propeller tips was like a thousand banshees, sending icy chills running up and down my spine. The prop pitch control had failed so that the flat side of the blade faced forward, crating the greatest drag on our forward flight. The edges of the blades simply sliced the air offering little resistance to engine rotation and no thrust to help propel us through the air. The tips of the blades were exceeding the speed of sound, which, eventually, could cause the blades to disintegrate. The engine ran uncontrolled to a speed of 3900 rpm.

      Immediately the airplane commander called to "feather" number 2. At the same time he called to "turn off those landing lights." Nothing happened for what seemed like an eternity. Then engine number 4 began to runaway. By this time we were at the edge of the cliff. There was no need to "nose down" to gain speed, we were simply mushing along and losing altitude rapidly. Again the call came to "turn off those landing lights."

      I, as bombardier, waited patiently for the order to "salvo" the bombs. We had been told that a small ship circled in the water below the end of the runway to pick up crews if a ditching had to be made, so it had to be the commander's decision to drop those bombs on something that we could not see, yet, as I waited, a thousand thoughts raced through my head.

      The bombardier's parachute was a backpack so that he could lean over his bombsight. He sat upon a one man life raft package that clipped onto his parachute harness. If he had to bail out over the water, he wanted the life raft package clipped onto his chute; if he had to ditch, he didn't want it clipped on because it would impede escape. I almost wore those clips out, fastening and unfastening them as I tried to anticipate what was to happen. I learned later that the others with no responsibilities at the time were engaged in similar wild pursuits.

      It seemed hours had passed when I finally heard the Captain call, "Salvo." I had already removed the wire from the protective cover over the switch and when he called, I raked my hand upward over the switch, tearing the protective cover right off of the panel. Not knowing how long it took to sequence the racks, but knowing that every second the bomb bay doors were open created more problems due to turbulence, I simply counted as fast as I could, one, two, three, and shut the doors.

      Immediately the plane lurched upward like a bird that had shaken off a net. The airplane commander put the remaining two engines to emergency war time power of 2800 rpm and we started a slow circle around the point to come back in. As we circled, he was able to remove power from the two uncontrolled engines to prevent further damage. The prop pitch on each engine remained exactly the opposite of "feathered." Each blade had its flat side facing forward, creating the maximum drag.

      When we landed, the rain increased so that we could barely see the runway and we were just able to make the turn onto the taxi strip. The Chaplain came out with a jeep driver to guide us in. I, acting as the eyes for the pilot, could not see far enough ahead to follow the Chaplain in the jeep, so he got out of the jeep and walked down the center of the strip with his head just below my bombsight glass.

      When we got out of the plane, the Chaplain said to our Navigator, "I didn't see you at Mass tonight, Tom." Tom replied, "I'll be there next time, Father." The gunners that were in the rear of the plane came up to me and asked, "Why didn't you salvo the bombs?" It had happened so quickly that they never knew the bombs left the plane.

      We learned later that the switch for the landing lights was on the pilot's aisle stand very close to a switch that sounded an alarm in the rear of the plane. The Major, by riding on the gyro box, had volunteered to operate the controls on the aisle stand. Apparently, every time the Captain called to turn off the landing lights, the alarm was sounded in the rear of the plane. The fellows in the back were near panic with the noise of the screaming propellers and the alarm sounding, but no word on the intercom as to what they should do.

      Sometime in the scenario, the navigator and radar operator were looking to the forward bomb bay hatch in preparation for bail out. The Major said, "You can't bail out and leave me. I have no parachute." One of the two patted his "45" and said, "Don't try to stop us."

      The next day's examination of the two engines showed an apparent fault on the number 2 engine. A gasket may have been reversed which caused the wrong direction in change of pitch. A request for "increase" of pitch during takeoff caused a decrease in pitch, allowing the engine to runaway. Nothing was ever discovered wrong with number 4 and it is suspected that when the Captain called for feathering of number 2 that the control for number 4 was activated in the wrong direction. The pitch controls happen to be on the pilot's aisle stand. The pilot would use his right hand in operating them. Someone sitting on the gyro box would be looking at them differently and would use his left hand.

      The mission over Truk was scheduled for another evening and was carried out without any undo problems; well, almost without problems, mind you, but that is another story.

Kawasaki on Tokyo Bay

      After making our bomb runs over Rota, a small, Japanese held island some thirty miles northeast of Guam, then Farallon de Pajaros at the northern end of the Marianas, and successfully completing our first actual combat mission, Truk, the day came that we were to make our first bombing runs over the Japanese mainland. Our target, the oil refineries at Kawasaki, between Tokyo and Yokohama on Tokyo Bay.

      Our aircraft was equipped with the latest version of radar, the APQ-7. Instead of the circular pattern on an oscilloscope that one associates with a modern aircraft controller or a weather radar display, the APQ-7 gave a 35 degree sweep to each side of the planes flight path on the oscilloscope. The result was a "V" shaped picture of the path ahead of the plane similar to the vision you might see on a windshield that is made by an oscillating windshield wiper. The accuracy of determining distances and angles to a target was claimed by some to be better than that attained by the bombsight. I must agree that that is definitely true when there is a layer of clouds between the target and the bombsight. In any event, it was decreed by the powers to be that the bombsight would be synchronized between the radar operator's observations and the bombardier's calculations.

      This APQ-7, however, had its quirks. The scanning mechanism consisted of a series of pre-aimed transmitter segments located in a small wing mounted under the fuselage between the bomb bays. In operation, the transmitter segments were sequentially activated, starting at the middle of the wing and moving outward to the tip of the wing. Then the sequence reversed, going back to the center of the wing. In synchronization with this sequence, a beam on the oscilloscope would start from a vertical line up the center of the screen, sweeping outward at the top by 35 degrees and pivoting at the bottom of the screen and then sweeping back to center. Any object in the path of the radar beam from a transmitter segment would show up as a "blip" on the oscilloscope beam at the corresponding angle from the plane's flight path and at the relative distance ahead of the plane.

      When the signal completed its path outward and back on one half of the wing, a switching mechanism caused the signal to jump over and start out the other side of the wing. Simultaneously, the oscilloscope beam started to sweep the other side of the viewing screen.

      The result was a pie shaped view of the flight path ahead of the plane, when it worked. The elements in the wing required that they be pressurized similar to the passenger cabins in today's aircraft. The pressure in a modern aircraft is maintained at the equivalent of about 7000 to 8000 feet altitude even though the plane might be at 35,000 feet. In our particular B-29, the radar wing usually worked beautifully until we reached about 8000 feet altitude, above that we might have two left sweeps, two right sweeps, an upside down picture, or nothing.

      On this, our first mission over Japan, our radar acted up just as it had over Truk. On that mission, in the heat of the bomb run, our radar operator tried to repair the unit from the bottom side of the console. He became our first casualty when the safety pin on his emergency bail out flashlight opened up and the point stuck him in the eye. Fortunately, a few days rest allowed the eye to heal.

      On this mission, while cruising north in the Marianas at about 7500 feet, the radar provided good navigational checks. The navigator took a sighting on Iwo Jima by radar, made a slight course correction and settled back in his seat thinking that another radar sighting on the coast of Japan would allow plenty of time to guide us right up Tokyo Bay.

      About 300 miles from Japan we began to see the weather that had been predicted, a few scattered clouds both below and above us. It renewed our confidence on the information given to us before the flight. As we progressed, the clouds became more dense until there was a solid over and under cast. About 100 miles from the coast we began to climb to bombing altitude, which for tonight was to be 11,000 feet. Not the 30,000 to 33,000 feet we had been told when they removed our armament, but at the ideal altitude where most antiaircraft fire can be very effective. Naturally, the radar quit!

      Swiftly the navigator brought out his octant to try to get a quick fix on a few bright stars faintly visible through the clouds. The readings were not too accurate, so we watched to see if the shoreline might be visible. Luck was with us. As I looked down through the bombsight window, I could see a line in the clouds, a small sector which stretched to each side of us where there were no clouds. In this slit like opening I could see a peculiarly shaped bay that the navigator could identify on his maps. Ahead, both above and below us, was nothing but white clouds. Although it was well past midnight, enough moonlight filtered through the clouds above us to create a somewhat whitish cast.

      Our navigator set a dead reckoning course from our landfall to the target. We estimated 35 to 45 minutes to target. As we cruised along, sitting in our bulky flak suits, we discussed various options. What if we get to Kawasaki and can't see the target? Should we select an alternate coastal target? No, our objectives were oil refineries. We should try to meet that objective. Unlike the bombing raids in Europe where bombing was done in formation and all bombardiers dropped their bombs on signal from the lead bombardier, our flights were individual missions. True, we took off together. We took off one plane per minute on alternate runways so that there was a thirty second spacing between planes. We all flew a prescribed course and we all had the same target, but we each went over the target individually when we got there. After six or more hours of flying we would be spread out and there might even be a half hour between the first and last planes.

      The intercom conversation continued. "Maybe the clouds will open up when we get there." "Maybe some of the earlier planes will have set fires that we can see through the clouds." "What was that?" "What?" "Looked like a star ahead when I moved my head!"

      The nose of the B-29 was composed of aluminum ribs that supported curved sections of plexiglas. In front of the bombsight and down toward the bottom of the nose was a flat plate glass window for viewing the target through the bombsight telescope. Above this were two ribs that projected to each side about shoulder high and one rib which projected straight up the middle from those two. As I sat there and moved by head from side, to, side, it appeared that I could see stars along the edge of that vertical rib. I reached up a drew a finger along the plexiglas. Horrors! The glass was completely fogged over except for narrow strips along the edges of the ribs!

      The B-29, unlike earlier World War II bombers, was equipped for cabin pressurization. The air for ventilation and for this pressurization is blown out of holes in tubes mounted on the aluminum ribs in the nose section. Blowing the air out here keeps condensation from forming on the plexiglas when the outside air is much colder. We had forgotten to turn on the air when we climbed up to altitude. It was probably left off because you do not want to be pressurized when you are going to be shot at. Without the air, we had fogged up like the inside of a car on a winter's day.

      As the air cleared the glass, we could see that the clouds had essentially dissipated. The night was quite clear. The "stars" I had seen were flak bursts! Ahead lay what seemed to be a solid path of flak bursts illuminated by a myriad of sweeping search light beams. These stretched ahead of us as far as the eye could see. One crew member who had no immediate duties to perform said, "do we have to fly through that!"

      We were still over fifteen minutes from the target, perhaps sixty to seventy miles away. Now search lights began to sweep under us illuminating the cabin like daylight The beams would sweep on past, their Japanese operators apparently oblivious to the fact that they had crossed over us. Flak bursts were rather randomly scattered around us. I started preliminary synchronization of the bombsight on objects that I could see on the ground.

      The build up of structures on the ground began to become more dense. We were proceeding up the westerly edge of Tokyo Bay and would have to fly right over Yokohama. All of a sudden, a search light that had passed us by, snapped back and locked on. Radar controlled. Then a burst of flak came off our nose, now one off the tail. The Captain told everyone to stay off the intercom except the tail gunner and myself. Each series of bursts came closer, first the nose, then the tail. They were bracketing in on us. Fortunately they didn't get close enough before we moved out of their range, but only to have a new set of lights and guns start in on us. Small islands probably man made, lined the shore of the bay, each with its antiaircraft battery.

      Far ahead, the target became evident. It was too soon to lock, on with the bombsight, but lots of time to recheck calculations, recheck the settings, check wind drift, synchronize on ground speed, finally close enough to select an area of the target least damaged and lock-on. Now it was simply refine the course direction and bombing angle settings, trying to remain oblivious to the flak bursts about us. About five seconds to go! Open the bomb bay doors! Bombs away! Shut the doors!

      The Captain shouted, "Let's get out of here" and took the plane out of my control. He peeled off to the right, out over Tokyo Bay. Tokyo, itself, was clearly visible off to our left We started evasive action to escape the flak bursts that still reached out area.

      After clearing the bay and then the islands, we settled back to an uneventful return to Guam. The island, surrounded by its inevitable clump of clouds, was a welcome sight after a cruise of some fourteen and one, half hours.

One Last Mission

      On the night of August 14, 1945, we took off to make what we thought might be the last raid of the war. A little over a week before, on August 6, an atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. When this did not cause an immediate surrender, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9. Rumors had spread like wildfire, but most of us could not comprehend the concept of an atomic bomb nor of the extent of damage it might do.

      As we headed to Iwo Jima, we listened for a call on the radio to abort the mission. Several hundred miles past Iwo we decided that we had gone too far to abort and would no longer listen for an abort message. Apparently a recall was never made or everyone else also elected to proceed with the mission. This was to be the longest bombing mission that we ever made.

      Our course from Iwo Jima was to go north along the east side of Honshu to a point near Hitachi, a town about 75 to 100 miles north of Tokyo. Here we were to turn westerly and proceed over the middle of Honshu to the little island of Sado in the sea of Japan. Near Sado we were to turn north again and fly up the west coast of Honshu to our target, the Nippon Oil Refinery at Tsuchizakiminato. The name was shortened by our intelligence group to Tsuchizaki, and to those who still couldn't pronounce it, it was referred to as Akita, a larger town about five miles away.

      It was customary in the Group to use our navigational lights until we were near the islands of Japan. Too many groups of bombers from the Marianas used similar flight paths and altitudes going to and from the island that prudence called for running lights. Occasionally our own aircraft were close enough to each other to be able to see one another by these lights. Orbiting and flashing lights as you see on today's aircraft were not in use during the war. Planes of this era were all equipped with stationary red and green lights on the wing tips and some had a white light on the top or on the tail. Many had only the wing lights.

      On this night as our plane approached the east coast of Honshu, we could see the green light of the starboard wing top of one of our planes cruising off to our left. As we both turned westward to cross Honshu, we turned off our navigational lights; he did not.

      The distance we had to fly over Honshu was about 150 miles which would take about 35 to 40 minutes. We were not to break radio silence, but wished we could alert the other plane to turn off his lights. He could attract attention to the entire mission, he had turned slightly short of us and was flying a parallel path about two to three miles to our south side. After much wishful thinking on our part, we finally forgot him and became engrossed in our own activities.

      When we reached the little butterfly shaped island of Sado, we turned to the right to fly our northward path to the target The night was clear with just enough starlight to be able to identify the shoreline of the island. As we turned, we gave one last look for the plane that had been on our left. He had either turned off his lights or changed course considerable. We could not see him anywhere.

      The distance from Sado to Tsuchizaki is also about 150 miles so that we now had about 35 to 40 minutes before reaching the target. Final calculations and settings were made to the bombsight. Again our APQ-7 radar had malfunctioned and we were going to have to make a visual bomb run. Occasionally, something could be seen in the water to allow an attempt at setting wind drift. This being done, there was little to do except sit and look ahead.

      Abruptly, two lights appeared at "ten o'clock" slightly higher than we were. They appeared to be somewhat red and green as you might see from a fighter plane approaching from a distance of several miles. All of us in the cockpit watched these lights as they slowly came a little closer. They didn't change position, however, and we could not understand how a fighter could maintain the same position, "ten o'clock," as he approached.

      All of a sudden it became shockingly clear that these were not wing top lights! I was looking right up the exhaust stacks of another plane's engines! This must have been the plane that crossed Honshu with us. We were less than ten minutes from the target and he was only a few hundred yards to our side, about 50 to 75 feet above us and about 50 feet in front of us! He was apparently oblivious to the fact that we were there.

      The target could be seen ahead by this time. Earlier flights had already set a number of ground fires. It was time to lock onto the target for our bomb run. It was too late to swing to the side and try to set another course. The two of us were flying on converging paths, closing in on one point. While I flew the plane from the bombsight, the airplane commander carefully watched the other bomber with the intent of pulling away if a collision seemed imminent.

      About a minute for the target we could see what appeared to be a huge cloud, a thunderhead, ahead of us. There had been some questionable reports of potential thunderstorms around the target. We were at 11,000 feet and this cloud towered over us reaching up to 15,000 or 16,000 feet.

      A few seconds from bomb release and we were almost touching the plane next to us. The Captain advised that as soon as the bombs are released he will swing to the right and climb about a thousand feet.

      "Bombs Away!" The Captain took the plane off the bombsight, turned to the right and began to pull up. I stood up, somewhat straddling the bombsight, and leaned far forward so that I might see the bomb impacts. The large black cloud was just ahead.

      We touched the cloud and "Whoosh!", the plane jerked violently upward. I was thrown up into the air and then dropped unceremoniously with my feet pointed upward, my backside where my feet should be and my head leaning back upon my seat. As I lay there looking upward at the plexiglas and the edges of the aluminum ribs of the plane's nose, it seemed that they were alive with fire. Sparks jumped all over. I thought, "This is it, the end of the line."

      Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. We were out of the cloud. Ahead, slightly above us and to our right, was the plane that had gone down the bomb run with us. In spite of our turn and climb, he had crossed over and climbed higher while we were in the cloud. At this point, he was so close that I could see the tail gunner's face.

      The thunderhead wasn't a rain cloud. It was a violent thermal cloud of smoke and debris that was drawn thousands of feet into the air by the heat of the huge fires and explosions from the bombing on the refinery. The sparking that I had seen on the plexiglas was akin to St. Elmo's fire that sailors see in the rigging of ships in a storm, it was electrical discharges from all the charged particles thrown up into the cloud from the explosions on the ground.

      The return trip to Guam was rather uneventful. We left the target area about 3:00 AM and, therefore, as we flew by the Bonin Islands it was early morning. This gave us a chance to see how formidable they were and to visualize the hardships that Japanese fishermen must have who live on those rocks. We landed on Guam about noon after more than seventeen hours in the air.

Peculiarities on Missions and Other Things

      Missions flown out of Northwest Field on Guam were often filled with non-routine events. One such occasion occurred somewhere north and a little east of Iwo Jima as we flew to our target in Japan.

      Our targets were always oil refineries and our missions were always flown at night. Generally, we took off about seven in nine PM in order to reach our target about two in the morning. Groups on Saipan, Tinian and at North Field usually flew daytime missions, some of their targets were cities where they conducted incendiary bombing raids. Sometimes they were returning from their targets as we were approaching ours.

      After takeoff, generally within the first hour of flight, I had to climb into the bomb bays to arm the bombs. Each bomb had a detonator in the nose and another in the tail. These detonators had a cotter pin and an arming wire through them so that both the wire and the pin had to be removed before the detonator would explode on impact. If the bombs were released "armed," such as on a target, the wire was retained in a clip on the bomb shackle and would pull out of the detonator as the bomb fell away from the plane. Prior to that of course, the bombardier had to remove the cotter pin. In a "salvo" situation where the bombs were to be dropped "unarmed," the shackle released both the bomb and the arming wire so that the arming wire stayed in the detonator and prevented actuation on impact Both the arming wire and cotter pin were used to prevent accidents during loading of the bombs and during takeoff.

      After I had completed arming the bombs by removing the cotter pins, I had little to do until about an hour from target when I had to begin setting up the bombsight. On long flights such as these, many of the crew liked to take naps. I could not. Therefore, the pilots usually put the plane on autopilot and took a nap, leaving me and the engineer to fly the plane. I could control the plane's direction from the bombsight while the engineer controlled the engine power.

      On the night in question, we were deliberately routed east of Iwo Jima to avoid a returning flight from one of the other groups. At least I thought it had been planned deliberately. It was an exceptionally clear night with a profusion of stars. One living near a city cannot appreciate the number of stars that are visible where there is no atmospheric contamination. About eleven PM, with both pilots asleep, I noticed that some of the the multitude of stars appeared to be moving. Shooting stars are often evident, but these were not "shooting," they were just moving.

      All of a sudden, some were upon us. They were the navigation lights of the returning B-29s of another group. They had the same altitude and reverse course that we had. For fifteen to twenty minutes we flew through fifty or so planes to the left, to the right, above us, below us. It seems a miracle that our group of about forty to fifty planes flew through their group without a mishap.

Fighter Planes?

      On another occasion our target was an oil refinery at Ube, a city on the south end of Honshu across the Inland Sea from Kyushu. We were to approach Ube by flying across the eastern end of Kyushu, over the Bongo Channel and across the Inland Sea to Ube.

      Supposedly fighter escorts were to accompany us, but I don't recall ever seeing or hearing from them. Perhaps at this stage of the war and for night time missions they were deemed unnecessary.

      On this night as we crossed the tip of Kyushu near the town of Laeki, we looked down to see an airport brightly illuminated. Numbers of small aircraft were taking, off. Here we were at 11,000 feet with only the tail gunner's armament. We had not seen not heard of any escorts and felt quite vulnerable. We were supposed to be at 30,000 feet to be able to handle fighters on our own. After a few minutes of observation, it became apparent that we were not to be attacked by these planes. At 2 AM they were practicing night transition landings.

      A few minutes later, however, we had another encounter that gave us second thoughts. We were now over the Bongo Channel, perhaps fifty miles from Ube. It was a cloudless night with some moonlight. Suddenly from out of the darkness appeared a twin engine plane on a collision course. I could look directly into the pilot's cockpit and see his face as he passed just below us. It happened so fast that I never had time to warn the airplane commander. It was just there and gone. We never saw him again not any others that night and proceeded uneventfully on the rest of our mission.

Drop In Sometime

      When hostilities ceased, efforts were made to get supplies to our prisoners-of-war that were held on the islands of Japan. One such mission was to POW camp #11 around Namioka just south of Aomori at the northern tip of Honshu. This was our first daylight mission to Japan. It was also to be our longest mission.

      We had flown over to Saipan several days before and had had both bomb bays loaded with two wooden platforms suspended from the bomb racks. Each platform was loaded with crates of supplies. Each crate and each platform was equipped with one or more parachutes whose static lines were attached to the bomb racks.

      Because of an engine problem and then a typhoon over Japan, we were delayed two days in starting this mission. We finally took off just before midnight on a Monday. Daylight came about an hour out of Tokyo. Because of the typhoon, clouds obscured most of the island proper. We skirted the coast of Honshu for a long time before turning inland toward Aomori. About an hour away from our target, the clouds thinned and we could see the ground easily.

      The northern portion of Honshu is quite beautiful. It is very like parts of Kentucky, rather hilly and covered with trees, many of which are pines or other evergreens. It was quite a pretty picture. In the valleys were scattered buildings, 30 to 40 feet square with thatched roofs. Every thing was perfectly green. No brown fields or neglected areas. All flat spots were cultivated and even some sides of hills were terraced to increase the farming area.

      We found the campsite rather by accident about eight miles short of Aomori. The POW camp was located in a valley between two hills such that the only way to approach it at low altitude was to enter the valley at its high end and traverse down between the hills and over the campsite. The camp consisted of a cluster of six or seven buildings, two of which had large letters on the roof, PW.

      We made two passes over the area to determine where to drop the supplies. I could see some 25 men standing and watching. They just stood there, no elation showing. On the second pass, some waved. I believe they were quite ignorant of the intent of our mission and perhaps the status of the war. On the third pass, I salvoed the rear bomb bay into a thinner part of the woods about 500 feet past the buildings. I had been concerned about chute failure and dropping heavy boxes right onto the men. Eleven of the chutes did fail to open and the boxes went farther on into the woods. On the fourth pass, I salvoed the front bomb bay and could see a few fellows run who had already gone out to the first boxes. We had spend so much time on passes that we couldn't stay to see them retrieve the boxes. We pulled up and away and I tried to close the bomb bay doors. They would not close properly because of the long static lines used to delay the parachute openings. It was necessary that I go into the bomb bays to pull up the static lines.

      The bombardier on a B-29 wore a back pack parachute. Although I was small, 130 pounds, the back pack made it very difficult, if not impossible, to squeeze between the bomb racks and the fuselage. The chute always wanted to catch on projections. As a consequence, I always took off my parachute when I entered the bomb bays. Normally this wasn't too bad because I had a load of bombs to lean on and the doors were closed.

      Now the doors were open, the bays were empty, the wind churned through the openings and the static lines were whipping out the doors with their clips banging away on the aluminum skin. I gingerly pulled myself to one side to get my feet on the catwalk that ran behind the bomb racks and next to the fuselage. Then I inched behind the first bomb rack and stepped out toward the second bomb rack. As I looked down through the open doors, I saw that we were only about 2000 feet high passing over the center of Aomori. Just below I saw a civil penal institution. I could see the convicts waling in the yard with guards on a wall and towers.

      Just then I stepped upon something that caused my foot to slip outward toward the center of the bay. I lurched and was able to grab the second bomb rack to avoid falling out. I visualized myself falling into the prison courtyard with no parachute. I looked back at the catwalk to see a greasy wrench that had been left there.

      On the return trip we took a slight excursion to pass by Tsuchizaki and observe the results of our last bombing raid. It was burned to a cinder with only four things standing, four black steel girders from the cracking tower. Everything else was flat and still smoking! We passed over Tokyo and were able to see some of the houses through the clouds. In the distance we could see Fujiyama with a partial snow cap. When we left the coast we passed over the Izu Islands which stretch as a string south to the Bonins. The Bonins in turn stretch south to the Marianas. The first islands we saw were marked on our map as the Mayonaise Islands. They were two isolated rocks with precipitous cliffs and little soil, but did have some inhabitants it seemed. Farther on we saw Sofu Gan which is also called "Lot's Wife." It is just a spine of rock sticking out of the ocean like a huge shark fin.

      The closer we got to Guam, the more we cut back on engine speed to conserve gasoline. When we finally landed on Tuesday evening after eighteen hours and fifty-five minutes in the air, our engines began to sputter, unable to get the little gasoline left because of the change in altitude of the plane when on the runway. We had a total of nineteen hours and twenty minutes operation on the engines. That was a record for a B-29 without auxiliary gas tanks.

      About three weeks later, a group of men came through our camp and had a meal in our mess hall. I was talking with a Naval Officer and found that he had been the camp commander at the POW camp. He was Lieutenant William T. Foley of the Navy's Medical Corp. He had been captured on Guam on December 10, 1941. When we flew over their camp, they hadn't known the war was over, but suspected it. When he realized we were going to drop supplies, he ordered them all into the barracks. I had taken a picture of the camp as we flew over, and he pointed out one man in the photo trying to send me signals by semaphore. Lt. Foley had been watching from under a bench at the edge of the compound.

      The area that I had selected to drop the supplies in was their garden. The Japanese had allowed them to supplement their rations. Most of the packages had fallen where I wanted them to but those whose chutes didn't open overshot into the woods. The Korean slave laborers who were kept nearby got the packages. Lt. Foley got the Japanese civil police to go house-to-house and they recovered all but two of the purloined packages and brought them back to the camp.

Boating Anyone?

      Flight personnel received extra pay, flight pay, but had to fly a minimum number of hours each month to qualify for this pay. Many times while in transition between bases and, in particular, after hostilities ceased, it was difficult to get your flying time in each month. Very often missions were scheduled on any pretext in order to get some flying time in. One such excuse was to calibrate the instruments.

      Whenever a flight was scheduled, everyone on flying status who did not yet have his time posted for the month would request to go along, it did not matter that they did nothing, just go along for the ride.

      On one such mission, I and a number of others loaded the rear of the plane while a crew conducted an instrument calibration. The crew flew back and forth over Guam on specific headings and over specific points for known distances in order to calibrate airspeed indicators and compass readings. For accuracy these missions were usually flown at altitudes of about 400 feet.

      Those of us in the back had no specific place to sit so we generally just lay criss-cross on the floor like so many sardines in position. The passageway was very narrow and had the ammunition racks on each side for the two fifty, caliber machine guns and the twenty, millimeter cannon. On this day the hatch was open and we could see where the tail gunner's feet would be. Fortuitously, no one had chosen to ride in this position.

      As we skimmed over the water approaching a point on the island, a sudden sideways lurch occurred and the opening to the gunner's compartment moved considerable to the left. Very quickly a loud banging commenced and someone in the rear called the pilot on intercom and asked, "What's going on up there?" The pilot responded, "What's happening back there?"

      The removal of the revolving turret armament had eliminated the need for waist gunners on such, and, therefore, the side plexiglas blisters had been removed. In their place were small flat portholes on each side of the plane and the flight personnel at these stations were now "observers." Unfortunately, the small portholes severely restricted the observations that could be made.

      By now the pounding had become severe and as I looked back toward the tail gunner's compartment, the passage, way and hatch were oscillating about eighteen inches from side to side. Finally, the right hand observer was able to look back far enough to see that something yellow was wrapped around the right hand stabilizer. The pilot headed back to the field with the banging continuing all the way. As we landed, the yellow thing fell off.

      The seven, man life raft that is stored over the wing between the two bomb bays had somehow been released. It popped out of its compartment and caught on the radio antenna wire, sliding back to the stabilizer, inflating as it went. The partially inflated raft wrapped itself around the leading edge of the stabilizer and the turbulence then tore the inflation chamber. The CO2 bottle apparently stayed with the part wrapped over the top of the stabilizer and the turbulence caused the bottle to beat the airfoil to pieces. The tail section of the plane suffered a permanent deflection to the left of about twelve inches.

