When I interviewed my father in 1984 for the Ehrlich family history, An Honest Tale Plainly Told (which would be condensed into the single-volume To Be Honest: Three Generations of Unexpectedly Dramatic Family Saga), I heard about his military service in World War II and the Korean War.  Decades later my mother told my brother Matthew and me that Dad had written a full memoir of these experiences, showing us the drawer in his desk where the two manuscript notebooks were kept.  My reaction at the time was "Certainly got to read those someday."

When we had to empty out The Old Ehrlich Place in 2016, the two notebooks were not found in that desk drawer nor elsewhere, and we wondered if they might have been packed off with the rest of the George Ehrlich Papers ("65 cubic feet, oversize") to the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center - Kansas City.  Not till Matthew returned to KCMO to complete the house and estate sales did the notebooks turn up; he copied them for himself and forwarded me the originals for (eventual) transcription.

I'd presumed that our 1984 interview triggered Dad's impulse to write out these military memories, but in fact he had already done so in 1982.  Starting out fluently and with little apparent hesitation, the latter half shows increasing signs of haste or weariness, and comes to a halt on the brink of his being recalled to active service for Korea.  My guess is that he put the memoir aside for future completion (there is a paperclip imprint on the last-written page) with a "Certainly got to finish that someday" whenever he came across the put-aside notebooks.  So from other memoirs and the uncondensed An Honest Tale Plainly Told I have compiled appendices that address his Korea recall and its aftermath.

The transcription, annotation, and illustrations below are offered as the first segment of George's Navigations: The Journeys of George Ehrlich, a series that will serve as a counterpart to Arrived Safely No Catastrophes Yet Love Jean: The Adventures of Mila Jean Smith Ehrlich.  "The War Memoir," like Mila Jean's "The Fulbright Year Abroad," is something of a traveling Bildungsroman: my mother enjoyed her overseas coming-of-age more, but she'd embarked voluntarily and was always eager to repeat the experience; whereas my father did so at the government's request and with greater risk of sudden death.  Be that as it may, their widely divergent paths led them beyond prediction to encounter each other; so go figure.


A Few Notes on the Text

I have divided "The War Memoir" into chapters and given these titles to aid the reader in following George's progress
("if that is the correct term at all," as he says below in a different context).  To enhance online clarity I have amended some punctuation, adjusted a few paragraph breaks, expanded most abbreviations, made some [bracketed] addenda, and (particularly toward the end) corrected a number of misspellings.

In my annotation I have drawn extensively from A Unit History of the 315th Bomb Wing: 1944-46 by Maj. Ralph L. Swann (1986: cited below as Swann) and the group roster, crew rosters and aircraft lists in A New Chapter in Air Power: The 315th Bomb Wing (VH); Guam, World War II, edited by George E. Harrington and William Leasure (1986) available in full at Larry Miller's 315th Bombardment Wing webpage.  Other notes were derived from Robert F. Dorr's Mission to Tokyo: The American Airmen Who Took the War to the Heart of Japan (2012: cited below as Dorr).

This webpage is best viewed on a device using both fonts I employed: Times New Roman for George's entries, and Verdana for my own.


The Military Experiences of George Ehrlich

A Memoir Compiled in 1982

My recent experiences in doing archival research have made me extraordinarily conscious of how dependent we are on what often are casual statements made long ago, which now are rich ore to be mined by the scholar.  I have no illusions concerning my significance, or my experiences, for some student viewing my life at some distant future time; but insofar as they illuminate a period—and a shared experience—my recollections merit recording.

I have chosen to try to reconstruct my life in the military for several reasons.  First, it was a shared experience that is now—in the case of World War II—nearly forty years old, and thus corroded in our memories through exposure to certain standard images found in the press, film and publication.  Second, my experiences were without feats of bravery, high adventure or remarkable events, hence typical of so many.  Third, my years in service illustrate the role that luck or chance plays in the life of the soldier.  Finally, it might be useful—while I still can remember much of the details—to answer some of the questions that some day someone may wish to ask, when it will be too late or too difficult to reconstruct those events.

What I shall record then is that which I feel illuminates a period and way of life as seen through youthful eyes, but tempered with several decades of being a working (art) historian.  It is not a record of two wars, for the narrative does continue, albeit interrupted, until 1953.  It begins in 1943.

Kansas City, MO
30 July 1982


I guess the logical place to begin is with "Pearl Harbor Day."  I was a senior in high school and quite aware of the war and the likelihood that the United States would be drawn into it.  Thus, when a friend called me on Sunday (when precisely I cannot recall), December 7th, 1941 to ask if I had heard the news—which I hadn't yet—I wasn't surprised.  While the news was of major interest to my schoolmates, we were not directly affected other than where relatives or acquaintances had been called into military service, or volunteered.  The draft had been in effect for some time, but not close to our age group.  I would not be seventeen years old until January 28th, 1942.

So I completed high school and in the fall of 1942 entered the University of Illinois as a student, hoping to pursue a degree in chemical engineering—or something else appropriate for young lads of the day.  Every male had to take ROTC training at Illinois, and having had four years of junior ROTC in high school, I was familiar with the routine, including the wearing of uniforms, close order drill and such.  But now it was a bit more serious, even though the theory and the activities were largely extensions of World War I and twenty-five years of "peacetime" stagnation.

By the time I reached my eighteenth birthday in 1943, the draft age had been lowered to eighteen, and after registering it seemed only a matter of time before I too would be called up.  Attending classes, especially during the second semester of '42-'43 at the university, was a mentally debilitating experience.  People—males—just disappeared.  Each week saw fewer attending class,  And it was not the case of the attrition of poor scholars.  Virtually no class or person seemed immune.

I received notice to report for induction physical (or whatever) in April as I recall.  I went up to Chicago to visit the draft board and to request a postponement to complete the semester of school (about six more weeks as I recall).  This was granted.  The semester was concluded, but my performance was below my capabilities.  Both chemistry (the academic course) and the immediate present had lost their attractiveness; it was the uncertain future that commanded attention.  The news from the several war fronts hardly encouraged one, but youth is naive, and the placidity of ROTC training (now of five years duration) had a quieting effect.

To go into military service had seemed inevitable, and had been for a year and a half.  Not to go seemed undesirable or some sort of blemish difficult to explain.  Thus, I was relieved when finally I was called up.  It was a scant two weeks or so after concluding the semester.

Camp Grant: Rockford IL

I reported to an assembly point in Chicago on the 23rd of June 1943, where I was sworn in.  We then went by chartered streetcar—a motley group I remember only as shadows—to one of Chicago's railroad stations.  Soon thereafter I was en route to Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois.  How we got from the train to the camp I do not recall; probably the train went directly into camp on a siding.  As we straggled off in our casual summer civilian garb, clutching little canvas zipper bags with a change of underwear and toilet articles, we were greeted by heads coming out of windows in double-deck wooden barracks left over from World War I.  "You'll be sorry," the heads chorused.  And "You should have been here when we got here."

The remainder of that day, as with so many other days in the service, I do not recall, nor are they worth noting for this memoir.  Suffice it to say, the day ended as I stretched out on the upper level of a double bunk, in one of the barracks that was—it seemed—filled with such bunks.  Wires stretched alongside, to act as clothesline for the wash.  It was lights out, snoring filled the room, and as I lay there I thought of little other than that I was, in fact, in the Army.  A new way of life had begun.

The principal activity of a reception center was to convert civilians into soldiers—at least superficially—and to test them.  My conversion, along with so many others, occurred when we entered a warehouse, stripped, and eventually exited in green denim fatigues and with a skull-close haircut.  After a couple of days of "knowing" one's companions, it was curious how everyone had "vanished" after we exited into the light of day.  One learned very quickly how clothes differentiate people and how uniforms—a wonderful word in this case—served an important function.

It was minimum gear available for the summer, and for most of the next three years it was mandatory that uniforms be worn.  It seemed that whatever I had was not enough, ill-fitting, and usually in need of laundering.  The last could be accomplished in one of two ways.  One could do it yourself using the wash tubs (typical old fashioned basement types) using cakes of yellow soap, or use the base laundry.  At the reception center one could not use the latter because our stay was of uncertain duration, so we went unlaundered (having so few clothes we had no spare to wear while washing).  Only underwear and socks had a chance.

There was other activities designed to keep us busy and to convert us.  GI-ing the barracks—using the yellow soap and scrub buckets—was a weekly chore.  There was guard duty, which consisted of walking a fixed path at night amidst a forest of grid-placed barracks.  And there were the immunizations and other medical-related activities.  Most of it was quickly submerged from my conscious memory.  Only one person emerges now—as a smallish shadow.  He was an older man who had been in the Marines(?) [sic] who had gone into Honduras in the 1920s (or was it early 30s?).  In any case he was older and—in a service sense—wiser.  He adjusted easily.  In fact he had volunteered.  I recall him showing me a picture of himself from that earlier service.  And wasn't he also some sort of boxing champion then?  I'm no longer sure.  But I do recall, he showed me how to put on my leggings when I pulled guard duty.

The testing was all routine, simple enough and designed I guess to identify those whose intelligence (as it could be approximately measured) suggested special service opportunities such as officer training, which included flying-status officers.  The results were such that I was asked if I wanted to take additional test, these for the Air Corps!

Taking paper tests was much more pleasant than the other activities so far provided, so I agreed.  There was also a physical exam connected with this, but that bothered me not at all.  In fact I knew I would fail the physical and so the whole exercise was a way of avoiding KP or whatever menial drudgery was standard for new recruits.

And why was I so certain that I had no chance to pass the physical?  Well, back at the University of Illinois, knowing I would end up in the service, I elected to take what was called Military Athletics, an approved option for the compulsory physical education.  It was really beyond my capabilities at the time, but it probably did move me in the right direction toward survival (at something I have no aptitude for).  Part of that was also extensive physical tests and measurements.  One test I was told was a standard Air Corps test, namely how quickly one's heartbeat rate returned to normal after exercise.  My pulse remained too high too long.  Thus I "flunked" that test.  And thus I knew I would flunk the test for real.

Results of our Air Corps testing were not immediately available, so those of us who had taken the tests were in a status limbo.  Meanwhile, nearly everyone else among the new recruits were suddenly shipped out.  The camp was for a short period nearly vacant.  The rumor we heard was that a new infantry division was being created, to receive its training in Australia and to participate in the sweep up the islands to clear out the Japanese.  If that was true, and it easily could have been, there but for a delay in reporting our test results was I—on my way to who knows what danger.  But then my turn would come once I cleared my limbo status.

It couldn't have been more than three days, or four at most, and orders were issued.  I was being sent to the Air Corps because I had passed the tests.  I was one of the "lucky ones," for it also meant officer training and undoubtedly a pair of wings to wear on my left breast.  Envy was expressed for the few fortunate ones.  I, who really didn't want to be a "flyer," was caught in a seat of circumstances over which I had lost control—except by failing some program.

Truax Field: Madison WI

I was sent to Truax Field outside of Madison, Wisconsin, now being an Aviation Student appointee.  Or was it pre-Aviation Cadet training status?  The exact designation on the orders meant little unless I survived a variety of other activities and evaluation pending my acceptance in cadet training.  And at this distance from the situation, little else about my brief stay in Wisconsin is remembered; it was a transition place.

If Truax Field is remembered by me it is because here I learned the true horrors of what KP (Kitchen Police) could mean.  As things would turn out, I did comparatively little KP, but my indoctrination came with duty on "pots and pans" the day we had pork chops.  I did not serve the food; rather I had to scrub up the cooking utensils.  I was caked in grease past my elbows.

I also recall the extraordinary (in the Army) situation of unlimited amounts of milk at meals.  Truax was also the scene of a siege of food poisoning I escaped (since I had trouble comprehending much less digesting the food that was served).  I have always hesitated to eat strange-looking food, and I skipped some strange Spanish rice one evening.  Good for me!

I also recall going onto the U of Wisconsin campus, climbing the hill to Bascom Hall, and wondering a bit at how changed my life had become in a few weeks.

Basic Training(s): Miami Beach FL

Orders were issued; it was to be Miami Beach for basic training.  I assume we went by troop train, for we went on nearly every transfer by this mode of transport.  However, I recall absolutely nothing about that long journey.  Generally there was nothing memorable about such a journey.  They were usually in coach cars, often quite ancient.  Anyhow, I arrived in Miami and thence, by truck probably, to Miami Beach.  It was July 1943.

