Richard A. Paul 1st Lt. 13th Army Air Force
Oct. 1942 to Oct. 1945
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the US active involvement in World War II these reflections come to mind and at the urging of my wife (Esther Viola Jewell Paul) I am reviewing my personal involvement in the greatest conflict in the recorded history of the world. In the beginning as I was the only tangible support for both my mother and myself. I was classified as 3A in the draft by the local Adam's County Draft Board. This came to an abrupt end in October of 1942 as eligible draftees became more and more scarce in Adams County. My friend Loy Greene Jr. was also having to possibly become subject to draft. He was married but did not have any children so was eligible for draft. If we would have been sent to Chicago for physical exams we would have been immediately assigned to one of the military services at the discretion of the officials there. We elected to drive to the nearest recruitment center for the Army Air Force Cadet Training Program to investigate the possibility of becoming Aviation Cadets and being involved in the flying training program. On November 29, 1942, we arrived in Peoria, IL. at about 11 AM. We immediately learned about waiting in line to take the aptitude test for the cadet program.
After several hours we were placed in a room containing several desk chairs and presented with an aptitude test consisting of 150 questions, some multiple choice, some practical mechanics, some political and some on current news items. A passing score to qualify for the training program was a minimum of 84 correct answers. I was fortunate to correctly answer 135 of the questions. Junie also qualified with a passing score. Since it was now after 3:00 P.M. Central War Time, as it was known then, (we had 2 hours of daylight saving time all year during those times) we were instructed to return to the recruitment center at 8:00 A.M. on November 30th to take our physical examinations. After sharing a room in the Pere Marquette Hotel for the night we reported, as ordered, to the center at 8:00 A.M. We were each given a basket and instructed to disrobe and put all of our clothes in the basket retaining only our shoes. Complying with this directive we then joined the ranks of the other applicants and successfully passed the physical exam.
On the afternoon of November 30, 1942, we were sworn into the Army Air Force Cadet Training Program for the duration of the war plus 6 months. We were then ordered to return home and await further orders. We continued normal lives until, suddenly on January 30, 1943; we each received, in the mail, orders to report to Decatur, Ill. on January 31, 1943. With no public transportation available between Quincy and Decatur, we were in somewhat of a Quandary as to our next move as it was 150 miles away. Junie's stepfather, Claude Kent offered to drive us to Decatur. Vi was asked to accompany us, which she did and we arrived in Decatur at the Railroad Station at the appropriate time.
We departed Decatur on a troop train and arrived in Jefferson Barracks, Mo. at about 11:00 P.M. Since we had not had an evening meal we were given doughnuts and coffee and assigned 8 cadets to a 16 X 16 pyramidal hut with a small coke burning heating stove in the center. This was to be our home for the next month. There was warm water in the nearby showers for about 10 minutes each afternoon so most of us had only cold-water showers. Nearly everyone developed a cold and some were hospitalized for a brief time. There was so much coughing etc. that we nicknamed the area "Pneumonia Gulch".
After 28 days of processing, shots, close order drill, instruction in military courtesy, lectures on sexually transmitted diseases, along with some extremely graphic color slides, we were to ship out to College Training Detachments. Anyone having a temperature of 100 degrees was not permitted to go and I was fortunate to have a temperature of 99.6 so was permitted to get on the chair car troop train bound for where we knew not.
Imagine my surprise when the train stopped and we were told to get off as this was to be our temporary assignment, to find out that I was in Galesburg, IL and would be assigned to Knox College. This facility was quite an improvement in living conditions over J.B. We now had steam-heated dormitories in which to live with plenty of hot water in the showers, dining facility in the building and an overall pleasant place to live. We lived in Seymour Hall Dorm of the college. We were given courses in Math, Maps, Civil Aeronautics Rules and several other courses.
Early in May I was permitted an overnight away from the barracks so caught the train to Quincy for a brief visit. Then on May 5,1943 a small contingent was detached and entrained for San Antonio, Texas to be classified as to which type of flying training we would receive. We changed from the Burlington Rail line to the Santa Fe in Kansas City, Mo. It was spring in Texas and the Bluebonnets were very noticeable as were many wild flowers. Upon arrival at the classification center I was asked by a non-com what my last name was and I replied, Paul at which he threw his pencil down and looked at me in disgust. I did not understand until he said that he had never heard of that name and I was the 4th one to check in there that day. We were sent to various buildings for various processing programs then had to wait until the powers decided how they could best use us. We were assigned duties such as pulling weeds picking up rocks (it seemed that no matter how many rocks were picked up off the parade grounds another layer would show up overnight) so it seemed an endless task.
We also drew K.P. and guard duty and had to memorize the 12 general orders of which I only remember the first one (To take charge of this post and all government property within view). I was classified for pilot training but the class ahead of us having been filled, we were going to have to wait for the next one which meant 30 days of trying to keep busy and out of sight. It finally wound up as 60 days to wait, so we put in our time. We were permitted occasionally to go into San Antonio and I visited the Alamo, walked along the river walk, and discovered Breckenridge Park where I found a swimming pool.
Finally we transferred across the road to the preflight school and were assigned barracks and our training began in earnest. In math we went from 1+1=2 to calculus in 2 months. We also started to learn Morse code both by sound and by flashing light, aircraft and naval recognition, Parades with lowering of the colors and passing in review before the command staff. It was required that each Cadet should have a haircut each week so we went in formation to the barber shop at an appointed time. The cost of the haircut was 35 cents but the barbers would try to sell shampoos, hair oil and any thing they could think of to get extra money from the cadets. The Preflight School was on the hill overlooking Kelly Field and my room mate, Leo Gardner, had a radio that could receive air to air conversations and one evening there was a B 17 that he overheard that was unable to get the landing gear down, so we all headed for a point from which we could see the runways etc. and watched it slide in without any gear. It did land on the grass rather than on the paved runway.
It seemed that we would never get around to attempting to learn to fly but finally, early in October we were taken by bus to Corsicana, Texas to a primary flight-training base. On the way the right front tire on the bus blew out. The driver did an excellent job of keeping in on the road and while he was changing the tire, all the Cadets walked about 2 blocks up the road where there was a small store. The supplies such as soda and candy bars were quickly depleted
Primary flight training was in PT 19 aircraft. It was a 2-seat open cockpit airplane with a 6 cylinder 175 HP Ranger engine. The flight instructors were civilians. My instructor was Thomas Saffold. It was quite an experience to be in control of the aircraft and learn to take off, land and later to perform some of the aerobatics that were possible such as stalls, chandelles, spins, loops, forced landings, and upside down gliding. I could only glide in the inverted position as the engine quit as soon as the plane was inverted.
After quite a few hours of shooting stages and several check rides by Army Lieutenants we were scheduled to make a solo cross country flight. It was from Corsicana to Waco to Waxahachie and return. The flight was made at an altitude of 3000 feet above sea level. From Waxahachie the skyline of Dallas was clearly visible.
Shortly after, as we had completed the requirements for primary flight training, we were scheduled to be transferred to another base for basic flight training in larger and more powerful aircraft. We arrived in Independence, Kansas to begin this phase of our training. The aircraft there were BT 14, BT 15, and BT 13. The 13s & 15s were manufactured by Vultee and dubbed the Vultee Vibrators. We lived in tarpaper-covered barracks that were about 150 feet long and maybe 16 feet wide and accommodated approximately 40 to 50 Cadets. The latrine and shower room was a separate facility at the rear of the barracks. Our studies changed somewhat here, as we were more involved in the mechanics of flying. The BT 14 had a very narrow landing gear and we were informed that if we dragged a wing tip, it was grounds for a wash out and the end of our flying. We were also introduced to the Link Trainer for simulated instrument flying. The first thing the enlisted personnel in charge of the operation did when we got into the trainer was to close the top and spin us in. I took a test for Morse code and passed 15 words per minute so did not have to go to code class any more.