Unfriendly (or Friendly) Neighbors

      When Guam was recaptured from the Japanese by the Marines, it was declared secure even though pockets of Japanese holdouts remained scattered over the island. In particular, the caves dotting the faces of the cliffs around Point Ratidian were the home to many. We were instructed not to go over the edges of these cliffs.

      During hostilities, the 331st Group lived in a bivouac area in tents to the north and west of the runways. This area was next to the cliffs at the farthest outward projection of Point Ratidian. There was no direct path from our bivouac to the flight line. Some 750 to 1000 yards of dense jungle lay between us and the flight line.

      Personnel carrying trucks made regular trips out of the bivouac area, around the perimeter road and up an access road that paralleled the runways from the southwest end. This trip of several miles took time and some of the flight line personnel who had to make four or more trips a day chose to take a short cut. Those who dared, climbed through the jungle of banana trees, ferns and other fast growing flora, sometimes being five to ten feet off the ground on rotting vegetation. Occasionally they were rewarded by finding a bunch of miniature bananas.

      About the middle of September of 1945, after hostilities had ceased, a roadway was bulldozed straight from the bivouac area to the flight line. In the path was found the home of a Japanese soldier.

      When we had been away on missions, he had been robbing our tents of clothing, shoes, guns and whatever else he could find. At times he had apparently helped himself to food from our mess hall. He had even cleared an area and had planted a small garden. He had sufficient supplies to survive years.

      In all the times of men taking short cuts and all the planes flying overhead, no one had suspected his presence. Missing clothing or equipment was either not noticed or attributed to personnel from other outfits.

A Luncheon Flight

      Missions to Japan were long enough that the crew required something to eat. The cooks in the mess hall would usually pack sandwiches for us. Fruit was not generally available at this stage of the war. Sometimes our crew took it upon themselves to make their own lunch.

      On one trip the crew obtained a large, restaurant sized tin of boned turkey and several loaves of bread. After we had dropped our bombs, everyone started making sandwiches. Everyone, that is, except the tail gunner and me. For some reason neither of us ate the turkey.

      Within the hour everyone who had eaten the turkey was as sick as could be. They were so incapacitated that they could not stay in their seats and attend to their duties.

      Everyone on the crew had been trained to perform others duties if need be. Our tail gunner had learned the engineers duties and I had learned to fly the plane. We were lucky that we had had this training and that neither of us had partaken of the turkey. It took the two of us to fly the plane for several hours until the others could recover sufficiently to land on Guam.

Stormy Weather

      Every officer has to take on extra 24 hour duties from time, to, time. One such duty is "Airdrome Officer." This means you must stay in Operations for 24 hours and handle any situations that arise during the time that others are off duty. The duty usually starts about 6:00 PM and runs to the next evening.

      The Airdrome Officer must have a jeep to be able to run messages and instructions around. The motor pool is obliged to keep one for him. I drew the duty on the evening of September 12, 1945. When I went to the motor pool about 5:30 PM to draw my jeep, I found that there was just one left. My jaw dropped in dismay when I saw that vehicle.

      Since the hostilities had ceased, the officers had been given the privilege of using the vehicles after working hours if they were not needed for other purposes. I had not availed myself of this privilege before, so I was not aware of what was going on. Each night at exactly 5:00 PM, all the officers dashed to the motor pool for a vehicle to use that evening for pleasure. There were attractions at the southern end of the island, the Naval harbor, Agana and, of course, the nurses were quartered down there.

      The jeep that they had left me was in a sorry state. It had no roof and no windshield. It was fine for transportation, but the weather forecast for this evening was rain! I threw my raincoat and helmet in on the passenger seat and drove over to the Group Headquarters building.

      The 315th area lay in a low section of Point Ratidian. The runways to the southeast of the area were higher and the Corps of Engineers in laying out the field had made the perimeter road by building up a high coral base. This created a dyke that tended to keep rain water in the barracks area. In the dry season, when it only rained about three times a day, it was not too bad. The water would seep through the thin layer of soil over the coral and dry rather rapidly. In the rainy season, however, when it only stopped raining a few brief periods a day, the water would collect between our area and the road and then spread around the barracks. The executive officer had had a bulldozer cut a ditch between our area and the road, a ditch about ten to fifteen feet wide and three feet deep. At this time, however, he had not yet gotten a drain made under the perimeter road, nor had he made the bridge necessary to cross the ditch to get out of our area and up onto the road. Vehicles just drove down one side of the ditch, across the bottom and up the other side to the old entrance to the perimeter road.

      Others who had had this duty before me told me that there's nothing to it. Just go prepared to read and sleep on the cot in the operations room. I set up the cot, spread the blanket, took off some of my clothes to hang up to dry and stretched out to read. Shortly, the telephone rang. Wing Headquarters was canceling a mission scheduled for the next morning. I was to tell the operations officer, transportation, mess hall, engineering and a host of others. The operations officer told me to go to the flight line and notify the crews there who were preparing the planes for tomorrow. The direct path from the bivouac area to the flight line had not yet been made, so I had to go out onto perimeter road and around the long way. The ditch was now running like a river full of water. To prevent stalling in the ditch, I just poured the power to the jeep and sped through. The headlights dipped under water as I started down into the ditch and I nearly bounced myself right out of the jeep. When I got up the roadway and was able to speed up a bit, the mud from the front tires flew up in front of the jeep, over the hood and right back into my face. To this day, my rain coat is splattered the red mud—iron oxide, I guess, that will not come out. After getting back to operations and removing my wet clothing, I settled back down only to have the phone ring again. This time it was from farther down the island, 20th Air Force Headquarters, I believe. A typhoon was expected. I was to alert everyone and call back.

      The field telephone system on the island was quite complicated to deal with. Calls from our group had to be routed through an operator at Wing Headquarters. He would connect you to another operator farther down the island, who in turn would connect you to the 20th Air Force Headquarters operator, who in turn would connect you to the person you were calling. In each instance you had to crank the phone to summon the next operator on the line. When you completed your call, you did not simply hang up. You had to crank the phone box to ring the operator who was the last on the line, tell him you were through and he would disconnect you. Then you had to crank and ring the operator who would be the next last one on the line, tell him you are through and he would disconnect. You had to do that for all operators so that they would know you are through. If you didn't, they might stay connected until they became suspicious and checked the line. If you tied up their systems and didn't "ring off," then they would not be cooperative the next time you wished to call!

      The second time I tried to cross the ditch, I was not so lucky. I lost traction and began spinning wheels while sitting in the water. I had to get out and pile rocks under the tires to get enough traction to climb out.

      When my duty ended, I was a muddy, bedraggled looking mess. The major part of the typhoon didn't hit us but it did rain heavily for thirty consecutive hours.

Army Surplus

      As things began to wind down, people went home, surplus material was turned in and areas were closed up. Each group accomplished this according to its officer's interpretations of orders and to their zealousness.

      There came a time when the number of personnel in the 331st Group was diminished to the point that it became impractical to maintain the mess hall, headquarters and other functions. The group was closed and the remaining personnel transferred to the 501st Group. Their area was located on the other side and at the other end of the runways closest to the 315th Wing Headquarters.

      When the bombing missions had stopped, someone decided that all flying officers must have some other duties, something to keep them out of mischief. Everyone was assigned to be assistant to someone who had ground duties. One bombardier was assigned Assistant Motor Pool Officer. Each morning he would report to the regular Motor Pool Officer who would say, "Get out of here!" I was not so lucky. I was assigned as Assistant Adjutant. In short order, the regular Adjutant was sent home. I was stuck!

      As Adjutant I was responsible for all the records and paperwork of the unit. Later I became involved with the Group Headquarters. Because of this, I and one other were left in the 331st Group area to seal up the buildings, close out the records and await Army personnel who were to sign for and accept the barracks, mess hall and other buildings and property. Why this was to be I'll never know.

      Before we moved, everyone had been required to turn in his cot, blankets and other issue. This was probably to clear the books. New equipment would be issued from the 501st. Prior to that, all vehicles, jeeps, trucks, etc., had been repaired just sufficiently to drive them up a gang plank onto a ship where they were taken out into the harbor and pushed off the deck to sink. I heard the cots and bedding met the same fate. I don't know why they weren't just given to the Chamorros.

      In my position I had had to make periodic trips to the bank at Agana to deal with company funds. On one such trip, I and a companion took a side excursion to North Field (now refurbished as Anderson Field). At that time, the Wing that had been there had been dissolved and the field closed. We wanted to see what it had been like.

      I drove up to a mess hall where a jeep stood outside the door. It looked like the driver had just driven up and gone in for a meal. He hadn't closed the screen, it stood ajar. It was obvious that that couldn't be, however, because the tires were flat and the building was empty of people. Dishes and some silverware still sat upon the table. Further on we went into a barracks. Here were cots and blankets, beds not made. It seemed as if everyone had just taken off on a mission, except there were no personal possessions. The personnel had just packed up their bags and left. Not the 331st Group. We had to close it up properly for the Army's acceptance.

      The latrine in the center of the officer's barracks at the 331st had a large canvas tank set up on a high platform. This tank was filled periodically with water that flowed down through a system of pipes and faucets to sinks and shower heads in the latrine. In front of each group of barracks was a Lister bag which looked like a high cow's udder with faucets like teats. This was also filled periodically with water for drinking purposes. We were told, "Don't drink the water from the latrine faucets. That's not purified. Drink the water from the Lister bag." Ironically, we saw the same truck fill the overhead tank as filled the Lister bag.

      When the group left the area and I and my companion stayed to await the Army, the water truck filled the overhead tank and one Lister bag and waved goodbye. With just two of us using the water in the latrine area, it took just a few days for the water to "grow" and every faucet clogged. Green slime oozed out but not enough water to wash or shave. We had to climb the ladder to the large tank, skim off the floating scum, and bail out a little water each time we wanted to wash. I had been successful previously in avoiding the skin infection known as "jungle rot." I got it then. It apparently is a fungus infection which took months of treatment with Potassium Permanganate before my skin finally cleared.

      After the Army personnel eventually came and I was able to move over the 501st barracks with the rest of my group, I learned how well we had had it at the 331st. Our barracks had been elevated on piling several feet off of the ground. Each pile had an inverted metal cap on it with the building frame set on top of the caps. The 501st barracks were built low to the ground such that at one end the door was at ground level. This allowed the island rats (they looked big as squirrels) to simply run into the barracks. We had had night time skirmishes with the rats at the 331st, but here it was all out war. That, however, is another story.

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A Squadron Commander's Story


Andrew Gordon
331st Bomb Group

      In the Spring of 19441 was stationed at Sioux City, Iowa, in the B-17 CCTS. Learning that new units of B-29s were forming I requested assignment from Headquarters Second Air Force to one of them. My orders came through in due time: Dalhart, Texas, 331st Bomb Group (VH). Reporting in, a major of some ten months seniority, I was assigned as commander of the 357th Squadron. The ensuing weeks are a blur of trying to fashion an organization and get in some B-29 flying, not much. Our Group Commander was temporarily Col. Hoyt Prindle, but replacing him came in Col. Jim Peyton "for the duration." Sometime that summer the flying cadres were shipped off by troop train, probably one of the longest card games of my life, to Orlando, Florida. We learned there that we would be conducting mining operations of the Empire. We checked out in B-24s, and proceeded to terrorize the Florida, Alabama, Mississippi coastline. Flying far out into the gulf, then turning towards the coast we made landfall at low level. There we dropped 100lb Blue Boy practice bombs, sometimes rather near fishing boats, simulating mine, laying/plotting, and then headed back.

      In September I was married in the Orlando base chapel to a lady from St. Louis I had met while waiting for a B-17 engine to be hung at Scott Field, Illinois, earlier that year. I flipped a coin for a rental house with Capt Henry Dillingham of the 502nd Group, and won a place to stay for my bride and me.

      Sometime along in here, or perhaps as the Group was moving to McCook, Nebraska, for training, I lost my job due to seniority. Maj. Gerry Crosson (now probably retired from the New York City Police Department) took over the squadron. I became his operations officer. The busy time of forming and training crews went fast. We had a mix of flight engineers, some were old B-17 and B-24 crew chiefs while some were pilots from canceled fighter training. The latter were not delighted at the prospect of riding in the great birds sitting backwards. The former perhaps resented the difference in pay for similar duties. In late winter we learned to our dismay that waist gunners were now scanners, as we would not have the central fire control system. Not long after we lost them too. We would have to rely on the tail gunner only. Our practice in radar bombing increased as we learned the intricacies of the AN/APQ-7 "Eagle" system. There was some relief in that probably we were out of the mine laying business.

      In April 1945, as a result of involvement in a B-17 crash on an administrative flight, the commander of the 356th squadron was transferred. First Lieutenant C. Armstrong, our 357th adjutant, was killed in the mishap. I became the 356th CO., finishing the training at McCook. In June, July we picked up our new B-29Bs at Herrington, Kansas, and by individual ships made the crossing to APO 182 on Guam.

      Although the runways and hardstands were mostly ready to receive and park our ships, the human living conditions were rather Spartan. While barracks, mess halls, and other quarters were built some distance away we lived in tents. Shouts of "Fire in the hole!" followed by blasting for latrines, showers, etc. often resulted in coral chunks coming through the still, under construction roofs. Also about this time we experienced earthquake tremors that didn't help the new construction. But we moved in anyway. I shared my one room "apartment' with Major Harold E. "Curly" Moore, Group Ops. Officer. A decorative touch was added by planting red, white, and blue morning glory vines from seed packets to climb a nearby tree. It was not long after that we even had a Group Officers' Mess building, the details of which I have been mercifully spared. The Seabees were great providers, at a price. But my jeep was not lost to the Marines or the Army, at any rate. As for the food, eggs have been a favorite of mine, even when they were powdered (again!) from time to time. But Spam I haven't touched once since then. The contrast between Navy and AAF living on Guam in those days was brought home to me on a visit to a Commodore friend of my family. White table cloths, silver, dinner serviced at the table by stewards, followed by a movie held up until my host and his guests took our seats, were undoubtedly more civilized if less egalitarian than conditions at Northwest Field.

      The few missions I flew with my squadron are fairly memorable. Somewhat to my resentment squadron commanders were limited to something like two out of five missions scheduled. As a practical matter this meant that I flew either with the better, they were all good, crews or the ones with abort problems. So a lot of time seems to have been spent exhorting a particular crew "I'll handle the superchargers with this screwdriver so that all engines are putting out the same," or "Ho, hum, what time is landfall?" followed eventually by "What's our ETA back at Northwest?"

      Those missions were a mixture of boredom and, to say the least, anxiety. The beauty of Fujiyama in the moonlight far below was in sharp contrast to the deadly sparkle of flak bursts in the night sky. The mission over Tokyo Bay where my former rival for a rental house, Henry Dillingham, and his crew were shot down just behind me was a searing memory of fire as the ship went down. The night over the Ube Coal Liquification plant, where just after "bombs away!" the streaking light fell towards us from eleven o'clock, streaking by and under as I steeply banked left, the object, rocket, baka bomb?, then disappeared earthward, is well remembered. The open cans of turkey dinner as we droned home at daybreak are probably best forgotten, although undoubtedly better than the alternative.

      I got to know Iwo Jima as a transient. Once, my crew put in with nothing worse than a missing spark plug on the way back from the Empire. We caught a ride with another crew going to North Field. On another occasion, in mid-September 1945, one of my crews, Capt. Henschel and I went in there to fill up bomb bay tanks with fuel to support the General LeMay et-al flight from Japan to the U.S.A. Regrettably, the fully, loaded B-29 nose gear hit a rough spot on the runway on takeoff, and jammed in the fully, cocked position. Couldn't retract it, and couldn't straighten it either. So we flew back to Guam, jettisoned the bomb bay fuel, it made a tremendous splash in the ocean, and landed with only a slight shimmy on touchdown. It was a Sunday afternoon, and we had rather a large audience watching. The next day I learned that I had made the Lieutenant Colonel list, another reason to be grateful.

      But mishaps happened on the ground, too. One of my armorers, Corporal Robert E. Brown, was killed by a bomb breaking away as it was being hoisted into a bomb bay. Another was lost when he floated out to sea through the reef on an air mattress. And there was humor, and consternation, too. During an awards ceremony, where I was receiving the Air Medal, on returning to the squadron left behind me in charge of the Executive Officer, Major Lou Carr, I found nobody in formation. Ever thoughtful of the well being of the troops, he had had them fall out to the shelter of nearby palm trees as a rain shower passed over!

      I missed the missions dropping supplies to our POW's in the Empire, and the grand parade during the surrender in Tokyo Bay. On the other hand, the 355th squadron C.O., W. W. "Jack" Wilson, was able to fly to Manchuria with his brother on the 20th AF staff, and be reunited with their father, taken prisoner in the Philippines back in the early days of the war. On the other hand, I led some 20 B-29s to Florida Blanca, P. I. to pick up supplies to be flown to Okinawa in relief of the October typhoon damage. I thereby got to see the sorry state of Manila, and later visit an old friend from South America attache days, who was flying P-47s from Ie Shima off Okinawa.

      My B-29 days came to an end October 27, 1945 when I landed one of my squadron "war weary" ships (almost new by most standards) at Mather Field, California. On board were a goodly number of Sunset Project returnees. In the the months and years that followed, on trips here to Tucson, quite a few of the great birds standing in rows at Davis-Monthan AFB bore the diamond on the tail that recalled the radio call of "Slicker," 331st Bomb Group (VH), 315th Bomb Wing (VH).

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Westway Project


Ivan Gulick
331st Bomb Group

      On the 19th or 20th of October 1945, while standing in the chow line on Guam and with more than the needed points to be sent to the States, I was assigned to the advance party of the Westway Project. Officially our project purpose was to fly to Frankfurt Main Germany and check B-29 facilities thereat. We filled one bomb bay with gasoline and the other with repair parts for B-29 engines, etc. which normally could be needed for General Twining's B-29 when he landed at Frankfurt on his way to Washington, D.C.

      As I recall a Col. Black was in charge of this repair provision part.

      All my friends were ready to leave on points and I had planned to get home and make the fall semester at Purdue in electrical engineering. However, I gladly went on this "Glory Mission" and, as it developed, got home and entered Purdue in March 1946.

      Following is the names of my crew. The pilot was James Guthrie, Copilot was Merle Brown and the Navigator was L. Vivian. The buddies I remember most were Joe Rynn, Eben Cook, Gil Johnson and Otis Vowell. I would sure like to hear from them so please write if any of you read this.

      Our first landing was at Manila, then Karachi, then Frankfurt/Rhine Main where we maintained General Twining's plane on its way to Washington D.C.

      As I was looking out of the left waist window on our landing at Clark Field the tower seemed very, very close. Afterward when I walked to the nose wheel after landing, it was apparent we had had a close shave and it was evident because some of the cockpit crew were sweating thru their A2 jackets. We were told that the fuel cutoff switches were mistaken for the landing light switches. Thank God that one crew member turned off in error. This was not discussed so I do not know all the details. Understand a T.O. was hurriedly put out on this.

      Karachi, India was something to see. The Indian refueling crew supervisor carried a bull snake whip and used it on his "lower caste crew." Most of them chewed beetle juice and spent most of their time kneeling to the east, I think.

      On landing at Frankfurt, we were billeted in Weisbaden at the Opel House which was at the Opel Automobile Factory across from the railroad station. Eben Cook and I were quartered in the Opel House china closet which had a double bunk only. As I recall, the cigarette resale business was very very good and gave us money to buy our beer. As I recall, the 6 packs of cigarettes that I bought as my ration at Guam kept me in beer money all during my trip, since I do not smoke. Eben Cook acquired the name of "Cowboy mit sleep shoe" in Weisbaden.

      As most of us, I collected and still have a short snorter with German, French, English, Chinese, Belgium, Egyptian, Russian etc. bills and coins. My crew of course signed the bills. When and if I need money I guess these bills should be worth something.

      As stated above we waited for Twining's plane at Frankfurt and we did the required maintenance. As I recall, we replaced a fuel selector valve and since we did not have one in our stock on board, we took one off our plane. It was necessary to get one from the sub depot. This caused a delay and Lt. Col Guthrie arranged a trip to Paris, France; Nice, France and London on a C-46 which the Lt. Col. was able to get. This was a great sightseeing mission. We of course saw the Eiffel Tower and all the other attractions.

      In Nice in the French Riviera, we stayed in one of the best hotels and enjoyed the scenery. Our one night in London was also fascinating. Everywhere we went we saw the results on war which was very sobering.

      On preparing to return to Frankfurt to get our B-29, Lt. Col. Guthrie asked if we wanted to go back to Guam via Cairo, Egypt and Kunming, China. We agreed and really enjoyed the "mission." We landed at John Paine Field near Helioplis, saw the pyramids, etc. We also met friends that we knew at Chanute, Sheppard, Amarillo, etc. We saw the Sphinx, and went bar hopping, etc.

      As we were taxiing on landing at Kunming the pilot was dodging Chinese coolies on the taxiway. As I understood it was cheaper for the U.S. Government to pay for a coolie than replace a new prop.

      What I remember of Kunming was the stack of yen it took to buy a steak on GI street; the assorted green, black, blue, yellow teeth that the women had, the bound feet of the women; also the sight of the little Chinese child stealing the honey bucket from our B-29 that I passed out to a friend who sat it on the ground for a minute. We never did see that honey bucket again.

      We used the space between the plane skin and the lining to keep our beer cold and thought we were fooling the crew up front but we did not. The Colonel came back and said we had to share our beer or else. We did.

      When we landed on Guam the first part of November, all my group had gone home. It developed that most had gone by ship. After one week of waiting, we flew to Hamilton Field, San Rafael, California.

      When I was in the mess hall at Hamilton Field catching up on steak and cold, cold milk, a group of my buddies of the 356 Squadron, 331st Group, walked into the mess hall having just gotten off the boat! They were unhappy!

      Incidentally, I was never issued any clothing on Guam. The only clothing I had to my name were two pair of coveralls one of which I stood in the corner since it was stiff with grease and the other I used for my "night life on Guam." The air corps did give me khakis later on in the trip as I remember.

      After about 2 months of processing at many bases and many, many physicals, I ended up at Denver where I was discharged and entered Purdue University Electrical Engineering School as planned, and graduated in June, 1949.
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Rainproofing Our Barracks


George E. Harrington
315th Bomb Wing Headquarters

      After living in tents for several months, the Corps of Engineers representative informed the 315th Wing that new prefabricated barracks would be arriving, but that the occupants for each barracks would have to construct their own quarters. To get out of the tents, all were more than willing to do the construction.

      The prefab pack for a barracks had all of the pieces to build it. Most of the sections were 4' x 8' pieces of 1/2" plywood, even for the roofing of the building. Included in each prefab pack were tubes of a caulking compound to seal the joints where the plywood panels butted together. This process as to waterproof the roof to prevent the rain water coming in.

      The engineer who designed the building did an excellent job except for one small detail. He forgot about the high temperatures existing in Guam. Within a matter of two days the caulking on the roof had melted and within a short time we were getting drenched in the newly constructed barracks.

      To solve the problem, I requested Island Command for enough rolls of roofing materials to cover the barracks for 12,000 men. This request was disapproved. In desperation I called by friend, the Chief Petty Officer down at the Navy Depot and with some trading material obtained the necessary roofing materials, after midnight.

      Within a week this material was installed on every barracks and kept us dry for the rest of the war.

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Building A Chapel


George E. Harrington
315th Bomb Wing Headquarters

      Lumber was in short supply on Guam, so the Wing requested and obtained approval from the Port Commander, Apra Harbor, to retain the dunnage used in all ship which transported cargo for the Wing. The lumber, or dunnage, was transported to the Wing area from the port and placed under strict controls for use in building our operational requirements.

      One morning as I was sitting at my desk, the Wing Chaplain came in the office and requested enough lumber to build a chapel. Father Gannon stated that he had sufficient help from the men to do the construction if I would release some of the dunnage from the storage yard.

      I had to inform him that we had higher priority operational requirements to use this lumber, I did however, offer to get him the necessary lumber if he could come up with a case of booze and some strong back helpers.

      He inquired how this could be accomplished. I told him that the Navy Depot, down Island, had a large stock of lumber but that our official requests for lumber in the past had been turned down. I told him that I had been dealing with a Chief Petty Officer in the past, and for some trading material, we could get the lumber.

      He immediately stated that he would have nothing to do with stealing Navy lumber. To which I reminded him that the lumber was government equipment and this use would be a government project and that this method of requisitioning was only necessary due to the unbalanced distribution system. I told him that if he was interested, that the transfer could be arranged and that I would furnish him the necessary trucks to haul the lumber to Northwest Field after midnight.

      He replied again that he would have nothing to do with this proposal. I replied that if this was final he could have to continue to use the squad lent as a chapel. He left my office.

      About ten minutes later, he stuck his head into my office and said "What time did you say we had to be at the Navy Depot?"

      The chapel was built.

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Ed Hering
501 Bomb Group

      I was with the 19th Bomb Group, 93rd Bomb Squadron in Dalhart, Texas in June and July 1944. We were getting ready to ship out for B-29 training, when next I knew I was transferred to the 501st that was just being activated. It was a sad day, because I wanted to go overseas with the 19th because of their illustrious history. But, I soon settled into the routine of retraining and getting acquainted in the 485th Bomb squadron. The 1st Sgt. was John J. Bergen (he had just been made 1st Sgt. on July 19th). We were both from New Jersey and we hit it off from the start.

      Dalhart Air Base was made up of two units; the main airfield and an auxiliary training area several miles apart. John made me his messenger and I ran between the two.

      At that time, the farmers had a bumper crop of wheat and they had it piled on the side of the highway. We GIs had a chance to make some pocket money by helping the farmers transport the wheat for shipment. We got 50 or 75 cents an hour.

      We were given proficiency tests at Dalhart. Already being an aircraft armorer, I had just a refresher course on 50 Cal. machine guns.

      We had a five day bivouac at Yankee, New Mexico using field equipment under combat conditions. Hikes, infiltration, skirmishes, mock battles, chemical warfare and malaria control. The Chemical warfare rings a bell with me, I had gone gung ho and had not shaved. When we got hit with tear gas my mask did not seal well against the stubble and I suffered.

      We live in "Tent City" when we moved to Harvard, Nebraska.

      Because I had been a B-24 armorer, I knew nothing about the all electrical B-29 armament system. But, with good training that I received from an armament crew chief from the 505th Group it didn't take long. I'm sorry I don't remember his name, he really knew his B-29s.

      After the 505th moved out, all flight line personnel were issued ID buttons with our picture that we had to wear on our caps. This was an inkling that we were something special. I was promoted to armament crew chief and was now training new armorers that were moving into my crew.

      I kept a notebook on all activities at Harvard, I still have the numbers of my ships: B-29s, 391, 448, 532, 502, and 936; B-17s, 097, 011.

      In those days we also had CFC men in the armament section and their duties were the technical end of the B-29 firing system. In looking through my notebook I came across the following notation: Harvard A.A.F.; Jan 1, 1945; B29 airplane, order to remove all CFC equipment (turrets, sighting stations, 20 mm cannon, all but 2, 50 cals in tail).

      A few years ago, I found out that Col. Tibbets had flown a stripped B-29 as a test project. He was impressed with its maneuverability and speed. I believe this is the reason why we were stripped.

      One day at Harvard I took a line jeep with yellow flag off the line to go to base supply and stopped at the commissary for coffee. The base transportation officer caught me and put me up for a summary court marshall. I had just made Staff Sergeant and could see my stripes going down the the drain. Sgt. Bergen lost my papers every Wednesday and the day before we shipped out he had me pack up my gear and sent me to town in the laundry truck. That's how we beat my court marshall. I did see that officer from the train but, he didn't see me.

      We went over on the S.S. Exchange. One day while we were in the Marshall Islands, we were supposed to have turkey for mess. When they opened the reefer the turkeys were all rotten. My buddy and I 'volunteered' to throw them out the cargo door. I used to like to sneak up to the gun tubs and look out when the Navy didn't chase me.

      On Guam we worked with the Army Engineers and Seabees erecting our base and living quarters.

      On May 25, at our Squadron area, George Barna and I were playing catch with a softball. At that time, James McCarthy, R. Phillips and Martin Lantosh told us that they were going to pick up some mess supplies and did we want to come along. At the same time, my buddy, Joe Cartella said that the new shower was up and the sun had heated the water. So instead of going with them and Barna, I decided to take a much needed shower in 'fresh hot water.' That was the last time I saw them, because it was at that time that they were all killed in a mishap. We had been buddies for a long time, but for that shower I would have been with them.