My status was that of a pre-Aviation Cadet, and though we were in fact privates in the Army, assigned to the Air Corps, we had a designation as heading eventually toward the opportunity of candidating for flight training and officer rank.  To single this out, we were all of the same category in our basic training unit, and we were given old fashioned campaign hats (without any braid or insignia) to wear.  These were the "Smokey Bear" type hats.

Perhaps the concept of basic training had been explained to us, but from this distant (and more knowledgeable) vantage point I see it as having only two functions.  First, it was to harden us through extensive physical training.  Second, it was to instill discipline.  As for the martial arts or weapons training or such, I recall none.

We were billeted in second-class hotel rooms, six to eight in a room.  Our drill fields were the former golf courses and the beaches.  Our drill sergeants were, it seemed, characters of low intelligence and limited experience and education, drawn from the rural hinterlands such as Appalachia.  Their one virtue was the ability to be heard at great distance or against background noises.  We ate in a communal mess hall erected in some convenient vacant ground, and some four thousand of us ate there.

In the midst of this contrived army base, or perhaps I should say scattered in and around it, was the resort of Miami Beach still functioning even though reduced in patronage by the constraints of a wartime economy.  It was a bizarre and uneasy relationship of uniform and mufti, especially with the fact that prices were geared in the private sector to resort clientele.  Thus, Army privates had little chance at recreation beyond the beaches and the swimming pool behind our hotel (the Embassy, by the way).

Since I was already reasonably disciplined and familiar with the rudiments of military jargon and routine, thanks to the ROTC, I was there to get hardened.  And I was learning how to survive in an alien environment, where one never knew what prejudice, bias, stupidity or attack on one's sense of self and dignity might occur.  Privates though we were, there was absolutely no privacy except within one's mind.  And with a very tired body the mind was hardly treated to any stimulation.

Memories of military life are laced, for me, with the desire to be away from others—at least for a little while.  Whether the need to evacuate one's bowels, to bathe, to sleep, eat or whatever, it had to be met as a public occurrence, with witnesses.  And often commentary.  While I managed—obviously—I never could accept fully the concept of being only a part of a large organism.  I wasn't cut out for tribal life as a permanent lifestyle.

What can one recall from three months in Miami Beach as a neophyte soldier/airman?  Drill sergeants could not pronounce my name.  Roll call in the early morning required a rundown of the roster.  Periodically there was a hesitation that meant a "difficult" name.  I was, inevitably, a hesitation followed by a questioning "Ellrich," or something like that.

The food was barely acceptable,  It was in basic training that I discovered how good fresh tomatoes could be, since everything else had been manipulated for thousands.  Bread, jam and tomatoes were the best items.  Milk was usually sour.  I was never a gallant trencherman, and in fact was a finicky eater with numerous avoidances.  Eating—and digesting—in the service proved to be a difficult matter for me for most of my military career.

I believe it was in September of 1943 that there were enemy submarine scares along the coast.  We were blacked out at night, there were armed patrols on the beach, while we recruits did backup guard duty on the streets with billy clubs and whistles.  One night, some artillery was heard (so we believed) being towed along the fashionable Collins Road.  But we [neither] saw nor heard evidence of the torpedoing that in fact was occurring, and no saboteurs were landed in our domain.

Basic training was something like four weeks—or perhaps longer.  Anyhow, the day came when it was concluded and we were mustered to receive shipping orders.  After all the names were called, some of us were still in place waiting.  I was one of them. There were no orders for Ehrlich, or Ellrick (with hesitation).

So those remaining went into advanced basic training.  As I recall, the only difference was practice in throwing dummy grenades.  Perhaps there were other niceties.  By now, I could catch an instant ten-minute nap when we were given breaks from our endless routine, pillowing my head on a sandbag or street curbing.

One aspect did not change from basic to advanced basic training.  That was the singing while marching.  We were encouraged, were required, to sing.  And we did it at the top of our lungs (as they say).  They were the old standbys, such as "Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie" and "Give My Regards to Broadway," and that new one, the Air Force hymn(?) [sic] "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder."  And so forth.  One day, when not singing while marching somewhere, a jeep pulled up to our formation and some officer shouted at the sergeant.  Essentially he wanted to know why we weren't singing.  Were we not happy?  Happy soldiers sing, and he would not tolerate unhappy soldiers.  Therefore we had to sing.  We sang.

It was also during these weeks that I discovered "ringworm" and "athlete's foot" and other shared skin ailments.  Iodine became my home remedy.  I also was badly sunburned because we had to engage in some sort of exercise shirtless.  Since I tanned easily, the burn was not evident until I blistered, so I wasn't allowed to put covering on my back.  If I had a sunburn, I should be red, but I was brown, so . . .  Drill sergeant logic.

Eventually advanced basic training was concluded, and another muster to hear orders came due.  Once again names were called and once again I was left standing—now nearly alone.  This was totally unexpected on my part and on the sergeant's part.  They were used to people being held over after basic training, and so advanced (sic) basic had been created.  But everyone got orders after that.  Well, nearly everyone.

It was funny, even to me then.  They had me, didn't want me, for they didn't have any contingency to deal with "leftovers."

I cannot recall how long it was, perhaps two weeks, while a search for a reason was instituted.  Meanwhile, I sort of loafed around.  I even taught myself to swim, sort of, while waiting.  At last I was "found" and given orders to head out.  It seems that my papers had been misplaced.  And [had] been for some time.  There was a lesson in that, one I learned more than once.  You could get lost in the system simply by getting into the wrong stack of papers: that is, your file could be misplaced and in effect you were in a partial limbo.  You existed, and this was known.  You could eat, get paid, and could not leave the base without severe penalty unless you had a pass or permission.  But you couldn't be moved in the system without a file that represented you.  Misplace a file and the machinery of movement stopped.

Well, at the end of September or very early October, I was found and shipped out.  I was to go to Arkadelphia, Arkansas from Florida, southern Florida, by a troop train that had ancient day coaches with straw-woven seats.

If memory serves me correctly, it was this trip that went by way of Cincinnati, but it makes no difference.  The ride was interminable and sleep was virtually impossible.  It was like riding an ancient streetcar with soot coming in the windows.

We dismantled the car, taking the seat backs out and using them to bridge the space between seats.  On these improvised and irregular shelves, we tried to sleep.  The only virtue was that we were leaving Miami Beach and basic training(s) behind.  And I was certainly entering a different lifestyle when I arrived at Arkadelphia.

Aviation Student Training: Arkadelphia AR

I was in the "aviation student" college training program at Henderson State Teachers College for four months.  It was here that we were introduced to a cadet-style program, albeit a bit like a southern military school than an academy.

Arkadelphia was a small city that was home to two colleges, the other being Ouachita Baptist College.  Each college had a 250 or 500-man (?) training program, taught largely by the civilian faculty.  We were domiciled in dormitories largely empty due to the war, instructed in the college classrooms, fed in the cafeteria and paraded on the athletic field.  There were students at the schools who were not in the service, but segregation was rigorously maintained except at certain off hours and Sundays.  But there was little to share.

We had "student" officers who wore button-pips, and we were under a cadet-type discipline that included demerits and punishment tours (more on that later), and meals were eaten in silence and plates had to be cleaned—no food to be thrown out—etc.

The purpose of this program seemed twofold.  First, it provided rather elementary instruction in a variety of academic subjects, such as geography (and I suppose math, history, etc.).  I remember the geography because the teacher Otis Whaley—O.W.—could draw a perfect circle on the chalkboard with one sweeping rotation of his arm.  Second, we were made conscious of being on the first rung of a cadet program whose goal was to produce flying officers.  In this respect, we also received ten hours of actual flight training in Piper Cubs; and that was memorable for various reasons.

Since I was a person who had some college training/education, I was skipped past the first month of the five-month program.  I think a second year would have reduced my stay another month, etc., except I don't remember the rule.  For a variety of reasons, this four-month period is memorable.  The reasons follow but in no special order.

It was here that I was hospitalized for a week because of malnutrition.  As I said, we ate in the college cafeteria the food prepared by the college cooks.  Alas, whatever we took we had to eat or be punished.  One breakfast was interesting: it was early in the program when I was still unfamiliar with the food.  I asked for the cooked cereal.  We asked by pointing.  I got a plate of cereal and lo and behold they put something brown and liquid on it.  I had gotten grits with gravy for breakfast.  A city boy raised by Central European immigrants didn't have a chance here.  Another breakfast I pointed to pancakes, that was obvious, and syrup was poured over them.  Only, the syrup was sorghum molasses.  Ach, this too had to be eaten.

One lunch consisted of turnips and turnip greens with white bread.  A fried chicken dinner I recall was so crisply fried I couldn't sunder it with my teeth.  Apparently I began to ask for less and less, and of fewer things to protect my inexperienced digestive tract.  The Miami Beach mess hall was a four star restaurant in comparison.  Mind you, this was what the college students were fed.

One day at physical training I collapsed.  The Army doctor had his clinic at the other college and I was sent to him.  He asked me when last I had had a bowel movement.  I couldn't recall, I actually couldn't.  I was given an enema (the first I recall having) and was put in bed and fed a special diet, heavy on vegetables and other digestible food.  After a week I returned renewed to my activities.

It was here too that I contracted impetigo, a skin disorder that causes blisters on the face, or wherever else the infection caught.  Mine was in the area of my beard.  The doctor treated this with a purple substance and in stubborn cases—such as mine naturally—with silver nitrate.  Unshaven, purple and metallic glittered stain was my lot for quite a few days, with raw patches of pink skinless flesh peeping through.  I was finally ordered to shave.  The painfully achieved result was not much of an improvement.

It was while I was in for one of my daily treatments that I felt faint and asked if I could go outside for fresh air.  OK, the doctor said, and out I went, only to be brought back in on a stretcher, having passed out and having hit a piece of moulding near the door, with my head, on the way down.  Perhaps this was connected with my pending malnutrition episode.  I don't really recall.

So there I was, rainbow face with a gash over my left eye.  A stitch was put in and a collodion patch was placed over it.  I now know that this could have led to gangrene if left in place too long, but neither my medical officer nor I was then concerned with that.

I also suffered, as did dozens of others, from sinus headaches.  I am now prepared to believe everything wrong then was diet-connected, but in 1943 it was simply the river bottom location.  The medical officer used nose packs to drain the sinuses.  The sight of half a dozen of us sitting on a bench in the clinic with cotton dangling out our nostrils, dripping into kidney shaped porcelain dishes, must have made a pretty sight.

In all of my many dealings with this med officer, I sensed nothing but compassion and an inadequacy in dealing with the complaints of his thousand-plus charges who trooped in large numbers to sick call.  And then I heard the rumor that he had made advances to one of the lads while being examined.  It was rumor but firmly believed.  It was my first, fleeting contact with the subject of homosexuality in a real situation.  But as always since then, never directed at me.  But then perhaps I never was aware I was being approached in this way.  But I think not.

I mentioned the fear of punishment.  It meant loss of private time on the weekends (Saturday afternoon and Sunday) by being confined to quarters and having to walk tours.  Tours were given once the number of demerits in a given week exceeded some number.  Inspection was a good way to pick up demerits, for dust, misplaced or irregular placement of personal effects, the making of beds, etc.  Haircuts (given by an incompetent civilian at 25¢ per) were required weekly.  And so forth.  Tours were one hour per, marching a rectangular (and by my time a deeply rutted path) in full uniform with gas mask (we had no packs) carried in its case on our side.

I lost out once, got one or perhaps two tours.  Some miscreants managed to have very little free time.

What did we do on free time?  There wasn't much.  I recall seeking food (hamburgers) at some local place.  A friend I made, Gordon [Eriksen], who had two years of college and had studied architecture, and I would "do" what little was to be "done" in the form of appreciating Arkadelphia's recreational resources.

Gordon liked to sing, and he decided it would be fun to be able to join a church choir.  So each Sunday he and I went to a different church in town.  There were a surprising lot of them.  This was my introduction to Protestant theology and liturgy—largely southern style.  To my ear, none of the singing was exemplary, though sincerity couldn't be faulted.

One day, after such a service, we were approached by a nice lady who asked us if we would join them for Sunday dinner.  "Them" was a husband and a fair daughter.  Neither Gordon nor I was in pursuit of girls (we were usually too simpleminded and unfocused  for that), but this was a promising development.  So we agreed.

We joined the family in their mid-nineteenth century house with its Victorian-Edwardian furniture (as I now see it, but then it all just looked "old").  The black woman who was the servant brought out a roast chicken, rice, etc.  I eyed the rather small bird, figured various cuts and how they would be distributed to serve five people, two of [whom] were ravenous for real food.  Papa carved the bird, placed the white meat on the platter for serving and sent the dark meat back to the kitchen—food for the servant but not the master.