As we progressed we were initiated to night flying. It was a little close, as they did not want any one to get lost so we had to stay in the traffic pattern. Imagine 25 airplanes in the pattern at night and all shooting full stop landings on every circuit of the field. The biggest complaint of the control tower was, "Aircraft on down wind leg. Reestablish a new base leg, this one is almost to Oklahoma". We made several cross-country solo flights from this base and all made it successfully. There was one incident that happened to a cadet and his instructor, the propeller came off the aircraft so they had to land dead stick in a field.
Around Thanksgiving time my mother came out for a weekend visit. The aircraft had 2 position propellers, high & low pitch, wobble pumps for fuel pressure and radios that had tuners dubbed coffee grinders. The engines were 450 HP so we experienced much greater torque than with the primary aircraft. Vi was coming out for a visit and we had decided to be married. It was required that I receive the permission of the base commander to take this step. Consequently I requested an audience with the C.O. I was required to approach his desk, salute at attention, and state my request. The girls working in the office got quite a charge and I heard quite a few snickers. However the request was granted and I then requested a pass to go to town and purchase a marriage license.
Vi arrived and stayed at the hotel in Independence and on Dec. 24, 1943 the chaplain picked us up at the hotel, took us out to the base, asked who our witnesses were (I had to go to the barracks and find 2 fellow cadets to perform that duty, (Rountree and Russo) performed the ceremony and returned us to town. Before the ceremony I had visited a florist in search of a corsage for the bride. The sales person offered me a very nice potted geranium but I told her that it was not really suitable for a bride to walk down the aisle carrying a potted plant so she came up with a gardenia corsage. After the ceremony and returning to town, we visited a photographic studio and had a picture made. The next order of business was to the Western Union to notify both our parents that we were now married.
My stay in Independence was less that a week at which time I shipped out on a troop train to Houston, Texas for advanced twin-engine training. This was to be the final step in the cadet program as the successful completion and consequent graduation would entitle us to pilot wings and officer status. Vi followed to Houston and she and Mary Stallings found rooms in a residential section. Since wives of cadets were not allowed on the base we saw each other only occasionally for the next 2 months. I would be permitted to leave the base from 12 noon until 6:00 P.M. on Sundays and in was a 2-hour trip to town and a 2-hour trip back to base. Vi found employment at a Sears store in Houston. So with her help we were able to pay the rent, but money was a pretty scarce commodity.
Flying was a bit different here as these were twin-engine Cessna AT 10 aircraft with 2 position propellers which we designated "Butter Paddles". Flying this aircraft consisted of both day and night flights. Most flights, after the original check out, were with another cadet and were primarily cross-country. Some times it was Dead Reckoning navigation, sometimes flying the light lines (a string of beacons on towers spaced about 10 miles apart as visual aids) and also flying the A & N signals of the radio range stations. The shipyards at Houston were spectacular at night with the flashes of welding torches and electric welding arcs. We did not wander too far, usually north to Nacogdoches, SE to Lake Charles, La. then back over the gulf to Galveston and up to Houston.
Since we were now Officer Candidates we were allowed more freedom on the base. We no longer had to go in formation to the mess hall and any free time was our own. There were only 2 telephone booths in our area and they were kept quite busy in the evenings. On March 12, 1944, graduation day finally arrived and guests were permitted for the ceremony. My cousin Rosemary Bray and her husband, who lived in Temple, Texas, came to the ceremony so I had 3 people there. It was the first Vi had been allowed on the base. Those of us graduating had ordered Officer Clothing from the father of a fellow cadet and the clothing had arrived by mail C.O.D. As we had not yet received our clothing allowances we had a problem. Finally, in time for the ceremony the clothing company released the clothing if the salesman would do the collecting immediately after the ceremony, which he did.
Vi & I left with Rosemary & Graham Bray to go to their home in Temple, Texas as we had a 10-day delay enroute before reporting to B24 transition school in Liberal, Kansas. We visited with them part of the 13th but decided to go by the railroad station and learn what time we could catch a train toward Kansas City and eventually on to Quincy. The station agent when asked what time the train would arrive said "in 20 minutes". I asked what time the next train would be there and he said, same time tomorrow. We hurriedly gathered up our belongings and made the train. To travel from Temple to Quincy required a transfer from Santa Fe to CB&Q in Kansas City with a long wait in KC so we purchased 2 tickets from Temple To Ft. Madison Iowa as my Aunt & Uncle lived (Harry & Minnie McLeod). We visited with them a bit then caught a bus on down to Quincy Our 10 day delay in route flew by rapidly and soon it was time to again catch a train. We did get a reserved seat chair car from Quincy to Kansas City but on changing trains to cross Kansas to Liberal found only 1 seat available on the train. Consequently, we spent the entire day riding across Kansas with only one seat between us. We took turns sitting down standing up, and since I was the only Officer in the car which was filled by enlisted men & their families I am sure that some of them had no compassion for us.
Arrival in Liberal, Kansas produced another problem. We went to the only hotel in town seeking a room for the night and learned that it was full and also that they had a 3 day limit on the length of stay. The desk clerk did make a phone call to someone he knew who had a temporary room that we could have for 3 days. So for 3 days, in any spare time we walked the streets of Liberal going from door to door asking if any one would rent us a sleeping room. We were unable to find accommodations. At the end of our 3 day stay the land lady told us that since we did not fit the mold of the other officer & spouse personnel that she had previously been exposed to we could keep the room for our stay in Liberal. We had the only downstairs room and the 3 or 4 rooms on the upper floor were all enlisted personnel and the only bathroom was on the upper level, so guess who occasionally had to walk 2 blocks to the hotel to use the john.
Vi found a job with Anthony's Department store in Liberal and I also had a cot in the BOQ at the base as we had no transportation and I sometimes had to report to the flight line at 4:00 A.M. Flying took on a whole new dimension in B 24s. There were so many instruments (a set for each engine) retractable gear, flaps, autopilot, navigation dials, and various flight instruments. The radio range legs with the A & N signals were confusing at first but we soon mastered them. Flying an aural null on the radio compass was something else. It seemed that we always ran over the station instead of checking out as we were supposed to. The range of the aircraft was so great that we could fly all over Texas and return in one 6-hour flying period. Having an airplane that could fly through thunderheads was a new experience. The ice would form on the wings and be cleared off the leading edge of the wings by deicer boots. Sometimes the props would pick up ice and as it threw off the props made a drum like sound on the side of the airplane. One time as weather was moving in we were sent overnight to Hempstead, Long Island New York. It took most of the night to get there and we landed about 6:00 A.M.
After having breakfast we caught a train for the 40-mile trip to New York's Grand Central Station. Another student pilot and I spent most of the day in N.Y. seeing the sights. We needed to clean up a bit so rented a hotel room for $6 to take a shower. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, ate in the Automat, visited a museum and took a walk in Central Park. As the day was now drawing to a close, we caught the train back to Hempstead and had a bed for the night in the BOQ.
The next morning we took off about 6 A M on the return trip to Liberal, Kansas. We stopped at Scott Army Air Field near Bellville, Ill. for lunch and were back in Liberal, Kansas by evening. As we flew over St. Louis, Mo. it was very evident that the river water flowing by town was a combination of Mississippi River and Missouri River waters. The muddier water of the Missouri remained along the Missouri shore. After 7 weeks in Liberal, it was determined that we were proficient enough to fly the aircraft. We each had to shoot a landing while being observed from the control tower by instructor pilots. All Pilots being transferred to 4th Air Force in Fresno, California were flown to Fresno. We took off before daybreak and as the sun rose we were flying the length of the Grand Canyon most of the way below the rim. It was quite a sight.