      I remember one time that one of my B-29s was grounded after we had the mission loaded and we had to unload the 500 pound GPs, which is harder to do than loading them. My C6 hoist, the mainstay of bomb loading, was inoperable. They were temperamental and there was a shortage of them. So, after ordnance defused the bombs, I decided on a quick way to unload. I stationed men outside each bomb bay and proceeded to toggle them off one at a time onto the soft coral. I had forgotten to tell the mechanics that were working on an engine what I intended to do, and when they heard the plops and saw the armorers rolling out the bombs they scattered.

      Chaplain Walter Batty made frequent trips out to the flight line when we were loading up for the next mission. He always brought us hot coffee. We would have preferred cold beer, but it was always good to see him. He always asked what type of bombs we were loading and how many.

      After the cease fire, my crew and I flew with another squadron from the 501st to Isley Field to load prisoner of war missions. While we were there I met a friend from home who was in a Marine anti-aircraft battery, really incredulous!

      While waiting out my 'points' to go home I was transferred to a P51 Fighter Group at Isley Field, Saipan, preparing the planes for storage.

      I came home on the U.S.S. Mormack Hawk in February 1946. We came into San Pedro and had our Presidential Dinner.

      We were the last bunch to fly from March Field, California to the east coast, it took 18 hours, and three landings.

      On November 8, 1977, I received a letter from author Steve Birdsall of Australia, who was preparing to write a book on the B-29. He asked me to help him gather information and pictures. We corresponded for about two years. The name of the book is "Saga of the Superfortress."

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The Admiral Nimitz Story


Boyd Hubbard, CO
501st Bomb Group

      The B-29 (flagship of the 501st Group, and later to become The Fleet Admiral Nimitz) was selected in the following manner: General Armstrong, 315th Wing Commander, told me, upon our arrival in Guam, to get an airplane and a crew because I was to lead out the wing aircraft on the first five missions. The General and his crew were making radar photos of future targets. The table of organization did not provide the group CO with an A/C or crew. Since the group had no spare A/C or crews initially, I intended to keep the integrity of the crews and the A/C that they had been flying. Therefore, all the A/C numbers were put in a hat and, in the presence of the A/C commanders, I picked out a number with the understanding that its crew would be the group's test crew. Upon announcing the selected number, the A/C commanders began insisting that I draw again or trade A/C. I had picked the only "dog" in the group. It had had two engine changes and needed another (bearing failure) in the same nacelle; also aileron control was very bad at approach and landing speeds. The A/C had to be made airworthy! Maj. Gianini, Gp. Eng. Off. and I inspected the A/C and its records. It was quickly determined that the ailerons were incorrectly rigged. The wing depot rigging crew made the correction. Along with the engine change, I ordered that the oil cooler and all the plumbing be changed to prevent further damage from foreign material in the system. Enough to say the Nimitz flew every wing mission without requiring any major maintenance.

      The crew of the "Nimitz" was selected from group and squadron staff. On three missions Lt. Col. Kunkel, a squadron CO took out the "Nimitz."

      At a 315th Wing conference. General Armstrong announced that the 501st would provide an A/C to be dedicated to Admiral Nimitz because of the marvelous logistic support given the B-29s even though they were not under his command but came under the Joint Chiefs through the executive agent. General Arnold, to XXI Bomb Com. (later 20th AF); General LeMay (later General Spaatz). Operational coordination with U.S. Forces Central Pacific, Admiral Nimitz, was accomplished on Guam.

      General Armstrong was advised that I proposed my A/C and he agreed.

      Admiral Nimitz sent his own painter out to paint the A/C with his name and five star flag.

      On 15 June 1945 General Arnold made the presentation to Admiral Nimitz at Northwest Field, Guam before a large assemblage of officers and men of all services. The general expressed the congratulations from the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Admiral's outstanding use of minimal forces in achieving a continuing advance against the enemy and in securing the Marianas for the further advance both as bases for B-29s and for advancing sea and land forces. General Arnold spoke for about fifteen minutes, praising the man who had commanded all services of the U.S. in the central Pacific since shortly after Pearl Harbor and had brought them into position for the final assault in whatever way was necessary to achieve a surrender. In accepting, the Admiral spoke of the tremendous success of the B-29s in bringing Japan closer to surrender. He pointed out that he had not welcomed the first eight groups inasmuch as they would not be his force, and the logistic support would have to be taken from his forces. However, he went on to say that their success had been such that he was welcoming twelve more groups, personally, I had never heard such mutual admiration between Army Air Force and Navy; but after all, these were big, big understanding men.

      After the official ceremony, the Admiral and General Arnold were shown the outstanding features of the A/C by members of the crew. The APQ-7 (Eagle) radar; the radar controlled twin 50 gun turret in the tail; the navigational equipment including celestial, dead reckoning, and LORAN devices. At one time the Admiral asked what more assistance he could provide and I mentioned the establishment of a LORAN site on an island near Japan which had been requested. It was operational about two weeks later.

      General Arnold knew me from previous service together (first in 1935-36 as a 2nd Lt. when he commanded March Field, California) and he set up my prize of the many pictures taken, he got me in between himself and Admiral Nimitz with the painted nose of the A/C in the background. I call it "my ten (10) star ham sandwich."

      Prior to his departure the Admiral presented me with his five star insignia to put in the upholstery. (I still have it); and, a case of beer and a bottle of Haig & Haig pinch (which I don't have) with which the crew later celebrated the occasion.

      A typical mission was a late afternoon takeoff, a climb to 8,000 feet enroute with A/C following at 45 second intervals and the second group climbing to 10,000 feet. With the same calibrated indicated airspeed, this positioned the string of the second group at the target at nearly the same time so as to provide compressibility and reduce the defense firepower per side and see us (with the cockpit lit up) eating steaks. We'd give him that "getaway chicken, this is one of LeMay's monsters."

      Approaching Japan, the climb to bombing altitude (15,000 feet) would be made and then often a weather front would have to be penetrated with so much electrical activity that beautiful colors of St. Elmo's fire would flow in streams over the windshield and fiery balls could be seen at the ends of the wing, like vane antenna of the (Eagle) bombing and navigational radar. Soon, rain would dissipate the charge and the radar navigator could 'see' again.

      Ideal weather for visual bombing is clear and thirty or more miles visibility. For us, solid, smooth clouds with zero visibility was the ideal weather environment.

      At times, weather permitting, other converging A/C could be seen and the defense radar, controlled searchlights would be probing the area for a target. As soon as one lit us up, aluminum foil (rope) would be dispensed for their radar and the light to follow.

      Too late on the 'rope' and the light would lock on followed by others and that A/C would be coned with lights from all around the target area and immediately the A.A. bursts could be seen. An A/C lit up by searchlights was allowed to go to max power and the acceleration was enough that the flak bursts were behind and biting at his tail. Everyone else in the immediate area got a free ride to the target. This was the reason for our compressibility tactics which often achieved an average of two A/C per minute; i.e., forty A/C in 20 minutes and converging on a one or two mile square target.

      On our second strike, the Kudamatsu Oil Refinery, a strong wind shift was encountered right on the bomb run and could not be accommodated before bombs away. The bomb pattern was to the right and long, falling mainly on an adjacent target, the Haitachi Manufacturing Company. On the mission, the 'Fleet Admiral Nimitz' had a distinguished passenger; David T. Griggs* from the Secretary of War's Office and an early leader of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 'Eagle' development group. A year earlier while serving in the Operations Division of the War Department General Staff, I had declined his offer to get me assigned to MIT because my desire was take a B-29 Group to combat Imagine our mutual surprise when he came aboard.

      Because of the very strong wind shifts encountered quite often along the Japanese coast and the difficulty, if not impossibility of applying the corrections on the bomb run, it was decided by the Wing commander, General Armstrong, to send a wind run A/C to the target a few minutes early and broadcast the drift encountered. Since it was agreed bombs could be carried and dropped, the 'Fleet Admiral Nimitz' took the mission.

      On the Wing's fourth mission (the target, the Maruzen Oil Refinery) we preceded the main force by ten minutes. Takeoff flight and climb to bombing altitude (15,000) was normal. The bomb safety pins had been pulled and counted. The bomb run; the 'Fleet Admiral Nimitz' was pressurized, on automatic pilot, and being established on track by my turning the A/C to follow the pilots direction indicator (PDI). The radar bombardier in the navigator's compartment behind the engineer's compartment in back of the cockpit, was tracking the target on the radar scope 'cross hairs.' Being electrically synchronized with the bomb sight in the nose, this sighting information set up the required track, to include drift, which was passed through to the PDI for course guidance by myself. The radar sighting also set up on the bombsight the exact ground speed and time of bomb release. Trail for the type of bomb had previously been set into the bombsight. We were not tracking (on the money) with twenty degrees right drift. Although busy holding track, speed and altitude, I could see the coastline, a few scattered clouds below, broken above and about a half moon. The searchlights began coming on, probing the sky for us. One hits us and the navigator shoves a bundle of 'rope' out the flare chute, aided by the pressurization of the A/C. The enemy radar follows it. Boy, what a relief.

      Down in the nose the bombsight indicators come together, my red light comes on, bomb doors have snapped open, "bombs away" and the A/C lifts as the 40 500 pounders leave us in a minimum train 'stick.' I break away right and down since we're the lowest A/C in the stack. My co pilot, Maj. 'Greg' Hathaway, is on the inside of the turn and has the best view of the tremendous explosions which even light up the clouds above us. We've hit pay dirt! His comment: "Of all the (expletive deleted) I've taken in the Army, its all paid off tonight." We were all decorated for the mission and "Maruzen" became the 501st battle cry. Target 95% destroyed.

      The bombing of the Ube Coal Liquefaction plant (mission 13,5, 6 August) resulted in the destruction of the target and the dikes surrounding, and with the post photos Admiral Nimitz received the notation "Target destroyed and sunk."

      The last mission of World War II? Certainly the last B-29 mission. President Truman announced the surrender during our return to Guam after dropping a full bomb load on the oil refinery at Akita on northwest Honshu the night of 14, 15 August. This was the longest combat strike, 3740 miles.** We met over 300 B-29s and passed through them as they departed Tokyo leaving it an inferno. All A/C had landing lights on and flying as assigned altitudes, but even so it was a bit unnerving.

      * Professor of Geology, University of California, Los Angeles, California.
      ** Longest mission from the Marianas; longest B-29 mission was from Trincomalee, Ceylon to Palembang, Sumatra, August 1944, 3950 miles.

      On this mission, as we taxied out, the 'Fleet Admiral Nimitz' showed a 100 r.p.m. magneto drop on one of two mags on one engine. When we reached the runway, a jeep drove up in front and an officer signaled 'cut engines.' He climbed in and said "Admiral Nimitz says the war is over." He had departed and I had just finished 'chiding' my crew chief for the only time "The Nimitz' was short of perfection when another jeep arrived with "get going, LeMay hasn't received word that the war is over." We cranked up and took the runway knowing that if we (number 1) didn't get a good power check and runway speed and had to chop throttles and abort, most probably all the A/C would follow us back to the ramp, thinking that the mission was scrubbed. Thankfully, 'The Nimitz' performed and we lifted off greatly relieved.

      The 'Nimitz' next flight was delivering a bomb bay load of food, medicine, and clothing to a POW camp in Yokohama. As we flew past the Pacific Fleet with the Battle Ship Missouri steaming into the outer harbor, a group of Navy carrier fighters passed near to investigate. Seeing the name and the five star flag and not knowing whether he was aboard or not, the 'Nimitz' received "Sir, anything we can do to assist?" A well deserved salute to a ship as gallant as the man to whom she was dedicated.

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My Life in the 331st Bomb Group


Clarence Juett

      On June 6th, 1945 per special order #157, I was assigned to one of the best aircrews (5A2) in our squadron. 1st Lt. William Y. Quinn was the aircraft commander. Each crew was assigned a crew chief (me in this case), a mechanic, and an electrician. Other passengers were to be; our commanding officer Lt. Col. Willard W. Wilson and Maj. Warren K. Watson. We were shipped to Herington, Kansas where we were assigned to B-29 #44-83893. On the 26th of June, 1945 operations orders #159 (Mather Field) ordered us to proceed to Guam.

      I don't remember just when I learned the exact destination (rather odd, but memory is not what it used to be). We flew to John Rogers Field at Honolulu where unfortunately we were not allowed to go into the city due to a flu epidemic. After our stop there overnight, we flew to Kwajalein, an island in the Marshall group. It was barely more than a landing strip.

      Here I had my first dip in the Pacific Ocean, it was quite a busy place. Aircraft coming and going like mad. A lot of the traffic was hospital ships. After a nights rest, we took off for Guam. Seven hours by air and we were at Harmon Field. It is funny how little one remembers in a case like this. The most outstanding, I think was the fact that Lt. Quinn was careful about power settings. Lt. Col. Wilson got in some flying time and I remember Quinn would see to it that the power was pulled back if he got to pushing too hard. it was like to say "Let's take good care of these engines so that they will get us safely to our destination, and furthermore to and from the target later!" At Harmon Field we unloaded mail then flew to our new base at Northwest Field.

      By the time we got to Guam I had found the air crew to be a very nice group of fellows; we had Lt. William Y. Quinn as AC, Clark B. Van Duesen as pilot, Eugene F. Grove for navigator, Clayton B. Bisnett as bombardier, Paul E. (Mouse) Colarusso on radar/LORAN/nav, Peter S. Carbone as flight engineer, Charles S. Morel at radio operator, Patrick J. Hartnett for EMG, Warren D. Person as AG and John H. Bye for GT.

      Guam was a really new experience. It was a mess of torn up jungle that the CB's had torn and ripped out areas for runways, taxi strip, parking stand, maintenance areas, and tent areas. The heat and humidity soon had my feet in blisters and I found that the Kansas sun tan was not enough protection.

      Shortly after we arrived we divided the maintenance operation into a three section type of operation. Section A was flight line, B was heavy maint./insp. and depot type was C. I was assigned as Chief of section B so turned Slicker "4" over to others.

      Section "B" was just an area torn out of the jungle and surfaced so that aircraft could be pulled up there from the parking areas. We eventually got some frame works built up that the aircraft could be pulled up to give us means to work on and around engines etc., but primarily we worked from portable stands.

      Man oh man, I can still feel how hot is was and how the sheet metal burned bare skin if you bellied up to it.

      Shortly after we arrived, "Slicker 4" (Slicker being the group aircraft name code for call ID) had a wing tip damaged on landing or taxiing. Tree trunks and roots were all over the place at the edges of the clearings. Sad thing though, after they replaced the wing section and had the aircraft lined up for next mission, a CB came roaring by in a dump truck and as he went by (under the wing) he hit a bump and the cab protector bounced up and clipped the same wing, so it was to be done all over!

      What a change from Nebraska, one extreme to the other in weather, some of the guys got 100 octane and sunburns mixed together and really suffered. Others, the jungle rot took it toll. I still am fighting it yet.

      At first we lived in tents in an area that had been cleared out of the jungle. Later we moved into barracks. Even they had certain draw backs, tar dripping through the roof and ants that got into everything. Still it was better than tents.

      Our shower system was a supply tank up on poles with pipes running to an enclosure of a sort with shower heads. If you took your shower at the right time it wasn't too bad as it would be warm from the sun.

      We soon (after the crews flew a few orientation missions) were sending aircraft out to bomb Japan. By the way, some of the orientation missions were a bit scary too. One crew on a run over one of the uncaptured (bypassed) islands turned on the bomb bay lights to see if the bay had cleared and bingo a search light came on from below, in another case the crew came in on their run from one direction and another came in from 180 off and nearly collided.

      When the Aircraft took off on their missions it was always a breathtaking experience to watch. The runway was located in such a way that they took off over a cliff. As they left land they would drop down out of sight trying to do their best to take it easy on the 3350's which were notorious for upper cylinder failure under high power and temp. They would finally come back up into sight and we would breath a sigh of relief and then watch the next one and so on. The advantage of the cliff height was sure a blessing for those 3350's. It gave them a chance with the heavy loads to get air speed and cooling with the minimum of power. However, in reading some stories after the war, I think that one crew was lost going to stateside lost it all taking off from another island. It is thought that they probably expected that spare air space (were so used to it) and it wasn't there so they went in and all were lost, so sad, went through all those missions and then end up that way.

      After missions sweating it out came out pretty good at the 331st. In fact we must have been especially blessed in that as far as I know we never lost a man or aircraft in all the missions flown. As far as I know we were the only group so lucky. We had a little flak damage, one scare with a cocked nose gear requiring a tail skid main gear caution type landing, and one that lost voltage regulator group and burned up the electronic system; however that was nothing compared to most groups. It does reflect well on the ground and air crews. Brings back the memory of how on our way over Lt. Bill Quinn would see to it that the power settings were kept at minimum regardless of who was flying, things like that plus some inate skill, training, good luck and the blessings from above pulled the 331st through the missions to the empire and Slicker "4" through the mission after the war.

      The 315th Wings Eagle Project Radar system and Gen. LeMay's leadership really brought havoc to the Japanese homeland. The APQ-7 radar and the 315th's way of bombing soon brought the war to an end. Since the war I have heard a lot said against the A Bomb, but very little about the fact that we didn't start the war, nor the fact that it saved very many lives on both sides. Regardless of what lies been said, if we would have sent in troops, it would have been a slaughter on both sides. With all the suicide submarine, aircraft, and other fanatics on the homeland, the losses would be unbelievable. Too many seem to forget how difficult it was to take various islands even with all the bombardment that proceeded the landings. Now how can any one figure they would have given up the homeland with less fight?

      VJ Day was quite exciting but our Group managed to keep from raising too much cain. Jungle Jim (Col. Payton) had things pretty well under control.

      By the way, I wonder if many remember the B24 we had and the time they had a problem with the nose wheel retraction? Having heard that you could put a bunch of people in the tail end, you could then check out the nose gear retraction could be checked out, anyway I (at that time I was group line Chief) came by to see how they made out in checking it out, it was setting on its nose wheel with the gear retracted, what happened, they didn't have enough people in the tail!!

      The night after the end of hostilities, found most of us at the usual picture show (a la Guam style) when the crew chief of my old plane and I were called to the projector shack. The squadron C.O. (Lt. Col. W. W. Wilson) was there waiting to inform us that he wanted #4 (the plane I flew over in) ready to go by morning. I called out a couple of my crews and the plane was ready to go by midnight with bomb bay tanks in the rear bay and cargo in the front bay. (Ref order #'s 45 & 32 of Aug. 1945). We also replaced the nose art. The aircrews name and nose art was Salome, Where She Danced (the missions) changed to "Dode" and a big pipe for this trip as this was Col. Wilsons father's trade mark.

      When the C.O. came out to see if the plane was ready to go, he told me to get my clothes together as I was to go as crew chief on a trip to the Philippines. I was quite amazed at this and felt a little troubled for the regular crew chief that had taken the plane over when I moved up to section B chief; however, I was pleased and honored to have the C.O. ask me to go and go I did.

      On our flight we had with us Lt. Col. Barnick and Maj. Ronald H. Kettle (medical) in addition to our C.O. Lt. Col. W. W. Wilson and his brother Col. A. T. Wilson Jr. I later learned that Lt. Col. Barnick (our deputy group commander) was along in case we had to converse with Russians regarding the release of Col. A.T. Wilson, Sr. Col. Barnick (Barney) was of Russian origin and could speak some Russian. Also, Barney had considerable experience in the Philippine Islands. In fact, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he took his squadron to Bataan and when it fell, he flew General Carlos Romulo to safety in Mindanao aboard the last plane to leave. For this, he was awarded the Silver Star.

      Once together, I found we had practically the same air crew that we had coming over. This made it a jolly and friendly bunch. We had to leave Clayton Bisnett and John Bye in Guam due to other passengers. We learned that our Col. Wilson and his brother Col. A. T. Wilson, Jr's father had been taken as a prisoner-of-war at Bataan by the enemy and was held at Mukden Manchuria. Col. A. T. Wilson had gotten permission from Gen. LeMay to take a plane and crew to FEAF where he and his brother would request permission from General Kenney to go to Gen. MacArthur for permission to fly into China and pick up their father at the POW camp in Manchuria. While waiting for the Wilson brothers to get the clearance, the air crew and I toured parts of Manila.

      We had parked Slicker 4 at Nichols Field while all of the negotiations were going on. We were parked near Lord Louis Mountbatten's airplane. We got a chuckle out of a story the engineer told us of the time he got into trouble giving the aircraft a power check. During the check some of the glasses in the bar broke from the vibrations.

      In our tour we were amazed at the destruction of the city that took place in its recapture. In the Walled City area the building and holes blown in them big enough to drive 6 x 6's through. I suppose this was done by some of the ships long rifles (155's or whatever). The tour of Corregidor was quite an eye opener as well. Makes a person feel very fortunate that he/she were not involved in the defense or recapture. The tunnels and caves and the shocking results of the flame throwers were everywhere.

      After waiting about twenty days for permission, we loaded a bunch of Red Cross supplies (at Florida Blanca) and took off for Chengtu, China. Flying into China then was not a very simple thing as airways and aids were practically nonexistent; if fact, there was very little to be had in the way of adequate air maps or charts. When we arrived in the vicinity of Chengtu we had a hair raising time trying to find our way down through the overcast. Fortunately we had a most excellent team of navigators, in this case Lt. Grove and Colarusso, but in spite of that after a number of attempts to get down through the overcast we had to give up.

      Approximately fourteen hours after takeoff and worried moments with fuel transfer as well as other problems, we were back and landed at Clark Field. The next try put us in Chengtu okay. It was a desolate place swarming with coolies and the few G.I.'s that were left there. The air field maintenance was quite something to see. Seemed like hundreds of coolies carrying materials and pulling rollers to make repairs to the runway. I can imagine some of the experiences pilots had coming in to land with them out on the field.

      I now found out how fortunate it was for me that upon the time for departure from Clark Field arrived, an Aussie and a New Zealand soldier had asked to go with us and was accepted. These two proved themselves excellent, hard workers when it came to pulling cowling and helping with work on the engines. The sad part is that I never made a record of their names or addresses. Sure would like to have kept in contact. They were a great pair and had been through many campaigns during the war. They had decided to come as just a fun trip.

      The Wilsons contacted Gen. Weidemeyer's Headquarters and made arrangements to be picked up in a smaller aircraft and flown to Chungking, where they relayed word to Mukden, Manchuria regarding our mission, and to get the word to their father that we were going to pick him up.

      During my inspection of the engines I discovered we had some cracked exhaust stacks that would have to be repaired or replaced. Spare parts and repair equipment was basically non existent in that part of the country, so it was decided that we would fly to Kunming where the chances of getting parts and repairs made was much better.

      Included in our history is the story of our trip as told by Col. W. W. Wilson that is much more detailed and interesting. Please read it to get the real feel for our flight from the pilots viewpoint.

      When the Wilsons and Barnick returned from Chungking with the authority to proceed to Mukden to pick up the Wilson's father, it was decided that we would fly first to Kunming and make the repairs to the engines.

      When we arrived in Kunming we learned that the POW's at Mukden were being flown to Kunming in C-87's so we would not have to fly to Mukden. I proceeded to work out the problems with the engines, an oil leak on one and cracked short exhaust stack on another.

      During the repair of the oil leak at the banjo fitting on the prop governor, I was laying on top of the engine and reaching over to tighten the fitting when I almost jumped off of the engines as a helicopter flew over at low level, probably to get a look at this big airplane, and like to scared the devil out of me. That was, I believe, about the second one I had ever seen in action, and the way he came over I didn't know whether we were being attacked or what.

      We found in getting the stack repaired that the Chinese couldn't work from blueprints in all cases. However, if you gave them a sample of what you wanted, they could make one or a dozen like it. Thus, we soon had the repairs accomplished and ole #4 (Dode) as serviceable as ever. One engine did have a little more mag drop than I liked, but nothing seemed to help it, not plug changes or timing. Otherwise it performed well on all power checks.

      While we were waiting the arrival and clearance of the Wilson's father, we obtained transportation and toured some of the area in and around Kunming. I am still trying to get information regarding a temple we saw up in the hills that was very old and had some very interesting figures, carvings, and statues such as I have never seen before or since. Somehow I ended up without learning the name or the history of this temple. I have had some very interesting communications (by mail) through the editor of the Ex CBI Roundup magazine. That is another story all by itself and someday I hope to put that all together and figure it out. There seems to be more temples than I realized in that area. I've had several people write to describe and list various temples, but have yet to resolve which one it is that I saw.

      A couple of happenings during our stay in China sure indicated the lack of respect for life. In one case a G.I. had accidentally killed a Chinese boy in a motorcycle accident. He was nearly mobbed; however, when he gave them five dollars, all was well. In another instance, as we were coming down from the temple we stopped at an accident and found that a Chinese soldier had been struck by the 6 x 6 truck and had a broken leg. We had a medical officer with us and he checked to see if he could be of help. As I understood it, the fellow begged him to shoot him rather than be taken to a hospital.

      In seeing the way they lived and stocked their food, the sanitation, etc. I had no appetite for or desired to eat their food. I think they had ailments and diseases that our doctors never heard of.

      On another tour we nearly got into some, what appeared at the time, serious trouble. We came upon a jeep that was stalled in a mud puddle. An American officer and his Chinese girlfriend were in the jeep and asked if we could help. We had a weapons carrier truck which has a bit better traction.

      A group of Chinese were near by pulling a load of material for market in a two wheel wagon. They pulled it with a long rope that gave them the means of having many pulling at the same time. Somehow, they were persuaded to let us use the rope to tie our truck to the jeep to pull them out. Unfortunately the rope broke and the Chinese like to went crazy over that. Finally some sort of settlement was made, the job accomplished and we all went our way. I guess that rope was really a major investment in their operation. Seemingly at the moment, enough to have nearly caused a scrap proportionate to that of an international incident.

      Finally Col. Wilson, Senior, was processed and cleared to return to the Philippines. We also had several other POW's come with us. A Philippine scout. Brigadier General Stevens, Cols. Belts, Frissel, Laughinghouse, Kelener, Capts. Pricketts USMC, Prickets and Lawrence. I am so sorry that I never learned or recorded more about these people. The same is true with many other things on this trip. I guess it was all too much in too short of a time.

      Upon takeoff, we had what was a very close call. If it hadn't been for some very quick action on Lt. Quinns part, I (none of us) would have been here today. Believe me, the losses as listed on our manifest would be a national tragedy. As we took off on this very rough runway, pulled up and tried to bank away from the hills ahead. Col. A. T. Wilson (our CO's brother) could not bank to the right. The control was jammed in that direction. Quinn saved all of our lives by his quick action in clearing the jam. (see Col. Wilson's story) Col. Wilson whipped it over in a steep bank and we cleared most gracefully. After that all went well and we made it back to Nichols Field in Manila with no further ado.

      Within three days of our arrival, their father was cleared to go on to Guam with us. Our plans at the time were to pull a good inspection on the airplane and take him to the good old U.S. of A. At Guam, General Twinning (whom had replaced General LeMay) told the Wilson's that their fathers trip by B-29 was over. He was sent back to the states in an ATC airplane.

      On my return to Northwest Field I found myself assigned to the job of group Line Chief. With the responsibility of coordinating the maintenance of the groups fleet of about 45 B-29's. This, in spite of the wars end, was quite a challenge as we had a lot of supply type missions to fly as well as the problems presented by a typhoon and hurricane. Supplying POW camps, and areas devastated by the hurricane kept us all busy. We sent aircraft to the Philippines and other islands to pick up supplies and associated drop equipment and then to the affected areas. (Ref stories written by those who flew the missions) At one point I was up over 24 hours checking and coordinating maintenance, lining up aircraft in the proper order for their particular mission by priority of takeoff.

      It was during this time an incident happened that made me happy (in retrospect) that the Japanese soldiers still in the jungle did not decide to try any last stand suicide attacks. We had a road to the flight line from the barracks area that went through the jungle to the flight line.

      That night I was at the flight line area when one of the fellows came rushing in as though he had seen a ghost! He said that he was walking down the road when he saw a cigarette glow in the dark ahead. At that moment, he thought it was just one the fellows goofing off, but when he got to the place, a fully uniformed Japanese jumped up and ran back into jungle and of course our man came tearing into the flight line, one just as started as the other was.

      After I came back to the states, I learned that the stealing of clothing, rations, etc., that we used to blame other squadrons for, was in all reality, our neighbor Japanese just trying to survive. The base bulldozed out that section of jungle after I left and found a squadron of Japanese soldiers living there. We would have been sitting ducks for them had they decided to made some crazy suicidal attack.

      In spite of the fact that the B-29 and its engines were so new and had so little time for debugging, the 331st was very lucky, or blessed, in that as far as I know we lost not a single aircraft or soldier in action. Also, as far as I know we were the only group so fortunate. Even with all the skill we were blessed with in both air and ground crews, I think that was some sort of miracle.