Alas, it was a sparse meal indeed.

More enterprising and older souls in our detachment headed whenever they could to Hot Springs.  There "booze and broads" were available.  We innocents remained in town.

One day, in December I believe, it snowed.  It had been years since there was enough snow to permit snowballs, sledding, etc.  The college students went crazy, rolling in the snow.  They were all area students, and some had no memory of real snowfall.

It was about then that I heard for the first time Bing Crosby's recording of "White Christmas."  There, in a an alien (for me) land, away from home, where snow did come, but only rarely, the song had the poignancy that ensured its clutch on my (and so many other) memories.

We  were able to gain a three-day pass for or in conjunction with the Christmas period.  Some headed to Hot Springs.  Gordon and I headed to his home in Lawton, Oklahoma, where his father, an engineer, worked for the Army at Fort Sill.  We had to take a bus south to Texarkana, another bus across north Texas to Wichita Falls, and a third bus to Lawton to the north.  It was an endurance trial, crossing Texas at night in the equivalent of a school bus.  But we made it, spent about a day, and returned.

Perhaps the most memorable experience of the four months was the flight training.  The instructors were a gruff-rough lot, veterans of the seat-of-the-pants type of piloting.  Mine was a sour type who hummed, whistled and sang truculently while watching me make a fool of myself.  He periodically would scream at me through the one-way acoustic earphones and he pounded his fist into the panel in front of him.  He had the front seat, I the rear, so all his behavior was visible.

The first time up he did a few acrobatics, and when he put it into a tight spin, I managed to throw up in my part of the plane.  I think I had to clean up the mess once we landed, but the rest of that day was a blur.

I had been up in an airplane only once, a five or ten-minute ride my father took with me, in an open cockpit Stearman when I was ten or twelve years old.  I did not realize I had a decided proclivity for airsickness.  From that first flight in Arkadelphia, I fought airsickness on virtually every other flight I took in Arkadelphia, and throughout my flying duty until Dramamine was created and available to me (in 1951).  But curiously enough I never threw up again.  I developed a host of stratagems to avoid it, and found fresh air the best—not always available.  But in Arkadelphia, we kept a window open for me and so I survived.

I never soloed, for that was not part of the program, but I did garner about ten hours of pilot experiences in 1943 in an ancient Piper Cub.  It was that experience that confirmed for me that I should not try to be a pilot.  I was not really a natural flyer.

What else about Arkadelphia?  Well, there was the fact that I was a member of the Book of the Month Club, and I received books in the service (until I went overseas).  After reading them I sent them on to either my folks or my sister.  I recall the look on an officer's face during inspection when he saw Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights neatly arranged alongside my geography and other schoolbooks.  He stared at me, as he fingered the quartos with their fancy binding.  Then he went on.  Perhaps he said something in a kind way to acknowledge that he too read books.  At least I think he did.

Well, the time came to move on.  It was February, we "graduated," and headed to San Antonio to the classification and preflight center (at what is now Lackland AFB I believe).  Here we would begin our serious training, though still on the ground, for flight duty.

Preflight: Randolph Field, San Antonio TX

We simply called it Preflight, and we considered ourselves to be "in San Antonio, Texas," though we saw precious little of that city.  My recollection of the four months (from February 1944 to June) of my training is curiously amnesiac.  Preeminent is my recollection of learning the Morse code—much dit-dah-ing—constant physical training (could it have been twice each day?), and being quarantined for six weeks because our barracks suffered from outbreaks of chicken pox and mumps.  Everything else is a blank or dimly remembered (imagined) experience.  Of the latter, I'm relatively certain that it was here I first had firearms instruction, with the rifle, carbine, pistol (.45 automatic) and submachine guns.

The Morse code training was a curious experience insofar as one went from the conscious translating of each letter, to aural recognition of a letter as a pattern of sound, to recognizing groups of letters together, though we were given totally random six-letter "words."  I became tolerably proficient, but since I never really had to use it, it left me in time.  Today I have no recollection of the code.  So much for bravely communicating with fellow prisoners in some bad novel or TV show (or comic strip).

I suspect it was also in Preflight that we were taught aircraft recognition, using models but mostly brief flashes of silhouettes or actual photos.  Apparently that too was satisfactory.

Physical training was constant.  It was essentially calisthenics, obstacle course, and constant running (in our GI shoes).  We ran miles, in formation, here there and everywhere.  Given my natural incompetency as an athlete, it is surprising that I not only survived, but did adequately.  It did harden me and improve my stamina, but not especially my disposition.  One can get a bit belligerent as one becomes more physical in lifestyle.

The exposure to firearms was not totally novel, since I had used a .22 rifle at the U of I in conjunction with ROTC, and had handled rifles since high school—handled but fired only blanks.  But using worn out .30 caliber Enfield rifles, .45 automatics and a submachine gun were new experiences.  Curiously, I did best with the Thompson submachine gun.  I had miserable success (if that is the correct term at all) with the pistol.  It was one hand only, and I couldn't control steadiness.  And to think that was to be my "protection" if I became a flying officer.  As for other instruction, which I am sure I received, I recall nothing as this is being written.

As for the quarantine.  That was an overriding experience which may account for the lack of clarity of other events.

Once a contagious disease was diagnosed, we were isolated from the rest of the camp.  We lived in a double-barracks, and so I suppose there were about 120 of us in double bunks on the two floors.  Once in quarantine, we ate in isolation and quite separate from others, we took our schooling and physical training separately, and so forth.  We could not attend the post movies [or] go into town, and I believe any toilet articles we wished to buy were bought by a deputy who ran these errands.  We were in forced training without any safety valve.

Each time the quarantine neared its end, another "case" was reported, and the quarantine was extended.  As I said, it was at least six weeks duration.

Finally, things began to turn ugly.  Initially pranks were played, by one floor of the barracks vs. the other.  Raids were mounted to create havoc—and to let off a dangerous head of steam/frustration.  Then, disagreements on a floor began.  We lived in a kind of open cubicle, where four bunks (two double-deckers) and a table and open closets formed a "bay."  The bay was "home," and even this last retreat began to disintegrate.  We were arranged alphabetically, so Gordon [Eriksen], my good friend from Arkadelphia, was in my bay.  Yet he and I began to quarrel.  It got to where I automatically sprang at him over the table in utter frustration at what I am sure was a totally trivial matter.  That was a sobering experience for me, and such incidents must have finally reached higher echelons.  Special efforts were suddenly expended to provide us with entertainment and diversion.  And believe me, even a soldier or officer with some sort of advanced parlor trick or routine was wildly appreciated.

Finally, there were no more cases of disease.  We were out of quarantine, and could begin to act like all the others, go to the post movie, the PX and even into town.  A now totally faded photo shows three of us in the front of the Alamo.  A street photographer doing a cardboard version of the tintype (with inadequate fixing) took "instant" photos of soldiers and tourists in front of the Alamo.

The experience of the quarantine gave me lasting insight into the thinness of the veneer of our civilized behavior.  No wonder prisons don't rehabilitate.  And it was only for a relatively short period; yet dehumanization, building on the depersonalization of the military life, was quick to set in.

There is one silly but true story of my Preflight days that deserves mention, since it was so outrageous in many ways.

It occurred while I was involved in one of the regular PT sessions.  I was called out of formation and told to go to some company/squadron office.  So, sweaty and alarmed, I reported in.  I was told a man wanted to talk with me.  This obviously was a deeply serious matter.  An older, distinguished looking civilian ascertained if he had the correct Aviation Cadet—namely me—and then informed me he was the Encyclopedia Britannica salesman.

Some time earlier, exactly when I don't recall, I had found a coupon in some magazine or something, and sent it in hoping to discover how much a Britannica set would cost.  I had been elevated from $30/month to $50 when I became a cadet in San Antonio, and I was saving money via war bonds, but felt I could handle payments to an encyclopedia.

I had wanted such a treasure for years, and I guess the ad I answered said easy payments over 18 months (or two years or something) would buy a set.  And perhaps there was a GI discount too, to sweeten the offer.  So, I wanted to know more.  I expected to get a brochure, not a civilian invasion of an airbase.

I never learned whether the military was aware of this salesman's objectives, or perhaps he lied and told them that he had to bring me a personal message.  Or very possibly the military found it so unbelievable that a cadet on his way to combat—sooner or later—was going to buy a twenty-four volume set of an encyclopedia, they said why not.

So there I stood, dripping sweat, smelling of heavy exercise, listening to the full pitch, for Britannica salesmen went through these elaborate, fixed-path routines.  It was, I thought, a fair deal.  I got a coupon book, and after payment of the last coupon, the set would be delivered to my parents for safekeeping.

I paid off eventually, and still have the encyclopedia.

Finally it was time to be classified as being admitted into some program: pilot, navigator, or bombardier, or being washed out.  We had taken various tests, and had gone through Preflight.  What the criteria was to pass or fail, or to be assigned to a given program if a "pass," I never learned.  Our preferences were solicited by rank-ordering the three programs.

Nearly all of my fellows wanted to be pilots.  I don't recall anyone wanting to be a bombardier.  I, and perhaps a few others, preferred navigation school.  In fact, I put pilot last.

Then, finally, the lists were published.  I was classified for navigator, as was Gordon [Eriksen].  But first we were scheduled to go to gunnery school.  Bomber aircraft had had their armaments increased once the United States had gotten deeply involved in combat.  Nose and chin turrets had been grafted onto the heavy bombers, beside other weapons.  Bombardiers and navigators were being pressed into service as gunners when the need arose.  So off to aerial gunnery we went.

Gunnery School: Harlingen TX and Matagorda Island

Gunnery School was near Harlingen, Texas, very near Brownsville and thus the mouth of the Rio Grande River.  This was about a six-week program, four on training devices and learning how to handle and clean, etc. .50 caliber machine guns.  Two weeks were out on the gunnery range on Matagorda Island.

Harlingen is fixed in my memory—the base, not the city—as the most roach-infested place I have ever been.  That and black widow spiders were everywhere, and we learned to shake out our boots [and] shoes before fitting them on, and keeping [a] hand on our drinking mugs while eating to keep the roaches from going for the sugared tea or coolaid [sic].

The training devices, a type of film projection with simple ways to determine ability to lead and track, were sort of fun and frustrating.  The session out at the gunnery range bordered on the edge of disaster.

The island was infested with rattlesnakes and scorpions, among other vermin.  The guns were so worn they refused to shoot straight.  The aircraft—B‑24s—were so decrepit they were usually unavailable for flying duty.  The only potable water was at the mess hall.  We carried canteens to last the day (one quart).  While there were lister bags in the field, the water was so doctored as to taste dangerous (though we were told it was safe).

We discovered how dangerous shotguns were, and we had to use them to learn about leading and tracking moving targets—clay pigeons at first.  Then we learned to use the weapons while riding on a flatbed truck which went around a track: the task of hitting moving targets from a moving platform.

We shot pedestal .50 caliber guns at targets.  We learned about turret mounted guns.  And finally, we had a little bit of time in a tail turret on a B‑24.  I recall doing that only once, but it was enough.  Between the placement and my propensity for airsickness, I preferred midships and lots of air from the side openings where pedestal guns were placed.

Somehow or other, I survived it all, and even managed to get into Matamoros for part of a day.  Some of my associates hurried to visit the red light district to see the fabulous Rosita, who put on a display that exhibited her anatomical parts most calculated to satisfy the simple enthusiasms of young airmen.  Others of us, more moral or more naive, or even more frightened, did the more benign tourist bit.  I even bought postcards.

When gunnery school was over in July, it was the end of a series of experiences preparatory to the "real thing."  Next would be flight training of some sort, which if successfully completed would result in a commission.

Unfortunately, some did not complete gunnery school in a satisfactory fashion.  Basically, poor marksmanship could wash you out of the entire program.  One so caught was Gordon, and when we parted we never saw each other again, nor was there any correspondence.  The impact of the division and the life afterwards brought this temporary friendship, like so many others, to an abrupt and permanent end.

One episode at Harlingen is worth mentioning.  It was soon after we got to the base, early in June, that there was unusually heavy air traffic—transports—that was remarkable due to its density.  Soon we heard of the invasion of France; there must have been some sort of connection.

Furlough to Chicago

It had been thirteen months since I had been drafted.  I was now nineteen and a half, and had survived all sorts of things.  But nothing really bad happened to me.  And, while at gunnery school, no one had been killed (to some astonishment since accidental deaths there were not uncommon).  We discovered that we could obtain a brief furlough before starting navigation school, and I finally had a chance to go back home.