Next, across Death Valley climbing all the way as the tallest mountain in the 48 states was before us (Mt. Whitney). After clearing the mountains the whole San Joaquin Valley opened up before us. My brother Robert Paul had recently been transferred to Fresno as the operator of a parts Dept. in an International Truck Branch, so as soon as I was clear to proceed on my own I proceeded to town and had the pleasure of walking in on him at his place of employment. Vi drove from Liberal to Fresno with several other wives or girlfriends of other pilots and arrived in a few days.
We were being assigned crewmembers with the crew known as the name of the First Pilot. So mine was known all through our time together as Lt. Paul's Crew. During our stay in Fresno we were given shots including Yellow Fever and advised to rest awhile so I went swimming in the local pool at the base. After assembling we were taken by troop train to March Army Air Field near Riverside, California.
Upon arrival at March Field and finishing processing and being Assigned to training squadron T 3 I was also assigned a room in the B.O.Q. for those times that I had to report to the flight line at 4 A M. Vi arrived in Riverside and we spent the first night there in the Mission Inn. While I was involved with training etc. at the air base, Vi located for us a room with kitchen privileges so we then had a place to stay and could prepare our own food. We were located at this base for 3 months for various training phases. We did a lot of formation flying, air speed calibration, practice bombing at Rice Dry Lake near Blythe California, air to ground gunnery at Cadiz Dry Lake in the desert area of Eastern California, camera bombing such places as airports in the Los Angeles area (Burbank) long flights out to sea to test the skills of the navigator, night missions of 1 hour out to sea and a dog leg course up toward San Francisco and return. On one such mission my navigator did not believe his dead reckoning locating so made a guess and we came back into So. California down by San Diego instead of L. A., which made us, a little bit lost. There were mountains we knew not where so I had all put on their oxygen masks and we went to 18000 feet to make sure we did not come in contact with any "granite clouds". All was solid overcast below us and after 30 minutes we broke out in the clear and saw a major airport directly ahead.
It seemed that we had lucked out so I decided to land and learned that we were in Yuma, Arizona. My Copilot was a fellow from New Jersey by the name of Harry Duckworth. He did not especially like being in B 24s but decided to make the best of it. There were 2 times that he nearly caused us to have some severe problems. Once giving full flaps for take off and another time at night when directed to close the cowl flaps elected to get the wrong switches and put all props in high pitch shortly after take off I had to keep especially close watch on everything he did.
The best food at March was at the Officers Club so that was our usual place for lunch. Also the swimming pool was quite conveniently located. We had tests at the enlisted men's pool to ascertain that all could swim and had to jump into the pool from about 3 meters height. Sabu Dastagir (The elephant boy of the movies) was a member of my crew and professed to be a good swimmer so I offered to race him with him using flippers and swimming free style while I would swim backstroke. He did finish just a hair ahead of me with the advantage that he had. Vi & I lived on Lincoln St. in Riverside California while I was stationed at March Air Field and had a sleeping room but were permitted use of the kitchen. The landlady worked at Camp Hahn just across the road from March and her husband had a job that required him to be gone at night but home most of the day. I mention this because during our stay in their home he was remodeling and proceeded to remove the roof from the house. I asked him what we were to do if it rained and he stated that it never rained there in the summer time.
As the training at March was completed, we were to turn in the sheepskin jackets and trousers that had been issued to us. Upon going to my locker in the hangar I discovered that someone had broken the lock and taken all of the gear that I was responsible for. I was asked to sign a statement of charges but instead elected to report a theft so did not have to pay for the stolen gear.
We had 1 1/2 days off at the end of the training period and Vi & I elected to hitch hike directly to Long Beach for a brief holiday. We were successful in obtaining rides there and located an U.S.O. housing booth in Long Beach and they found us a hotel room for the night. We then proceeded to drink & dine and enjoy our holiday. The evening terminated at the amusement park along the beach. We had a picture taken of us in jail. The next day we journeyed to Alhambra, Calif. where my maternal grandmother was living with Charles & Marie Hubner. After a brief visit there we returned to Riverside and prepared to depart. I by troop train and she by public transportation.
Since Vi was with me and I was departing overseas, we were allowed a one-time transportation request for her to return home. The nose gunner that was assigned to our crew went through the Red Cross to have permission to go to Mass. as his wife had delivered a child. He was replaced by William Albro who served as nose gunner. The rest of our crew remained intact and we traveled by troop train to Hamilton Field near San Rafael, Calif. Vi traveled to Oakland, Calif. where Fred & Margaret Suchland lived and stayed with them while I was at Hamilton Field. The officers all had I.D. cards known as AGO cards and could leave the base any time after 4 P.M. The enlisted men also could go out through a hole in the fence and no one bothered them. We were about 40 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and had no problem hitch hiking to the bridge, across and being deposited at the Presidio. From there we could catch a cable car to the foot of Market Street, then the train across the bridge to Oakland. Would get off the train at San Pablo St. and walk south a few blocks to the street that Fred & Margaret lived on and with whom Vi was staying. The only problem was that the last bus to depart San Francisco for San Rafael departed at 11 P.M. Vi would go with me to the bus station then return alone to Oakland.
I was assigned to the South Pacific Theater of the war and had to sign on the dotted line for a B-24J to deliver in Townsville, Australia. While they were loading our personal possessions on the plane, a truck backed into the side and punched a hole in the skin. This delayed us until the hole was patched then we were instructed to take a 5 hour fuel consumption flight up the Sacramento Valley and land at Fairfield Suisun Air Base. We were restricted to base and shown movies of the approaches to various airfields we would encounter on the way to Australia. We also were not permitted to make and phone calls, which we ignored. I called Vi and told her that any evening she did not hear from me I would have departed. On September 1, 1944 at 6:00 AM we took off from the base and climbed toward the Golden Gate headed west to Honolulu Hawaii. It seemed to be an awfully long day with no land in sight and to find that speck in the ocean 2500 miles away. We tooled along and after several hours my navigator called and said that we had passed the point of no return. We had sufficient fuel for the flight and 3 extra hours at normal consumption but with judicious conservation and full attention to auto lean on mixture we arrived in Honolulu in 13 hours and 55 minutes with still 9 hours of fuel remaining. Sept. 2nd was a free day in Honolulu as the mechanics were doing a hundred hour inspection on our plane. We swam at Waikiki Beach, toured the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and went to a movie. Sept. 3, 1944 6 AM takeoff from Honolulu southern course toward Christmas Island.
About 3 hours out saw a convoy directly ahead. They did not want us to fly over them apparently, as they put up anti aircraft shells some distance in front of us. Slight change of course and proceeded on our way. After about 8 hours we were approaching Christmas Island and changed course to SW to head for Canton Island where we were to remain overnight. After total flight time of 11 hours we landed on Canton. It was a very small atoll with barely enough straight surface for a runway. While shutting down the engines I saw a soldier jumping and waving his arms at me. I motioned for him to come aboard, as he looked familiar. It was Ernie Hageman whom I had known in Quincy and whose family operated the Heidbreder Hageman Drug Store on 5th & Chestnut. He told me that he just knew that if he watched enough people go through he would eventually see some one from Quincy. He also told me that there were 3 other Quincians stationed on the atoll. One of them was Morey Shade whom I had known. As Ernie was assistant to the flight surgeon we were able to get my engineer grounded 1 day for sinus and lay over for a day.
September 4,1944 was spent exploring the atoll, swimming in the warm water center lagoon, climbing the tower, walking the beach watching the crabs sidle sideways, off shore fishing, at which John Brooks was the only success story as he caught two fish, a Barracuda and an Aula. That night in the army area we had a fish fry and a party. They had Coke and a means to fry the fish and we had a bottle of spirits, which they had not seen for a long time.