      The 3350's were not at all that dependable to begin with, so I say we were truly blessed that we lost none. Of course, we came along late in the game and had for the most part new aircraft and had the benefit of the experience of those that went before us especially the 58th. Even in the case of our trip to China, slicker four waited till we got her back to Guam before it had its first cylinder trouble. The 3350's were notorious for upper cylinder failures, via swallowed valves etc. Thanks to fellows like Chester Dewey, Frank Gennereli, Joe Brado, French Fridell, Larry McCarthey and so many more, we managed to keep them flying safely.

      It was a great help to have people like engineering officer Lt. A. Salzman in helping do the impossible with nothing to do it with. He helped greatly in getting what little we had in the way of equipment etc. I'm sure in back of all this group engineering officer Maj. Orville Crowell was supporting the group as best he could. Sure wish I could have kept track of so many of these people.

      I am still curious as to what they did with the B-29 that lost its ground on the voltage regulators on a flight. The voltage went sky high and they blew out and burned up so much of the electrical system that it smelled like a billion burned up solenoids, when I stuck my head up into the forward section after they had landed it.

      About that time, I received word to report to the orderly room. I learned that they were taking 60 to 69 pointers to Saipan to go home with the 73rd Wing. I had 66 points so time was not wasted in getting ready to leave. I even forgot to turn in my weapons carrier, and left it parked in the area. I wondered for quite awhile if they would charge me for it.

      We were processed that night and left the next day by LCI for Saipan. What a night that next one was. The Pacific was in no way pacific. The typhoons and hurricanes they had really stirred things up. Even the crew was sick. Myself, I would have had to get a lot better before I could die.

      At Saipan I was assigned to the 499th Bomb Group and spent nearly a month waiting for a ship to take me home. We just loafed around and I sported the best suntan I had ever had. We saw a lot of movies and some live shows at the Goat Gulch Theatre. Sometimes it would drown us out with rain and on one occasion it was raining on one half of us and the other half got only a sprinkle.

      October the 30th we got aboard the SS Montrose PA ship and began that long awaited voyage home! The ocean was fairly rough, but I thought that as sick as I got coming up from Guam that I would be okay. Well, just as we were getting in line for chow I found myself seasick again, the next four days I was so sick that all I could do was lay on the deck under a landing boat and count barnacles. Every time I got up I tried to heave my stomach overboard. If it hadn't been secure I think my whole innards would have gone overboard. I found that by laying down I could get by so that is how I spent those first four days.

      In talking to Luke Barnes via long distance a while back, he was surprised that I was still alive. He just didn't think I was going to make it. I did finally get my sea legs and had a fairly good time on the remainder of the trip. One of the most supportive persons during that time was a fellow that everyone always seemed to give a bad time. Again in not being able to recall a name, I find myself every regretful.

      After sixteen days enroute we sighted the Golden Gate Bridge. We were in dock by noon. They put us on a ferry and took us up to Camp Stoneman where we had the most delicious supper that I had eaten for a long long time.

      They outfitted us with O.D.'s and after a short wait I was on my way to a discharge center at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. I was lucky in that our group had a pullman for the whole trip.

      On the 23rd of November 1945, I became a civilian again in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and hurried home to my wife and newborn son. He was born the 7th of November.


To God and My Country

      God Blessed me with all in my past and my country gave me a chance to become what I have through schooling, service to my nation and a wealth of experiences.

To My Wife

      A special place is reserved here for the hereafter. Her fine work and total commitment in taking such good care other husband and four boys through hardships, suffering, sadness and happiness over the years with no loss in stride has been an accomplishment few can describe with accuracy not repay with other than love and admiration.

To the Boys

      God bless em each and every one, the men I served with and crew to know intimately as well as those of brief acquaintance. "To the boys from die 355 Bomb Squadron, the 331st Bomb Group and the 315th Bomb Wing."

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George W. Johnson
581st Material Squadron 75th ASG

      Roy Adcox from Alabama and I were equipment operators of 581st Mat. Our job was to level and grading of camp sites, loading of barracks material and hauling to sites. We had natives working with us.

      One day while I was loading trucks, with a truck crane from the stock yard, three or four natives working with me let out a loud yell and took off for the jungles. I followed them. They had heard a wild pig fall into their trap. No more work from the natives that day. They butchered the pig. Due to no refrigeration, the meat had to be taken care of. So after receiving an invitation from the natives, I enjoyed a wild native dinner.

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The Last of the Bombardiers

Down a lonely road on a cold black night,
           A miserable beggar trudges into sight,
           And the people whisper over their beers
           There goes the last of the bombardiers.
What is a bombardier? No reply.
           But men grow silent and women sigh.
As a deathlike silence fills the place,
           With a gaunt grey ghost of a long-lost race.

Furtive glances from ceiling to floor,
          Till someone, or something, opens the door;
The bravest of hearts turn cold with fear,
          For the thing in the door was a bombardier.
His hands were bony and his hair was thin,
          His back was curved like an old bent pin,
His eyes were two rings of black,
          And he vaguely mumble, shack, shack, shack!

This ancient relic of the second world war,
          Crept across the room and slouched on the bar.
And in hollow tones from his sunken chest.
          Demanded a drink and only the best.
The people said nothing but watched in the glass,
          As the beggar produced his bombardier's pass,
With the glass to his lips, they heard him say,
          Bomb bays open, Bombs away!

Then speaking a word he slouched thru the door;
          And the last of the bombardiers was seen no more,
But all thru the years that phrase has stuck.
          When you say "Bombardier," you add,
                    "Hard luck."

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We Bartered With the Japs
On Hokkaido Island


Walter C. King, Navigator
411th Squadron, 502nd Bomb Group

      Two of the most memorable events that happened to me while serving with the 315th Bomb Wing on Guam during World War II and the days immediately following the Japanese surrender are related in letters I wrote to my mother.

      In a letter written to her on August 16,1945,1 told tier about how we sweated out "last" mission. "The roughest part of the war, as far as I was concerned," I wrote, "was just before the news of the peace came."

      We had planned for a mission on the 13th, but it was postponed in hopes the Japs might accept our peace terms. Then on the 14th we prepared for the mission again, and while we were waiting our turn to takeoff that night we heard a radio broadcast saying the war had ended. But since President Truman hadn't officially announced it, we had to fly the mission anyway. We were given instructions to salvo our bombs into the ocean and return to Guam if we were radioed to do so while we were enroute to our target. We never received such instructions, even though we listened hopefully all the way.

      The mission to Akita was the longest bombing mission ever attempted—3,750 miles. We made it all right even though we had to stop off at Iwo Jima on our return flight because of engine trouble. We were in the air 17 hours and 10 minutes. Boy, was I tired.

      Another event that stands out in my memory is the trip we took to Hokkaido, the northernmost island in the Japanese home group. This trip was associated with the three-plane flight, led by Generals Chiles (ed. Giles), LeMay, and O'Donnell, from Japan to Washington in September of 1945, which was aborted short of its destination because of bad weather.

      We were a part of a contingent sent to Chitose Airfield to pick up and return to Guam some of the equipment and personnel which had been sent there to launch the record-seeking flight to Washington. I wrote to my mother telling her about our trip to this strange land. Since she kept all of my letters, I would like to share this one with you because it gives an accurate account of how it was in the minds of the young conquerors who hobnobbed with their recent enemies:

24 September 1945
Dear Ma,

      I had a very interesting trip to Japan which should supply me with writing material for months. We left about 3:30 a.m. on the 20th and flew to Iwo Jima where we got a full gas load and went on to our destination on the island of Hokkaido. We landed at a Jap airfield called Chitose.

      The purpose of our trip was to return to Guam some of the equipment and men that had been used to launch the three B-29 flight from Japan to Washington in an attempt to set a long distance flight record.

      We left Iwo Jima at 9:00 a.m. on the 20th and got to Chitose about noon. We saw many demolished cities enroute to the field. The country was very mountainous and beautiful from the air. Chitose Field, located in the southeastern part of Hokkaido, was well camouflaged but not too difficult to find since we knew its exact location. There were about five other B-29's there when we landed, which had come for the same purpose. We landed and loaded the equipment and went to one of two large hangers on the field, where we were to stay. Japanese soldiers were in the other hangers and 3,000 Jap sailors were stationed on a base only three miles away.

      This part of Japan hasn't been occupied and we were the only Americans the Japs had had contact with for years. They could have done anything they liked with us, but wouldn't have gained anything.

      The cheaply dressed, bowlegged, short, flat faced, slat eyed soldiers that we had contact with were all bows and salutes and wore a make of innocence. They appeared and disappeared too easily for my comfort, though. You would see several and, on turning your back, they would be gone. Such ugly men, I have never seen before.

      That section of Japan is as far north as Pennsylvania, so the climate was exactly what you are having back home. Crisp, cold air, frosty mornings...Boy, it made me homesick. The terrain and vegetation was remarkable comparable to Pennsylvania too, and I loved it for a change. I wouldn't mind staying up there for a few weeks.

      For transportation there were three broken down Jap trucks and a jeep on the field. We rode in the trucks to the hanger, which was located some distance from the runway. The hanger, like the roads and runway, was inferior to any of ours. It was a completely wooden structure.

      We took some folding cots from a stack and made our beds, stealing three blankets each from men who had eight or more. A GI, assisted by several Jap soldiers, heated rations for our supper. After supper we looked over Jap planes ("Bettys") in nearby revetments. They had been stripped of all removable parts, so we had to be content with just taking pictures of them as souvenirs.

      Although we were all tired, our co-pilot, another officer passenger (Lieutenant Geisler), and I were not ready to go to bed and decided to walk into the little town of Chitose, supposedly only three miles away. There was a full moon and a cool fall breeze which made me feel more at home than ever as we walked along the dirt road. We weren t allowed to carry our .45's and I had a feeling of helplessness after we had walked a mile. I could see some of those Japs appearing from the dark shacks that we passed to thrust a knife in my back, and the sound of howling dogs in the distance didn't relieve any of the tension. I wasn't the only one who was uneasy. Lieutenant Geisler (a Pennsylvania man, incidentally) told us that he had his knife opened and stuck up his sleeve.

      After walking about three miles we came to the airfield gate with a Jap MP guarding it. We walked up to try inquiring as to the distance to town. Soon there were seven Japs with him and we started walking on toward town. I didn't feel right surrounded by so many of them, even though they were probably perfectly harmless. In a few minutes a bus came along and we rode it into the little town, since some other officers were on it. The town was dead so we rode back to the field with seven other men in a jeep. God, those front fenders are narrow. But I was glad for the ride.

      Back in the hanger the rest of the crew had just finished a case of Jap beer, so we missed out on that too. I almost froze that night, but I loved it. Wonderful fall weather! The Japs had brought in hundreds of well-woven mats about three inches thick for us to sleep on. They take off their shoes to step on them and they also squat and eat on them. I suppose they were disgusted to see us set our cots on these mats.

      The next morning we woke up about 6:30 and ate hated rations for breakfast. The water was ice cold and really woke you up when you washed in it. The major in charge wanted us to start back to Guam, but we had our hearts set on going into Sapparo, a city of 230,000 people. We were told they hadn't had cigarettes for years and that we could buy the town out for two cartons of cigarettes.

      We managed to get permission and a Jap truck. There must have been fifty men in the back of that little truck. Barely standing room and the driver didn't know what he was doing. Enroute to Chitose the truck started to cough so we drove to the huge naval academy there and demanded another truck, which we got in a hurry. Incidentally, I discovered there that my camera was broken, so I got no pictures.

      We drove over lovely hills into Sapparo in the truck, the whole mob falling over like dominos when we rounded a curve or changed gears. No house was painted and shingle roofs were used, with a few having thatched roofs. The houses seemed devoid of furniture and were quite small. The farms are fertile but primitive farming methods are used: beating grain to thresh it, cutting grain with knives, etc. Absolutely no machinery. Many shrines were located along the road. They consisted of a statue at the end of a path which was lined with trees and smaller statues in some cases.

      We finally arrived in the city, pretty well beaten from the truck ride. The residential section was poor, consisting of the type of houses I mentioned before. I saw no cars to speak of and only a few streetcars. The business section was made up of modern buildings, however. The hotel we went to would compare with our American hotels.

      On the street we noticed that none of the women wore skirts. Their dress was made up of slacks with a big, baggy rear and close bottoms. They either wore a blouse or a wide belt-affair high on their backs in which they carried babies. Their shoes were a piece of unpainted wood with a strap between the big toe and the rest of the foot, going back around either side of the foot and there was no strap on the heel. This piece of wood had two one-inch square pieces of wood on the bottom. They were all identical. What a clatter they made on the streets.

      The men's clothes were similar to ours except for the shoes. There faces are more or less flat and expressionless. They show little or no emotion by facial expressions. The baggy slacks made the women's hips look very wide. Very few people were taller than I am.

      I got back to the hotel in time to drink two quarts of Jap beer before the bus left. The hat check girls looked okay to me, except for their slant eyes, they were pretty. I gave them a pack of gum and they got quite friendly. Perhaps it was the Jap beer, but they couldn't have been too bad.

      The ride back was hectic. We had a bus, but the Jap driver drove like mad and we had no lights. He knocked a wagon over on the way and almost hit several people. We arrived back at the hanger at 7:30.

      The next morning we finished loading our plane and took off for Iwo at 1:30 in the afternoon. We flew over Akita, which we bombed on our last mission. There was nothing left there, completely ruins in the area that we had bombed. We then came down over Tokyo but were unable to see much because of fog. It is in ruins, though. We got into Iwo at about 7:00 p.m., stayed there that night, and got to Guam yesterday afternoon, the 23rd.

      Hope you are all o.k.

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The Last Mission


Nevada Lee
502nd Bomb Group

      As you remember, I'm sure, 20th AF B-29's, including everybody as usual, flew the last strike mission of the war against Japan. On that day, August 15, and as a part of that mission we (the 502nd) had a plane that was aborted temporarily and then finally took off after all the rest had left. I was the 502nd flight line maintenance officer and I remember this incident very well indeed. The pilot refused to abort; we all knew it probably would be the last mission against the Empire, and he was determined to go. (General Armstrong, at the head of the takeoff line with his airplane, actually sent an officer to Wing Operations to make sure surrender had not occurred before giving the go ahead to the mission.) The airplane commander was Capt. Trask, and I think it was Robert Trask.

      If I remember the facts as they actually were, and I believe I do, this single B-29 sortie, flown by Trask and his crew, was the very last offensive action by any U.S. Force against the Japanese Empire before its surrender. That's what everybody was saying, including the news media, when the plane returned. By a stroke of fate (near abortion), Trask and crew were the last to leave, the last B-29 over the target to drop bombs and the last plane to return.

      I still have a bomb arming wire that I took from the plane as a souvenir. The tag I put on it, written that day, reads as follows:

On one side:
"Arming wire used on 250 lb bomb. Bomb dropped from B-29 airplane #42-63742 (H-26) on 15 August, 1945. Pilot: Capt. Trask; Sqdrn: 411th Bomb; Group: 502nd Bomb"
On other side:
"This airplane "The Uninvited" was the last B-29 to drop bombs on the Japanese Empire. It was the last B-29 on a combat sortie over the Japanese Empire. Target: Akita (Nippon Oil Refinery)"

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The Case of the Dream
and D-Day in Europe


C. Hal McCuistion
Assistant Wing Flight Surgeon
315th Wing

      While awaiting orders for combat training to begin with the 315th Bombardment Wing, we carried out our temporary duties at the dispensary on the flight line at Clovis Airbase in New Mexico.

      I'll never forget a dream I had there one night in 1944. As things turned out I was given a vivid picture of events that would unfold in the progress of the war. On June 6th of that year I vowed that never again would I underestimate the power of a dream. I've thought about that dream many times down through the years and it has become my favorite wartime story:

      I was asleep in bed with my wife on an April night in 1944. You will remember that at this time the whole world was speculating on the date that the invasion of Europe would take place. At about three o'clock in the morning I had a most vivid dream.

      I was walking down the main street of Clovis when along came a newsboy shouting, "Extra! Extra! Allied invade Europe!" The date on the newspaper that he held in his hand was June 5, 1944. It was so startling that it awakened me.

      I got out of bed and went into the kitchen where I circled the date that I had seen on the newspaper on the wall calendar that was hanging there.

      At breakfast the next morning my wife kept pestering me as to why I had gotten up and gone into the kitchen in the middle of the night. I finally told her.

      After finishing breakfast I went down to my office at the dispensary on the flight line. Without mentioning my dream, I suggested to the other flight surgeons and the enlisted men at the dispensary that we each put five dollars in a pool along with our guess as to the date that the invasion would take place. The pool and predictions were then sealed and put in the base hospital safe.

      When the news of the invasion blared out over the radio on June 6th, the sealed envelope was taken from the safe and opened. My guess of June 5th was the closest and I was given the envelope which contained eighty bucks.

      It is interesting to note that General Eisenhower had originally chosen June 5th as D-Day, but was forced to delay for 24 hours because of weather.

      If this is read by any of the fifteen others that were in the pool I am sure they will moan as loudly as they did on that day forty years ago in Clovis.

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Texans Talked Big in
WWII, Or Did They?


C. Hal McCuistion
Assistant Wing Flight Surgeon
315th Wing

      The ill-founded rumor that Texans brag got its greatest impetus in World War II. This story should prove beyond question that Texans don't brag!

      During the "Big One," when the world was khaki-colored, some "squealer" in the crowd would pop off about poor Jim over there being a Texan, and from then on Jim's tranquility wasn't worth a plugged nickel. "How about it, Jim, is Texas really the richest, the biggest...?" and on and on ad nauseum. And if poor Jim, just to be polite, admitted that it might possibly be true: "Yeah, Man, listen at that Texan brag? Cripes, can't one day go by without having to hear about Texas?"

      Just a few days after Iwo Jima was declared secure, but while the Marines were still poking around in the caves for Japs, representatives of the various sections in our Bombardment Wing, were sent on a flight to Iwo. Our mission was to evaluate the possibility of using the island as a landing field for planes returning from Japan. The planes were often damaged by antiaircraft fire and frequently carried battle casualties which made it wise to land at Iwo for medical care, instead of having to wait until they could get back to Guam.

      We took off early one morning. In addition to the crew of four or five, there were six or eight others, all find red blooded Americans. But only one Texas, me. We had no sooner become airborne when it started: "How about it, Mac, what's the chances of Texas signing a separate peace with the Japs?" "Come on, Mac, let's hear all about that lake in Texas that's bigger than this one we're flying over."

      I had been up late the night before watching our Wing take off to plaster Tokyo and had been looking forward to this trip as a chance to catch up on some much needed sack time. I would open a sleepy eye, smile politely, and quietly assure my tormentors that they had nothing to fear, that Texas would not forsake its allies and that Lake Texoma wasn't quite as big as the Pacific Ocean. Obviously, sleep was impossible and to while away the time I was softly whistling "The Eye of Texas," not even aware that I was doing so until an empty flying boot bounced off my head as one of my buddies moaned, "Gad, he not only talks about it all the time, now we have to hear him make music about it." I mumbled my apologies.

      In about three hours we were over Iwo Jima. From the air it looked like a giant ant hill, and just as busy. Seabees were already lengthening the runways and clearing the debris of battle. New roads were being bulldozed, all of which made the powdery volcanic ash hover over the island like a shroud, with only Mount Surabachi poking clearly through it as if trying to come up for air.

      After landing, we inspected the small island. Our survey required little more than standing in one place and turning around 360 degrees. We next took jeeps as far up Mount Surabachi as the road went and walked the rest of the way. Our radar and communications officers wanted to inspect the elevation and the advantages it might offer. We had been told that there was a shack at the top which had been used by the Japs.

      I was in the lead of the group as we came to the brink of the hill, and there on a table top of the mountain was the shack. A large sign on stakes driven into the ground by the front door of the shack stopped us in our tracks. It read: "HOUSTON TEXAS, CITY LIMITS."

      I said not a word, but stepped aside and gave my friends an after-you-Alfonse gesture. Then I went to the door and called out, "I want to speak to the Mayor!" Two grinning GI's popped their heads out and saluted. "I'm the Mayor, Sir, and this is the City Manager," one said, pointing to his buddy.

      All I could hear from my companions behind me were sputterings, mutterings, and assorted profanities.

      We had a camera and I invited one of the group to take my picture standing by the sign with the "Mayor" and the "City Manager." Just as the picture was about to be snapped, the "Mayor" said, "Just a minute. Sir." He ran into the shack and came out with a small Lone Star flag of Texas which we unfurled and held between us above the sign. This picture will always be one of my most prized possessions.

      After our inspection was finished and we were about to take our leave of "Houston, Texas," the "Mayor" called again, "Just a minute. Sir." He ran into the shack again and returned with a ream of papers: mimeographed "Pertinent Facts About Texas" which he passed out to all of our party.

      Now, to me the most amazing thing about it all, and one reason I was so proud of those two GI's, was the fact that, come hell or high water or one of the bitterest battles of the Pacific war, they had crowded into their duffel bags those mimeographed papers and a Texas flag, and probably waded ashore with it all on their backs. The battle was so recently ended that there was hardly a chance they could have had those items brought in by any other means.

      The return flight to Guam was wonderful. From the time we left the top of Mount Surabachi until this day, my buddies haven't opened their mouths. As for me, I got that nap! I didn't say a word, because like I've been trying to tell you: Texans don't brag!

(This story first appeared in 'Texas Parade Magazine" in October of 1966. It is used by permission.)

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Wing Operations


John B. McPherson, Lt. General (Ret)
315th Bomb Wing Headquarters

      I joined the Wing HQ in February 1945 at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado. My assignment was as an Assistant Operations Officer in the Wing A-3 staff section (currently Director of Operations).

      The only item of note that I can recall prior to departure for overseas in May 1945 was being assigned as an observer for Wing HQ to a radar bombing project at Grand Island Air Base, Nebraska. A crew from the 501st Bomb Group was assigned to fly simulated bomb runs against targets in the Kansas City area. The runs were scored by a radar bomb scoring site at Kansas City, called Kansas City, Kitty. I believe, but am not certain, that other crews from other groups of the 315th may have also participated but, if so, they did not launch from or land at Grand Island.

      The Wing HQ was assigned two B-24M's as administrative aircraft and, having been a B-24 instructor pilot, I was assigned to pick them up at Kirkland Air Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and deliver them to Wing HQ at Colorado Springs. Since these aircraft were used for administrative purposes, all of the gun turrets had been removed and sheet metal work was accomplished, as necessary, to close up the holes in the aircraft fuselage.

      Upon takeoff with the first aircraft, it quickly yawed very badly to the right and it took full left rudder to take out the yaw. All engines performed normally and it was not readily apparent what was causing the yaw.

      I circled the field and landed. Upon careful visual inspection from the ground, it was obvious that the sheet metal required to replace the hole left by the tail turret was the culprit. On one side the sheet metal presented a smooth continuation of the fuselage; the other side was not so smooth but slanted toward the rear and toward the extended center line of the A/C. This defect was soon repaired.

      A crew, of which I was a member, and commanded by the Wing Chief of Staff, Colonel Leland (Pinky) Stranathan, was scheduled to travel to our overseas destination, Guam, in one of the B-24's.

      We departed McClellan Air Base, Sacramento, California, in early May. First overnight stop was at Hickam Air Base, Hawaii. Thence to Midway Island, Eniwetok Island, then Guam without incident, other than being exposed to the Gooney birds at Midway for the first time.

      Upon arrival at Guam, I was assigned duty as Base Operations Officer. Except for two completed parallel runways, the airfield was still under construction as the Bomb Groups' aircraft began arriving. The airfield was called Northwest Airfield, Guam.

      Our main effort at Base Operation was to coordinate the taxi flow of aircraft with the construction work of the Seabees and the Army engineers and to insure maximum airfield readiness for each mission.

      Several aircraft were damaged by flying rocks from blasting but, by the cooperation of all concerned all four Bomb Groups with their total of 75 A/C each (as I recall) were soon in place and flying missions against Japan.[ed: Each bomb group had 45 airplanes authorized. lm]

      The normal prevailing wind was from an easterly direction; therefore, takeoffs were scheduled for most missions to be to the East. The 501st and 16th Bomb Groups used the southern East-West runway and the 331 st and 502nd Bomb Groups used the northern East-West runway.

      We were concerned that in the course of taxiing and taking off for a mission we could get a windshift that would require a takeoff to the West. Since there was only one taxiway leading to each runway, there was no way the aircraft could be turned around in any reasonable period of time to insure scheduled time over target.

      We, therefore, made a test downwind takeoff to determine if a takeoff could be safely accomplished with a nominal, up to 10 mph, tailwind. I flew as copilot for a fully loaded B-29 with 21,000+ pounds of forty 500 pounds GP bombs. Lt. Colonel Doc Gould was the pilot. The takeoff was successful, but close, and we questioned that we would ever follow the procedure. Fortunately, we never had the occasion to consider it.

      I was then assigned as one of four Wing assistant operations officers who planned, briefed, and followed through to complete each Wing mission. We would brief the Wing, Group and Squadron Commanders and Operations staffs on the evening of day 1. We then would coordinate and monitor the takeoffs the late afternoon of day 2, and we would debrief and write the mission report on day 3. The cycle would start over again on day 4.

      Wing policy was to rotate Wing Operations Officers and squadron commanders from the groups about every 45-60 days. I was scheduled to rotate to the 331st Bomb Group as a Squadron Commander on September 1, 1945. As you know, the war ended on August 14, 1945.

      We Operations Officers were able to double up for each other and fly on some of the missions against Japan either as an extra crew member or as an observer. I participated as a third pilot. On one mission, the last of the war, the target was the oil refinery at Akita, Japan, in the far northwest corner of Honshu Island.

      I believe that all of the Bomb Wings in the Marianas Islands, the 73rd, 58th, 313th and 314th, preceded the 315th Wing because, as we flew enroute to our target off the east coast of Japan, it appeared that all of Honshu Island was ablaze from Nagoya to Osaka to Tokyo. The other Wings bombed with a combination of general purpose bombs to break up Japanese buildings and other structures and incendiary bombs to set them afire. The 315th bombed only with 500 pound general purpose bombs against the oil refineries.

      This last mission was 18 hours long for the 315th "Eagle" wing aircraft. As you know, aerial refueling had not as yet been developed so the mission was unrefueled which was a significant accomplishment when one considers that each plane carried slightly over 20,000 pounds of bombs from takeoff to target.

      Some hours after bombs away and as we coasted out off the coast of Japan east of Tokyo, we tuned in the 50,000 watt radio station on Saipan and heard the announcement that Japan had accepted surrender terms and the war was over. The relief felt by all of us on the B-29 was followed by a glance at the four engines with the thought that they'd surely keep turning to get us back to Guam, and they did.

      Within a few days after the end of the war, the 315th did its share of flying food, clothing and other necessities to the Allied prisoners of war held in Japanese POW camps. These items were carried on pallets in the bomb bay and dropped so as to land in the camps.

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Double Rainbow
as Memorial of "Indianapolis"


Larry McCarthy
331st Bomb Group

      In late afternoon of August 15, 1945, we received word of the Japanese surrender at Northwest Field on Guam.

      Our Squadron Commander (355th Squadron), Lt. Col. Willard W. Wilson, and his brother who was a Colonel at 20th Air Force Headquarters had made prior arrangements to use some of our planes, because they were stripped of gun turrets to drop bundles of food and clothing by parachute to our men in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. Their father, a "Bird Colonel" was among those taken prisoner at Bataan in 1942.

      The plane that I was assigned to, a B-29B-40, S/N 44-83891, otherwise known as "Slicker 6," was sent to the Philippines to pick up a load of cargo on. We were instructed to watch for possible survivors of the cruiser Indianapolis which had sunk a few days before.

      We took off at dusk enroute to the Philippines and landed there the next morning at Florida Blanca airstrip near San Fernando, North of Manila. We could see Corregidor to the West and slightly South of us, when it was clear. There was a bomb damaged Jap "Betty" bomber in a nearby revetment, from which I salvaged a torn section of fabric from the tail feathers (elevator) having a decal with data in Japanese printed on a black background.

      We loaded the parachutes and prepared for takeoff early the next morning, then slept in the plane that night. The next morning it was raining, and we had to chase water buffalo off the runway before we could take off. It was raining so hard as we took off that vortices at the tips of each prop blade made it appear that they were cutting cork screws in the rain.

      We were in heavy rain for about 4 or 5 hours, then broke out of it to see a big double rainbow on the white fluffy clouds below. I was then sitting at the forward end of the tunnel at the astro dome from where it appeared that the rainbow was all around us. We were then near the approximate position where the cruiser Indianapolis went down.