A more seasoned member of one group, who had been in the service about eight to ten months longer, having switched to the cadet program, advised us on furloughs.  He had had at least one.  He said his furlough began as soon as he exited the gates of the base, and that every moment had to be savored.

He was a very wise man.  But I had not learned very much about how to live it up, and I was about to go from the tip of Texas to Chicago by train—a civilian train.  It was wartime and the invasion of France had begun.  It was really a matter of surviving difficult travel circumstances, crowded and ill-kempt.

While I [remember] fragments of experiences of traveling by civilian trains during the war, I cannot link but two to specific trips.  On one I recall arriving in St. Louis, having to catch a connecting train.  The two trains were at opposite ends of the platform that crossed the ends of the tracks like the bar of a T.  I raced madly, dragging my barracks bags (I guess), and just barely made it, entering the last car by the rear door as the train was ready to move out.

The congestion and confusion—and a rather bittersweet sense of romance—infiltrated all train travel to where it was always a sense of ordeal, adventure, the thrusting together, briefly, of disparate lives.  I think I sat on someone's suitcase for most of one day—possibly on the trip to Chicago from Harlingen.

Well, I did arrive, in late July, knowing that in a very few days I had to return most of the trip to go to San Marcos, Texas, where I would attend navigation school.

My photo-scrapbook that my father made for me contains a few pictures from that visit.  It shows a thin, yet young and awkward cadet, who was not really back home, but only visiting family, relatives and a few friends.

I recall, vaguely, that one or another of my former high school friends was in town, perhaps still civilian.  I don't remember.  But we went out together.  He knew some girls and we had a truly innocent evening of sitting on the beach somewhere along the lake.  A little innocent boy-girl interaction that now seems depressingly like a bad beach movie of the 1950s.  I was in uniform, had learned how to shoot a variety of guns, and had learned how to run miles and to eat totally unpalatable food.  And perhaps six or more months later I would be in combat, probably as a replacement for a navigator lost over Germany.  And I was still a wet-behind-the-ears kid.  Circumstances were outstripping my personal development.  Maybe that is why young boys make the best soldiers.  That is, they are the ones who haven't yet developed a sense of self, or thought seriously about the meaning of the particular situations confronting one.

In rather short order I was heading back to more training, but now much of it would be in the air.

Navigation School: San Marcos TX

The airbase at San Marcos, Texas was one of a great many in that state.  San Marcos is midway between San Antonio and Austin.  We were scheduled to start our training [in] the first part of August 1944, and it was a fifteen-or-sixteen-week program.  We would graduate, if we survived and did not "wash out," the end of the third week of November, or close to that day.

The first four weeks were day and night [classes] and no passes to leave the base.  Our instructors were a combination of former combat navigators who [had] completed tours of the 8th, 12th, etc. Air Forces, and were rotated back to the U.S.; and bright recent graduates who either filled gaps before they went to join units, or who were otherwise pulled out of the direct line of operational work.

I still have my notebook and navigator's information file from that experience.  The lessons covered a variety of fundamental subjects and practical experience.

We flew regularly, about 100 hours of air time, usually in four-hour training missions.  There were three student navigators, usually an instructor, and a pilot.  We were in twin-engine Beechcraft.

My propensity for airsickness stalked me on every flight.  I obtained a gallon can from the mess hall, fitting a twine handle to it, and used it as a "caddy" for pencils, dividers, etc.  I figured I could dump them quickly if I needed to throw up.  Perhaps having that "security can" meant I was less tense, and despite frequent bouts of nausea, I never threw up.  Once or twice I stretched out in the narrow aisle to recover my internal equilibrium, but I managed to get through each mission.

Why did I continue if I knew I'd get sick?  First, I guess I'd seen enough to realize I'd rather be an officer than an enlisted man.  Second, the theoretical aspects of navigation really interested me.  And third, I guess I was afraid to make waves by violating the rules of the game.  They could wash you out, but you didn't quit.  And you avoided volunteering.  A low profile was the key to survival.

Survival didn't mean avoiding "flaming death."  Survival meant staying out of trouble, any kind of trouble, whether from one's "mates" or from the establishment.  Your mates—so to speak—could turn on you pretty quickly, and it was easy to learn what bothered various people.  If you didn't want problems, your avoided the actions that caused them.  As for the establishment, you did what you were told to do and tried to remain anonymous.  Some people "stuck out" for one reason or another, and so those of us who didn't could be even less evident.  And that meant survival, or the least amount of hassle.

If I became airsick, especially violently or frequently, I would become vulnerable in two ways.  I'd become a recognizable individual in a world where it didn't pay, and I would become a questionable cadet.  So I carried my security can as a navigator's tool.

We were all issued briefcases and watches and with blank charts, maps, instruments and all such, the clutter of a gallon can was not significant.  And it served a useful purpose so it caused no comment.

As I said, I found the theoretical basis for navigation interesting, and it wasn't difficult to master—on the ground when not moving.  But in the air it was increasingly difficult to stay ahead of the inexorable clock.  While we flew at only about 130 knots, it was possible to take too long to calculate a time to make a course change and thus fall behind, sometimes to disaster.  Combat aircraft would be faster and thus there had to be speed and accuracy if one was to guide the aircraft rather than track its position.

This really came to a head when we got into night celestial navigation, perhaps the most challenging aspect of the program.  I had learned my stars, and I could make fairly good three-star fixes in ground exercises.  I recall the first time I got into the astrodome (or rather looked out of it) to locate my first star for my first fix.  I was awestruck by the rich field of stars, a veritable carpet of twinkling lights far greater in number than I had seen on the ground in the middle of the airbase.  I never made any sextant shots because I couldn't locate the stars.  The background interference was too great.  Eventually I got acclimated.  But then there was the need to "shoot the star."

We had three different sextants, only one [of which] was reasonably accurate to use if a neophyte.  But we used all three.  The first two required an averaging based on making marks, the third was self-averaging (a mechanical computer using a clockwork).  However, using a bubble for a level, and centering the star from a platform that moved in four different ways, was a time challenge.

We had a training device (a kind of planetarium setup) which we used, and this proved to be as difficult.  But the extent we could master this set us apart from the pilots who all seemed to feel that navigation was easy—and it was, for pilots who flew over the same terrain day after day (or night) and learned every visual or radio landmark.  And in the clouds, we were all dead reckoners or users of the radio compass.

But there was more to navigation than knowing where you were.  We also had to be able to reach a particular point at a predetermined time.  We also had to determine the degree of drift caused by the wind, and if possible, through two wind-drifts readings, to correct our wind information.

Even today, as I write about this thirty-eight years later, I find it the most easily remembered aspects of those years.  I wouldn't try to use a sextant to calculate a position now, but the reasoning—the need—is still clear.

The pressure to learn it all, to get through in time, [was] acute.  The war in Europe was far from won, though now being fought on the continent in Europe.  In the Pacific, no end was in sight.  Presumably we would be in some combat unit early in 1945.  So it was push, push, push.  Consequently the details of one mission or another, or one day's lessons, are not remembered.  The pressure though is vividly remembered.  And interruptions in the routine.

One occurred around the end of the third month.  We were in a competition for an extra day off or something tasty like that, and the squadron with the best performance in getting out, etc. etc. (in military routine) would win.  It was possible that we could win.  Being out promptly—as near instantaneously as possible—for formations was a factor.  So we were all clustered by the barracks door poised to spring out.  And on the signal (a whistle?) we poured out.  I was literally propelled through the door by those behind me and pushed off the porch platform (about 16-18 inches high) and landed in a strange way, to the sound of a loud "crack."  But the need to make the formation kept me going.  I think we did well.  [But] by the evening it was mighty difficult to walk, for my ankle (right one I think) had swollen.

The next morning I was virtually immobile in that I could put no weight on my foot.  The ankle was the size of my calf, or so it seemed.  I was clearly injured, and perhaps the ankle was broken.  Ah me.

The charge of quarters (CQ) or someone called for an ambulance to take me to the hospital for sick call.  I hopped out and into the ambulance, a creature filled with pain and despair.  I hopped into the sick call room where I sat on a bench waiting to be called.  Finally I saw the flight surgeon—or whoever—and he asked me what was wrong.  I showed him my gross ankle and told him the bare facts (I was pushed by accident off a porch).  He agreed it might be broken.  An X-ray was needed.

So where was the wheelchair?  There wasn't one.  Where was X-ray?  A very long walk down long corridors.  How do I get there?  That was my problem.  And good cadets don't make waves.  I figured I could crawl, but using the wall I slowly balanced myself down the corridor, and finally reached X-ray.  And no one thought it strange that a presumed ankle break was on foot (truly singular) on the way to confirm it.

Well, it was a bad—bad—sprain, not a break.  I was hospitalized for a week.  More than a week and I wouldn't be put back in my program for a month.

It was like being in a strange college dorm.  The ward was large but there were only about eight or ten of us.  The nurse was very unmilitary, a kind of older sister-type.  She actually made fudge for us once.

One of my ward companions was an older man, a cook, who had hurt his back and being overage was likely to be discharged.  He was Greek and proudly proclaimed he know the Andrews Sisters.  He told us a story.  When he was cooking for enlisted men, he was distressed by the regulation supplies for seasonings (basically salt, pepper, and onion).  So he arranged to use some special funds to buy some herbs and spices to make things taste better.  And of course they did.  In fact, they tasted so good the officers transferred him to their mess.  And now he was going to return to civilian life because of his back.  In many ways it seemed fitting.  Well prepared and good tasting food was out of character in the military.

And that brings me to a recollection of packages from home.  Somewhere, in some mad genius of a public relations/advertising person's mind, the idea that fruitcake was ideal to send to the men in service had been born and spread.  So regularly my associates received boxes in which one found, often in a can, a leaden fruitcake.  Whatever the condition of our normal mess, a fruitcake (usually commercially prepared to ensure its heaviness) was not welcome.  The undigestibility, the cloying sweetness, the quantities made fruitcake less appetizing than the Army's bread pudding (a frequent dessert).

On the other hand, on those rare occasions I received a package, what was there to find?  Little pastries with homemade jam, covered with chopped nuts.  Even the plain cookies my mother made were flaky and moist.  My mother was a fabulous pastry cook.  She was OK but not distinguished in her other culinary work, but she was from that part of Europe where pastries were an art form.  Her recipes were ordinary and frequently American; her results were exquisite.

When I got a package, I was a most popular fellow.  I had to share for practical reasons, but the good will was also worth the effort.  I suppose my mother's pastries made my life much easier in the service because I gained a wide respect because of my potential for delectable largess.


In the course of writing this current material I have had occasion to read some material relevant to the events of World War II.  It was/is purely coincidental, and not particularly germane to my experience except insofar as the sequence of great events in the war [is] concerned, such as the invasion of France in June 1944, etc.

But as I read in that memoir of the 1940s, I am struck by how insulated I was from both the news of the day and the public's reaction to it.  I now realize I seldom read a civilian newspaper, almost never heard the radio, read very few books, and only an occasional magazine (like Yank or Time).  What I know about the progress of the war was in the form of briefings by public information officers and prepared films to alert us to the nature of our enemies and our successes in the field (or in the air—[or] at sea).

We were kept so busy (often with busy work) and so tired that the subtleties of life and politics outside the base were of no interest.  And even though I had been well sensitized by a high school teacher in matters of International Relations and the League of Nations and such, and even though I had followed both domestic and foreign news when I was a high school and a neophyte college student, I was now quite ignorant.

We were largely too young to vote (under 21) in the units I had been assigned to, and too programmed by the military to be reached by those interested in persuading us to vote in some way.  And so we were truly ignorant.  I think I can safely assign my ignorance also to others, for I recall no meaningful discussions of policy or politics until after hostilities ended.


It was thus that I approach the conclusion of my training as an aerial navigator.  Near the end of our formal schooling in this specialty it was clear that we would graduate.  The only critical questions were: (1) whether we would graduate (individually) as Flight Officers (equivalent of Warrant Officer) or as Second Lieutenants (the distinction was important); and (2) where would we be sent.

We were issued money for a uniform allowance and placed  orders through the post exchange for officer's clothing.  Near the end of our training, we also took a curious test.  It was a visual discrimination test, where we had to pick out numbers and symbols in a circular field from a "background" of visual interference.  It was a black and white variant of the color blind tests.  I'm not sure we were told what the significance was at this time for the test.