Sept 5, 1944 take off for a 6-hour flight to the atoll of Tarawa. We toured the area including the graveyard where so many Marines had died trying to storm the Island, and the block house that the Japanese had built as a defense.
Sept 6, 1944 we took off and headed for Guadalcanal and landed at Henderson Field. It was our first landing on a steel mat runway. The humidity was oppressive and there was a bountiful population of insects.
Sept.7, 1944 the final leg to Australia. Not an extremely long flight, about 8 hours but a spectacular view of the Great Barrier Reef. A 1200-mile long reef of living coral with teeming marine populations. We landed in Townsville, Australia, turned in the airplane, and were quartered in wooden barracks that had bunks made of plywood with straw mattresses. We were to remain here for a week or more. The food was not very good so we ate mostly at the Red Cross Center, which furnished ham sandwiches and unlimited supply of fresh milk. Townsville was a rather small village but did have a few stores and I bought a gasoline 1-burner stove and an iron skillet. I also found a few fresh strawberries in one of the stores. The public latrine was a tin shed at one corner of the street, which had tin troughs and pipes down into the ground. Rather crude but it did serve the purpose. There was no swimming here so we just sort of put in our time and waited for orders to move on.
Finally, we were assigned an airplane to fly to New Guinea and were to fly over the Coral Sea toward Port Moresby. Upon approaching Port Moresby I called on the radio to check on the weather in the Markham Valley on the other side of the Owen Stanley Range. I was advised that the weather there was Savannah 4. What this meant I had no inkling so simply said thanks and was prepared to proceed on my way when the tower called and suggested that we land in Port Moresby. I assumed that there was a reason for this so complied. We landed on a steel mat runway and as usual landed close to the approach end and almost came to a stop 1/3 way down the runway. It turned out that this runway had been built extra long with the possibility of having B 29 aircraft operating from there.
While being transported to quarters there we saw our first contingent of Women Army Corps troops. They were marching along and had a contingent of MP's leading and following. The next day we resumed our journey to Nadzab approaching Lae and proceeding about 30 miles up the Markham. We arrived in Nadzab and after processing were assigned tents with cots in which to live. The mess hall was near and for the first time we were required to use our mess kits. To put cream & sugar in your coffee we were supplied with Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. After each meal we would wash our mess kits in a common barrel of hot soapy water and rinse them in another barrel of hot water to remove the soap. Those who did not rinse soon came down with diarrhea. The latrines were a seething mass of maggots and occasionally would be treated with burning oil to kill them. If they put in too much oil it sometimes burned down the latrines. We did such things as trips into the nearby jungle, skeet shooting and eventually were to go on some practice missions with experienced pilots. We did make 3 missions to bomb Wewak, which was still in the hands of the Japanese.
On the first such mission my bombardier told me on the way back to base that he had forgotten to remove the safety wires from the bombs so instead of exploding they only made holes in the ground. In the time we were there we made 3 missions to Wewak. The Sepic River was a wandering muddy stream that we saw enroute flowing lazily through the jungle. One day I was selected to go by B-25 to Finchaven and fly back a B-24 that had been taken there for service. The trip over was uneventful but upon take off to bring the plane back to Nadzab, the landing gear would not retract. I managed to return the plane to the airstrip and advised the crew that had been working on it that they had the hydraulic lines hooked up wrong. Consequently, we did not get the plane back to Nadzab. Toilet paper was a very scarce item in Nadzab but there was plenty in Finchaven, so I managed to bring 1 roll back with me and keep in for my own personal use.
The other trip I made while at Nadzab was to take some Australian Crews that had been training there to Darwin Australia. We stayed with a combat outfit in Darwin for 3 days then flew back to Nadzab, New Guinea. During this time the 13th Air Force had made raids on Balikpapan, Borneo and had lost some planes and crews so needed replacements and we were assigned to the 370th Squadron of the 307th Bomb group which was on temporary location on the island of Noemfoor. We flew several missions from there.
The location of the tents was in a bulldozer cleared area with no shade and in the afternoons the tents with the near equatorial sun were quite warm. We were quite near the ocean as the airstrip on take off went directly out over the water. We did go for a swim here but the water on top of the reef was quite warm and shallow and the edge of the reef was about 3 blocks out. We went to the flight strip about 12 midnight to watch a 1 AM take off of a mission. After the mission was gone we played pinochle for several hours. One night there was a loud explosion about 2 AM. Washing machine Charlie (as we dubbed the Jap Bombers) had flown over and dropped a single bomb. Fortunately his aim was bad and he missed everything.
To help pass the time away and assuage my desire for sweets, I went to the mess Sgt. and requested some sugar and cocoa, fired up my stove and made what passed for chocolate fudge. During our stay on Noemfoor, I was checked out in the B-24 by shooting a few landings then we flew what was called a practice mission to Old Namlea Airdrome on Ceram Island. It was not a very long mission as flight time was only 7 hours and 20 minutes and was flown on October 16, 1944.
Our next mission from Noemfoor was to the Polesti Of The Pacific as Balikpapan, Borneo was known. It was a source for the Japs of high-grade aviation fuel so needed to be neutralized. This was the 5th mission for the squadron against this target. This mission was flown on Oct. 18, 1944 and take off time was 1 AM out into the inky blackness of the night over the ocean, climb slowly to 8000 Ft. and rendezvous at 11 AM by an assigned area of the N. W. Celebes Islands.
We climbed in formation to 17000 Ft. and reached the initial point for our bomb run only to be in the clouds and find ourselves in a snowstorm. This was cause to abort the mission, fly out to sea and jettison our bombs. We could not make another run at a lower altitude as our fuel was already stretched to the limit. We had a full load of 100-octane fuel of 2700 gallons in the wing tanks and 400 extra gallons in a bomb bay tank. We did not make it all the way back to Noemfoor but landed instead at Middleburg Island off the coast of Sansapor, New Guinea. This mission had already lasted for 15:45 and it was another 2:15 back to Noemfoor, which would make an 18-hour mission. On landing we were on a wet steel mat runway and the airplane started to skid. To control this, I applied right brake and it worked except that the steel mat stripped tread off of the right tire.
We were each given a can of cold beer, fed and quartered for the night. The next morning, after looking at the tire I decided to get a ride back to Noemfoor with another crew and report the plane as not airworthy. On Oct. 19th we took a work crew to Middleburg Island, changed the tire and I flew the plane back to Noemfoor.
Our 3rd combat mission from Noemfoor was a shipping search in the Sulu Sea of central Philippines. This was during the Leyte Landings of the U S forces. During a sweep of the area I spotted wakes and so informed our Squadron leader by radio. He acknowledged and we prepared to attack. In our initial approach we dropped off 500 Ft. as a diversionary tactic so they would not have our precise altitude. We were lead Squadron that day and went in Squadrons of 6 planes in trail. The Jap task force consisted of 3 Battleships, 3 heavy Cruisers and 6 destroyers. That many naval vessels can really put up a wall of antiaircraft fire. Due to our diversionary tactics the first blast of flak that was supposed to stop us was mostly 500 feet above us. We released our bombs and left the target area but the last Squadron (the 424th) was not so fortunate as the last 3 planes in their formation were knocked down. That was a loss of 3 airplanes and 30 men. My bombardier, John Brooks, was quite friendly with one of the lost bombardiers and was quite sad at seeing his friend's plane go down. We did not escape completely unscathed as suffered a hit or two from flak near our #2 engine which broke an engine mount, knocked out the fast feathering pump, knocked out heater and turbo and ruptured #2 fuel cell. With gasoline streaming from #2 fuel cell and running down through the wing into the bomb bay there was the possibility of an explosion. We kept the bomb bay doors open to ventilate the area and after a brief period I decided to have the copilot fly while I took off my chute pack, walked the catwalk through the open bomb bay to the rear of the plane to see how bad things looked from there. All I could see was gasoline running into the slipstream and into the bomb bay. Next I went forward and crawled down into the nose for a front view and found one crewmember smoking a cigarette. Needless to say, that was quickly extinguished. Since the aircraft seemed to be flying properly we then proceeded back toward Noemfoor but stopped at Morotai, as we were not sure about our fuel supply. We landed at Morotai for the night and parked the plane. Gasoline was still running out of the fuel tank.