      The Indianapolis was in the Navy Shipyard at Hunters Point for repair of battle damage, when they received orders to prepare to go to sea immediately, even though not quite complete. They proceeded to an empty deserted dock near Frisco, where a 6 x 6 truck with a crate was waiting. As soon as the crate (which contained the first Atom bomb) was loaded, they cast off, and established a record of 72 hours from Golden Gate to Diamond Head. After refueling at Pearl Harbor, they proceeded to Tinian, where the crate was unloaded. Then they went to Guam, where they reprovisioned, then headed for Subic Bay in the Philippines, but they were intercepted by a Japanese submarine that put a torpedo into the forward powder magazine, blasting the entire bow off. It went down so quickly, that they did not get a radio SOS message sent out. Those who were able to get off had only kapok vests since there was not time enough to launch boats or rafts. Only about 300 of a crew of 1,050 got off. Most of them got off because it was too hot to sleep below decks. The Indianapolis went down into the "Marianas Trench" which is about 35,000 feet deep. The men who got off were in the water for 3 days, so the kapok vest became water-logged, and some of the men discarded the vests. Sharks got some. When the Indianapolis was overdue, the Navy sent out 2 destroyers and a PBY "Catalina" amphibian to look for them.

      The PBY found 85 survivors just before dark, with a storm approaching, (the same type storm that we were in). Since they could not takeoff with that many, and all were so weak they could not leave anyone of them, they lashed the stronger ones to the top of the wing, took the others inside, and rode out the storm. The destroyers rendezvoused with them the next morning, took them off, then because the PBY was so badly battered by the storm, they sank it. The destroyers found a few more survivors.

      We went on to Tinian where the parachutes were tied to bundles of food and clothing to drop to our men in the POW camps.

      At Tinian, we parked 891, "Slicker 6" right next to "Enola Gay." "Bock's Car," so named because the plane was assigned to Major Fred Bock, was parked on the other side of "Enola Gay." When you hear anyone say the second Atom Bomb that hit Nagasaki was delivered by "Bock's Car," they are correct, even though perhaps facetious.

      A friend. Bob Hampton, whom I worked with at Ellsworth AFB then later at Downey, California when we both worked for NASA, and who was among those taken prisoner at Bataan, was at a POW camp near a steel mill which was the primary target the day that Nagasaki was hit, but because of cloud cover they went to the secondary target. He said they could hear the plane overhead, but could not see it, though not realizing at the time how lucky they were!

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Rotating Prop Chops Jeep!


Larry McCarthy
331st Bomb Group

      During transition training at McCook, Nebraska, some of us worked nights, on aircraft maintenance.

      One night a radio technician was called to service, or check a problem with the radio in one of the planes. Although the radio technician was not supposed to use a jeep, there was one parked nearby, so he thought "Why walk the 1/4 mile or so to the plane?" He was not familiar with the light switch location, so when he got out of a lighted area, he was concentrating on finding the switch, while driving toward one of the B-29s that had #1 engine running at about 1100 RPMs.

      The first blade to strike, hit the radiator, splitting the core, the next blade struck the middle of the engine block, the third blade struck the clutch pedal and nicked his ankle. The fourth blade split the pad at the back of the seat.

      He considered himself quite lucky, until he was charged with destruction of Government property, and unauthorized use.

      Of course the engine and prop on the plane had to be changed, creating more work, and down time.

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The Eagle Pilots


J. C. Mitchell
501st Bomb Group

      How many of you were Category E pilots or knew of them? I was one of a group of 12 that were designated Category E pilots from our class at Douglas Army Airfield. Some 43-Ders from other airfields were also designated Category E pilots. As you recall, when we graduated all of us were anxious to get going with the job at hand, of fighting the war. Being assigned to the Category E program proved to be the longest and most frustrating time until we would go overseas.

      About three weeks before graduation our TAC officers interviewed each member of our class and asked for our preference of assignment after graduation. My first choice was A-20 Low Level Operations and P-38 second. We were flying Curtis AT-9s and doing a lot of low level training over Southern Arizona and New Mexico which I figured would well qualify me for A-20 operations.

      When we graduated, on 12 April 1943, we could not wait to get our orders and be on our way, but wait we did! By the end of the day most of the new pilots were gone. By the end of the second day all were gone except 12 of us. We kept inquiring at the Personnel Office and hanging out in the Day Room wondering what had happened to our orders. This went on for seven days.

      Finally on the eighth day our orders came, we were all assigned as Category E pilots. Paul Shields, Charles Reyher, Charles Miller and I were directed to proceed to Victorville Army Airfield. The others were to go to Carlsbad, New Mexico. When we asked the Personnel Officer what Category E stood for we were told that it was a special program the Air Corps had started but he had no information about it. So not knowing what type of aircraft we were going to fly or what lay ahead, we grabbed our bags and headed for California.

      When we arrived at Victorville we found out they had P-39 transition training and a Bombardier Training school on the field. We reported in to the P-39 operations and was told that we were not assigned to that organization and they they had no knowledge of the Category E program. When the shock wore off we proceeded down the street to the Bombardier School. At the Bombardier School we were briefed by the Operations Officer. First we would be given an abbreviated training course in bombing procedures and techniques so that we could become qualified and proficient in the use of the Nordon Bombsite. At the same time we would also be checked out in the AT-11 and become proficient in flying bomb runs. After that we would be assigned to a flight as a bomb approach pilot for an indefinite period of time.

      We completed the training in a few weeks and went to work flying bomb runs with the bombardier instructors and the cadets in their training program. Needless to say we were not too happy with the situation, after all we wanted to go to war! No one at Victorville had any information about the Category E program other than that we were to gain flying experience and maintain bombing proficiency. We did learn that Category E held some significance however, because we could not volunteer for any assignments that routinely came into the personnel office. And gain experience we did, flying between 100 and 120 hours each month.

      In April 1944, a year after our graduation from cadet training we received word that we were to transfer. Reyher, Miller and I were sent to Roswell, New Mexico for B-17 transition while Shields went to Albuquerque for B-24 transition. At Roswell several other Category E pilots joined us.

      After completing the B-17 transition course we received another surprise. The Category E plots would not stay in the normal pipeline with the other pilots in the class, instead, we would go direct to our assigned bases without crew assignments. We three from Victorville along with four that had come from Carlsbad were sent to Sioux City Army Airfield. This was puzzling because we knew Sioux City was a B-17 combat crew training field where crews were trained for combat duty in Europe.

      Upon arrival at the airfield we were given a cold welcome by a Lt Colonel operations officer who informed us that we were sent there to be B-17 combat crew instructors and that he did not want us in his outfit. His words were "My instructors are all supposed to be combat veterans and I don't appreciate 2nd AF Headquarters shoving seven shavetails down my throat even if you are Category E pilots, whatever that means." He also told us there would be no promotions or individual voluntary transfers out of me program while we were there.

      After this grand welcome one of the guys remarked, "I have it all figured out. Category E stands for Unwanted Eagles." So we started referring to ourselves as the Eagle Pilots.

      We settled into work instructing B-17 crews. Our primary task was to teach them techniques and procedures in crew coordination, bombing and navigation and to improve their skills in these procedures. We were kept plenty busy and it wasn't to long until all of us had passed the 300 hour mark of instructor pilot time in the B-17. This fact was announced on a cold October morning with the news that since we had reached that pinnacle we were being transferred.

      Once again the Eagle Pilots were left with unanswered questions. We were being sent to Harvard Airfield in Nebraska which we knew was also a B-17 combat crew training field.

      When the seven Eagle Pilots arrived at Harvard, much to our surprise there were both B-29s and B-17s sitting on the ramp. Our hopes and dreams soared, we had heard of the B-29 a few months before but had never dreamed of the possibility of being assigned to it. But sure enough, when we signed in the personnel people told us that Colonel Hubbard had arrived and was in the process of forming the 501st Bomb Group (VH). It was to be one of four groups of the 315th Bomb Wing (VH). The other groups were also being formed on other airfields. We also learned that the combat crews would be formed in a few days.

      The seven of us were scattered among the three squadrons with Walters, Miller and I assigned to the 485th Bomb Squadron.

      A few days later I received my crew assignment at Aircraft Commander of Crew 63. The aircraft commanders in the squadron were made up of a mix of Category E pilots and combat veterans of B-17s and B-24s. As I recall there were 21 Eagle Pilots in the group. I guess there was also an equal number in the three other groups. We were happy that after such a long time we were finally in an active outfit that would be going overseas. But it would still be several months before that would happen.

      During the winter we completed our B-29 transition and started into the combat crew training phase of our flying. This was when we found out what Category E meant. While in transition our radar operators were at Mather Airfield taking special radar bombing training. When they returned and we started flying together the aircraft were equipped with a special radar set, the APQ-7 "Eagle" radar. For the first time the AAF had equipment capable of radar precision bombing, equipment that could seek out and hit targets at night and in weather using single ship tactics. The other B-29 wings did not have this equipment during WWII. We 43-Ders had been training and gaining experience to be joined with the Eagle radar and the operators to accomplish the precision bombing.

      We completed our crew training 1 March 1945 and all of the Category E pilots finally got promoted to First Lieutenant However, the fickle finger of fate struck again, we were not to deploy overseas just yet. The Japanese army was overrunning the airfields in China so the AAF units there had to evacuate.

      Our scheduled airfield on Tinian Island was given to them and we deployed to Jamaica for more training. Long range single ship navigation and camera bombing missions to New York, Boston, Halifax, etc., were the orders of the day while a new airfield was being built for us on Guam.

      We returned to Harvard in May and then moved to the staging base at Kearny, Nebraska. There we were outfitted with our necessary gear and each crew was given a new B-29B. We promptly named our new aircraft and painted the nose pictures on them. My crew named our aircraft the "Late Date."

      On 12 June 1945 we departed the west coast heading west to Guam. At long last, two years and two months after getting our wings, the Eagle Pilots were on their way.

      Within the next 8 weeks, using night single ship tactics, we would destroy eighty seven percent of the Japanese petroleum production and storage capacity. But that is another story.

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My Uniform


George A. Salway

"My country tis of thee"
What does that mean to me?
That I am part of this great land
The country that makes our flag so grand.
That I am part of history
Ready to fight for liberty

Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Thought
They must be won
They can't be bought

Throughout history our uniform have signified
That men had fought and men have died
Always has our country grown
As these seeds of freedom were sown.

But the uniform also display our pride
In ourselves and those at our side
And in our country (the best in the world)
Just as the flag when it's unfurled

We're a living flag when in uniform
That's proudly waved in calm and storm
And when there s a job to do
Our uniforms help carry us through.

George A. Salway

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Ed Nelson's Stories


Edwin L. Nelson
16th Bomb Group

      Although it was labeled a "practice" mission it was in reality a regular mission to the island of Truk. During the weather briefing, we were told the weather would be difficult. There were monsoon-type storms moving in. The takeoff was at 30 second intervals and involved a multitude of other planes.

      Although planes were kept on three levels, they were all headed in the same direction with only 30 seconds separating them. Clouds covered the entire area. A decision was made to attempt to get above the cloud cover but it was impossible. It was over water so the radar wasn't of any assistance. The LORAN set which we were depending on wasn't functioning due to the high electrical disturbance. The static was so great it was impossible to distinguish the "blips." The only navigational method available was dead reckoning.

      The crew was to fly over the target, take a 90 degree turn, travel another given distance, take another 90 degree turn and fly back over the target at a given altitude. Just as our plane passed over the target, the clouds lifted and the bombardier was able to make a good hit The trip back was filled with an elated feeling that the plane and crew were all okay and the target had been hit

      The navigator had only one window and it was blacked out with a curtain. On a mission over the Empire I decided that rather than hear second hand about the flak and lights we were encountering, I'd get us on course for the bomb run and as soon as the bombardier took over, I'd climb up in the astrodome and take a look.

      A jerry can was always kept nearby. When the bomb run was completed and I again was to take over the navigational duties, I hurried to resume my place at my desk. In my rush to get down from the astrodome, I inadvertently kicked over the jerry can. It flew up and onto the lower area where the lower guns had been removed. When it hit, it sounded as if someone had blown up the ship. Everyone of the ship heard it and thought the plane had taken a hit right in the midsection. It scared everyone silly. In retrospect, it is funny, but at the time it was anything but humorous. I gave the new heading and we left that area as soon as possible with everyone wondering how badly we'd been hit and exactly where.

      During a slack time on Guam some fellows in a quonset two huts from ours got hold of some liquor and decided to have a party one night The party went on and on and one of their entertainment kicks was to come to our barracks at about every 30 minute intervals where we were attempting to get some sleep and wake everyone up. This went on all night long.

      The next morning they were attempting to sleep off their hang overs. About nine that morning I went outside and picked up a big chunk of coral that we used for sidewalk surfacing. I tossed it real high in the air, over our quonset, over the neighboring quonset, and onto the top of the third quonset that housed the night partiers. When the coral hit, it not only made a heck of a big noise when it hit, but it rolled and bounced another half-dozen times down the metal quonset roof and created a reverberation inside the building. The fellows came out of there like hornets out of a hive that had been kicked. They were mad as all get out. In the meantime, I'd gone back into our quonset. They were out for blood and threatened to kill whoever had done it.

      Finally, since they couldn't find the culprit, they'd go back into their quonset and get settled again to attempt to sleep off their enlarged heads. It wasn't long until I went outside, got another hunk of coral, and repeated the toss. Each time, they'd all come bounding outside to attempt to locate who was tossing that coral and kill him, but they could never find out who was doing it. I kept it up for a couple of hours until I figured I'd gotten even.

      One of the most majestic sights I recall seeing was the lineup in preparation for going on a mission. All the planes would have their motors wound up, sitting there, waiting to takeoff. Two runways lying parallel would send off one of these planes at minute intervals staggering them so one was going off a runway every 30 seconds. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

      We wanted to fix up our barracks a little. We made some small closets and shelves, it was made out of rough lumber and so to dress it up we decided we needed paint. It was a rare item. After looking for some time we found some that was scheduled for the commanding officer's quarters. We midnight requisitioned four or five buckets of paint out of the area. He didn't have any left. We were sure someone would come looking for their paint and would know what colors to look for. A decision was made to camouflage our deed by mixing all the colors. The final color turned out to be a passionate purple! It dressed up things inside our quonset anyway.

      Our outlaying neighbors in the jungle were rats that lived in the trees. They were a climbing rat. Our quonsets were supposed to be secured at both ends to keep out varmints but occasionally a rat would get inside and then everyone would be trying to hit the rat with anything from a baseball bat to shoes.

      The rats didn't limit their intrusions to daylight hours. One night one got in and climbed high onto the ceiling and he jumped right in the face of one of the guys that was sleeping. He awakened, screaming, yelling and carrying on. Everyone woke up and began attacking the rat.

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Monkeying Around


Max Rynearson
502nd Bomb Group

      I was a tailgunner on the B-29 Loco Lobo with the 502nd Bomb Group, 402nd Bomb Squadron, on Guam. The officers in the squad somehow acquired a monkey which they kept tethered in their area and which was quite adept at littering the area where it was kept. It was the enlisted men's sorry lot to keep the officers' area policed and this was not met with too much opposition until the monkey entered the picture, it was only a short while before the enlisted man (names of same at the time were top secret and to this date have not been declassified!) became fed up with cleaning up after the litter critter so they declared their intention to eliminate it and did so by throwing it down the officer's latrine. Everything went along just fine until a certain Captain attempted to use the latrine about midnight, and when the monkey spied a convenient handhold to use as his escape from "the hole," the emerging picture was one of a very frightened captain with his pants down running through the squadron area with a monkey holding on for his dear life. This ended the "monkeying around" in the officers' area!

Somewhat Amusing Story


Max Rynearson
502nd Bomb Group

      During the Summer of 1945, even though the island of Guam had been secured, there were still Japanese soldier holdouts on the island and at times they became bold and troublesome enough to make all of the American servicemen nervous and wary.

      Airmen of the 502nd bomb Group, 402nd Squadron kept their barracks and duffel bags hanging on nails on the rafter above their bunks. Late one night while everyone was sleeping peacefully, one of the bags broke loose and landed "smack dab" on the stomach of a sleeping airman. Of course, in the dark, he thought it could only be a jap, so the airman set about to conquer the enemy. During the "fight" there was much noise and a cry for help which awakened the rest of the sleeping men, and as the airman and the bag rolled onto the floor, another man on the adjacent bunk became involved, which only added to the confusion. As men from other areas in the barracks ran to the aid of their embattled comrade, they in turn bumped into other personnel, which served to further fuel the conflict. Since everyone slept with loaded 45's under their pillows, by the time the lights were tuned on many of these were very much in evidence, but luckily, the only wounded during the episode were the feelings of the guy who started it all.

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Skeet Shooting


Lloyd G. Sciaroni
331st Bomb Group

      When the Pacific war was declared over everyone was sent home who had enough points. For the rest of us slobs we were assigned secondary MOS. All but a very few B-29s were grounded because the A/C's were sent home (points) and there were not enough mechanics to "keep 'em flying."

      I got word one day to report to the CO. When I arrived, Peyton said, "I see by your civilian record that you shot tournament skeet." I admitted I had. I was a contemporary of movie star Robert Stack and we made All American the same year, 1939/40.

      Then he said, "Well, I've requisitioned a couple of clay pigeon traps and some old shotguns. So take all the materiel and personnel you need and take your time and build me a skeet field and have it ready in a week!"

      That I did and was made range officer and designed a training program for air crews and all interested officers.

      Several months down the line there was a skeet championship tournament at 20th Air Force headquarters field.

      What I didn't know was that it was planned by a general whose name I have long since forgotten. I don't know if you know anything about shotguns or skeet, but Peyton had obtained two ancient 32 inch barrel, full choke, Remington automatics which were designed for geese hunting. Shooting skeet with them was like using a rifle! The tournament was the 20th Air Force Open!

      I was ordered to enter the competition. There were some damn fine shooters in the event. In fact, Dick Shaunessy was entered and he was another All American contemporary whose home club was the Hilltop Skeet Club of Dedham, Massachusetts.

      However, everyone but ole' Sciaroni had skeet guns.

      The generals plan was to take the five top guns as determined by the match and send a B-29 with gunners on a barnstorming tour of the Pacific.

      As bad luck would have it, I came in 5th out of a field of several hundred. However, the last thing I wanted to do was tour the Pacific. I had been doing that for months. Also, I didn't want to be gone if my name came up to be sent stateside and discharged.

      I walked up to the rotund gentleman in a Generals uniform, saluted sharply and said. "Thank you for the Pacific tour offer, sir, but I think I'll pass and stay here on Guam." He replied in a slow voice "That's not an offer, son, that's an order."

      We did the barnstorming tour and competed against the Navy, Marine Corp, Army ground on Tinian, Saipan, Iwo and Okie.

      I was not back long before I was sent home so nothing was lost.

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Maintaining the B-29


Ralph Schell
16th Bomb Group


      Generally, the history of any flying organization centers on the missions and the crews who made those missions. There is another history behind those missions relating to the ground support that made those missions possible. This is only a small part of the maintenance problems that the 16th Bomb Wing faced.

B-29 Maintenance at Fairmont 1944

      The B-29 was a pretty good aircraft for maintenance. The engines, however, were another story. The early engines ran too hot, and engine failures were common. The first time we had a B-29 land with all four engines operating, we got a day off. Cylinder baffles were inadequate which contributed to the overheating. The Boeing company was also a contributor. The landing gear doors were operated by an electric jackscrew and didn't come up until the gear was up. The bomb bay doors were also operated by jackscrews. Both of these systems took much too long to complete their cycle. On takeoff the engines would overheat just waiting for the gear doors to get closed. The added drag only made the engine overheat problem more severe.

      Engine fires were also a problem. Other training bases were experiencing the problem more than Fairmont. We had very few. The ground crews were instructed to check the fuel system on "high" boost, if we had no leaks on high, the chances were good there would be no leaks on "low" in flight.

      Carburetors often leaked around the mounting bolts. We found early in training that the bolts would bottom before they were snug enough to seal the carburetor. We added a washer to each bolt and solved the problem. We think this and ground checking the system on "high" boost were contributing factors in eliminating engine fires.

      The design of the front collector ring on the 3350 engine was probably the worst any of us had ever seen. The ring was mounted inside the cowl ring and 9 ball joint exhausts had to be slipped into the cylinder exhaust mount, all at the same time, when the cowl was installed. It took a lot of manpower and patience to get the job done.

Winter Maintenance in Nebraska

      Cold weather magnifies maintenance problems on any aircraft The B-29 was no exception. When the crews went to Puerto Rico to get their training.we were left a little short handed at Fairmont. Many people worked two and sometimes three shifts without sleep.

      The B-29 engine was supposed to be started using just the primer. When it caught, you were supposed to slowly open the mixture and release the primer. At -20 degrees, this just didn't work. We broke the rules and started the engines by using the primer and slowly opening the mixture. The big problem was, if it caught, then quit, the spark plugs would ice up and then you would have 36 spark plugs to change. By using the mixture we were able to get the engines started and keep them running and avoid a lot of maintenance and the loss of a mission.

      Hangar space was inadequate. One airplane per hangar and only three hangars. Once an airplane came out of the hangar following major maintenance or inspection, the remainder of the work had to be done outside. It took a while to do the engine run-up and make all the necessary adjustments and get it tested so it could go back to Puerto Rico. Almost everything that went wrong after it came out of the hangar, had to be fixed outside, including engine changes.

      Snow also added to our misery. Many times when we had an airplane ready for test, we had to wait on snow plows to clean the ramp so it could taxi out.

Flyaway aircraft

      When the flyaway aircraft arrived, a lot of our problems were solved. The landing gear doors had been modified to go up with the gear, thus eliminating the long time getting the aircraft clean on takeoff. The bomb bay doors were modified from a jackscrew system to a pneumatic system. It only took a second to open or close the doors thus helping the flight crews. They would not be a sitting duck quite so long over the target. The maintenance on the air-operated doors was almost nil. From a maintenance point of view, the flyaway engines were a blessing. The engine baffles were modified to make the engines run a lot cooler. We had gone to school on fuel injection while in Nebraska and thought we would have it on the flyaway, but no such luck. We still had the old carburetor.

      The flight from Fairmont to Guam was relatively routine. There were maintenance problems but nothing to compare with those during the winter in Nebraska. Whoever was responsible for the logistics on our route overseas deserves some recognition. Every place we stopped, there were parts and maintenance crews. All we had to do was make the write-ups and they did the rest. We were not permitted to do our own maintenance. It was a relief to have someone else do it for us but we had confidence in our own crews and we were skeptical of strangers working on our airplanes. Many of the airplanes were ready for missions when we landed on Guam thanks to the availability of parts and the maintenance crews along the way.

Maintenance on Guam

      The tropics offered some different problems, but they didn't seem so bad since we weren't freezing while trying to solve them. The 80 degree temperature and 80% humidity took days to get used to, but we adjusted. Missions started soon after we arrived, so maintenance began around the clock. The engines started fine in the warm weather just using the primer, according to the T.O. Even though our new engines were much better than those we used at Fairmont, we still experienced a lot of valve problems. The 3350 was known for swallowing valves. It was a strange engine to troubleshoot because the same problem would not always give you the same indication. One day as aircraft were taxiing out for a mission we pulled one A/C out of the lineup because we could hear the familiar loud tapping noise as it went by. The engineer had no indication of a problem and ihe pilot was furious because he wanted to make the mission. We soon found the problem—zero compression on one cylinder, which meant a cylinder change.

      When we first arrived, we were allowed to change a maximum of three cylinders on one engine. To add to our problems, we received a TWX idling us we could now change all 18 cylinders if necessary because of a strike at the engine plant in the slates. This was not much of a morale builder for people who were already overheated.

      One particular in-flight problem involved a blown cylinder. The aircraft was preparing to land after a mission and the engine instruments gave no indication of a problem. The scanner, however, had reported a slight oil leak. When we parked the airplane, we noticed the cowling had a bulge high on the left side. We found a cylinder had blown and the piston had beat up the two adjacent cylinders.

      Sometimes one loose spark plug wire would cause an engine to run rough—so rough we would look for something more serious. We have had spark plug wires loosen up in fight and never make any difference.

      In summary, I think the maintenance men of the 16th Bomb Group were the best I ever worked with. There is no question that good maintenance played a large part in the success of the missions.

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R & R To Cocos Island


William E. Shine
Radar Maintenance Officer
411th Bomb Squadron
502nd Bomb Group

      For the troops who fought in the island war of the Pacific, their second worst enemy after the Japanese was boredom.

      Unlike the war in Europe, the island war of the Pacific offered its troops less opportunities for traveling and mingling, as civilians were few and cultures were different. During the air war against Japan, the B-29 ground crews worked round the clock, and there were no days off. If you were given a day off, there was nowhere to go and no way to get there even if there had been someplace to go. While the troops of the Vietnam War had been able to count the days until the end of their one year tour, our troops had no such hopes, as we were to remain on Guam for the duration of the war - however long that was. And, while the troops of the Vietnam War had had one whole week of rest and recuperation (R&R) to look forward to, (a trip by chartered jet to either Japan, Taiwan, Hawaii, or Bangkok), our troops had no R&R.

      Recognizing this morale problem, some smart guy in the 315th Bomb Wing arranged for reciprocal visits with the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard operated a LORAN radio transmitting site on Cocos Island, which lay just a few miles off the island of Guam in Umatic Bay, where Magellan landed in 1521. Along with 15 other radar maintenance personnel from the 502nd Bomb Group, I was rewarded for long, hard work with a one day trip to Cocos Island. To everyone serving there, Guam was "the rock," and just to get off it, even for only a day, was a morale booster.

      Cocos is a tiny island that is much smaller than Guam. And, before the war, it belonged to the Colgate Palmolive Peet Company. The Coast Guard had a very small detachment of men on Cocos who were mostly radio technicians, and who enjoyed visitors from the big rock (Guam). We looked forward to playing volleyball, swimming, playing softball, and mostly to eating their chow, which was reputed to be much better than ours.

      To get to Cocos from Northwest Field on Guam meant that we would be traveling for about two hours over narrow, dirt roads to the seafront town of Meritzo. Meritzo was famous for its Catholic church which was established by Magellan when he circumnavigated the globe. This was to be one of two places where my path would cross with Magellan's path. The other was during the Vietnam War on the Philippine Island of Mactan, where he was killed.

      The island of Guam was never entirely cleared of Japanese soldiers, and Meritzo was in an uncleared area. This meant that traveling would require a special pass from the U.S. Marines. And, because the area was off limits at night, the pass was only good during the daylight hours, as long as the daytime travelers were armed. Thus, we carried carbines; however, the trip, in two army weapon carriers, was uneventful.

      After a quick look at Magellan's church, we went to the dock. There, by pre-arrangement, the Coast Guard was waiting with an open, landing craft vessel to take us the few miles to Cocos, which we could see in the distance.

      Cocos was everything we had imaged. We played softball, swam, played volleyball, drank beer, and ate the better Coast Guard chow. But, what we enjoyed most was being able to look back at "the rock." We were finally off it!

      To comply with the terms of our Marine Corps pass, we started back to Guam just before sundown, suntanned and tired. The trip back normally took about twenty minutes, and everything was going well. However, about halfway there the engine started sputtering, and we jerked along for a few minutes until the engine finally quit completely. I don't think the Coast Guard had any "real" sailors on Cocos because these guys had no luck at restarting the engine. And, as time went by and it began to grow dark, the "sailors" realized that they had forgotten to drop anchor. And, we drifted onto a sandbar. Now, we really were in trouble.

      After an hour or so, the crew made the remarkable discovery that the only problem with the engine was that we were out of fuel. Great! Out of fuel and no radio. No way to contact anyone. Luckily, someone remembered to bring a flashlight, and, just like in those Everready battery ads, we started blinking distress signals back to Cocos. We blinked and we blinked, but we received no answer from Cocos. After a while, we realized why. Everyone of Cocos was watching an outdoor movie. We could see the light from the screen. No one was going to see our distress signals until the damn movie was over!

      To make matters worse, it started to rain, and we had no way to keep from getting wet. Finally, the movie ended, and someone noticed our signals. We got a blinking light reply, and we were soon able to explain our situation, thanks to Morse code. Fine! They would send fuel to us immediately.

      Immediately turned out to be about an hour later. Meanwhile, we were soaked to the skin by the rain. Finally, we heard the sound of a small motor, our rescue boat with the fuel. Next, we saw their light approaching. And, in a few minutes, they were alongside us. Two sailors came on an enlarged rowboat with a drum of fuel that almost filled their boat After a struggle, the drum was wrestled onto our boat.

      I was afraid the drum was going to fall into the sea, but we had fuel at last. Now we could get going again, if we could get off that sandbar. However, our hopes had risen all too soon. It was discovered that they had brought us gasoline, and our engine burned diesel fuel. Our spirits sank again. Stupid Coast Guard!

      The sailors in the rowboat with the small motor said they would be right back with a drum of diesel fuel. "Sorry, it was our mistake," they said. It sure was. Meanwhile, the rain continued, and we grumbled all sorts of nasty things about our once popular hosts.