Finally, it was time to graduate.  Just prior, it was necessary to have still another physical examination.  I then discovered that I had an impacted lower left wisdom tooth.  And it had to come out.  Filled with considerable uneasiness—actually fear—I went for the mandatory extraction.  It was done swiftly, with little discomfort, and the worst part of it all was the horrible sounds of cracking, splintering and the like which filled my skull.  A squadron picture shows me tight-lipped and swollen, but scheduled to graduate.

And in the third week of November, I was discharged as an enlisted man and appointed as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.  Graduation, in the base theatre, was a simple formality, with envelopes containing the requisite documents and a pair of navigator's wings.  Some salty older officer (the base commander or such) addressed us.  The gist of his remarks [was] that though we might think we were hot shot aerial navigators, we best not think that way because we weren't.  Put simply, we were not very good and certainly not experienced, and if we wished to survive we had best remember that.  Prophetic words then scorned.

One of the last activities we had as a student squadron about to graduate was an overnight pass to have a party—in Austin.  The memory of that party is dim for two reasons.  First, I suspect it was a rather trivial kind of "being let out of school" high jinks with nothing notable happening.  Second, there was booze being dispensed.  Where it came from or who paid for it I cannot guess.  I suspect we all anted up an amount for the party that someone managed.

It was then common to mix cheap blended whiskey with Coca-Cola or ginger ale as a "highball."  A sweet but killer beverage.  I, who had only occasionally tasted a little wine, usually sweet, or a little beer, was now being handed sweet-tasting highballs.  Whatever I had was too much.  I have a vague (then and now) recollection of throwing up in a janitor's slop sink off the corridor of the hotel.  At least I had a hangover the next day to ensure just punishment for such bold behavior.

But then I would soon learn to hold my liquor and even to need it to fend off the incredible boredom that would accompany so much of my remaining military service.

Radar Training: Boca Raton FL

I was graduated, but where was I to go?  We knew we were either to go into a replacement or an operational training unit.  If the former, we were scheduled to end up going to a unit already operational, needing navigators to replace casualties or men who had completed their twenty-five combat missions.  If the latter, it would be to join a unit that was being assembled for the first time to enter combat.

The former could mean either Europe or the Pacific; the latter, the Pacific only in all likelihood.

My orders, and that of two others in my squadron, were instead to be assigned to still further schooling.  The orders read (and I am looking at them as I write this) that I was assigned to Boca Raton Army Air Field for assignment to Radar Observer (Bombardier) Training.

So that was what the visual discrimination test had been for.  And off we went, back to Florida, though this time in the late autumn—a not particularly nice time of the year in Florida, but better than summer.

Boca Raton had been the most exclusive resort club on the Florida Atlantic coast; between Palm Beach and Miami Beach, it presumably had the advantages of both.  We, however, arrived too late to be housed in the club building.  It was now off limits and we were in some rather wretched tarpaper-covered wooden one-story barracks, heated by two [coal] stoves.  And as things turned out, we needed them.  So, though officers, we were housed as enlisted men, and perhaps the only acknowledgment in the housing was the use of single cots instead of bunk beds.

Airborne radar's early military history was not too clearly known among us.  It had been kept secret, to the extent that the code term "mickey mouse" had been used in overseas communications.  Thus, my reference to the radar set was the "mickey set" or such.  Radar operators were "mickey operators" or "mickey men."  It was still largely this jargon that was used in our training in late 1944.  All our materials were classified either secret or at least confidential, though surely by now the Germans at least had captured sets from shot-down craft.  Presumably the sets were to be destroyed if such disaster befell a crew.  The key, as we understood it, was the development of a comparatively compact unit with adequate power source, including the small but powerful magnetron that produced the radar beam that was then directed by a rotating disk antenna that replaced the belly gun turret in B‑17 bombers.  The radar operator shared the radio room (windowless) just behind the bomb bay.

The radar set was capable of a 200-mile range (minimum) and with a 3° beam, definition was coarse.  (All of these figures are from memory, now rather vague about such details.)  As I recall we had a five-mile "scope" with a repeater forward for the navigator to look at and thus see whatever the operator placed on the screen.  It was actually a navigational tool first; but with care, one could identify on close range details of the terrain and the built environment such to bring one's aircraft over a target.  There were some range markers which, in conjunction with tables used by the actual bombardier, could be used to feed info to the bombsight so one could correct for speed over the ground such to hit (one presumed) the target with a bomb load.

In many ways the entire activity was much like playing with a wonderful toy that, however, tended to malfunction a great deal.  Coupled with now being an officer who could leave the base with some frequency, life was considerably improved.  We went into Miami Beach about once every three weeks for a weekend.  We stayed in small second-class but nice hotels and generally acted as grownup and world experienced as actual age and experience allowed for new—very new—officers.

We did our flying in B‑17s and one can only say that they were undoubtedly the last large military aircraft that was designed first as a flyable aircraft rather than as a platform for heavy loads and too much equipment.

Training on the ground was largely how to use the equipment and to understand the principles behind the apparatus.  Air time was devoted largely to learning how to interpret the scope and to learn how to manipulate the controls to adjust antenna, intensity, etc.  Actual electronics or the care and feeding of the instrument was left largely to the technicians.


I fell into the company of more sophisticated people, and I think one had a car (or how else did we get to Miami Beach?)—I simply don't recall except I looked as sharp as a nineteen-year-old could in belted trenchcoat and "crushed" cap.  The sophisticated ones went looking for girls as well as drink.  I was still learning how to drink whiskey (usually Scotch with soda—what else?).  Messing around with girls was obviously something that occurred after I learned how to be "a man" in a bar.

Since I tended then to look less callow than the other nineteen-year-old servicemen who were still untested by the strain of combat, I guess I passed muster.  Certainly no one ever questioned my age, but then considering the city and the places we frequented, no one cared.  And curiously enough, I was never solicited by a woman (or a man for that matter) even in places where certainly such creatures were around.  Either I had a barrier of an attitude or of insensitivity.

I should add here that I did talk with girls, with women, and continued my modest "beach party" ways of being a wholesome kid away from home.  Furthermore, almost everyone I knew in the service at this time was much the same.  There was plenty of talk but very little action or even dating.  We were transients and strangers.

One day there was a notice of a dance being given by a nearby girls school (was it Palm Beach?) and officers were invited.  Off we went to mingle with Miss Peach Blossom (or Cotton Boll) who was in a finishing-type school.  It was deadly, though everyone tried to be just perfect.

Mickey Rooney and Ann Rutherford were as alien to our lives as Irene Dunne and Cary Grant.  We seemed left out of some sort of normal development, and I more than most, I suspect.  I had always been awkward with the girls, though I bravely tried.  My father arranged for dancing lessons when I was early in high school (or late grade school).  Then in high school I attended the ROTC Military Balls, and took dates and danced.  But I somehow lacked either the skill or the zest and it was a chore rather than fun.  In my one year of college, there were similar affairs of dances, etc., but I found them lacking in appeal.  It wasn't that I had missed puberty; I seemed unable to put into pleasant action what healthy young lads—including me—felt.

Nonetheless, I worked at being—as best as I could—a young flying officer about town.  It was a dance in Miami, I think, where Louis Prima was the band leader, that I was mingling and dancing (as best I could) with the nice young girls who were being hostesses for this affair.  "And where are you from?" the sweet young thing asked as we danced.  "Chicago," I replied.  She was so horrified she stopped dancing and pulled away.  I assured her I was not a gangster.

The officers club—a miserable affair—on the base was a place to pass the time, improve on one's skills with slot machines and in drinking capability.  It was here—in December 1944, I believe—I heard "Lili Marlene."  It seemed singularly fit as a song of the period, and it along with a number of others, whose names I cannot recall, are immediate triggers that send me back fleetingly for a déjà vu memory when heard again—though heard only rarely now.

APQ‑7: The Eagle

Our flights took us over water a great deal, and one became familiar with the appearance of the Bahamas and even Cuba.  In a very brief time, about two months, our training on the AN/APQ‑13 radar set was completed.  But then a number of us were told we were to continue for another month and be trained on the AN/APQ‑7 set.  Perhaps it was about then I realized I was slated for B‑29s and the Pacific.  I'm no longer very clear when first I knew this, but it must have been at about this point.  I have no idea why I was selected, perhaps it was simply a count-off of some sort.  In other words, somewhere in the months previous, a projection had been made that for the developing strength of the 20th Air Force, which was made up [of] wings, each with groups consisting of squadrons, a certain number of flying personnel with certain "occupational specialties" were needed in accordance to a calendar for getting the squadrons prepared.  Thus when it came time to integrate X number of radar operators (or whatever) into the flow of personnel, X number were expected to be ready.  In the case of radar operators, bombardiers and navigators were sent to a two-month training program such to produce the requisite personnel on time.

If one thinks about it, it is much like following a recipe for a multi-course meal.  You have to assemble your ingredients and process them in a certain sequence such to have everything ready at the same time.  In our case, quality of ingredients was less critical than a sufficient quantity.  So I must have been in one sense surplus as a navigator (re: total needs as Europe began to "wind down") and had graduated when the need for radar operators was growing.  So off I went to Boca Raton.  Another class earlier or later, and who knows where I would have gone, or even if into radar.

So why wasn't I heading to a replacement or operational training unit after finishing my two-month APQ‑13 training?  As I learned later, this was the standard aerial equipment.  Why training on the APQ‑7?

The AN/APQ‑7 set was a radical change from the APQ‑13.  This set for training purposes was installed on B‑24 aircraft.  The antenna was not a disk that rotated, but rather a wing that was placed under the fuselage just before the bomb bay.  It was, if memory serves me, about eighteen feet long, and thus rather prominent.  It did not rotate.  The scan was sixty degrees forward, and the movement of the beam was accomplished by a compression-expansion of the wave guide.  At least that is how I remember it.  The operation of this antenna was rather complicated and I never really understood it.  And neither did a great many who were expected to maintain it in correct operating order.  So why was it used, and why were we now asked to learn how to use the set that displayed its data?

In contrast to the APQ‑13, the APQ‑7 had a rather narrow beam.  It thus permitted, in contrast, remarkably fine definition.  The distinction is much like trying to print a meticulous still life using either a large or a small brush.  The small brush provided a way to execute precise lines, edges, etc.  So with the transmitting beam.  The thin beam sweeping past a fixed reflector was in the "light" only briefly and thus sent back a reflection of shorter duration.  Since the beam swept across the reflector we got a "point" reflection (or non-reflection) instead of a "bar."

The set in the ship was basically a large box with scope included, accompanied by smaller power units below it.  The Q‑13 had scattered components with the scope hanging from a bucket.  The sweep on the Q‑7 was much like watching a windshield wiper work, with the bearing at the bottom.  But in contrast to the curved top of a wiper track, this was squared off such that one had area-distortions the farther from "dead ahead" one got.  It was a bit like the Mercator projections distortions as one reaches the higher latitudes.  All of that seemed clumsy and inadequate when it came to the APQ‑13.  But there was one advantage.

Because of the narrow beam, the APQ‑7 could produce an image that had such incredible definition that in the terrain one could trace small streams and see relief impossible on the Q‑13.  As for a built environment, one could actually see the runways of the airfield and each individual aircraft on the ramp or moving on the taxiways.  Whatever its problems and limitations, we had a way of seeing the ground in great detail in the dark or through clouds.  And those were the safer conditions for the aircrews.  We had an instrument that might permit precision bombing at night if the crews could learn how to coordinate to do so, and if the radar operator could obtain the correct image definition and interpret it.

As I write this in 1982, I can't help but think I was playing the first video game and didn't know it.  Here, speed too was important, but gaining definition of detail and interpreting visual data had to be done before one could attempt to hit the target.  Sitting in the dark, high in the air, with one's nose and eyes buried in a radarscope, twiddling knobs, only occasionally glancing at dials, maps and such, talking to one's colleagues by microphone and earphones, does turn the deadly business of dropping lethal explosives into a game-like situation.  And in training, the exercise was much like shooting at targets with beams of light, for we dropped very few practice bombs.  Cameras or ground radar tracking stations were used most of the time to tell us how near or far we were from our targets when "bombs" were released.

The training was about four weeks, and during that time several things stick in my mind.  One was getting lost over Florida at night.  Two radar operators were aboard for training missions.  If a mission lasted four hours, we would alternate two hours as navigator-bombardier in the nose, and two as radar operator in the radio/radar area behind the pilots.  One night I started at radar, and when we switched, I thought I knew precisely where we were.  Only nothing I could see out the windows made sense.  The city lights inland, or the navigational light beacons, seemed totally wrong for where we were.  I had no radar repeater (none was used with the Q‑7) which by now I could read like a whiz.  So for two hours I labored, hoping to locate finally where we were.  I never succeeded.  So the old colonel at San Marcos graduation was right: I wasn't really ready to navigate a ship.  Of course the situation was a bit like having been blindfolded for about five to ten minutes after looking out at a lighted terrain, and discovering we not only had moved perhaps thirty miles but it was now pitch dark.  And every five minutes that went by, we were another twenty or more miles farther away.  It was a humbling experience.