We had a total flight time of 16 hours and 45 minutes by the time we landed on Morotai. We were taken to a service company and given quarters in a tent with a cot and 1 blanket. During the night we were awakened by the drone of washing machine charlie's engines. A Jap bomber was making an attempt to bamboozle our gunners by turning on his lights, flying a traffic pattern and simulating a landing on our strip. All was quiet on the ground until he suddenly moved away from the strip to a parking area for aircraft at which time every gun on the island opened up. One minute he was flying, the next his engines were silent and he came crashing to the ground. We were about 2 blocks from the strip so had ringside seats for the show. Actually, if there had been any holes to hide in we would have been in then but there was only open area. The next morning it was up to me to find some mode of transportation for my crew back to Noemfoor. That was a flight of 1 hour 40 minutes. At the air transport strip I found a pilot who was flying a C 47 that was going to Biak empty. I asked him to let us go with him to Noemfoor and he said he was going to Biak so I asked him to shoot a landing on Noemfoor, which was only 20 minutes flying time from Biak, and just let us out. He agreed and we got back to our base. I then informed the crew chief as to the location and condition of his aircraft. I did later learn that Japanese bombers destroyed the airplane the next night. Total flight time for the mission was 13 hours 50 minutes.
On November 8, 1944 we flew our 5th mission. It was to be a bombing of Alicante Airdrome on Negros Island in the central Philippines. We were flying Charlie 3 position in the group box of 24 airplanes. Everything was going smoothly until while on the bomb run, suddenly 20 Jap fighters, Zeros & Tonys showed up and started attacking us from 2 o'clock high coming out of the sun. A Colonel was leading us that day and he suddenly made a sharp turn to the left disrupting the entire formation. We were in a very vulnerable position as were on the inside of a tight turn and trying to maintain position. This was impossible so we dropped down under the other planes, dropped our gear, put down full flaps to try to slow down enough to maintain position. We were successful and soon were able to recover and return to our position in the formation. This unscheduled maneuver resulted in our having to make another complete bomb run to accomplish our objective. During this period we lost 3 airplanes to enemy action. One pulled out of formation with a #4 engine fire that soon burned off the wing. As the plane spun downward several parachutes blossomed but they were opened too soon as the Jap Pilots then strafed the men in their chutes. There were 2 men, we later learned, that did not open their chutes until they had descended below some scattered clouds and made it to the water. Fortunately, they had 1 man life rafts attached and after floating for two days made it to shore, through the Japanese Lines and were cared for by the guerrillas. We were later near Negros Island and saw mirror flashed from the shore. The rescue Cat was advised and landed and picked up 2 personnel from the strike on Alicante. Total flight time for mission was 12:55.
We now were to move to our new location on Morotai Island, a small (50 mile across) island off the northeastern tip of the Halmahara Islands. Our 6th mission was flown from Morotai on Nov. 15th 1944. We were to fly a recon mission across Borneo to see what was around. There were to be 2 airplanes in the mission but we neither saw nor were able to contact the other plane. We flew across Borneo coming out on the west side near Brunei Bay. My bombardier called up on the intercom saying WOW look at what is in the bay. It was the Japanese Fleet. Including aircraft carriers and many assorted ships. We immediately left the area but reported the location to our group head quarters. We did not find any other shipping on that mission so bombed a secondary target on Tawi Tawi Island. Total time for that mission was 12 hours.
Our 7th mission was flown on Nov. 18, 1944 from Morotai to the oil tank farm on northeastern Borneo. There was also, according to intelligence reports, an oil separation plant there. According to photos of the mission we destroyed the facility. Flight time 9:15. We then had a five-day rest period on Morotai and a chance to organize our tents and belongings as we wanted them. We had saved up our combat liquor (2 ounces doled out upon returning from a mission) and traded a fifth of it with the army engineer who was running the sawmill on Morotai. For this we obtained gasoline drums, lumber, nails etc. so that we could elevate our tents from the sandy ground on the beach where we lived. It made daily life a lot more pleasant and at the rate that we were flying missions we would soon recover the spirits. I was not making candy anymore but would obtain a can of bacon slabs from the mess hall along with a loaf of bread and have a party with my stove in my tent at night. We only did things like that when we were not scheduled to fly the next day.
Sometimes when not flying we were given duties such as censoring the mail of the enlisted men. We were not allowed to tell where we were located, where our missions were flown to or any particulars that might be of any value to the enemy. It seemed a bit strange because Tokyo Rose knew all about us and which groups were on which island and where our missions were flown.
On Nov. 23,1944 our 8th mission was a raid on Bacolod airdrome on Negros Island. This was not a very good mission as the lead bombardier screwed up and all bombs missed the target and fell in the sea. Flight time was 9 hours 55 minutes. On Nov. 26, 1944 our 9th mission, we were to bomb LaCarlata Airdrome on Negros Island. We had good hits on the airstrip and for the first time had our own fighters covering but the enemy elected to remain hidden. Total flight time was 9 hours 30 minutes.
On Nov.30, 1944 we were assigned to fly a recon mission once again across Northern Borneo looking for small shipping. There were 2 planes assigned to fly together but we never did see the other plane and were unable to establish radio contact. Emerging from western Borneo near Jesselton we spotted a small coastal craft camouflaged nearby. We circled out to sea and came in to attack. We were flying near the water surface hoping to be able to skip our bombs off the water surface into the side of the ship. Just inland was a hill approximately 400 feet high. We had to pull up in time to climb over this hill. We managed to do this and circled out to sea again and made another run. By this time the craft was ablaze so we moved on looking for another target. In North Borneo near Sarawak, in an inlet we discovered 2 other craft. One was larger and one the same size as the one we had sunk. We were successful in destroying both of these ships. We had now sunk 1 Fox Tare Dog and 2 Sugar Charlies, as the craft were designated. We had only one bomb left so had a near miss on a larger ship aground off the north east coast of Borneo. We then returned to base and made our report to S 2(Intelligence). Our claims were substantiated and we were written up to receive a Distinguished Flying Cross. This Mission flight time was 13 Hr.10 Minutes.
Our 11th mission was flown on Dec. 3rd 1944. It was rumored that the Japanese were going to attack Morotai from the Halmahara Islands so we were assigned to bomb Mapoeng Airdrome in the Celebes Islands then on return to land at Biak Island until the threat had passed. We had a full load of fuel plus 400 gallons in a bomb bay tank to enable us to cover the added distance on this flight. Several hours out on the mission my engineer, (Leroy Kannada) called on the intercom and said that he was unable to transfer the fuel, as the fuel transfer pump was not working. The fuel transfer pump was located on the catwalk in the bomb bay. What do you do? I told him to fix the pump, as that was our only means of returning to a base. He called again in about an hour and reported the pump fixed and the fuel transferred. He had dismantled the pump, found the problem and reassembled it. Our total flight time on this mission was 11 hours 45 minutes.
On December 5th we were to fly back to Morotai and as Jap planes had been reported using an air strip after dark on Halmahara Island about 50 miles from our base, we were loaded with bombs and on the way back to home base, bombed that airstrip. That was quite a brief mission of only 4 Hrs. 15 Mins. This was our 12th mission.