      After another hour, we heard the little motor coming again, and our spirits lifted a bit. Louder and louder it came, but then it sputtered, and sputtered. Finally, it quit. Silence! Blackness! Then, we saw their light, blinking a message to us. They were out of gas! Realizing that the diesel oil that they were bringing us would do them no good, we sat back and waited and waited. Finally, we heard the paddling of their oars. After what seemed forever, they finally reached us, and the same struggling act was repeated in getting the drum aboard.

      In a few minutes the engine was restarted, and we had only a little difficulty in maneuvering off the sandbar. Maybe these guys were sailors after all. We headed for the dock at Meritzo, and our troubles were over, or so we thought.

      When we pulled up to the dock and disembarked. Marine M.P.'s who had spotted our waiting vehicles were waiting for us. And, we were all promptly arrested for breaking curfew. No amount of explanation about our difficulties satisfied the Marine Sergeant. He then escorted us to the marine patrol compound, where we were to be put in the brig.

      It was not two in the morning and we were all still wet, and now bone tired. Fortunately, the Marine O.D., a First Lieutenant, was more sympathetic. He released us, and we were escorted out of the restricted area by a marine patrol. Finally, we arrived back at Northwest Field at four A.M. After a quick nap and some dry clothes, we were expected to be on the job again at six A.M.

      Did we enjoy it? Maybe. Anyway, we got off the rock, and one thing is sure, we will never forget it.

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Crew 1102 Aborts the Takeoff
But Completes Its Mission


Horatio W. Turner II
Airplane Commander
502nd Group

      The target for the 315th Wing on the night of August 5, 1945 was announced as the Ube Coal Liquefaction Plant. By the time our crew had gone through the briefing and preparations for this, our third Empire strike, the routine had become quite familiar.

      All systems were "Go" as we pulled "Island Girl" onto the runway, revved up the engines, and waited for the signal to release the brakes and start our takeoff roll. I slammed the throttles all the way forward when Newberg, who was calling out our airspeed, reached 65 MPH. He continued to call out our speed, then all of a sudden he shouted, "Number three shows only 32 inches!" We knew that at this point on takeoff we were supposed to be showing a manifold pressure of 47 or 48 inches of mercury on each engine.

      I guess we were going at least 90 MPH at that point, but without hesitation—right or wrong—I yanked the throttles back against their stops and got on the brakes. The brakes felt absolutely hard and there was no response whatsoever that I could detect. The airplane just careened on down the runway. Ten tons of bombs, six thousand gallons of gasoline, plus the basic aircraft weight resulted in one hell of a lot of momentum for a streamlined vehicle which could only be stopped by its brakes.

      I had been trained never to stand on the brakes — to pump them instead — because glazed brake surfaces caused less friction and reduced braking power. I called for full flaps, hoping their drag would help, and told Newberg to get on the brakes with me, although I don't see now how that would have done much good. I pulled on the split emergency brake handles with my right hand and my feet were pumping the toe brakes on and off, on and off.

      About that time the left scanner called out, "The left wheel's on fire, sir!" and the right scanner replied, "The right wheel's on fire, too!" The smoke pouring from those overheated brakes looked exactly like both of our wheels were afire.

      We came to the end of the runway and ran off on the coral, barreling straight toward a fifty foot high bank. I noticed the plane was slowing down a little, but it didn't seem there was any way we could stop before we plowed head on into the bank. If the crash wasn't too bad and we lived through it, none of the other planes would be able to takeoff until our plane, with its gigantic tail sticking up in the air, was towed away.

      Luck was with us, I felt some brake just as we were getting really close to the embankment. I stood on the left brake and let the airplane ground loop around the locked wheel. We cleared the embankment and were able to taxi out of the coral overrun and back along the runway and taxiway to the ramp. When I climbed out of the plane my flying suit was wringing wet.

      It didn't take long to find the problem. One little radio tube in a turbo-supercharger amplifier had burned out. We replaced the amplifier with the spare that was in the rack next to it and that took care of the engine problem. Now all we had to worry about was the condition of our brakes. AFter they cooled down they tested out okay, so we decided to top-off our fuel tanks and continue the mission. This all took about an hour, but we were able to get back on the taxiway in time to play "Tail End Charlie." I have often wondered if we could have actually taken off with that reduced power on one engine and the heavy load we had on board.

      The second takeoff was routine with full power on all four engines. Sergeant Lusk, our left scanner, suggested that we claim credit for flying two missions that day because of our two takeoff attempts.

      During B-29 training at Alamogordo, New Mexico, and in operational training with the 502nd Bomb Group at Grand Island, Nebraska, our crew had already been forced to feather seven engines and sweat out numerous in-flight crises. These incidents were the result of the incomplete testing out of this new heavy bomber which had to be rushed into the Pacific war before it was fully ready. We were aware that our danger from mechanical malfunction was much greater than from anything the Japanese could do to us. The crews that preceded us over Japan in 1944 and earlier in 1945 had pretty well taken command of the sky and what little fighter opposition remained was not expected to interfere with our night missions. So, all we had to worry about was the flak and the "Gremlins" that flew with us in our B-29.

      We were proud of our crew's ability to put bombs on the target. We felt that the planners of the B-29 program had finally realized where the experienced bomb approach pilots and bombardiers were located, and had at last transferred us out of the Training Command and into B-29's to do the precision bombing.

      As pilots, we had been flying both instructors and cadets at bombardier schools. We had been stuck in the training program for a long time—in my case two and a half years—and most of us had made periodic requests for transfer to combat aircrews, but to no avail. The twin engine Beachcraft AT-11 was more familiar to us than our automobiles. We had been putting in about 100 hours a month flying bombardier trainees as they dropped 100-pound practice bombs one at a time onto the Texas desert from treetop level all the way up to 14,000 feet, both during daytime and at night.

      The AT-11 was equipped with the same Minneapolis Honeywell automatic pilot and Norden bombsight we found on the B-29's. We were familiar with all of the bombardier's problems and had even spent time on the bombsight trainer, chasing the "bug" across the hanger floor. In fact, a few of the pilots had actually completed the bombardier course at San Angelo and wore both pilot and bombardier wings.

      A sizable percentage of the 315th Wing pilots were pulled out of the bombardier schools of the Gulf Coast and other training commands. This assessment is made from the numbers of us who arrived together at Sebring, Florida for B-17 transition training and were sent to Lincoln, Nebraska and on to Alamogordo, New Mexico for B-29 transition. There were pilots from San Angelo, Big Springs, Midland, Childress, Albuquerque, Roswell, Deming, and Victorville.

      At Alamogordo we were mixed in with a number of pilots who had flown B-17's, B-24's, and B-26's in Europe and some that had flown B-25's in the Caribbean.

      We had heard that during the early missions over Japan the B-29' s were not hitting their targets effectively from 30,000 feet, not only due to the very strong winds of the jet stream, but also because the crews lacked sufficient training in precision bombing.

      As a bomb approach pilot, I had over 1,100 hours experience in flying bombardier instructors and trainees at Concho Field, Texas. The bombardier on our crew, Walter Cackowski, was a former instructor at Concho Field. When he was a cadet he had won one of the three coveted "Pickle Barrel" awards at the Bombing Olympics which were held for the graduating classes from eight bombardier schools and had beaten all competition in high altitude bombing. He and I had worked together in a special squadron assisting in the development of the Sperry bombsight which was never widely used because of the erratic behavior of the overpowering Sperry Automatic Pilot.

      We had practiced precision bombing together for so long that Walter knew I would give him a good "level" from which to bomb. We both knew that a bad level could throw a bomb out hundreds of feet from the target at low altitude, and at 30,000 feet it would produce disastrous results. The rate-of-climb indicator, with its excessive lag, was the all-important instrument for establishing a good level. If you stopped the needle long enough to make sure there was no more adjustment in effect you had level flight fore and aft The artificial horizon was used for leveling the wings. The other required constant was stabilization of air speed during the bomb run. The problem of airspeed reduction caused by the drag produced when the bomb bay doors were being opened on the earlier bombers was pretty well solved on the B-29 because its bomb bay doors snapped open so quickly.

      As we approached Japan on our mission to the Ube refinery, we climbed from our 8,000 foot enroute altitude to 12,000 feet, which was the routine bombing altitude for single aircraft, night time radar bombing. When we were fifty miles from the coast we turned off all of the navigation lights except for the faint formation lights which were mounted on top of the wings and could not be seen from below. Our radar set scanned out about fifty miles in front of us and confirmed our position as it picked up the Japanese coast.

      We all worried about the possibility of midair collision over the IP because we were assigned three bombing levels that were only 500 feet apart. This meant that over a hundred bombers, each flying its own navigational track, would meet over the IP. The seven or eight hour, 1,500 mile flight to the IP was sure to result in much changing of position among the aircraft, which were holding only to their assigned altitudes and a constant 220 MPH indicated airspeed. We all kept our eyes peeled and thought we had all the angles covered, but a B-29 with its lights out could still get very close to us before we saw it—as we discovered on a later mission.

      When we arrived over our IP we encountered enemy radar-directed searchlights and some heavy flak. The flak concentration was not as great as we had experienced over Kawasaki on August 1-2, but as "Tail End Charlie" we knew we were not in me most enviable position in the bomber stream. Before we had time to worry much about this, we ran into a bigger problem.

      Looking forward toward the target, we could see that we were closing fast on a gigantic pillar of flowing smoke and debris that extended above our altitude. When the preceding B-29's had hit the refinery the storage tanks had exploded and the ensuing fires had created a huge updraft over the target. We knew that flying into this hot thermal would be much worse than going into a severe thunderstorm and the blazing pieces of metal it contained could be more lethal than the egg-sized hailstones which battered Lieutenant Pananes' B-29 over Nebraska eight months before.

      Cackowski was hunched over his bombsight, exchanging numbers over the intercom with Tommie Peoples, our radar operator. I am sure that neither of them saw the danger ahead of us because the coordination of the Norden bombsight and the AN/APQ-7 Radar set required their total concentration. Unlike bombing, where the bombardier controlled the airplane by dialing corrections into the bombsight which was tied into the automatic pilot, radar bombing required the manual coordination of the bombardier, radar operator, and the pilot. Our procedure was to have the aileron and rudder clutched into the automatic pilot, but for the pilot to control the elevators manually in order to maintain a level altitude. As we approached the target the bombardier continually adjusted his bombsight to keep the rate hair stopped on the target—just as he would if he were able to see it. The radar operator gave directional changes to kill the drift verbally to the pilot who used the turn control knob on the automatic pilot to make the corrections. The pilot always felt a bit frustrated when he was asked to make small corrections such as, "one and a half degrees left," because small turns made on the automatic pilot always seemed sloppy and the aircraft wouldn't roll out right on the new heading. The bombardier was able to adjust for rate because the radar operator continually called out settings to him over the intercom based on readings he made from his radar scope. The bombardier then dialed these adjustments into his bombsight. In this way the rate hair was actually stopped on the target that the radar operator saw on his scope. Some of the communications between them seemed to me to be in Greek, but I knew they knew what they were doing when I heard such things as, "Coming up on 64," pause. "64," pause, "Coming up on 32," pause, "32."

      I interrupted their communications long enough to ask Cackowski how much time before Bombs Away. He answered, but it didn't help me much in making a decision because I had no idea of how far we were from the boiling pillar of smoke and fire. We wanted to drop our bombs in trail, as instructed, yet I knew we should not fly into that inferno. I put my hand on the bomb salvo handle and decided to continue on right up to the last possible moment before salvoing our bombs and peeling out of there. Fortunately, bombs fell away before I had to pull the handle. Possibly a favorable ground wind bent the thermal away from our line of approach and we were never really close to it. Night time distance judgements are always questionable, and we had been viewing all of this in the light reflected from the searchlights and from the fires some 12,000 feet below.

      We got out of there and landed back at Guam at 1140 on August 6th, giving us a mission time of 15 hours and 25 minutes. We were the last plane to land.

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The Wartime Odyssey of
Three Men Named Wilson


Willard W. Wilson, Squadron Commander
331st Bomb Group

      Shortly before World War II ended, my brother. Colonel Albert T. Wilson, Jr., West Point class of 1934, was General Curtis LeMay's chief communications officer in the 21st Bomber Command stationed on Guam. He had approached General LeMay about the possibility, upon the war's end, of taking a B-29 to Mukden in northern Manchuria where our father was a prisoner of war of the Japanese, picking him up and returning him to the United States. LeMay assured my brother that this could be done. My brother told me about it, but in the heat of the last few days of operations, I hadn't though much about it.

      At that time I was commanding the 355th Bomb Squadron, 331st Bomb Group, 315th Wing which was stationed at Northwest Field on Guam. On August 14th of 1945 I had just returned from a bombing mission on a fuel tank farm up in the northern part of the island of Honshu. This mission turned out to be about the longest flown during the war by the 315th Wing.

      As was my usual custom when returning from a mission, I had my orderly pack some sandwiches and cold beer and put them in my jeep. Then I would go to Tumon Bay, park the jeep under a nice shady palm tree, drink the beer, eat the sandwiches and get some sleep.

      I was sound asleep when I was awakened by an orderly from the 21st Bomber Command. He asked me if I was Colonel Wilson and I said, "Yes." He said, "You are to report to your brother at the 21st Bomber Command immediately." Well, that ended my little rest period on the beach. I headed for Bomber Command and on the way I heard a lot of shooting. That's when I found out that the war had ended. I think everyone on Guam who had a weapon was firing it in celebration.

      When I got to the 21st Bomber Command Headquarters, my brother told me we were going to find our father and asked me to return to Northwest Field and select an aircraft and crew because we were taking off for the Philippines the next morning. General MacArthur's headquarters was located there and we couldn't enter China without his permission.

      I immediately returned to Northwest Field and selected Lieutenant William Y. Quinn's crew since it was one of the better ones in my squadron. I had flown with Bill several times and knew he was very capable. I also selected Clarence Juett, my squadron line chief, to be the crew chief on this mission. I told him to get himself and the aircraft ready to take off at first light the next moring for Nichols Field in the Philippines. Bill's B-29 was named "Salome, Where She Danced." Before we left we changed her name to "Dode" and painted a big picture of a smoking pipe—my father's trademark—on the side of the fuselage.

      In getting ready for this mission, my brother had prepared a special order from the 21 st Bomber Command. This order was quite unique because it permitted us to go anywhere in the world in order to locate my father and return him to the States. Of some concern was a stipulation in the order that, if we entered another theater of war, we first had to obtain permission from the theater commander. Except for this provision, it certainly was a fantastic set of special orders.

      Since we believed we would be landing at the city of Mukden, which was in the area the Russians occupied when they entered the war during its last few days, we thought it would be wise to take along someone who could speak Russian. Our deputy group commander, Lieutenant Colonel Roland K. Barnick, had previously told me he was of Russian origin and could speak some Russian. So we conned Jim Payton, our group commander, into letting Barney come along with us just in case we needed an interpreter. He jointed our crew just prior to our departure.

      We took off from Guam on the 15th of August and proceeded to Nichols Field where we found that ours was the first B-29 to land in the Philippines. We put the plane to bed at Nichols and my brother decided that we had better check with the Air Force commander before we saw General MacArthur.

      We found our way to General George Kenny's headquarters to call on him. At that time he was very busy planning the occupation of the Japanese mainland, particularly the island of Honshu, because no American troops had yet entered the Japanese Empire and there was great conjecture as to how well our occupation forces would be received. Yet, General Kenny took the time to discuss our mission and said that as far as he was concerned we had his blessing and he authorized us to proceed to General MacArthur's headquarters in downtown Manila.

      Thus began a sort of daily routine: We would go to MacArthur's headquarters and sit in the outside office and wait several hours, knowing that he was in his office. His senior aide would inform the general that we were out there and why we were there, but he was always just too busy to see us. At that time he was planning the surrender ceremonies which would take place on the battleship Missouri. We realized that a tremendous amount of coordination was required with all the nations involved, but all we needed was about two minutes of his time.

      During this time we were housed in an officers billet in an old hotel on the Passig River in the older section of Manila. Day after day we made our trek to MacArthur's headquarters, but always to no avail. Finally, a Colonel Soryano, MacArthur's assistant chief of staff and an old friend of the general going back to MacArthur's early days in the Philippines, came to us and said to my brother, "Colonel Wilson, why don't you two guys just go out to Clark Field, load up with Red Cross supplies, and tell the authorities there that you are on a mercy mission to China and just take off?" He told us that MacArthur knew who we were and remembered my father because, ironically, my father was in an engineer company that MacArthur formed back in 1911 and took to the Philippines.

      MacArthur had thought so much of my dad that he had recommended him for entry into the Constabulary School. Thus dad became a constabulary officer and later became a regular U.S. Army officer. Although MacArthur knew who we were, he just didn't have time to see us. We took Colonel Soryano's advice and moved our aircraft from Nichols to Clark Field and prepared for our trip to China.

      In making our preparations, we ran into problems. China, at that time, was a big unknown — a big void on the map — and we could not locate aerial maps of China anywhere in the Philippines. The only thing that we knew for sure was that Kunming, China was the big staging base of the Air Transport Command which was in southern China. We also knew that Chengtu had been built and used as a B-29 operations from India, but that's all we knew about it. We knew that Chungking was the capital of Nationalist China and that the headquarters of the commander of U.S. forces in China, General Wiedemeyer, was located there. There was an airfield there, but we had no details on it.

      All we were able to obtain prior to our departure was a small list of Chinese low-frequency radio stations and their frequencies. The list included stations at Chengtu, Kunming, and Chungking. We could get absolutely no weather information. We had a ferry bomb bay tank so we topped it off with extra fuel. We figured it was about an eight hour flight to Chungking, but the extra fuel would let us get back to the Philippines in case we experienced weather problems or mechanical malfunctions.

      After all preparations had been made we took off across the China Sea. The flight was somewhat uneventful. The weather enroute to the China mainland was reasonable for that time of the year. There were a lot of cumulus clouds around, but nothing that constituted any sort of challenge. Our flight path took us over Hong Kong but we saw very little of it because it was partially obscured by clouds. Then we ran into foul weather — and I do mean foul weather. We didn't see the ground again after we passed Hong Kong.

      We were cruising at 16,000 feet because we had been able to learn where the highest mountains were. After battling moderate turbulence for about four hours, we picked up a radio station in Chungking and homed in on it. We did not know of a radio frequency that we could use to contact anyone on the ground, so I decided to do a box letdown with the radio compass. Fortunately, we had an excellent radar operator on board. Everyone called him "the Mouse" — he kind of looked like one of Walt Disney's mice, so I guess that's how he got his nickname. We began to hit some pouring rain, but I went ahead with the box letdown and the Mouse — using his wonderful APQ-7 radar set — kept me posted on the location of every little hill.

      When we got down to within about 1,000 feet of the peaks of some of the hills we still had absolutely no indication that we would break out of the clouds. I said to my brother, who was then sitting on the right seat, "To hell with it, Al. Let's go back to Clark." Sol immediately threw on the power and went back up to 16,000 feet and proceeded on a reciprocal course back toward the China coast.

      As we were approaching where we thought Hong Kong should be, Clarence Juett, who had been in a serious discussion with the flight engineer, came up to me and said, "Colonel, we got a problem. We don't seem to be transferring fuel to the main tanks from the bomb bay tank." I knew we would never make it back to the Philippines without that extra fuel, so I thought we might have to attempt a landing at Hong Kong.

      While we were at Clark Field we had been told that the Japanese were still under arms, waiting for Allied troops to come in and take over. We didn't relish the idea of going into Hong Kong under these circumstances, but figured we just might have to take the chance.

      Juett and the flight engineer went to work trying to find out why the circuit breakers would pop off every time they attempted to transfer the fuel. They solved the problem just about the time that we got to Hong Kong and began transferring fuel. We heaved a sigh of relief and headed for Clark, where we arrived without experiencing further difficulties.

      While we were back at Clark Field, we made a determined effort to gather as much additional information about China as we could. Since we could learn nothing about Chungking, we decided to bypass it on our next effort and to proceed directly to Chengtu.

      Three days later we were ready to go again and taxied out to take off. When we got to the end of the runway tower called us and asked if we would mind taking along a couple of passengers. I replied, "It's OK with us." The tower said, "Stand by and we will send them out and put them on your manifest." They brought two guys out in a jeep. When one of the rear scanners informed me that they were aboard and we were ready to go, we got clearance and took off.

      This time the weather was a lot more accommodating and it was smooth sailing across the China Sea. We flew over Hong Kong again and this time we saw a tiny little 3,000 foot runway down there that ran straight into the face of a cliff. It would have been a catastrophe if we had attempted to land our B-29 there on our first flight. As we flew along we got our first good look at China through the broken clouds. The terrain was extremely rough along the entire route to Chengtu — there was just a continuous series of hills and small valleys — and from 16,000 feet we were able to see what a challenge this country was to air operations.

      The clouds thickened as we approached Chengtu and we found the beacon and homed in on it, but we didn't have to make much of an instrument letdown because we broke through the clouds at about 12,000 feet The landing at Chengtu was uneventful except that the runway was a bit rough compared to the ones that we were used to.

      Except for a small communications detachment of about twelve people, Chengtu had been evacuated by the Army Air Force. They put us up in some quarters and fed us. Our passengers turned out to be a couple of Australian infantry men who just wanted to go on a lark. They were fine, strapping young men who had been through numerous campaigns. Clarence had to pull the cowling off our engines in order to perform some routine maintenance and the Aussies jumped right in to help him. They worked like Trojans and Clarence was really thankful that they had come along with us.

      After we spent the night in Chengtu, my brother contacted General Wiedemeyer's headquarters and learned that a West Point classmate of his, Jeff Mosely, was Wiedemeyer's chief of staff for operations. My brother told him that we would like some transportation to Chungking since we couldn't land our B-29 on the 2,800 foot runway there. Mosely arranged for a C-45 to come over from Chungking and fly us to Wiedemeyer's headquarters.

      My brother, Bamick, and I flew to Chungking on the C-45. When we landed at the "podunk" airport there, we saw what a mess we would have been in if we had tried to land our B-29 there. Even in good weather we would not have been able to stop the plane on its landing roll before we hit the cliff at the end of the runway because in those days the B-29 did not have reversible props.

      We headed for Wiedemeyer's headquarters — or at least we tried to get there. Then narrow streets of that city were packed with about four million Chinese who were throwing a victory celebration and it took us four hours to go two blocks. The people kept trying to jump onto our two jeeps as we edged through the crowd at a snail's pace. The only way we managed to get through at all was because we had a huge Gurkha soldier walking in front of each jeep, swinging a large club and literally beating a path for us through the crowd. It bothered me to see those poor people being clubbed, but it was the only way we could make it.

      When we got to the headquarters we were billeted with Jeff Mosely and the rest of the officers of the A-3 staff. We stayed there about three days while my brother made contact with an OSS detachment which was at Mukden. Some supply drops of food, medical supplies, and clothing had been made by B-29's to the POW camps around Mukden. My brother finally got a message to my father through the OSS, telling him that we were in Chungking and were preparing to fly up to get him.

      We returned to Chengtu with authority from General Wiedemeyer to proceed to Mukden and pick up my father and as many other POW's as we could carry and to fly them down to Kunming, where a medical processing center had been set up to handle POW's.

      Juett informed me that he found a whole bunch of cracks in the exhaust stacks on all four engines of our plane, and didn't know how long they would hold out. He said there wasn't any danger yet, but the stacks should be either replaced or welded. There was no welding equipment at Chengtu and, of course, spare stacks were all the way back on Guam. In fact, there wasn't a B-29 spare part anywhere in the Philippines or China except for those that we brought along with us. So we decided that, instead of going directly to Mukden, we should go to Kunming and see if we could repair the stacks there before attempting to go to Mukden.

      When we got to Kunming we were informed by the commander of the 14th Air Force that they had received a message addressed to us from General Wiedemeyer. He was requesting that we not proceed to Mukden because the OSS had obtained some C-87's (the transport version of the B-24) and were flying the POW's to Kunming as fast as they could. We were to wait in Kunming for my father.

      In a day or so my dad arrived with a group of POW's and we had a great, but brief, family reunion before they whisked Dad off to the processing center. Dad was 6'3" tall and weighed 220 pounds before he was captured, but he was not down to a mere 125 pounds. So you can understand the condition he was in. They dewormed him and put him on a special diet until he was strong enough to travel to the States.

      Actually, Dad was in pretty fair condition, considering that he had been a prisoner for three years and four months during which time many of his fellow prisoners had died from starvation, disease, and mistreatment. So I guess he was pretty fortunate, but he was a tough old codger — to say the least. Two weeks later he was ready to travel to the Philippines, and from there to the States by way of Guam.

      While we were waiting for Dad to be processed, we did a little sightseeing around Kunming. We had a rather interesting time, acting more or less like tourists and trying some of the food in the many restaurants in that little town. Clarence Juett and his two Aussies stayed pretty busy rewelding the exhaust stacks so we would be ready to fly back to Guam, but they also got a chance to wander around a bit and see the countryside. Finally, we filed a clearance for Clark Field.

      Perhaps our most interesting and near tragic event occurred as we took off from Kunming. The runway there was the roughest I have ever landed on in any kind of airplane. It was paved with something like cobblestones and was under constant repair because of the heavy C-87 POW traffic. There were always several hundred Chinese workers out there, replacing the rocks and cobblestones, but they could not keep up with the damage caused by the heavy traffic and the condition of the runway got progressively worse.

      As we took off, my brother was in the left seat, I was in the right seat, and Bill Quinn, the aircraft commander, was in the bombardier's seat just forward of us. On board, in addition to our crew, were my father, a Philippine Scout brigadier general by the name of Stevens, and about six Army colonels. They were all in the crew compartment as we proceeded down the runway for takeoff. We were bouncing and banging along the rough runway so badly that I thought, "My God, this is terrible!"

      We finally lifted off and got the gear and flaps up. We were headed straight toward a range of hills that was pretty high. We had been told by operations that we needed to make a sharp, climbing turn to the right to avoid these hills as soon as we got up sufficient airspeed. My brother tried to make the turn, but the wheel wouldn't budge — it was jammed! I noticed that he was jerking at the wheel with a concerned expression on his face. He finally turned to me and said, "Hey, it won't turn! I can't turn!" So I took the wheel and tried turning it. It turned easily to the left, but it wouldn't turn to the right at all. I quickly checked the autopilot, but it was off. I turned and yelled to Bill Quinn, "Bill, the controls are jammed! Run back and see what you can find wrong." Bill shot out of his seat so fact I don't even remember him passing between me and my brother as he stepped over the pedestal.

      He ran back into the forward bomb bay, and in less than a minute the controls were free—and just in time! My brother racked the plane into a 45 degree bank just in time to miss the hills! When Bill came back up I asked him what he had found. He held up a Boy Scout knife!

      Two weeks before, on the way down to Kunming to Chengtu, we had opened a box of 10-in-l rations for lunch and had used the Scout knife to open some of the cans. When we finished eating what we wanted, we put the unopened cans along with the Scout knife in the ration carton and placed it in the baggage rack in the forward bomb bay. Bill had found the knife wedged between the aileron control cable and a pulley. The bouncing about by the plane on that awful runway had tossed the knife out of the box and into the cable. That's just about as close a call as you can get and survive.

      None of our passengers, my father included, were aware of this incident while it was going on. In fact, we didn't tell them about it until we reached our final destination at Northwest Field on Guam.

      We didn't have anymore mechanical trouble during the remainder of the flight, but we did run into a lot of bad weather out over the China Sea. In fact, we later found that we had skirted the northern edge of a typhoon. Since no weather information was available in Kunming we had no way of knowing we were flying into a typhoon—but those were the chances we had to take in the Pacific during World War II.

      After arriving in the Philippines, we spent three days in Manila where my brother visited some of his classmates who were in the area. We took my father to a Base Exchange where he and I each bought gold watches. We had Dad checked one more time by the medics and flew on to Guam.

      After landing on Guam, my brother went to the 21st Bomber Command compound where he was told that General Twining wanted to see him. There had been a change in organization while we were gone. The 20th Air Force command headquarters had moved from Washington to Guam and General Twining was its new commander. General LeMay's 21st Bomber Command was now subordinate to the 20th Air Force.

      When my brother went in to see General Twining he was told, "Al, a father and two sons have flown together in the same airplane in this crazy part of the world just long enough. Your trip is over!" He added, "We are going to put your father on an ATC aircraft and fly him back to the States."

      A couple of days later my dad took off in an ATC C-54 for home and my brother followed him two or three weeks later. I left Northwest Field and flew to Saipan where I returned to the States in an old AK manned by a Navy crew. This AK was a "Liberty Ship" and was a real rust bucket because it had been out in the Pacific since about the time the war started. Twenty-one days later I arrived in San Francisco — completing the wartime odyssey of a father and his two sons.

      The two Australian infantrymen who joined us, and worked so eagerly and hard to help Clarence Juett repair our aircraft engines, remained with us until we returned to Clark Field. The fact that they had been AWOL for three weeks did not bother them at all!