Another was nearly falling out of an airplane while not wearing a parachute.  We were equipped with chest packs.  That meant we wore a harness to which we attached with clips a pillow-like bundle that was the parachute.  Because it rested on one's chest, it was difficult to impossible to work with our instruments, equipment, etc. while wearing the parachute.  So we unclipped the pack, but kept the harness on.  That habit extended to even when we did not have the excuse of working.  I recall being in the waist of the B‑24 one day, perhaps it was after bombing practice over an island in the Bahamas, looking out the open gun bay, when the pilot put the ship into a tight turn.  That momentum required the plane to bank steeply and there I was, more or less standing horizontally, poised over the large open waist window with only centripetal force keeping my position fixed so I was attached to the floor (that now was vertical).  And of course my parachute pack was out of reach.  The fact that we were over water made no difference to what would happen if the pilot let the plane slip in its turn.  Out I'd go and after several thousand feet, water or earth would be immaterial to me as I landed without benefit of an open parachute.

After surviving that moment of insight as the turn was completed properly, I was rather unwilling to be a bold but foolish airman.  I wore the parachute pack or kept it in hand or touching me at all times if it was possible.

My third related experience was having to participate in a search for survivors of a ditched aircraft in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida.  As we tracked back and forth in a defined pattern over our assigned section of the ocean, I realized how hard it was to be sure one did see everything one was supposed to see.  No one in our group of aircraft saw any signs.  Much later, when in the Pacific, I read some reports that stated that virtually no downed airmen were found once twenty-four hours elapsed after going into the sea.  The finding of Eddie Rickenbacker had been a statistical impossibility.  I realized slowly but inexorably that danger was not necessarily direst during action.  One could simply have equipment failure, or run out of fuel, and have to bail out or ditch an aircraft.

I had absolutely no desire to "bail out" and never, never did want to or have to.  Crash landing or ditching was, for me, a better alternative, though that caused considerable doubts when rehearsals were conducted. Fortunately, that too I avoided.

I have one other memory of my stay at Boca Raton that might be worth noting within the context of this narrative.  It got cold that winter, and there were several below-freezing nights.  I recall ice on puddles.  We ran the coal potbellied stoves at full blast.  They were cherry red, and I'm surprised we didn't burn down the barracks.  Nevertheless we were cold cold [sic].  I dug out my retained enlisted men's long john underwear, wore them with socks, gloves, and put my coat over the blanket while trying to sleep at night.  And I remained bitter cold.  The anomaly of being the coldest I had ever been because of inadequate blankets, etc. while in southern Florida was one that had a deep impression on me.  Only one other time since then have I been so chilled that I had trouble thawing out, and that was in California in 1951.  That too was service-connected and the story belongs to a much later episode in this narrative.

Two Leaves in Chicago

Well, training was completed, and I was to report to an operational training unit in Nebraska where I would join a B‑29 unit.  But I was permitted to go by way of Chicago and enjoy a few days of leave.  It was early in March.

I obtained the necessary railway tickets and went out to the base platform that served Boca Raton as the station area.  Finally the train ground to a halt (it could not have been a regular stop for the streamliner) and as I pondered where I was to enter, a door opened—a single door—I was told to hustle over to it, and as hands haled [sic] me up while I clutched my B‑4 bag the train began to move,  I doubt that it had stopped even a full minute.

With this second visit home, I'd been in the service about eighteen months.  I was twenty years old (barely, since my birthday was at the end of January and it was now only March 1945) and a rather freshly minted second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, fully entitled to wear a pair of wings over my left pocket.  I had also managed, by the strange lottery of how assignments were made, [to] remain in the comparative safety of the United States and its training bases.  So my parents had been relatively free from the worries of those parents whose sons were "overseas," as was the case with my cousin Ernest Temmer, who was in the Pacific area and had been for two years or so.  And I was an officer, which I think pleased my father greatly, but that was never overtly shown by action or deed.

I have no real recollection of the specifics of that brief stay.  Apparently I had a photo taken at a professional photography studio, and undoubtedly visited with family.  By then, all my acquaintances of my age were in service or dispersed—or forgotten.  I do recall, however, walking up to my high school to look around.  Possibly I went there before, after graduating in June 1942, but I doubt it.  Now, approaching three years after and everything quite different, I ventured in.  I guess I thought the uniform and the increased age would isolate me from that former life to where I could be just a visitor.  Perhaps I saw several of my former teachers, but I recall only one brief contact.  That was Miss [Christman], a math teacher whom I knew through the "math club," and perhaps one course in geometry (it isn't worth trying to discover when and what).  The result of my brief visit to say hello, and the discovery that I was a navigator, led to my doing a brief chalkboard talk for her class on the geometry of correcting for wind drift while flying.

As I write this, I realize that that may well have been my introduction to being a classroom teacher (in contrast to making a report in class).  Wonder of wonders that I see it so now.  Obviously I enjoyed showing off my new knowledge as well as my status as a "flying officer."

As things would turn out, I was back in Chicago in May on leave, and so I'm not sure whether the events of that leave are not intermingled with the March "delay-en-route" to Nebraska.  In any case, I think the abovementioned wind-drift lecture belongs to March, as does a "night on the town," provided me by my parents and the Ruhigs (Rose and Bela Ruhig, Rose being my mother's first cousin and important support in the 1920s for the immigrant arrivals that were my parents and sister).

It was dinner at a Hungarian restaurant that my memory insists was called the Blue Danube, though that may be a pure invention on my part.  Actually there was a fairly large party of people, and lo and behold a young lady of suitable age (and background) was present with her parents.  Rose Ruhig, I suspect, was the key instrument in all of this, but someone (perhaps the girl's parents) was arranging a match.  I recall her name was Mildred Butkin.  She was a comely brunette, but from another world in many ways.  We were very nice to each other, and made thereby all the elders (whom I realize were younger then than I am now) happy that we got along so nice.

If I am correct that this occurred in March it helps explain a couple of dates I had with her in May, because I doubt that I would have worked that fast at being a swain.  But maybe it was all crammed into the May leave.

One other Blue Danube restaurant memory (the only time I ever went to the place) was seeing a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy across the way, or perhaps he was a full lieutenant in the Navy.  It was Eddie Albert.  I gathered from the knowledgeable elders that he too was Hungarian.  I wonder if that is true?

B‑29 Aircrew: McCook NE

But it is now time to board the Denver Zephyr and to head to McCook, Nebraska, via Omaha.  McCook's distinction is that it was founded as a railroad division stop midway between Omaha and Denver.  Its population then was about 8,000 and though it was a county seat, it was without much attraction to the airmen at the airbase.  North Platte, sixty-five miles to the north, was far more attractive as a lure to lonesome soldiers; but more on that later.

I arrived at McCook to join an aircrew that was waiting on me (as were others waiting on their radar operators) so training could be completed before heading to the Pacific to take part in the great air assault on Japan prior to the invasion of those islands, after the B‑29s had done their job.  Of course that sort of knowledge was not mine at the time.  All I knew was that I was going to see close up, and actually be a crew member on, the B‑29, the biggest bomber operational.

As this point in my narrative of recollections, I have the benefit of a history of the 331st Bombardment Group (VH) [Very Heavy] that I received in November 1945.  Thus recollection is reinforced by a compact record.  I rely on the latter, since it ensures accuracy where now it is of some importance.  If earlier I was vague, or perhaps inadvertently inventive, it changed nothing concerning the intent of this story (which was to illustrate the life in the service of the ordinary individual).  I did check my scrapbook and my personal file to confirm approximate dates and the like, but I've tried to avoid making too much of the eyewitness aspect of this sort of exercise.  It really isn't important today, nor for anyone who might later read this.

As for the "official history" of my Bombardment Group, it is important as a source only to the extent that it enables me to place my late arrival in it, and some subsequent events, into a proper perspective.  Them, I knew little of the earlier or correlative stories, and cared less.  Now, it helps me to understand some things.

I was assigned to the 356th Squadron, and the 331st Group was part of the 315th Wing of the 20th Air Force.  As it turned out, that Wing had been assigned a very special task, which had not been transmitted to the Group until it arrived at McCook, Nebraska in late 1944 to begin its operational training on B‑29s on the 1st of January 1945.

Instead of being a conventional B‑29 and crew unit (eleven men, five gun turrets, and the APQ‑13 radar), this 331st Group and all of the 315th Wing was to fly stripped down (only tail turret) ships with ten-man crews, and the APQ‑7 radar set.  The Wing's mission was to fly at night and destroy Japan's oil refinery capabilities using radar-directed bombing.  That and nothing else.  Stripping down the ships lightened them, and thus they could fly farther (and return) than conventional B‑29s.  The tail guns were retained, I suspect, because of psychological benefit, to reduce a sense of being vulnerable fighters.  The tactics as they evolved had ships flying serially one by one, over the same bombing point, so we did not use formation flying.  How this was to be ensured so there was no midair collisions at night, after reaching a target after eight to nine hours of flying, I don't recall, or I doubt I ever really knew.  The ships took off thirty seconds apart!

Anyhow, there I was, arriving after the crews had been flying together for several months, two [months] in B‑29s. The remaining part of this training period was to do the simulated and practice radar-controlled bombing.  It had to be done in about two and a half months time.  So I was the new (and last) kid to arrive on the block, and I was the one who had the baseball, so to speak.  They all knew each other, but I was the one who made the crew whole, who was key to the success of the crew's bombing accuracy.

The airbase at McCook was a tarpaper village of no redeeming qualities.  Southwestern Nebraska was an eroded, unattractive terrain, especially at the tag end of winter.  But my crew proved to be pleasant folk, who seemed genuinely glad to get, finally, their radar operator.  Shortly after settling in, they were scheduled for a night training mission with no radar requirements.  Indeed, it was as I recall on a standard B‑29 with the APQ‑13 located aft of the rear turrets and the fire control station in the rear pressurized cabin.  I was invited to go along for the short ride (I think it was making practice landings or some such).

I still did not know my fellow crew members, and so I was really a passenger on the flight.  I had a chance to see the rear compartment as well as grasp the enormous (then) size of the craft in contrast to the B‑17 or B‑24 aircraft I knew in Boca Raton.  The APQ‑13 radar section was quite large, actually lavish in a sense, with a substantial deck and ample room to store my gear.  This was on the port side near the rear hatch of the pressurized cabin.  Opposite, on the starboard side, were two bunks, simple canvas shelves that could be folded against the bulkhead.  B‑29s were long-range aircraft, designed to fly at least 3,000 miles without refueling and to carry a ten-ton bomb load.  Meant to be a weapon to weaken Japan by flying from distant island bases, it was in some important ways more sumptuous than other bombers, if the word sumptuous even applies.  The interior was "upholstered," padded may be more correct, to deaden sound and I suspect for insulation.  The two cabins were pressurized, so oxygen masks were unnecessary even at high altitudes [of] 30,000 feet or more.  The cabins were connected by a tunnel over the bomb bays and the wing.  I seem to remember 38 feet was its length, and one had to crawl on one's elbows and knees.  Near the front cabin, which housed the bombardier, two pilots, navigator, flight engineer and radio operator, was the astrodome, so one sat in the tunnel entrance, feet dangling, to sight the sextant.  The rear cabin sheltered three gunners and the radar operator, and there was a tail gunner in his own but isolated pressurized cabin.  At least, this was the conventional arrangement.

On the modified ship, the radar operator was forward, we had two "scanners" rather than gunners, and a tail gunner in the rear.  The bubble gunner windows on top and sides of the rear cabin were removed.  No projections existed and small circular windows in the side permitted the scanners to check engines, gear, etc. from their position.  The four remote gun turrets were gone as well as the gunsights in the bubbles, further stripping the exterior of resisting projections.  Indeed, this was the only way to get a seventh person (radar) in the forward compartment.  The rear compartment was quickly named the ballroom, being largely unoccupied.

The former gunners, now scanners, had various technical assistance duties both aloft and on the ground, but they were without much to do during the missions.  The tail gunner stayed with them until time to serve as rear lookout and to man his turret when near or in areas of possible fighter interception.  His was a very lonely position, truly isolated when back there in flight.