Mission #13 Target was an oil tank farm etc. at Tarakan, Borneo on Dec.9th, 1944. Each plane made individual runs and most reported good hits on the target. It was reported that fires were still burning the next day. Flight Time was 9 Hrs. and 15 Mines.
Mission #14 was flown on Dec.12, 1944 to Bacolod Airdrome on Negros Island. All observers reported bombs on target. We however had a small problem. Two of our bombs exploded just below the aircraft and the shrapnel from them put 37 holes in the plane. The only person hit was the top turret gunner who was hit in the right leg above the knee. We left the formation and flew back to Morotai at maximum continuous cruise of 2200 rpm and 32 inches of manifold pressure. We arrived before the main group and were met by an ambulance to take the injured crewmember to the hospital. Total mission time was 9 Hrs.10 Mins.
Mission #15 was to Puerto Princessa on Palawan Island. We did not have fighter cover but the enemy did not appear and there was no flak. We did observe a U.S POW camp on the island. Total flight time was 10 Hrs.20 Mins. This mission was flown on Dec.15th 1944.
Mission #16 on Dec.20, 1944 was to Santa Barbara Airdrome on Panay Island. We had no opposition and good strikes on the airport. All observed a very attractive town near the airport. Flight time was 9:40
Mission #17 on December 23rd 1944 was to Fabrica Aerodrome on Negros Island. Not a very good mission as the formation was quite sloppy and it was quite cloudy. Flight time was 9:50.
Mission #18 was flown on Dec. 25, 1944 (Have a nice Christmas) to Sandaken Aerodrome in British North Borneo. We had no opposition and clear weather and returned to base in 9:15. We were expecting a light supper of possibly a sandwich and coffee and were quite surprised to find that a full course turkey dinner had been saved for the crews flying that day.
Mission #19 was flown on Dec. 27th 1944 to Talisay A/D on Negros Island. We had no fighter cover but also no opposition. The bombs missed the target but it was reported already destroyed. Flight time 9:05.
Mission #20 was flown on New Years Day of 1945 bombing Miti Ammo Dump on the Halmahara Islands, just 50 miles from our base. It was our shortest mission with a total flying time of 2 hours. We landed and found another turkey dinner for New Years Day. I saw bombs hit the ground for the first time.
Mission #21 was flown on Jan. 4th 1945 to Puerto Princessa A/D on Palawan Island .It was with out fighter cover but we had no opposition. The runway was already destroyed from previous missions. Flight time was 10:15
Mission #22 was on Jan 5th, 1945 to Sandaken, Borneo ship building yards. We had no opposition and photos verified that the yards were totally destroyed. Flight time was 9:00.
Mission #23 was flown on January 9th 1945 and our target was Nielsen A/D north of Manila. The Japanese had 109 heavy guns (90 mm) located in this area. We flew an awfully lot of formation on the way to the target which depleted our fuel supply. On the bomb run, I slipped back from my assigned position about 200 feet. As our bombardiers were dropping on the lead bombardier it was not possible to speed up and move back into position, as the increased speed would alter the bomb strike. It turned out to be to our advantage though as there was a burst of flak directly ahead of us in the position that we should have been in. After leaving the target and proceeding south toward our base, my engineer reported a fuel shortage and with the permission of our flight leader we changed course and flew to Tacloban Air Base on Leyte Island to refuel. This was accomplished and we took off from there and headed for Morotai. We returned to Morotai well after dark after encountering one of the worst thunderstorms that I had ever seen. Flight time from Morotai to Leyte was 10 hours then from Leyte back to Morotai another 4 hours for a total time of 14 hours for that mission.
This was our last combat flight for some time as the next day I was told to tell my crew that we were going to Sydney, Australia for 10 days of rest & relaxation. The good old R & R .We were flown by C 47 (Gooney Bird) to Hollandia, New Guinea and spent the night. They had a good movie on there that night, John Wayne in "Tall In The Saddle". The next night we arrived after a very long day in Brisbane, Australia. The weather was bad and the pilot of the C-47 missed his first approach to the runway and had to try again. He made it the next time and we were billeted for the night and proceeded to Sydney the next day.
Upon arriving in Sydney we were billeted in a dormitory supplied by the Red Cross at Kings Crossing. We were charged 6 Pence per night for our use of the bunks and showers. The city was quite a contrast to the other places that we had been. There was public transportation. Streetcars all open and you could get off at any time as you desired. The fare for service personnel was one Ha Penny. Bondi Beach was a very popular place. There were patrol boats out all the time watching for sharks and if one was sighted the water was cleared of all people. The breakers rolled in and most of us learned to "shoot the breakers" as body surfing was described. The zoo was interesting as we could now see Koala Bears in the Eucalyptus trees. The harbor bridge was and remains today one of Sydney's prime attractions as well as the opera house. Probably one of the most appreciated items was the availability of food in the restaurants. Their specialty was, Steak and Eggs. Also Mark Foys Department Store supplied many things that we had been wanting. I purchased a pillow and a director's chair and managed to take them back to Morotai with me. After our ten days were up, we were required to report to the transportation department each morning to find out if there was a place in an airplane for us so that we could return to our base. It took 6 more days for me to find space to travel.
We left Sydney and refueled in Townsville in an ATC C-47 but only made it to Cairns, Australia as the pilot said that one of the engines was running rough. Strange that he did not check it when we arrived in Cairns, but immediately departed for town. We wandered around in the town which at that time was a quiet coastal village with a few small ships in the harbor The hotel at which we spent the night opened into a court yard from which we had access to rooms. My room was on the 2nd floor and there was no door on the room and we slept under mosquito netting. The next day we took off again and made it to Hollandia. The movie that night was "Rhapsody In Blue". We finally arrive back on Morotai and were to resume our missions.
Mission #24 was flown on February 7,1945 and was a bombing strike on Tawan A/D on Borneo. Total flight time was 10:20.
Mission #25 was flown on Feb.10, 1945 and the target was the 16-inch gun emplacements on Corregidor Island at the mouth of Manila Bay. Total flight time was 12:05.
Mission #26 was flown on Feb.12, 1945 and was another trip to the gun emplacements on Corregidor. It was a routine mission with out opposition and with bombs placed where desired to destroy the guns and hopefully the ammunition for them. Flight time 13:15.
Mission #27 was flown from Morotai back to Corregidor on Feb.15, 1945 with the target this time being a howitzer battery. Flight time of 13:15.
On all of these missions, we would take off from our base at 1 minute intervals and fly at an altitude of 8000 feet to a specific point to meet, form up into a group box and bomb the target, then break up the formation and proceed back to base meeting at a specific location and fly to the field in formation and peel off to land.
Missions 28,29 & 30 are not listed as we have been given credit for the three missions that we flew from Nadzab, New Guinea to Wewak therefore the next numbered mission will be #31.
Mission #31 was on Feb.19, 1945 to Miri A/D on Borneo. Enemy fighter was sighted but did not close so posed no threat to us. Flight time was 12:40.
Mission #32 was flown on Feb.24, 1945 to Mangaar A/D at Balikpapan, Borneo. We were now located on Morotai which was quite a bit nearer to Borneo than our former location on Noemfoor.
We led the #3 Sqdn bombing in a group box formation. Fair bombing but upon landing at base the elevator control failed to respond and extreme pressure at the last minute finally flared out our glide path. It was too late though as the hard landing resulted in breaking off the left landing gear and the nose gear. We slid about half way down the runway on the fuselage and only turned 90 degrees to the left. We scrambled from the plane, as an explosion was possible. The plane was towed to the scrap yard and we considered ourselves quite fortunate that no one was injured. Flight time was 10:00.