My father, Colonel Albert T. Wilson, Sr. (USARet), died on cancer in 1971 at the age of 84.

My brother, Major General Albert T. Wilson, Jr.(USARet), died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 59.

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Excerpts From Letters To My Former Wife


George M. Withee
331st Bomb Group

      All of us carry in our minds the memories of our wartime adventures. As the years roll on, these memories tend to blur and become less vivid. Recently, I read through a stack of letters that I sent to my former while I was overseas and the words and comments that I wrote over forty years ago suddenly brought my memories into sharp focus. I would like to share some of them with you:

      August 9, 1945-Guam: Everyone is astir here over Russia's entry into the war and the new atomic bomb. You have no doubt heard me say several years ago that if we could harness the power of the atom we could destroy the earth, and that man is better off without such power. I am sorry that such a thing was invented; but if anyone should have it, we are the ones. I wish, after the war, that this knowledge could be destroyed! Man doesn't display quite enough common sense to have such a plaything. May God keep it in good hands.

      August 11: I went to bed early last evening, but was awakened about midnight by the public address system announcing that:

      "It has been reported that the Japanese have surrendered." I have prayed, I have honestly prayed, that this is the end of this ungodly slaughter. It is my opinion that Japan truly knows the meaning of war now. They indeed know more than we do, and more than I hope we ever do know. I have never seen so much fire in all my life, and it must be much more impressive to one of the ground. It is truly awe inspiring. No artist could paint the honor — or the beauty — of such a spectacle.

      August 15: I guess we got a little tired of waiting for the Japanese to make up their minds, so once again I visited Japan. Several hours before we even saw Guam break the horizon (on our way back), we heard San Francisco radio describe our raid. Not very long afterwards the announcement came forth: "Japan has surrendered!" It was broadcast in a dozen different languages, but no matter how they said it, it sounded good to me.

      August 26: I just got back from the Philippine Islands. We stayed at a little field on southern Luzon called Florida Blanca — and a field was all it was. We took our own food with us and lived in our airplane. I never thought I would call old "593" home.

      This trip was to pick up parachutes to be used for a cargo drop of rations and supplies to the POW camps in Japan. My thoughts were:

Florida Blanca
The scarred terrain had born much pain
Wreaked by man's tools of war;
But the patient years had dried the tears,
And beauty was there once more.
The hills were as green as any I've seen
And were wrapped in cloaks of thunder,
While torrential rains erased the stains
Of man's most foolish blunder.

      October 15: I have just returned from a trip to Okinawa to deliver supplies to the island after a devastating typhoon wrecked the place. I have so much to say I hardly know where to start.

      We had a nice trip and saw nothing but water and one atoll, Parecevella, on the way. We landed at Bolo Field #2 at Zampa Misaki. Japanese prisoners loaded our cargo onto trucks and then we were free.

      I found the First Marine Division Cemetery, and I found Reed's grave. (My former brother-in-law. Reed Jackson, who was killed in action on Okinawa.) The place is on higher ground and is but a short distance from the field where we landed and very near the China Sea. It is a fitting place.

      We visited the city that was Naha, the capital of the island. I only wish I could have seen the place before it was razed.

      The hills are littered with strange tombs made to resemble a mother's womb, for the Okinawans believe they must place their dead in these strangely shaped tombs so that they may be reborn. Inside the tombs, I am told, are crypts for storing the bodies until they have decomposed, then the bones are placed into queer looking urns. Between the ancient tombs of the Okinawan dead and fresh, white crosses of the fallen Americans, it's a heart rending place.

      After the tour I went back and laid down to sleep beneath the number one engine (of our airplane). There was a half moon that made the coral look like snow. I laid there looking out at the China Sea, and very soon was sound asleep.

      After returning to Guam, I summed up my feelings of the visit to Okinawa:


A brazen sun turns clouds to gold
Over far foreign seas,
And lucid waters, glassy calm,
Reflect the sky and these.
A wistful moon now nightly comes
Out of the fold of night
To shower on you who eternally sleep
Quicksilver, cold and white.
All these are yours forevermore,

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The Wreck of Crew 6C4


George Withee
331st Bomb Group

      Crew 6B5, 331 Bomb Group was flying a B-29 from McCook to Jamaica for training purposes. Enroute we lost an engine, and were forced to land at Montgomery, Alabama. The base at McCook then dispatched a B-17 to come and get us, and return us to McCook. After departing Montgomery, and stopping enroute at St. Louis, the B-17 #6071 flew into the ground north and west of its home base. The enclosed report has all the details.

      My chief reason for my association with the 315th Bomb Wing Group is the hope that I will someday contact one or more of the men with whom I flew.

      I was at first on crew 6C4; the A/C and Bombardier of which were killed in the crash of 6071. The other members were: Allan J. Nuszloch, Lewis E. Baker, William H. Davies, Howard W. Keepper, Raymond E. Miller, Richard L. Miesch, Leon S. Mieczkowski, and Don B. Miller.

      After the breakup of that crew, I was assigned to crew 6B5. The members of that crew were: Charles E. Lees, Thomas M. S. Spencer, Sumner M. Lieberman, Wilfred G. Dolan, Raymond W. Buechel, Howard J. Epstein, John B. Mangieri, Andy J. Matonak, and Dante B. Petitti.

      I live in constant hope of finding one or more of these men somewhere.

      On 10 April 1945 the Army B-17 #6071, stationed at Army Air Field, McCook, Nebraska, on which I was a passenger, crashed near the town of Maywood, Nebraska. On 11 April 1945, in the base hospital at McCook I wrote and submitted to the Base Operations Officer the following report:

      The following is, to the best of my ability, an accurate account of the aircraft accident which took place shortly before dawn on 10 April 1945 near Maywood, Nebraska.

      The B-17 #6071 departed from St. Louis. Missouri approximately 0130, 10 April 1945. There were fourteen men and a considerable amount of personal baggage aboard.

      I took a place on the base-plate of the forward turret, facing the right side of the ship. I slept off and on during the trip and believe I was sleeping at the time of the first impact of the ship with the ground. I awoke upon impact and held firmly to the post which extends upward from the plate on which I was sitting. After the third impact, and after the ship had come to rest, I let go of the post and began feeling for a fire extinguisher as I could see flames outside on the left hand side of the ship. Being unable to locate the extinguisher in the darkness, and noticing the other men abandoning the ship, I decided to do the same. I went out the copilot's window and dropped head-first to the ground. Almost immediately in front of me I found Lt. Nuszloch in a sitting position. I first asked who he was and where he was hurt. I felt his leg and decided against moving him, despite his proximity to the aircraft. I do not remember the order of the ensuing events, but I was joined by Corporals Miesch and Mieczkowski and Davies. I asked each who he was and if he were hurt. I told them to find and bring to the right wing tip all parachutes, flying clothes, first-aid kits, lights, and anything which could be used to aid the injured. (I noticed there were no fires and was told that Colonel Saehlenou and Major Crosson had extinguished the flames.) In the process of gathering equipment the enlisted men found the emergency kit which contained the "Gibson Girl" radio. We found the equipment and assembled it in the darkness, and had much trouble finding the end of the antenna wire. At the suggestion of Cpl. Mieczkowski we used the hydrogen generator's inflation tube for a ground connection by driving it into the earth and so the equipment was set up. When we tried to use the set we received no indication from the indicator light. I then switched from "radio-automatic" to "light-manual." I plugged in the light and keyed the machine while one of the men turned the crank. There were no results. We found a hole in the top of the radio. I do not know whether the radio was damaged before or during the crash. I did not look at the machine after it grew light to see just what the situation was. We left the kite aloft for a signal and proceeded to hunt the equipment mentioned before. A loaded flare-gun was left on the right wing tip with instructions to use it if a plane were seen or heard. It was decided a fire was inadvisable because of the high wind and the gasoline which was running out of the ship. In the process of hunting equipment we began to find men. I cannot remember the order in which the men were found, not can I remember the order in which we cared for them. Finding the men faster than we could find the equipment made the situation desperate.

      Three civilian men, from the house where the Colonel and the Major had gone, drove up and aided us as best they could. By then we had found another "Gibson Girl" but did not bother to use it because we knew our situation was reported.

      Cpl. Davies began to suffer ill effects from a leg wound and was placed on the ground and was wrapped in parachute cloth. The other men and I continued searching for equipment and men, reporting to each other the identity of those we found, and assembling the equipment on the wing. Most of the men were found after daylight, fully an hour later, and within a very few minutes of each other.


      Lt Jordan was found when he was heard calling. He was lying on his back with legs and arms apparently broken, and was complaining of his back. I talked to him and tried to quiet him but do not believe he heard or understood. I administered morphine in the left buttock and wrapped him up, still trying to console him. He asked for water and was given the same from the emergency cans. It was reported to me that after I had left he had tried to crawl and had fallen face down. I presume he died of suffocation. A fact well worth noting is that three first aid kits were opened before any morphine could be found, thereby wasting many precious minutes.

      Lt. Nuszlock was put to rest lying down, but could not stay in that position. He seemed to prefer being propped up to a half-sitting position, and so was placed that way. No morphine was given because it was evident from his talk that his head had been hit. He repeatedly asked where we came from and where we were going. Later, however, he told me he could remember everything quite clearly.

      Lt. Smith was found dead and badly cut up. He was wearing a back type parachute and was lying on his back. The chest buckle was undone and his arms were pinned back by the straps which had slip from his shoulders. We removed the parachute and wrapped him up.

      Captain Hynds was found face down and unconscious. His collar was opened and his face was lifted up on his arm because he was bleeding from the mouth. He was covered with flying clothes and parachute cloth, and a windbreak placed at his head. Since he was not found until after daylight, and his condition was so critical, he did not live long.

      Corporal Mertz was found when he was seen waving his arm in the air for us. He said he wasn't too bad, but wanted someone to know his location and had been crawling to find us. He was wrapped and became quite at ease after having been found.

      Sergeant Greely was found lying on his back and unconscious. His appearance indicated internal injuries so he was covered and placed face down with his head lifted on his arm.

      Sergeant Horan apparently left the ship on his own and put himself beside Corporal Davies. I do not recall having seen him there before, but discovered him there later on. He was covered for warmth. He wanted water, but found he couldn't drink.

      About 0700 Colonel Saehlenou and Major Crosson arrived with two ambulances, two staff-cars, and a fire truck. They were directed to the men who were scattered over a large area. Corporals Miesch and Mieczkowski and myself were by then beginning to suffer shock and fatigue and were taken away in a staff car. We stopped in the town of Maywood and the driver telephoned for more aid equipment. We then proceeded to this base and were admitted to the hospital for observation and treatment


      The ship struck open rolling terrain at an approximate speed of 200 miles an hour at a flat angle (normal flying attitude). There were three distinct contacts with the ground, each a severe impact. It is evident from the dispersion of the men that the ship started breaking up on the first or second contact with the ground. It came to rest about 90 degrees to the flight path and broke forward of the rear bulkhead of the radio room. The ball-turret went out the left side of the ship, and the belly split open beside the cat-walk from the radio room aft to the main entrance door. The tip of the vertical stabilizer was broken. I cannot say how this happened. The nose broke off early and the Bombardier's and Navigator's compartments were a maze of junk. Numbers one and two engines were detached after the first or second impact The oil tanks, the battery, the VHP radio, and similar equipment were scattered over a wide area. The flight-deck, the forward turret area, the bombay, and the tail-gunner's compartment remained relatively intact.

      I wish here to commend Corporals Davies, Miesch, and Mieczkowski. These men performed their duties efficiently and well under the most trying circumstances. Their self-discipline and quick thinking marked them as good soldiers. I believe without them and their help, this accident would have been even more disastrous.

      While in the hospital at McCook Army Air Base, I was notified by Major Gerald J. Grosson, Copilot of the aircraft involved in the accident, and Commanding Officer of the 357th Bombardment Squadron (331st Bombardment Group) that he had recommended me for the Soldiers' Medal.

      The only additional data I am able to find in my personal files are these:

      On board the B-17 #6071 at the time of the crash were: Lt Col. Hadley V. Saehlenou, pilot; Major Gerald J. Crosson, copilot; Capt Charles L. Hynds, passenger (killed); 1st Lt. Allan J. Nuszloch, passenger; 1st Lt Earie R. G. Smith, passenger (killed); 1st Lt. Charles T. Armstrong, passenger (killed); 1st Lt Virgil H. Jordan, passenger (killed); 2nd Lt George M. Withee Jr., passenger; TSgt Bernard P. Greely, passenger (killed); TSgt F. K. Horan, engineer, Cpl. William H. Davies, passenger; Cpl. Richard A. Miesch, passenger; Cpl. Lcon S. Mieczkowski, passenger; and Cpl. Irvin Mertz, passenger.

      The night in concern was made a matter of record in paragraph #4, Special Orders #124 issued by Headquarters Army Air Field McCook Nebraska dated 4 May 1945.

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Everybody Remembers Kilroy, But
Who Remembers D. H. McGillicudhay? By

George M. Withee
331st Bomb Group

      Even though he was known worldwide by millions of people, I suspect that Kilroy was a fictitious person. I know that D. H. McGillicudhay was fictitious. Perhaps I am one of the very few that remember him at all.

      The 356th Squadron of the 331st Group of the 315th Wing consisted of three flights: A, B, and C. As I recall, flights A and B each had six crews—Flight C only had five. The crews were designated 6A1 through 6A6, 6B1 through 6B6, and 6C1 through 6C5. It was a natural, there was no 6C6: Flight 6C, of course would never tolerate being "short-sheeted." If the other Flights had six crews, then so should we! But who would be our champion? Why Dick Head McGillicudhay, naturally!

      As we started ground school in McCook, Nebraska, old "D.H." came into being. As we newly enrolled into each ground school class — Navigation, Physical Training, Meteorology, etc., roll was called: "6C1?" "Here." "6C2, 6C3, 6C4, 6C5?" "All here!" Then the instructor asked, "Is there anyone that I've missed?" One of us would then reply, "Yes, McGillicudhay, 6C6!" So old "D. H." was duly enrolled in all the proper classes.

      Some months later crew 6C4 was on a training mission. As we overflew St. Cloud, Minnesota, (where I had attended C.T.D. a year before) we saw a B-29 headed the other way. We called to it for identification, and received the reply, "D.H. McGillicudhay. 6C6!"

      Old "D.H." didn't contribute much to the ending of the war, but he did contribute greatly to the morale of some of the men who were directly involved in that task.

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Army 42-63593, Slicker 28


George Withee
331st Bomb Group

      July 11, 1945 Herrington, Kansas: Today we met our "new" ship. It wasn't the dramatic affair that it is usually made out to be, but it was a serious thing. We drew what is usually referred to as a "klunk," an old ship, strangely enough, one we had used in training, Army 42-63593.

      July 12, 1945: Today we ran our calibration runs on our new found friend, #593. I had few hopes for our ship, but was pleasantly surprised. Her new engines made her young again, I guess. She performed nobly, and, indeed, was quite fast. The mission was completed without incident and all were pleased with the "old lady." Upon landing, however, her bomb bay doors would not operate—the only mar on her record.

      July 13, 1945: Today we loaded old 593 for the first leg of our journey. We piled, it seemed, truckload after truckload into our ship, but there was always room for more. Tonight we must guard the ship!

      The mechanics are still working and I wonder if the "old lady" will be ready when we are in the morning. Must she be temperamental from the start?

      July 14, 1945: We were not delayed long this morning, and after routine procedures, were standing aligned with the runway for takeoff. Number four is hot, we must wait a few minutes for her to cool. "Engineer ready for takeoff!" Charlie opened the throttles slowly and our "klunk" fairly jumped in response. Everything went normally, and I was pleased. As chief "meter reader" I can but sit and wait for something to go wrong.

      Our journey was uneventful. We checked system after system and all were okay. Pressurization, excellent; heating, too efficient for now; autopilot, good; fuel transfer, good; radios, all very good. I have much more confidence in the little lady than I did before. Brought us safely to Mather AAF. Sacrament, California, 6 hours 10 minutes.

      July 15, 1945 Sacramento, California: Our ship has been worked on and checked on almost without interruption since we landed. The next hop is long and over water.

      July 16, 1945: All is in readiness, tonight we go!

      July 17, 1945: We took off about 0200 and within a very few minutes were out over the vast Pacific. It was an uneventful journey, just water and more water. The ship did all that was expected of her. She brought us safely to Honolulu Naval Air station on the island of Oahu in good time, 10 hours 30 minutes.

      July 18, 1945: Today we took off early from H.N.A.S. for the next leg of our journey. Enroute we crossed the International Dateline and we were suddenly in the next day—July 19. We landed in due time on the island of Kwajalein, in the Marshall Island group. 11 hours 30 minutes.

      July 20, 1945: Today we left Kwajalein for the island of Guam, in the Marianas group. As before it was an uneventful trip and the ship performed well. We landed at Harmon Field on Guam, unloaded our freight and took off for Northwest Field, about ten minutes away. After landing we caught something with a prop and tore off a tip. This will require a new propeller, I am afraid. The ship will undoubtedly ready for action before we are. 7 hours 10 minutes.

      July 27, 1945: Today we made our first mission over enemy territory. In spite of the 300 Japanese on the island, it is considered a practice mission. We bombed the island of Rota in the Marianas group from 15,000 feet with ten 500-pound general-purpose bombs. Old Slicker 28, alias Army 42-63593, did her job well. 7 hours.

      July 28, 1945: Today we flew orientation and calibration. After visiting Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas group we returned to Guam and calibrated our compasses and air speed meters. Again old Slicker 28 performed very well. 5 hours 40 minutes.

      July 29, 1945: Today we bombed another island of the Marianas group. We put ten 500-pound semi-armor-piercing bombs on Pagan Island from 10,000 feet. 5 hours 50 minutes.

      July 30, 1945: Today we put ten 500-pound semi-armor-piercing bombs on Pajaros from 10,000 feet. We then flew to Iwo Jima for orientation. 8 hours 15 minutes.

      August 1 & 2, 1945; We took off at 1700K with a load of 27 500-pound general-purpose bombs. Our target—an oil complex in Tokyo was in the Kawasaki area. We encountered meager antiaircraft opposition, very inaccurate. We sustained one fighter attack which gave us three bursts of machine gun fire, very inaccurate. Fighter attacked while we were caught in searchlights, pressed his run close, but did not repeat. Our bombs, dropped from 16,400 feet, hit the target area but results were unobserved. No damage to Slicker 28. She is now a veteran and will wear a bomb on her nose for her engagement. 14 hours 30 minutes.

      August 4, 1945: This evening S2 (Intelligence) called us in an showed us a Japanese incendiary bullet taken from the tail of old Slicker 28. We were all surprised to say the least. We were so certain that the fighter had missed us completely.

      August 5 & 6, 1945: We took off at 17 OOK with a load of 32 500-pound general-purpose bombs. Our target—a coal liquefaction plant at Ube, on the inland sea are of the island of Honshu. We encountered no opposition. Our bombs hit the target area but results were unobserved. Bombing altitude was 10,200 feet. 15 hours 30 minutes.

      August 9 & 10, 1945: We took off at 19 OOK with a load of 32 500-pound general-purpose bombs. Our target—the Nippon Oil Company at Amagaskai in the Osaka area. We encountered moderate antiaircraft activity, very inaccurate, and no fighter opposition. The search lights got us once, but did not keep us long. Our bombs, dropped from 16,400 feet hit the target area and good results were observed. Were informed that previous target, Ube, was 95% destroyed, and the reclaimed land was flooded by the sea. "Saw target, sank same!" 14 hours 40 minutes.

      August 14 & 15, 1945: We have been waiting for days for the final answer from the Japanese on whether we continue to fight, or whether we quit. I guess yesterday we had waited too long. We ran another maximum-effort raid. We took off at 17 OOK with a load of 52 250-poundd general-purpose bombs. Our target—the Nippon Oil Company at Akita (Tsuchizaki) on the northwest end of Honshu. We encountered no opposition. Our bombs, dropped from 10,200 feet, fell left of the aiming point and results were not observed. This mission covered 3,700 miles and took 17 hours time in flight. Several hours before our return we heard the San Francisco radio report our mission. Just a little while later it reported the Japanese surrender.

      WAR END! I hope that old Slicker 28 has hauled her last bomb. In all she has loosed 173 bombs totaling 43 l/4 tons over Japanese territory.

      August 25, 1945: Took off at 02 OOK for a cargo mission to Florida Blanca Field on southern Luzon, P.I. Ship performed well. Hit bad weather crossing the inter-tropical front. St. Elmo's fire all over the nose—very impressive sight 7 hours 15 minutes.

      August 26, 1945: Were loaded with about 200 cargo-parachutes at Florida Blanca. Took off at 0800 local time and returned to Guam. 7 hours.

      Philippines were very beautiful as far as scenery goes—rather torn up from past battles. Japanese aircraft were strewn all over the landscape. Natives quite poverty stricken but still cheerful, easy-going people. Kids flocked around the aircraft for hand-outs of candy, gum, and whatever food we had left. All in all a very interesting journey, (left seat)

      August 31, 1945: Today we took off for Saipan to load supplies for our Prisoners-of-war in Japan. On takeoff the tower notified me that our number one was smoking, a short way out the cylinder head of #15 cylinder blew off. The nacelle was covered with oil and we were trailing smoke. We feathered the engine and proceeded without further incident. We landed at Saipan and left old Slicker 28 for repairs. The crew came back in other ships. I guess we will go after the old lady in a few days. 1 hour 45 minutes (left seat)

      September 5, 1945: Today we were ferried to Saipan to pick up our klunk. We found her repaired and supposedly ready to go. We found #1 and #2 liquid locked and had to drop the air scoops to relieve the situation. Then we took old 593 back to her roost on Guam. She has a new #1 engine built by Dodge. Hope it is as good as the Wright jobs.

      September 11, 1945: Old 593 was due on her hundred-hour check upon return from Saipan and they have been working on her ever since. She has her number two prop off and is getting a cylinder change. She is also having a turbo supercharger changed. All in all she is causing a lot of sweat and tears down on the line.

      September 22, 1945: Our ship was ready for the test-hop and calibration today, so we flew again. I took the left seat and logged QD. The ship flew well but the battery boiled over. Thus we started the APU by hand. She's getting old. She's getting old! 2 hours 45 minutes

      September 25, 1945: Today I was given some more QD shooting landings and practicing instruments on Myrtle range. The ship performed well and we logged 4 hours, 30 minutes, and five landings.

      September 27, 1945: More transition tonight from 1900 to 2300. A very black night and strictly instruments after dropping over the cliff. I feel that I am becoming well acquainted with the old B-29 in general. Slicker 28 in particular, 4 hours (left seat).

      September 29, 1945: Flew transition and instruments this morning 0730 to 1100. Ship is doing well. She is now going to have her wheels and brakes overhauled. They have some 40 landings on them, and that is a lot of stress no matter how you look at it. (left seat)

      October 3, 1945: Today was another transition - instrument ride and I logged more QD and landings. Charlie shot a low - approach on Myrtle range and a G.C.A. (radar) approach. G.C.A. brought us in too high and we landed far down the runway, and hot! Finally stopped but not before using all the runway plus a few hundred feet more. No damage to Slicker 28, personnel, or to runway installations, have a split nose-wheel tire to be removed and the liquidometers to be calibrated. Also readjustment of the newly installed brakes. 2 hours 40 minutes (left seat)

      October 13, 1945: Today I took Slicker 28 to Saipan and we took on six tons of rations to be delivered to storm-torn Okinawa. We will be off early in the morning. 1 hour 40 minutes (left seat)

      October 14, 1945; Took off at 0650K for Okinawa. Had a very good trip with about an hour on instruments. Landed at Bolo Field #2 on Zampamisaki after six hours of flight. Ship OK and ready for return tomorrow. Japanese prisoners loaded our cargo onto trucks and hauled it away. 6 hours 15 minutes (Pilot)

      October 15, 1945: Took off from Okinawa at 0730K and returned to Guam without incident. Everyone worn out but glad to have seen the place. Ship in good shape. 6 hours (pilot)

      I shall always remember Okinawa as an island of tombs. The whole island is devastated. Naha, the capital city, was razed completely. Natives were poverty stricken, and seemed to more or less resent our presence. The place was a horrible example of the ravages of war.

      Have been hearing rumors lately of our lady, 593, going home as a "war weary." In my estimation, she's much more "McCook weary" than anything. She's a good ship, and I for one will hate to see her go. She'll take back with her the names of her crew, and four bombs for her part in the war. Most of her work was done stateside, but over here she didn't do bad — not by a long shot!

      October 21, 1945: Today "Red" (Buechel) painted the name on the nose of our ship. He did a beautiful job. He has also put on the crew members' names, each by his position. Slicker 28 really looks like a combat bird now.

      October 23, 1945: Today Sucker 28 was flown by Captain Hentchell (6B4). A number of sailors from an ASR unit was taken for a joyride. I was not aboard so know very little about it

      October 25, 1945: Scheduled for night-check tonight in Slicker 28. Got the engines started and blew an exhaust stack on #4. Back to the sack with a bad stack.

      November 20, 1945: Today Slicker 28 was flown test hop and calibration. She is okay, and set to go. May she have Godspeed on her journey.

      November 30, 1945: Today at 14OOK Slicker 28 took off with a load of returnees for "Sunset Mission" to Mather Field, California, United States of America. T.K.S. Spencer was navigator and the only member of her original crew to go with her. I watched her takeoff from the tower. Northwest Field, Guam, and last saw her heading southeast out over the Pacific. Spencer will complete her log and send me the info...

      *** Information from Spencer's letter ***

      November 30, 1945: We left Northwest Field at 1404K and found Kwajalein with little trouble. Engineer had some difficulty with the pressure regulators and a bit more with fuel transfer, but after circling Kwajalein once it was decided that our fuel was sufficient, and we kept on. Capt. Allen (7C1) paid not attention to assigned altitudes, and we made good time to Johnson Island, but after that we went down on the deck and fairly crawled. Trip took 17:55 hours, about an hour less than the rest.

      Arrived Oahu in afternoon of the 30th (crossed the dateline again.)

      December 4, 1945: We took off from Honolulu N.A.S. at 0400 local time and hit the Farallons zero-zero in a front. We zig-zagged through the breaks in the clouds-decks, arriving at dear old Mather's ramp at 1610 PST. It was quite a spectacle:

      The Golden Gate, and sitting right over Sacramento was a double rainbow with Mather Field directly under this eastern end.
Some omen!

      Slicker 28 and the 331st bombardment Group crew 6B5 have come to the parting of the ways. Overseas service — four months, two weeks, and three days. Awards: Air Medal, Pacific; Theater Ribbon with two battle stars; American Theater Ribbon; and the Victory Medal. Journey's end: Mather Field.

14 DECEMBER 1945
Guam, the Marianas

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Hokkaido, Japan to Washington, D.C.


Lt. Col. George E. Akerson
Reprint from Colliers Magazine
January 5,1946

      General Frank A. Armstrong motioned for me to take the controls of the Superfort. He picked up his microphone and, in his soft North Carolina drawl, began calling one of the four B-29s strung out in column formation just short of Attu, Alaska, en route to Washington on the first nonstop flight from Japan.

      "Hello, Hyena Two, this is General Armstrong. Is that you. 'Sandy'?" Colonel K. 0. Sanborn of Annapolis, Maryland, pilot of the second Superfort, said it was.

      "Listen closely. Sandy," said the general in a tone portending a momentous decision. "You put 'Stormy' Strom (the flight weather forecaster) down in the nose of your airplane and once every minute for the next half hour I want you to give him a good swift kick in the pants. That's an order!"

      Every crew member heard the message and the tension was broken. For nearly five hours everyone from the general to the enlisted men had become more and more downhearted. The weather forecast, made not only by our own weatherman, Captain Gordon A. "Stormy" Strom, of Harris, Minnesota, but by all of the experts between Japan and Washington, had predicted a tail wind of 30 miles an hour on this first leg of the great circle route between Japan and Washington. But the wind was exactly opposite, about 45 miles an hour right on our nose.

      We passed Attu and it seemed we were crawling. It was almost dark and we could just see the barren rocks of that Aleutian outpost. A half hour past Attu, Lieutenant John Courtwright of Washington D.C., one of our two navigators, called me back of his small worktable.

      "Don't say anything to the old man yet," he smiled, "but I think we've not only lost the head wind but picked up a tail wind."

      Johnny called up the other navigator, Captain Louis Collins of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was resting in the back of the airplane. Together they began taking fixes, plotting our position every few minutes by means of stars and radio. Finally with a grin a mile wide Johnny said, "It checks all right. With a 40-mile-an-hour wind, dead on our tail, we're doing about 285 miles an hour and we'll make it okay if it holds."