But back to my first onboard experience.  I stood much of the time while the shop was flying, and looked occasionally at the instruments by the Q‑13 radar, to check altitude.  I wasn't listening to the intercom, I guess I didn't yet have a headset, but then I was a "passenger."  Suddenly, as we passed below 2,000 feet we touched down for a landing.  Oh yes, to my great surprise, we landed at well over 1,000 feet of altitude.  I, who had just come from Florida, where we flew out of a base at about twelve-feet elevation, was suddenly introduced to the high plains.

All I got out of this unexpected landing while standing was a rude surprise, and no injury.  Another crew about that time, flying in a B‑17 from the Gulf Coast or such, forgot and literally flew their ship into the ground, as the latter rose up to their attitude (perhaps 1,200 feet).  No one was killed, fortunately, but it was a grim reminder that navigators had all sorts of responsibilities, even when flying in the friendly beacon-equipped U.S.

The Members of Crew 6B6

What was my crew like?  As I eventually learned, aircrews were roughly in the 20-to-26-year age bracket.  I think the oldest regular crew member—a sort of gramps—was 29 yeas old.  While I was only 20, I was not a baby, though I was one of the smallest among the personnel in general.  I base this on parachute sizes, since we now wore backpacks, and in training used stock issue picked up before each flight.  They were organized by size of the harnesses which (while adjustable) were sized.  Later, we would have our own, with a quick release latch for overwater use.  These were all "one size" but easily adjusted.  I mention size, because my crew had, I guess, the smallest of the aircraft commanders, and the largest of the pilots (pilot and co-pilot).  It was a true Mutt and Jeff combination.

The aircraft commander was Hercules Pettis, a Greek-American married to a Greek-born wife.  He was short, thin and wiry.  He was a first lieutenant when I joined the crew.  He was from Florida.

The pilot was Charles B. Clawson, Jr.  He was 6'4" tall and weighed about 225 lbs.  He was then a Flight Officer.  A frustrated fighter pilot inside, his size made that impossible.  He was from Pennsylvania.

The navigator was Blair C. Archer.  He had some art and industrial arts training, though I'm not sure he had a degree.  He was married and had a very small/young daughter.  He was from Minnesota or Wisconsin (the former I believe).  He was a second lieutenant.

The bombardier was Wayne F. MacFarland, a person who had been in the service much longer than I had been, as had Pettis, but was also then a second lieutenant.  He was from Seattle or thereabouts.  He had somehow managed by the luck of the bureaucracy to miss being put on an aircrew headed for combat until now.  He used to say, "Stick with me and we'll never go overseas."  When that occurred, he switched to, "Stick with me and you'll never see combat."  As it turned out, he was nearly right in both cases.  It was uncanny.

The flight engineer was Technical Sergeant Donald E. Allen.  The radio operator was Charles V. Badger.  The scanners were Robert W. Phill and Lester H. Raven.  The tail gunner was Edward E. Thomison.  Because of the segregation of enlisted  men (the last four were corporals) except when flying, I never really got to know them very well.  As I think on this, it was sharing quarters, not duty, that made for friendships—at least to where one knew people as people, not as positions.

Before going overseas, Clawson was made a second lieutenant and MacFarland was promoted to first lieutenant.

The nature of our special mission made it imperative that the five-officer crew work very closely together to guide the ship in its bomb-run, and to get us to the initial point for it.  In the revised interiors, the navigator shifted to where he sat on the hatch to the nose well, facing to the port, and used the navigator's station (on the old arrangement) sideways so to speak.  The instruments were rotated for his use.  The radar man sat facing backwards where the navigator used to sit, and his equipment filled the space to the rear of the compartment.  With the turrets gone, this freed space for personal gear that hitherto filled the space "behind" the navigator, now occupied by radar.  The arrangement gave radar the window formerly available to the navigator, who [now] had none.

The configuration meant that if I rotated on my tiny "typing" swivel chair seat, I could face forward and talk with the navigator.  On the other side was the radio operator.  Sort of across from where the navigator now sat, but a bit forward, and with a window, was the flight engineer, facing rearward, but that had not changed.  In a forward and somewhat lower level was the flight deck for pilots and bombardier. They could be isolated at night by a blackout curtain permitting us to use small lights to see and work by.  They needed night vision, we didn't.

It was a strangely cozy arrangement, and made life more bearable since we could have eye contact with several people, though conversation without intercom was extremely difficult.

So, in March I was phased into crew life, flying the B‑29, and filling in the squares that showed our training accomplishments.  We had a variety of exercises of all sorts, including some navigational work by me, to conclude.  When all was concluded, we would be ready to go overseas.

A key aspect of the B‑29 missions was to master economical (for these craft) fuel usage while toting heavy bomb loads long distances.  Indeed, in retrospect, this may have been the most difficult aspect, and one I was not involved in, in our training.  One could get to target easily enough, but there had to be fuel to return to base.  A lot of the effort was in dealing with rpm, altitude, air speeds, climbing ratios, etc.  None of this I understood, but I observed the procedures to where I could appreciate the problems the pilots and the flight engineer faced, and their capabilities in meeting them.

We flew at first on the 3,000 miles using bomb-bay tanks, thus ensuring a reserve (and a simulated bomb load) and then a way of seeing if the crew could cope with not needing them.  The problem was a real one, and thus the capture of Iwo Jima was not only security for damaged aircraft, but for those in danger of not having adequate fuel to reach Tinian, Saipan, or Guam, the island farthest south.

Vernam Field: Jamaica

Vernam Field had been loaned to the U.S. by the British as part of the fifty overage destroyers deal (or so we were told).  Our crew went to Jamaica to carry down a load of forms—paper forms—and other such "critical" supplies.  When we arrived, having left Nebraska in the chill of late March, we were shocked by the tropical lushness.  It was a curious experience, and then to our surprise we learned we were not to return immediately to Nebraska, but stay.  However, that decision was not made for five days.  Thus, each day and night in our perceived tropical paradise was one long party prior to departure.  By the fifth day we were tottering for lack of sleep, and no doubt proper nourishment.  How we could have flown safely back is questionable.  Perhaps it was our dissipated condition that argued we stay and run through the Gypsy Task Force program.  The local rum mixed with Coca-Cola was the mixture that was favored.  It tasted like Coca-Cola but not with its rather benign effect.  But we adjusted, reduced the party aspect and returned to training.  My, we were hardy and resilient when we were so young.

We bombed with practice bombs, and did various other chores, none of which remain clear in my memory.  I do recall rather vividly seeing the several Caribbean islands on my radar scope.  I also recall one hair-raising experience of doing a practice bomb-run at 30,000 feet (with 100 lb bombs) when to our pilots's horror another aircraft was doing exactly the same but from the other direction.  We had morning and afternoon directions to avoid the glare of the sun in the bombardier's eyes.  The other aircraft had failed to switch to current direction.

The pilots of our ship could not maneuver, not knowing what the other pilots would do.  Drop our nose, our tail would go up, and so forth.  Closing on each other at near 700 miles per hour there was nothing left but to hope out altitudes were sufficiently variant.  The other craft skimmed over us, and a shadow was cast by it within our cabin; it was perhaps fifty feet above us.

Pettis, out aircraft commander, was absolutely livid with rage.  Once calmed, we returned immediately to base to lodge bitter complaint.  How it turned out I recall not, but it was brought home to me again that danger was not a factor of only enemy action.  Danger existed where we least expected, and often we could do nothing to cope.

While in Jamaica, we had one trip to Kingston.  A small gasoline (diesel?) powered trolley-type car ran as a train into the capital.  We boarded with much anticipation, only to receive a handout of contraceptives and prophylactic materials.  This heightened anticipation for some.  I, however, was still sexually retarded, though I had been treated to numerous verbal accounts of exploits by my experienced colleagues.  I also had been instructed with intense frequency on the dangers of venereal disease.  I was even familiar with the anatomy of the female, but little else.  So I felt more like a tourist than a stereotypical serviceman heading into Sin City (which I gather Kingston was).

We did see Port Royal (the harbor area) and a friendly cab driver knew a club to take us to.  The Springfield Club was, I gather, a classy brothel associated with a bar.  But despite the obvious temptations, we were largely immune to the blandishments of the ladies.  One young girl, Irma, was a very attractive creature.  She refused to be photographed but talked freely of her choice to be one of the most popular whores of Kingston.  Perhaps eighteen years old, she explained that in any decent job (presumably as a clerk or secretary), she would have to "put out" for the boss to get and keep the job.  The pay was not much, and she would be providing sexual favors for free.  So she decided she might as well get paid for the favors, and paid well, and pick whom she wanted to bed.  And young American airmen were more to her taste than the local businessmen.

It was then—and remains—a plausible story.

Well, we returned to base wiser but not necessarily more experienced.

Maxwell Air Base: Montgomery AL

After a month in the tropics we were scheduled to return to McCook.  Our orders were to do so via Maxwell Air Base near Montgomery.  After arriving (it is now late April 1945) we went into town.  I recall visiting the Alabama Capitol building, and going up to the interior of the dome.  All sorts of initials had been written on the base of the dome, usually in lipstick.  When I mentioned this to the guide/guard, he shrugged.  He said, it was their capitol, so why not?

That evening (or the other way around, with the capital experience the next day—I don't remember) we went into town to eat.  Pettis was looking for a Greek restaurant.  Whether he had a contact or not I don't know.  But he said he could tell a Greek restaurant by name.  He found one, and we trouped in.  He asked the waiter to call the owner, and when the latter arrived, Hercules spoke to him in Greek.  After that, and we never knew what tale Herk told, we were ushered into the owner's office and drinks of Canadian Club whiskey were provided.  That was hard to come by, and was clearly private stock.  Then we were feted with a steak dinner.

I learned another valuable lesson, about the sense of kinship some ethnic groups have, and especially the Greeks.  We were strangers, and only our leader was Greek, but we were all welcome and treated with grace and courtesy  If anything, I appreciate that experience more today, now thirty-seven years later, than then.

Back to McCook and to Chicago

Once back to McCook it was more training flights.  We had two brief interludes then or later on, of going to Denver one weekend by train, and to North Platte by bus.  Denver I recall only in that we visited or stayed at the Brown Palace Hotel, and we looked at the Rockies from an observation deck on some building.

North Platte was memorable for all the wrong reasons.  The U.S. highway was a gravel road.  We had heard that the Pawnee Hotel was filled with willing young girls.  But I think we stayed at the Cody since the Pawnee was filled.  Or something like that.  I had heard of places where young girls threw themselves at servicemen, to do their part for the war effort—making soldiers happy.  Perhaps so, but I certainly saw little of that.  Indeed, all the crazy activity tended to be isolated cases of women who seemed anxious for permanent arrangements with officers.  One such case at McCook had a heavily endowed but plain woman who had followed "her man" to Nebraska, and all he wanted to do was dump her.  She hung on.

It was hardly an attraction for the inexperienced Romeo such as I was.  All of my contacts were more like bad Andy Hardy films without the charm.  I was awkward as a swain and the girls were equally simple.  Either that, or I wad the least perceptive person in the military.  Perhaps the latter, but I think not.  Those were more innocent times than today, though I was undoubtedly an extreme case then—and even now I suppose.

We knew we were soon to go overseas.  We had missed VE Day while in Jamaica; we were not so taken by that war ending because we knew our destination was with Japan.  We had no wild parties or anything.  More memorable was the death of FDR while we were in Jamaica.  The announcement interrupted a theatre performance—some sort of USO troop as I recall.  That raised all sort of questions concerning the unknown new President—Truman—but the end of the war in Europe seemed unimportant.

Well, men going overseas were given free embarkation leaves.  So home to Chicago I went in May.  Perhaps this was the trip on which I went to the Blue Danube, but I'm certain I did visit with Miss Butkin on this leave.  We went to the circus with [her] little sister.  We also visited a couple more times.  She was a nice girl, and we got along, but there was no opportunity for a meaningful friendship to develop.

She had some sort of small party for several of us.  I recall I had purchased somewhere a striped tee shirt, in red and white, to wear.  I could do so only under my uniform shirt, but it gave me a sense of daring to be different.  We simply were forbidden to be out of uniform, or whatever issue clothing was correct (e.g. flying suits).  I recall taking off my jacket and shirt to be, in the privacy of Mildred's house, a "civilian" in my tee shirt.  It was the first break in two years.