Mission #33 was flown on March 1, 1945 to Seppingan A/D at Balikpapan, Borneo. We did see 5 enemy fighters but they did not challenge us. The 5th Group of the 13th Air Force was jumped but did not suffer any losses.
Mission #34 was flown on March 6,1945 to bomb a Japanese personnel area at Zamboanga on Mindinao Island of the Philippines. It was a short mission of only 7 hours 30 minutes. We were over the target on time but the 5th group who were to be there ahead of us and bomb from a lower altitude were late in reaching the target. We did not see them and one of the bombs from our planes hit one of their planes just behind the top turret. The bombardier of that plane happened to have his parachute on and recovered consciousness while falling, pulled his ripcord and was picked up by a cat. He was the only survivor from that plane.
Mission #35 was to Talaud Islands on March 15, 1945.It was not a successful mission, as Murphy's Law seemed to be in effect. We were scheduled to bomb on Negros Island but were weathered out from our assigned target so bombed the secondary target. Total flight time was 10:00.
Mission #36 was flown on March 20, 1945 to an area north of Cebu City on Cebu Island of the Philippines to drop fragmentation bombs on a Japanese Personnel area. This was a low level attack from 2800 Ft. and observers reported 95% coverage of the target area. Total flight time was 9:10.
Although I did not know it at the time, this was to be my last combat mission. The next day I was informed that I did not have to fly any more as I was scheduled to return to the States. As I was making preparations to depart, a waiting orders, disposing of items that I could not carry back etc, I was approached by the engineering officer and asked if I would take an aircraft to Biak Island to pick up some engineering supplies. I agreed to do this and on March 30, 1945 flew to Biak in 3:15. It took 2 days for them to line up and stow the supplies and we flew back to Morotai on April 1, 1945.This was my last flight in that theater of the war.
To regress a bit about my troubles with my assigned co-pilot. While we were in New Guinea at Nadzab, he refused a direct order to take our flight forms to be turned in so that they could bring them up to date with the times we had flown there. So, I made a trip to the Commanding Officer of the base and had him removed from my flight crew. Later I was informed that we could not be shipped out as a partial crew so I took him back long enough to be assigned to a combat outfit. On our first few missions I was accompanied by an experienced co-pilot and my co-pilot flew with an experienced pilot. He, Duckworth, made himself disliked to the other pilots in the squadron and our commanding officer. The C.O. sent word that he wanted to see me and arriving at his office I inquired as to why he wished to see me. He said that it was about my co-pilot and he had a prepared statement putting him up before the flying evaluation board. I signed the form and a hearing was convened. The decision of the board was to remove him from flying status. From then on I had various co-pilots and finally settled down to one. He was a pilot from the East Coast and had his 4-engine training in B17 planes. We got along very well and when I left the Island he took over the crew.
After I left the Island the crew flew 3 or 4 more missions before assessing enough points to return to the States. As to Red Duckworth, they made him tower officer on Morotai and that was the last that I ever heard of him. During our stay in the islands, we were in an area in which malaria was present. It took only a mosquito bite from an anopheles mosquito that had come in contact with a carrier so to prevent and illness we were required to take a malaria suppressant tablet each day. The tablet was Atabrine and after a few months caused a yellow color to the skin. When I was designated to return to the States I stayed several days extra to obtain enough suntan to mask the yellow taint. This worked and by the time the tan had worn off the yellow had disappeared. I was given travel orders that permitted me to use any available transportation and made arraignments to fly by military air transport C47 on a run to Leyte from which I hoped to find transportation back toward San Francisco. Another pilot borrowed a command car to take me the 6 miles to the airstrip on my departure date. We made it about 1 mile up the road and it blew a tire so it was left standing along the road. I flagged down a 6 X 6 and he took me the rest of the way to the airstrip and I caught my flight to Leyte.
Upon arrival at Tacloban Air Strip, I was taken by truck to another strip that served as a replacement reception center. After a brief processing and a check of my orders, I was assigned a spot in a tent in case I had to remain there for a while. As things turned out I was only in this tent for about 10 minutes when my name was called on the public address system. Reporting to learn what they wanted with me, I was told to get my things together as I was leaving on a C54 aircraft for San Francisco. We departed within the hour and flew overnight to Guam. The aircraft was held over for a day, as a 100-hour inspection was due. We wandered about the strip and discovered the newest plane in the Air Force, he B29. At first the pilot did not want to let us see his plane as it was still on the restricted list. We talked with him a bit about where we had been and what we had been doing so he decided to show off his plane to us as fellow combat pilots. It was very interesting to us.
We soon departed for our island-hopping trip back to the States We refueled at Kwajalein and then stopped at Johnson Island for fuel and lunch at which time I learned that FDR had died and Harry Truman had been sworn in as president. The next leg of our journey was to Hickam Field on Oahu. We were there for 18 hours but could not leave the base. We did go through customs there and I was asked if I had anything in my B4 bag and said just clothes so was passed without inspection. The next evening I departed Oahu in the bomb bay of an LB30. That was the cargo version of the B-24 with seats in the bomb bay instead of bomb racks. We flew overnight to Fairfield Suisin airport, from which I had departed, landing about 6 AM.
I attempted a phone call to Vi in Sask. but was unsuccessful so did the next best thing, sent a telegram saying I was on the west coast heading east and would be in Quincy the next Friday or Saturday. We were given 3 days leave to go to San Francisco to buy clothes but instead I caught a bus to Fresno to see my brother and his family. I returned by way of San Francisco and went to Hamilton Field to see Ernie Hageman who had returned from Canton Island and was stationed at Hamilton Field.
After returning to Fairfield we were put on a troop train and started east. The next morning we were going across the Great Salt Lake and rode all day and until the next evening when we found our car put off on a siding in Omaha, Neb. The car was attached to a train during the night and the next morning, while eating breakfast I looked out the window and we were crossing the Mississippi river at Burlington, Iowa into Illinois. Before noon we were in Chicago. I needed a shave so went to the barbershop in the depot for that. Then after putting some of my belongings in a locker I caught the interurban train north to Ft. Sheridan to obtain leave papers. This took all of 15 minutes and I was favorably impressed with their efficiency. Upon returning to the depot I recovered my belongings from the locker and proceeded to buy a ticket to Quincy. I asked for a ticket to Burlington, Iowa with connection to the Minneapolis, St. Louis Zephyr that I expected Vi to be on as she returned from Canada. The agent said that he could not sell a ticket like that and I would have to buy one direct to Quincy and take a different train. I agreed and bought the ticket but got on the other train and had no problem.
I had about a one-hour wait in Burlington before the Zephyr came in and boarded the train. I walked through every car on the train looking for Vi but she was not on it. It turned out that she had elected to stop a day in Rochester, MN and visit her sister. I came on to Quincy and took a cab to 18th & Locust. The house was locked and no one was home but I obtained a key from Eldon Cobb next door and went in and went to bed. I did not build a fire the next day but moved down to Virgil & Mary Buss's home at 912 Spring. Vi arrived at 4 A.M. the next morning and my mother arrived back in town soon after. We spent the next 30 days in Quincy before shipping out to Miami Beach for reassignment. We went to St. Louis and spent a night with my uncle Ed Paul & his wife Selma. We traveled to Miami Beach and were there a week then were assigned to the ferry command at Memphis, Tenn. While at Miami, I had appointments every day for some activity such as dental work, physical and various classes to determine how we had weathered the stress of combat.
We did have some free time to explore the Whitman Hotel in which we were billeted. They had a stretch of private beach so we swam some in the ocean and pitched horseshoes. The food was good and the dining room was on the first floor. There was a special elevator to use to go to the beach level. We went to a nightclub in Miami one night with some other flying personnel and their wives. We were there for 1 week then reassigned to Memphis, Tenn. Travel to Memphis was by train and the first leg to Jacksonville, Florida was in reserved seat chair cars. Upon arrival in Jacksonville, we were told that we had to go coach class as that was all that was available on the train we were transferring to. Two couples of us declined the assigned train and spent the night in a hotel in Jacksonville.