      The wind held and even became stronger behind us. The four Superforts picked up speed, raced over Kodiak and Sitka and finally into National Airport at Washington on the night of November 1st The total time from Hokkaido, Japan, to Washington was 27 hours and 30 minutes.

      The next morning's newspapers hailed the trip as heralding long-distance commercial flights over that and similar great-circle routes. I read the reports with much interest because all through the weary flight I had thought of the progress that must be made before commercial lines could attempt such flights on regular schedules. It was pure luck that the wind changed when it did and enabled us to make up for lost time. That luck made the trip possible, and extensive preparation by General Armstrong gave it some measure of safety. But commercial lines cannot bank on luck. And they cannot have the safety facilities provided General Armstrong without prohibitive expense.

      We could not have made it to Washington without a helping wind. If there had been a dead calm over the entire route we would have run out of gas just as we arrived over Washington, leaving no time for an approach or for an instrument letdown if the weather had been bad. We needed an average tail wind on the entire route of at least 12 miles an hour to give us a sufficient gasoline reserve on reaching Washington.

      Even though the prevailing winds on the great-circle route from Japan to Washington are westerly, winds out of the east are not rare. An airliner must be prepared to buck head winds and still arrive at its destination not only with sufficient gas to make an instrument letdown but with enough reserve to proceed to an alternate airport where the weather is clear. And, of course, airliners must fly the other way too—from Washington to Japan, against prevailing winds.

      We carried 10,500 gallons of gasoline, much more than a Superfort normally takes on, because General Armstrong had substituted lightweight fuel tanks from the wings of C-46 Commandos for the heavier self-sealing smaller capacity combat tanks normally carried in the B-29s. Also he had given us more weight for gasoline by removing all the heavy armament on the bombers, yet we arrived in Washington with only 800 gallons; and that was due to a strong helping wind. We had planned to arrive with only 300 gallons.

      Plainly, then, what the airlines would need for such a long trip would be a larger airplane than the B-29, with a gasoline load and a range that would permit reaching the destination with a reserve despite head winds.

      The longer the trip the more comfort would be necessary for the passengers. The airplane would have to be large enough to contain sleeping, dining and recreation facilities. A foolproof heating system is a must. The B-29 has an air-conditioning and heating system coupled with its pressurized cabin that is among the best in existence today; yet it broke down in the cold arctic air. Even with our winter flying clothing we were cold the whole trip. I looked back once and saw Captain Robert McConnell of Monroe, Louisiana, our flight engineer, with his feet high in the air, pressed against the voltage regulator cover. He claimed the cover was just little warmer than the rest of the airplane.

      The long-range commercial airplane must be pressurized like the B-29 to enable stratosphere flight over the worst weather. As incidentally, the higher the long-range airplane flies the more gas it needs.

      A distinct improvement in weather forecasting is another necessary development for long-range flights. The weather we encountered did not even remotely resemble the forecast. But there are two reasons for poor forecasting. One is that it is not yet anything approaching an exact science, and the other is that meteorologists are not furnished enough data to apply efficiently what little knowledge they do have. Future long-distance airline operations must have better forecasting to make flights safer and schedules surer.

      Perhaps the most comforting minutes during the long flight from Japan were the times when a Superdumbo rescue plane sailed along beside us in formation, keeping watch just in case we were forced to ditch or bail out over the North Pacific. Three such airplanes, B-29s equipped with the latest rescue equipment, followed us over the most dangerous stretches. At other points B-17s hovered over a point they knew we would pass. They carried motor-driven lifeboats and were prepared to drop them to us if we were forced down.

      Every 500 miles over water there was a Navy surface vessel, providing not only rescue facilities but also servicing as a navigation check point. Over the wastes of Canada, the entire Air-Sea Rescue system was alerted for us, and we were plotted clear across the continent. Even when we took off from Hokkaido, an airplane circled at the end of the runway, waiting to spot our position in the event of a crash.

      Airlines must have all these facilities and more. But they could not provide them because of the terrific cost. Nets of radio beams, radio-direction finding systems, homing radio beacons located on anchored boats and a "Coast Guard of the Air," an Air-Sea Rescue organization, must be furnished.

(The Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization now meeting in Montreal has this matter high on its agenda. Ed.)

      Our trip was on the ragged edge from beginning to end—in other words if anything had gone wrong it would have been just too bad for crews and airplanes. For instance we were so heavily loaded (70 tons) that had one engine failed or partly failed on take-off, we would have had to crash straight ahead. With our weight we had no chance whatsoever of sustaining flight on three engines. That condition existed until we had burned enough gasoline and lost enough weight (at 6 pounds per gallon) to permit three-engine flight. Then there was another period when we would have been forced to ditch or bail out if two engines had failed.

      I envision the long-range airliner as a six-or possibly eight-engine airplane, capable of carrying a tremendous gas load, yet at the same time able to sustain flight if one or even two engines failed on take-off or at some other critical time.

      It must be able to operate through all weather and all temperature ranges. Our four B-29s, veterans of the air war over Japan, had come from the tropical climate of Guam, then to the mild autumn of Hokkaido and through the sub-zero temperatures of Alaska and Canada to the 65-degree "heat" at Washington. Any great-circle route between temperate countries has to pass through sub-zero ranges.

      Throughout the entire trip Technical Sgt. Genero Tamez of Mexico and Staff Sgt Jay Hood of Pittsburgh, the two radio operators were in constant touch with Army Airways Communications stations. Even when we were over Alaska they were still talking to Guam. They began working Washington shortly after we crossed the Canadian Rockies.

      M/Sgt. Clinton R. Dudley of St. Louis, Missouri, our crew chief, spent most of the trip close to Tamez, who was a Mexican announcer over Station KRIS at Corpus Christi, Texas, before the war. Dudley was expecting a message announcing the birth of a child. His wife was in a hospital at Bakersfield, California, and he had been informed prior to take-off that the baby was expected to arrive during the flight. However, no message came through, and Dudley did not know until he reached Washington that he was the father of a boy.

      Worried as he was about his wife, Dudley still fretted over the pet engines he had babied ever since the planning stages of the flight Over Saskatoon, Canada, three of the four engines began backfiring due to the very low power setting being used to conserve gasoline. A backfire is very serious in a B-29 because it is the primary cause of engine fires. Dudley and McConnell, the engineer, finally worked out a power combination that stopped the backfires and still saved gas.

      At Washington National Airport a reporter remarked to Dudley: "A few years from now and you might have bought a ticket and flown home to your wife on a superairliner."

      "Sir," Dudley replied with unnecessary deference, "I love my wife but they'll have to improve a lot of things even before I ride free. That trip worried me more than any of my combat missions."

      The reporter glanced questioningly at General Armstrong, The general nodded — and for him that was an eloquent speech.



      (Colonel Akerson has just been relieved from active duty and is now assistant to the publisher of the Boston Herald-Traveler. He was a reporter on these papers when he entered the Army Air Corps in 1940 and he had had no previous flying experience. But he rose rapidly and was placed in charge of all four-engine training in the Eastern Flying Training Command at Maxwell Field, Alabama. Last June he went to Guam as deputy chief of staff to General Armstrong with the 315th Wing, which specialized in night radar precision bombing of Japan. Colonel Akerson piloted five of these missions. Born in Minneapolis, he is the son of the late George Akerson, secretary to President Hoover. He is 28 years old and lives with his wife and 4-year-old son at Wellesley Hills, Mass.)

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Ready for Action, Living in Peace
501st Bomb Group
Crew 816

      The success of the 315th Bomb Wing was due in no small part to the thorough training and high level of competence of its personnel. The air crews, in particular, were among the finest in the history of the Air Corps, fine- tuned to the specialized mission of the Wing—radar bombing. In fifteen forays, all at night and some in "blind weather" conditions, these airmen established new standards of efficiency and the foundation for future strategic air operations.

      Not all of the crews were tested, however, due to the somewhat abrupt end to hostilities. So-called replacement crews which were still in training at El Paso's Biggs Field as the 315th oil raids commenced on Japan arrived on Guam at the start of the last month of the war and were readied for action when the armistice arrived. Crew 816 was one of these crews.

      Lt. Howard Bloom, a veteran B-17 flight instructor from Detroit, Michigan, and designated aircraft commander (A/C) met copilot Lt. Bill Cooper of Wichita, Kansas — an award-winning, B-17 First Pilot, at Roswell, New Mexico. There the two completed 90 hours jointly piloting the new B-29, along with an enlisted flight engineer, Curtis Blair.

      At Lincoln, Nebraska, Bloom and Cooper began to assemble the crew. Lt. John Aidem from St. Cloud, Minnesota replaced Blair as flight engineer. John was a veteran flight instructor at Merced California before entering FE school in Amarillo and Denver. Lt. Paul Nakel of Cleveland, Ohio was a veteran bombardier instructor, and Lt. Emanuel "Manny" Horowitz of Brooklyn, New York a San Marcos, Texas, navigation school graduate. Lt. Bruce Beacher of Allentown, Pennsylvania instructed air navigation at San Marcos, Texas before entering radar training at Victorville, California and Williams Field, Arizona, then joined the crew at the tail-end of training in El Paso for three crew-coordinating flights.

      Sgt. John Bamberg, elec. gunner from Kilgore, Texas and Cpl. Robert Brown, mech. gunner of Elgin, Illinois both had previous aircraft maintenance experience that proved invaluable later on Okinawa. Radioman Sgt. Earl Kaller of Patchogue, New York, age 32, and Cpl. Ivan Newman, tail gunner of Fierro, New Mexico, age 36, were the "old men" of the crew, providing emotional stability at all times.

      All crew members were married but Bloom, Cooper and Horowitz, which made for sometimes hilarious jesting on the intercom in flight. In the words of Cooper, "we had a lot of fun, but we were one hell of a crew in flight."

      Along with nine other crews destined for the 315th Bomb Wing, "816" staged at Herington, Kansas, before entraining for Hamilton Field, California, and an airlift, courtesy Air Transport Command, through Hawaii, Johnson Island and Kwajalein before arriving on Guam 1 August 1945 on Mission 12 on the Hayama/Mitsubishi Refineries was in progress. Their arrival was practically unnoticed at rain-soaked Northwest Field.

      The first crew effort overseas was scrounging for anything—pieces of canvas, bomb crates, rope, wire—to erect a shelter in the lowest part of the area. Bivouac training paid off when mess kits and sleeping on me ground commenced and continued until war's end. Ground training started immediately as 816 groomed for their first combat flight. Ditching procedure in Talafofo Bay became a memorable occasion when one crew member accidentally discharged a flare into the bottom of the raft and the rest of the crew somersaulted backwards into the briny deep, laughing and swallowing copious quantities of sea water.

      When the Big Bomb went off on August 6 there was speculation that the Japanese would capitulate, which they didn't. But everyone braced for a counter-attack, possible of the same type. Some even kept gas masks ready through the night. Russia's entry into the Asiatic War on August 8 elicited skepticism — did the Russians really intend to help end the war or were they merely capitalizing on the obvious outcome hoping to reap the benefits? The crew regularly discussed possibility of facing the Russians someday as adversaries. But when Nagasaki was annihilated on August 9 there was renewed optimism, especially when the Japanese did not retaliate. But the 315th continued bombing.

      816 awoke in the middle of the night on August 15 as their mates were completing Mission 15 on the Nippon Oil Co. at Tsuchizaki to the sounds of great shouting, banging and even pistol fire. A/C Bloom flew as an observer on this last mission in preparation for leading 816 on the next missions. Bloom's safe return as well as war's end were double cause for extended celebrating. Then everyone settled down to wait for the orders to go home. But several postwar missions were to weld the crew together for life.

      Tailgunner Newman got the shocking news that his young son had been killed in an accident and was quickly dispatched home to New Mexico, the first to go. Bamberg, Browne and Kaller moved into the "EM barracks," leaving the officers to more primitive quarters in the "swamp." Bloom was moved into a pre-fab with other A/C's of the 41st Squadron, 501st Bomb Group, and eventually became CO of the 41st. But the others acquired an abandoned field tent with floor and immediately started improvements — bomb-crate furniture, desks and even an entryway garden.

      The rats on Guam seemed to prefer Northwest Field and most of them found their way into "The Tent," stomping through night and day along with the huge toads which always seemed to be mating. Sometimes it was more than the sex-deprived airmen could stand. In frustration they turned on the rats, dispatching them with 45's, or contriving ingenious traps baited with K-rations. They dumped the captured rodents into steel drums filled just enough with water that they had to push off the bottom to breathe. Eventually the beasts would tire and sink out of sight. Even contests were held between rival crews for the number of rat kills. The toads were too vulgar to command such attention. There were lizards, too, coming in king sizes that invariably startled anyone who chose to relieve himself in the evening or early morning hours at the jungle's edge. Fortunately there were no snakes and few mosquitoes thanks to frequent spraying of the entire island.

      After the armistice the Wing continued to fly missions of mercy and low-level search which 816 participated on, including long flights to the Philippines and Okinawa. On one the crew struggled all night through a typhoon that shredded the radar wing and threatened to take the ship down. Capt. Pananes and his crew of the 502nd Bomb Group were lost on the same flight. For hours the ships were pelted with heavy rain and hail, dressed in St. Elmo's fire, and buffeted about in high winds. The thermals were so vicious that at one point the plane lost 20,000 feet while pulling full power and recovered just above the water. At times it seemed that the wings would be torn off. When 816 arrived at daylight on Del Carmen Field near Florida Blanca, the airmen slept exhausted on the apron beneath the plane. They awoke completely ringed by natives who were especially intrigued by the hairy navigator, clad in nothing but his GI shorts. The first men to recover full strength set off to see the countryside. One cut his thumb severely trying to collect some stalks of sugarcane. All returned with a tale of the strange native culture. Even at the field the crew noticed how freely women roamed in and out of the nearby infantry field tents. But 816 remained virtuous. The return flight to Guam, however, was another sobering experience as they scanned the sea at low level for survivors amid all of the flotsam and jetsam left in the wake of the typhoon.

      The mission to Okinawa proved to be the crew's most memorable. Heavily loaded with food rations for the relief of the troops following a disastrous typhoon in October, 816 took off in a war-weary "Star Wagon." Halfway to Okinawa #2 engine quit. Gas fumes saturated the plane's interior and ditching seemed imminent. But the pilots skillfully brought the crippled ship into Bolo Field near Naha. For nearly two weeks the crew had to await the arrival of a replacement engine and install it with direction from a crew chief. The knowledgeable Bamberg and Browne led the rest in getting the job done, and the test flight proved successful. But after takeoff for Guam one of the magnetos failed and 816 flew home "on 3." The stay at Okinawa gave all an opportunity to tread "enemy soil" freely, covering the island from end to end and viewing the spectacle of occupation in a foreign land. The plane was "home" during the stay, and had to be watched because of the roving bands of children who would steal anything and did manage to get away with a latrine can. But the tranquil beauty of the seaside and seashell hunting trips on the coral at low tide provided a lifelong picture of a beautiful country.

      816 acquired a plane—Bailiff 55— which was destined to higher purpose. For a brief moment of glory the crew admired its own "lady of the air" and checked her out with pride. Many hours were spent by some members discussing an appropriate name. "GIGGY WAGON" was headed for the top of the list—the word "giggy" being a crew term for anything indescribable. But the fine ship never bore the name. She was taken (without crew's approval) for a General's record-breaking nonstop flight from Japan to the United States. Crew 816 was not privileged to go along!

      There were a few other flights that 816 made before reorganization and demobilization ended the crew association. When General Loutzenheiser went down at sea the crew joined in the low-level search for several days that yielded no results. There were low-level flights also over Japan for intelligence purposes and scheduled landings at Iwo Jima with overnight stays. Intelligence officers from Wing headquarters accompanied these Blue Snooper missions.

      As priority men left for home it became increasingly difficult to maintain the base and normal operations. A/C Bloom became commander of the 41st Squadron and the other crew members were assigned diverse tasks. Copilot Cooper took over test flight operations while Beacher and Horowitz assumed the ignominious task of improving the 501st Group grounds — landscaping the coral rock outcrops. The crew tent had become an eyesore "on the campus" and members were ordered to seek shelter wherever possible in the prefab barracks when men went home. Beacher was the last to leave — actually the tent disappeared between the time 816 went to Okinawa and returned. Friends on other crews salvaged what they could of the crew's remaining belongings and moved them into the available vacant bunks. One by one the men of 816 went home until a few left at the bitter end by slow boat via Saipan for the States.

      Howard Bloom returned to General Motors in Detroit, where he spent 44 years in the Hydro-Made Division, married Dorothy, raised three children, and retired 1 January 1985.

      Bill Cooper went to work first for Western Lithograph Company in Kansas and Texas. Then he became General Manager for Trammell Crow, largest real estate developer in the world and a Texas millionaire, in the development of his Merchandise Mart operation. Meanwhile he kept his hand on the throttle in the Air Force Reserve until attaining the rank of Captain. He married "Sweet Sue" from Wellington, Kansas. They have four children and reside in Dallas, where Bill is Chairman Emeritus of the Dallas Market Center Company, owner of the World Trade Center, Apparel Mart and other trade mart facilities. He serves on 26 boards and chairs nine of them, although retired. He is still involved in aviation as a pilot and a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board. He is Chairman of the 315th Bomb Wing Association for 1987.

      John Aidem was the only crew member to remain in the active service, returning to Hickam and Edwards Air Force bases, Santa Ana, Hamilton, Alaska, March Field and the 9th Air Rescue Group in England before becoming Wing Intelligence Officer and finally Chief of Combat Intelligence with the B-52's at Barksdale AFB. He retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel in 1964, completed graduate work in foreign service at Georgetown University, and became professor at Miami-Dade Community College in Miami until retirement nearly 20 years later. His children, Angela — a United Airlines flight attendant, and Alexandra — a dietitian, are the epitome of feminine pulchritude!

      Paul Nakel left for home ahead of most of the crew and reentered the radio field at Cleveland, rising to manage the highly successful stations WEOL-WBEA-WROD of the Elyria-Lorian Broadcasting Co. He maintained this proficiency while on Guam by presenting the evening newscast in advance of the movies at the Group theater. Paul and Bea finally retired to Sun City, Arizona in 1985.

      Ivan Newman returned to New Mexico after the death of his son, and reemployed himself as a school supply salesman, specializing in sports equipment. John Bamberg returned to Texas. Both he and Ivan died before Crew 816 held a reunion.

      "Brownie" returned to his wife and daughter in Illinois, where he tired of snow shoveling and moved to California operating a service station and later working in hardware before retiring to Redding, California where son Bill is employed. Daughter Susan lives in Roseville and another daughter, Sally, in southern California. Bob and wife, Olive, are proud grandparents too.

      Earl Kaller got released promptly with the aid of the Red Cross when his mother suffered a heart attack and he was needed to care for his only daughter. He returned to the jewelry business in Patchogue, Long Island, New York, married Dorothy, and raised three sons. Two of the sons continue the business today and there are nine grandchildren to delight the retired grandparents who alternately live in Patchogue and Daytona Beach, Florida.

      Beacher and Horowitz pursued similar careers with the federal government in science. Bruce was reemployed by the Bureau of Reclamation in Denver, Colorado, used the GI Bill to complete graduate work in agronomy at Colorado State, Ohio state and Maryland universities, and became Research Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. He retired in 1974 to the countryside near Gettysburg to watch son Brent, of Hamilton, Ohio, and daughter Debbie, of Arlington, Virginia raise four grandchildren for Cherie and himself. "Manny" also "GI'd" his way through a Ph.D. in chemistry at CCNY and George Washington universities, married Diane, and entered the Federal service first in the Smithsonian Institution then as research chemist in the National Bureau of Standards where he became Deputy Director of the National Measurements Laboratory before "retiring" to Johns Hopkins University as professor and Director of the Center for Materials Research in Baltimore. Four children and four grandchildren have blessed his marriage.

      The experience of Crew 816 is typical of other 315th Wing crews — excellence in training, proficiency in operation and cohesiveness in teamwork to accomplish any mission. The crew is typically American in diversity of culture and interest but with unity of commitment to the nation's defense and progress. They pass on a legacy of strategy for war converted to strategy for peaceful living.

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B-29 Crew Takes Wild Ride

      Shaken and stunned as a result of a wild, weird "roller-coaster ride" in a B-29 caught in a typhoon near Okinawa, thirteen officers and men of the Superfortress "Loco Lobo" returned to this Twentieth Air Force base recently after a narrow escape from death.

      Flying at 11,000 feet two hours out of Okinawa, Lt. Don Ethier's plane ran into a typhoon which rolled the B-29 over on its back and "bounced" the big Superfort up to 14,000 feet. The B-29 was flipped into two more "rolls" by the typhoon, and finally went into a vertical spin during which the indicated air speed read 585 miles per hour with the power off. After levelling off at 1500 feet, the crew discovered that both ailerons were missing.

      The plane headed for Iwo, using rudder and elevator controls only. Crewmen attributed the success of the flight to Iwo to the skill and courage of Lt Ethier, pilot, and Lt. Henry Lowandowski, co-pilot, of 171 Gates Street, Buffalo, N. Y., son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter E. Lowandowski of Buffalo.

      In the final approach and landing at Iwo, the typhoon-damaged B-29 winged in a 230 miles per hour with full power on. As the wheels of the Superfort touched the airstrip, brakes were applied and full flaps lowered. The careening plane skidded along the length of the runway, finally ground-looping to a halt just 300 feet from the end of the runway and a steep cliff.

      The experience had its toll of injured. One passenger suffered severe head injuries and another dislocation of the shoulder.

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Mrs. Carol J. Bulow
5758 Northmount
Montreal Que H3S-2H5

David Beiter
c/o Col. George E. Harrington
4600 Ocean Beach Blvd.
Cocoa Beach, Fla. 32931

Dear David,

      Thank you for your letter and the translation, it was very nice of you to have remembered me and send it along.

      I have put it with the original flyer you gave me in a safe place, so many memories occur when I just glance at it.

      The trip to visit the planes was well worth it and I am glad that they had the publicity on the local news stations as I would never know that the Confederate Air Force existed.

      Personally to have been able to climb the steps, to pat B-29 and say a very personal thank you was a long time desire within me, also to actually show living proof to my children what I had been talking about for years and been only able to show in books or magazines was another experience.

      All the actual happenings of the particular Japanese POW camp which I was interned during the war as a child, would take a book to write and of course some of it flashes back like a horrible nightmare.

      However, the good part, I will never forget the planes dropping huge parachutes with cases filled with wondrous things like cans of Cling peaches and huge slabs of chocolate, after starving for 2 1/2 years it was incredible.

      Naturally, as a girl my first dress was made from parachute material, as we had nothing to wear or obtain after we were liberated.

      I am personally so very thankful for all the wonderful men who flew on those missions and made it possible for many others like me, British and Americans who were in the POW camps.

      It is just a pity I have never come to know one of them and say thank you. So I ask you David, with all my sincerity and love, from someone who went through it all, to say at your reunion THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH from a little girl who survived to remember and tell.

      America is still the greatest, unfortunately so many tend to forget how good a nation you were to them, especially today when everything is so plentiful.

      Have a wonderful reunion, keep up the good work, and I too hope we will meet again. Best regards to you all.

Sincerely Yours,

Carol J. Bulow

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Comments on 315BW(VH) Bombing Success
Against Japanese POL Targets
By Ed Sharkey,
former USAAF consultant on radar bombing
(Assigned to 315BW HQ)

      Col. George Harrington has asked me for a short writeup on the 315BW bombing effectiveness achieved during its operations during the last few months of the Pacific war, against POL targets in Japan. George said he knew the performance was very good (Generals LeMay and Spaatz said so emphatically), but he had no way of knowing how it compared with other previous radar bombing efforts done in the Atlantic, European, and Pacific areas. He felt that most of the Wing personnel were in the same boat and would be interested in a discussion of the wing's performance. The 315BW performance, using the APQ-7 (Eagle) radar bombing set, can be simply described as follows:

      "It was by far the best operational radar bombing done during WWII; no other radar bombing outfit, allied, or enemy, even came close."

      If the 316BW (at Okinawa, also with APQ-7) had become operational before VJ Day, there is every reason to believe that they would have done equally well. That would have been our only competition in the world. As will be discussed later, other radar bombing efforts in Europe and the Pacific, starting in 1943, were feeble compared to the target-damage capability demonstrated by the 315BW. Generals LeMay and Spaatz both stated that the 315BW effort demonstrated damage-causing capability at least as good as that of the 21BC day visual bombing, using the Norden bombsight, and was accomplished with only the partial wing strength available.

There were numerous reasons for the high level of success of the 315BW:

1. The target area azimuth resolution of the APQ-7 (0.4 degrees) was from 3x to 6x smaller/better that that of the APQ-23 (1.5 degrees) and APQ-13 (3 degrees) radars in the other B-29 wings.

2. The 315BW had a dedicated operational aim—it was to do radar bombing, and radar bombing ONLY; no mixed visual/radar training was ever seriously contemplated.

3. The radar bomb-aimers in the 315BW had the most extensive and thorough training in the 21 that had ever been conducted by USAAF.

4. The APQ-7 operating procedures used by the 315BW were the simplest ever used in any combat radar bombing program. (The radar bombing procedures developed for the APQ-13 and APQ-23 radar bombing sets in other B-29s were far too complicated for easy use.)

5. The 315th operated as a group of "lone-wolf" attackers; no formations, no lead crews, and a minimum of coordination needed.

6. Usually, each B-29 carried an enormous bomb load—40x500 pounders (20,000#), it made a long very lethal string.

7. The "Hollywood" briefing aids were highly effective.

8. The superb azimuth resolution of the APQ-7 allowed the proper aircraft ground track to be made good, and the long string of bombs dropped by each aircraft softened the effect of any imprecise moment of bomb release. The combination of these two factors is ideal for achieving heavy target destruction.

9. The "radar bomb-damage-assessment (BDA)" that was set up by the wing provided quick highly-useful determination of what each aircraft had accomplished. (CAVEAT - this program had problems for a short time; we did not have radar scope cameras in all aircraft at the start, and some scopes did not have a bomb release light in the camera field of view. These problems were corrected in a very short time.) To my knowledge, this was the first time that such a rapid radar BDA method had ever been developed and used, and I don't believe it has ever been used since then.

10. POL targets are flammable, and once a certain level of fires are started, something like a mini-firestorm can develop. (See Chapter 1 of "Red Storm Rising.)

      At the start of 315BW combat operations, we did run into problems. The results on the first three strikes were not up to expected par by quite a ways. General LeMay, understandable, was a little irate on this subject; the word quickly came down from on high that this highly-publicized radar bombing crowd had better start showing some useful bombing results. A number of you will certainly remember this flap.

      It turned out that the prescribed APQ-7 operating procedures were not being followed well enough by most of the crews at this early time. For a couple of ensuing 20-hour days, several of us gave lectures and chalk talks on this subject to the crews. Since I had developed the operating procedures we were using, during the flight testing of the APQ-7 in Florida, I was particularly on a spot; I don't think I would have won any popularity contest during this period. However, it all turned out well, for all concerned. On the next (4th) strike, the wing completely obliterated the target area; the damage was so extensive that photo recce could not be obtained for a couple of days, because of the amount of obscuring smoke still rising from the burning target area.

      From this point on, things went increasingly well. With few exceptions, an attack by the 315BW on a Japanese POL target resulted in the target being taken off the 21BC target list. The radar BDA people in the wing ran into some welcome trouble because the ground tracks over the center of the target area got to be so closely grouped that it was hard to annotate specific aircraft runs.

      From this flap, several things became apparent. The wing responded to this flap in an absolutely admirable manner. They didn't blame the APQ-7 equipment; they realized that the crews weren't quite up to speed yet on operating the APQ-7 equipment, and they quickly did something about it. In my experience, this has not been the usual response elsewhere in such a situation.

      Aside from the quickly-developing skills of the crews in operating the APQ-7, a number of other factors contributed to the excellent overall target-kill performance of the 315BW:

1. The 315BW use of nighttime operations only, and the fact that the Japanese nighttime defenses were not as fierce as those encountered over Germany, allowed the wing to provide aids to the crews that might not have been possible in a different air battle environment. Examples of these are a) the use of 80-90 MM straight-in bomb runs from the IP, and b) a "wind run" B-29 provided the crews with preliminary values of drift angle and ground speed as they came up on the IP.

2. All the Japanese POL targets were located next to an ocean or bay. This factor and the superb resolution of the APQ-7 allowed accurate and dependable navigation to the IP and target area. By contrast, the APQ-13 and APQ-23 radars were used mostly, as a last resort, in attacks against inland Japanese targets, a much more difficult target identification job.

      So, in closing, I think personnel of the 315th BW can feel a real sense of accomplishment, not only because of the extraordinary bombardment damage the Wing accomplished, but also from the fact that they were participants in the use of the finest airborne radar bombing system developed to date.

To the best,
Ed Sharkey

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Larry Miller

July 2, 2013