The next morning we went to the military travel office with a complaint and were transferred to a reserved seat chair car. The trip to Memphis was long and uneventful. Upon arrival we took a cab to the King Cotton Hotel for the night and reported to the base the next day. Next came a search for an apartment in which to live as I now could live off base. We could only come up with the usual, a sleeping room with kitchen privileges. Any afternoon I could get away we would go swimming in a pool that we had discovered. Swimming served as my P. T. for the day. We decided that we needed some transportation and went shopping out on Union St. in Memphis, which was automobile dealers row. There was a Chevrolet that I would like to have bought but some one else beat us to it so we settled for a 1940 Oldsmobile Club Coupe. The tires were not very good and we had to have them re-treaded soon after. We had the experience of having a flat tire with no tools with which to change it so bought tire tools and a jack.
Next we finally found an apartment and rented it for a month but within 2 weeks I was transferred to Lubbock, Texas to attend instrument flying school. The owners would not refund the unused portion of the rent so we were out 30 dollars. I was flown to Lubbock but Vi who had been driving the car elected to go to the ration board and obtained 2 new tires and enough gasoline to take the car home but instead drove to Lubbock.
While stationed in Memphis I made several flights. One was to Savannah, Georgia to pick a war weary B24 that had been returned from the European area to be taken to Willow Run B-24 plant to be refurbished and returned to service in the Pacific theater. We had to wait for a couple of days before being assigned an aircraft. When we finally were assigned a plane we checked everything that we could and it seemed O K but after take off and proceeding toward Atlanta found ourselves quite short on fuel. We landed at Atlanta and lost one engine on final approach but landed safely. After parking for a bit we were asked to move the airplane to another location but in did not have enough gas left to start the engines. It was decided that the plane was flown in from Natal, Brazil and not refueled for several days and the self sealing gas tanks had shriveled so they did not hold much when filled up but on the take off run the vibration expanded them. After refueling the next day we took off to go to Willow Run and got as far as Nashville, Tenn. at which place all generators were not working so we left the plane in Nashville and returned to Memphis.
On another occasion we were assigned a B24 to take to Independence, Kansas to be parked on the airfield and pickled in case it was needed again. One day I elected to take a brief course on the operation of the P Q 14 aircraft. It was a plywood plane (Culver Cadet) that had radio control and was used by the navy for target practice at sea. Two days later I was assigned to fly by commercial air to Jackson, Miss. to pick up one of those planes and deliver it to Sacramento, California. The plane cruised at 160 miles per hour, had 26-gallon gas tank capacity (13 on each side) and used 13 gallons per hour. Obviously, it required refueling about every 2 hours. There were no lights on the plane and no radio with which to talk to towers and the compass was 80 degrees off. Consequently I flew across west Texas with my finger on the map and my eyes on the ground. After shooting a few landings at Jackson, I started for California making my first refueling stop in Shreveport, La. then to Love field at Dallas, Texas for an overnight.
Next day to Big Springs, Texas and El Paso. I had my first view of Carlsbad Caverns on this flight from 1000 Ft. above Guadalupe Peak was quite prominent and the terrain just fell away from there to El Paso. There was some daylight left, so I elected to proceed to Douglas, Arizona for the night. Upon arrival there I was informed that I could not stay in the BOQ that night but would have to go to town and rent a hotel room as a Chinese General was in one end of the BOQ and they did not want him disturbed. So much for RHIP. I told the personnel that I would be very quiet as I had flown all day and was tired. Finally they consented to let me stay there.
One other pilot and I were each flying one of these planes and as we were taxiing out to take off the next morning he ran off the taxi strip and was stuck in the sand. I shut off my engine and pushed him out of the sand. I then took off and landed in Tucson to refuel, then to Phoenix and to Blythe, California. My next stop to refuel was March Air Base. I was asked why I came there instead of going to San Bernardino. I explained that I had flown 24s out of there and just wanted to see the base again. From there I refueled in Bakersfield and as night approached made it to Fresno. I called Barbara and she picked me up at the base and I spent the night with them. The next day I delivered the plane to McClelland Air Base in Sacramento and was ready to return to Memphis. All flying officers of the Ferry Command carried T R (transportation requisites) with them so I made mine out to return by commercial airline to Memphis. The routing was Sacramento to L A to Phoenix etc.
I arrived in L A and had quite a lay over before an 11 PM flight departure so called my Uncle Charlie and he & his wife brought my maternal grandmother out to the airport to see me. We took off on time in a DC 3 and it was 1 PM the next afternoon before we returned to Memphis. Upon returning to the air base in Memphis I was told that I could not drive on the base unless I had liability insurance on my vehicle. After talking to the Provost Marshall, I was permitted to go as far as the air corps supply to turn in my parachute. The next stop was to an insurance agent in town to purchase the required insurance. We had a letter from some one in the family stating that Vi's brother Leonard had been in Hannibal & Quincy but had gone on to Rochester, Minn. and was visiting the Mabrys. Vi left shortly for a visit with him and I stayed out at the base while she was gone. After some time there I was to be sent to Lubbock, Texas for instrument flight school. I was flown out and Vi obtained her drivers license and drove the car out to Texas.
On the way the car was hopping up the rear end and she found out that the left rear shock absorber was broken. She stopped in Little Rock to have it repaired then proceeded on toward Lubbock. The car was using quite a bit of oil and we later determined that the rear main bearing was leaking oil out onto the road. We were there for about 6 weeks while I was going to school and lived in a motel suite while there. Gasoline was rationed but I found a filling station that would take a pack of cigarettes instead of a gas coupon. Since Vi did not smoke we could get extra packs of cigarettes on her ration card and use them to buy gas. While we were ending our stay in Lubbock, the atomic bomb was dropped precipitating the capitulation of the Japanese and ending the war.
We had enough gas coupons saved up to get us back to Memphis but gas rationing was eliminated. We drove back to Memphis together and arrived around 11 P M. We found a motel for the night and the next day upon reporting to the base I was told that they were cutting orders for me to go to Ft. Sheridan for discharge. We had a bit of a delay in route so came to Quincy on the way and had the car overhauled with rods, rings, head gaskets and thought that it would be drivable from then on. On the way to Chicago we were once again losing oil pressure so could only drive 40 miles an hour. Also the shock was broken again which caused some discomfort when driving on a dippy road.
Arriving at Ft. Sheridan I was informed to come back in a few days so drove over to Rochester MN and came back by myself. After discharge I started to Rochester but it was evening and I only drove as far as Rockford and visited with friends for the night. The next day I returned to Rochester and we visited there a bit. We went to Minneapolis to visit Vi's aunt and I went to an airline seeking a flying job but there were none available. They told me that they were getting almost 100 ex army pilots daily seeking flying jobs and did not have enough airplanes.
Consequently, I decided to return to Quincy and go back to the drug store and attempt to obtain my Pharmacy License. I went back to work on Oct. 1, 1945 and by June 46 took the pharmacy exam and obtained my license.
Back Row L to R: William Albro Nose Gunner, Richard Paul 1st Pilot, Spencer Co-pilot, Alfred Smith Navigator, John Brooks Bombardier, Leroy Straub Tail Gunner
Front Row L to R: John Foley Radio, Popovics Top Turret, Sabu Dastigir Ball Turret, Leroy Kanada Engineer
Richard Paul Crew, 370th Bombardment Squadron (H)
Photo courtesy of Richard Paul email@example.com Please do not use without permission