One of the friends at the party was a very attractive girl named Francine.  I recall nothing other than she did catch my eye, to the comparative disadvantage of Mildred.  I suspect I thought Francine was a stunner.  But she had a boyfriend somewhere.  And soon all of that evaporated when I returned to base and thence eventually overseas.  Perhaps Mildred and I exchanged a couple of letters and then that was all over.

It was on this trip home that I gave my father a present.  I was long aware that in Europe he had owned an Omega pocket watch, "the size and thickness of a silver dollar."  He had sold it along with other valuables to muster passage money to travel to the United States.  His memory of that watch was one that touched me deeply.  So when I saw such a watch in the PX in the base in Jamaica, I bought it.  It cost the equivalent of $40 American and it was both duty-free and with a military discount.  It took almost all the cash I had on hand (since I hardly anticipated staying in Jamaica when we flew in, and besides, what was there to buy?).  But this I had to have.

My presentation of the watch I think took my father totally by surprise.  He was, I think, deeply touched.  But he never wore the watch, or did so very seldomly.  Once, long ago in Europe, he was a clothes horse, a fashion plate.  Now, he was [as] remote from that as hardships and years of toil could bring him.  He almost never wore a suit (though he had one or two).  And he claimed the watch would be damaged by his working with furs.  So the watch remained in a drawer.

Much later, around 1954, when I decided to get a pocket watch because I was bothered by a wrist watch when working at a drafting board, he insisted I take the Omega.  After all, he said, if he had the original watch he would have given me that.  So why not this one, now?

That was my father.  I carried that watch for years, but it began to need repairs regularly.  And it was expensive to maintain.  Finally I put it away as a keepsake.  It is perhaps the most telling relic of the curiously distant but close relationship I had with my troubled and disappointed father that I could ever have.  At least he lived long enough to see me a university professor, married and with two sons.  In those ways I had earned my Omega if not before.

Conclusion (Eventually) of Training

But now I was due back at McCook Air Force Base and to conclude training.

We were, so we were told, scheduled to be one of the first crews to get our ship and head for the Mariana Islands.  But then there was a discovery that I had not made my necessary Loran fixes.

Loran was a navigational system that was very important when flying over the vastness of the ocean.  As it happened, I had made my fixes and many more.  But someone had failed to fill in the square.  So we were delayed in our departure.  Once again "fate" had intervened in my military career.

With hindsight I can see that the clerical error, and the need to have extant logs proving that I had made the "fixes" using Loran, nearly kept my crew out of combat altogether.  I did not then, nor can I even guess now, know who had "goofed up."  It wasn't me, for we turned in our logs as a matter of procedure.  But now we were shifted in our placement on some master list from the top to the bottom.

We remedied the errors easily.  We went up and flew around while I took fix after fix on the Loran set.  There must have been twenty, one after the other.  This entailed calibrating the set, adjusting knobs to bring in the signal and to measure the correct blips against a scale electronically displayed.  Then it was necessary to find the correct curves displayed on a map/chart, or to interpolate between them.  Two readings gave a fix.  If done accurately, it was the best way to locate oneself when away from terrain features, or unable to use the stars (or when one didn't have a correct time back to compute celestial data).

It was then all so meaningless.  But the irony of the whole thing became known, one day, not too many weeks later, [when] I did in fact use Loran over the Pacific Ocean and discovered that we had been blown hundreds of miles off course by a typhoon that was where it wasn't supposed to be.  But I get ahead of myself.

Staging: Herington Army Airfield KS

The ground support people had left in April to head to our combat location using surface vessels.  The air crews, and their ground crews, were sent a few at a time to pick up their aircraft, check them out, and then fly them to Guam.  I note we received our orders in late June to go to the staging area at Herington Air Field in Kansas, not too far from Wichita, where the Boeing Plant was building B‑29s.  By then, the first ships of our group (minus Pettis and his crew) had arrived in Guam.

Herington, Kansas, had nothing to recommend it to us.  We met, finally, our ship and went through the rituals that made her ours.  We were in Herington long enough to be thoroughly bored, and I recall taking the bus into town, getting off, looking, and taking the next bus back.  The base was more rewarding to the itinerant airman than the town.

Departure Overseas

Our orders came and we were finally headed overseas via Mather Field, California.  From Mather we headed out over the Pacific Ocean, heading first to Hawaii (Oahu), thence to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, and thence to Guam.  Perhaps it was only then did we know which island was to be our destination, when we attended briefings.  Regardless, the key experience was departure.

We left at night, to be sure to arrive in daylight—and plenty of it—and as we sat in the darkened cabin, screened from the pilots, and unable to see much at all from our window, it was much like any training flight.  We could hear the pilots's comment on seeing Oakland and San Francisco, but then they too could see nothing ahead.  Finally, the tail gunner, who had gone to his position for this, reported that he had lost sight of the lights of the coastline.  (I guess by then blackouts were not being kept.)

So there we were, droning along on a course set by the navigator, nothing to see on my radar screen for hours yet.  I think we sensed—I know I did—that a great adventure had started.  But it was not without fear of the unknown future, or for that matter the knowledge that our wellbeing depended on this unfamiliar, to us, aircraft.  While all seemed serene, a very large ocean was below and ahead of us.

It was with considerable relief that we finally sighted our destination, Oahu and then Hickam Field.

Hawaii and Kwajalein Atoll

Our stay in Hawaii was brief.  I seem to recall we got a chance to go into Honolulu, and my impression of the portion we saw was that of any service-dependent city, with a fair amount of sleaze.  I say I seem to recall, because I stopped there one other time (this for sure) on returning to the U.S., and such experiences intertwine where I'm no longer sure what I saw on an individual visit.  I also seem to recall going down to Waikiki Beach near the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  The most clear memory, however, was a view of a heavy woman in in Gypsy-type dress, smoking a cigar.  If not a Gypsy, she had all the stock characteristics.

Once more though it was time to be airborne.  We passed Johnson Island, heading for Kwajalein.  It was this time I think that Archer, the navigator, and I ran a noon-day fix.  This used only sun-lines before and after noon, a shift that permitted crossing sun-lines instead of the usual parallel ones.  This was my only real-life experience with using a noon-day fix, a type of fix common to seafaring, sailing-ship navigation, where one traveled 200 or 250 nautical miles a day rather than in an hour or less.

We finally made our landfall in the afternoon, since we were chasing the sun, and that was my one and only experience with an honest-to-goodness atoll.  The island we landed on had been stripped bare by the assault and then later construction.  It was a grim, austere and lonely place.  I saw nothing to suggest the fierce battle that took place other than a fragment of a Japanese sneaker, with its separated toe.  We were entitled to very little as transients, but we were allowed to buy one beer each.  It was warm and wet, but little else.  As I stood there looking out over the lagoon, sipping the beer, I sensed that "going overseas" was not all high adventures or even exciting,  It had nothing of the films we saw to "inform" us of the progress of the war, or how Marines assaulted islands or the Army mopped up.  What we had was a shabby, lonely backwater that was critically important as a transient airdrome but nothing else—now.  Yet, I was overseas.  I was secretly glad I was not stationed there, and [glad] when we left.  Were we there overnight?  I think so, but it doesn't matter.  We headed for Guam.

Arrival on Guam

The airfield on Guam was called Northwest Field, and it had been scratched out of the "jungle" very recently.  It was one of two 10,000 feet two-runway strips that served the 315th Wing (or were we all at Northwest Field?—who knows), on the north end of the island of Guam.  The pilots were effectively directed by the tower, and we landed.  We followed a jeep that guided us to the taxiway and then the revetment that was to be "our home" for the aircraft.  Engines were cut, the post-fight checklists were completed, and we piled out.  We then boarded a truck which took us to—what?

We were in a wretched clearing with tents.  We were processed in, and issued a barracks bag that contained our overseas gear, including a steel helmet; and we were directed to two-man tents  These were for arrivals, not our permanent use.  We must have then had a simple meal off tin plates, and then returned to our tents.  It then began to rain, and water ran through the floor of the tent (we had canvas army cots held above the muddy "floor" by scraps of wood—from bomb crates?).  We then discovered our bags contained one bare (in ticking) pillow and a blanket; this was our bedding.  We also learned what the candles we found in the bag were for.  Nightfall crashed suddenly.  The candles came out, but where to put them?  Our flight bags were above the mud on their thin-board supports, and I recall [that] balancing a candle on the "spine" of the bag was so placed to keep the candle vertical.  All in all, it was the most wretched sleeping arrangement I had seen in my two-plus years in Army service.

We had been on Guam only a few hours, and we were wet, depressed, uncomfortable, and disoriented.  Happily, we weren't in danger from the Japanese, but then nothing like that really entered our minds.  Rather, it was all so wretchedly crummy and so non-technology that it was ludicrous, for us who had arrived in one of the most sophisticated airplanes then flying.

Chuck Clawson, the pilot, the big fellow who wanted to be a fighter pilot and dreamed of heroics (and even had a white scarf), was not pleased with our circumstances.  He looked around and said slowly, "I don't think I'm going to like this."

As Sherman said, war is hell.  Only hell is not just the terror and shock of combat.  It is also tied to the realization that "little" things like food and accommodations are part of what makes life bearable or unpleasant.  And there [on] Guam, on the first night, it was very, very unpleasant.  Suddenly it had hit us, we were—for us—in a combat zone, though 1,500 miles south of Japan.  All of the spreading boredom of training was to prepare us for this stage.

Naturally I didn't reason it out that way then, but the awareness was there nevertheless.  In a few days, a couple of weeks perhaps, we might be flying toward Japan carrying ten tons of high explosive.  It was a sobering experience.

Life on Guam, Part I

Our first weeks on Guam were devoted to sent [sic] work and preparation for combat flying.  But first we had to set up tents in a cleared area to serve as our accommodation.  In fact the entire base was moving closer to the airways.  We, as newcomers, got the job of putting up two-man tents while our more seasoned colleagues flew missions.  Officers put up officer-tents; enlisted men their tents.  We did this for several days of arduous labor.  This time we could try for some amenities, but few were possible  We did have mosquito nets, but happily there was no malaria.  Also, no poisonous snakes or fierce animals.  But there were all kinds of flying creatures.  Periodically, the island was DDTed, but things flew nonetheless.

Food was not very good, and we ate in segregated mess halls, officers and enlisted men separately.  The food was equally ordinary to bad.  Officers could buy a bottle of whiskey a month in addition to beer at their "club."  Enlisted men were restricted to beer.  It too was rationed for all.  Thus whiskey became a much desired "currency," and beer too could buy things.  There was a whiskey/beer ratio for exchange, much like gold and silver, and more on that later.

Latrines were grim eight-holers, screened on the sides with a shed roof to shield the ever-present rain showers.  There were outdoor urinals that were pipes stuck into pits of crushed coal.  The pipes had funnels attached to their service ends.  They were of different heights to accommodate various heights of people.

Shakedown Mission: Truk

But we were there also to prepare for missions and a series of flights were taken for that.  First, there were orientation flights to give the pilots experience in taking off and landing at our field, and to allow us to discover it under varying conditions.  Then we had a bomb-run mission using the next island north, Rota.  Rota was still in Japanese hands, since it was too small for B‑29 airfields, and why bother [to capture it?]  There was a short runway on the island and a wrecked Japanese plane on it.  This was used as a target for our practice bombs.  It also was supposed to keep the Japanese there intimidated.

Next, we were scheduled to bomb some installation on the island of Truk.  This [too] was still in Japanese hands, and had been bypassed, though it had a major harbor.  This was not a practice bomb-run, though it was a sort of training mission.  We attacked at night, just as we would Japan, and our briefings, etc. were "for real."

We went off on the five or six-hour mission, knowing that there might be some flak but not fighter interception.  We also were harassing a large enemy establishment that presumably might be a problem if left totally alone.  This was in fact a bona fide combat mission, #1.

By this time we had a number for our plane.  We were Slicker 31.  Slicker identified the Group, and we were ship 31.  We had in time a large triangle painted on our tail with the 31 on the side of the ship to permit aerial identification.  The undersides were painted black, to be non-reflective for searchlights.

So off we went to Truk, combat for real, with Mac and I getting ready to do our coordinating act between bombardier and radar in dropping our bombs.  It was then that a totally new experience re: the radar set occurred.  Suddenly the sweep reversed its position (it now pivoted at the top of the scope) and I lost the "picture."  Nothing like this had ever happened before, nor had I ever heard of it.  Nothing I could do worked.  For one brief moment the set corrected itself and I saw the characteristic return for Truk.  I relayed this information to the pilots (giving us a sort of fix) but then the picture went out.  And stayed out.  What to do?

We tooled along on course until we were near our ETA for the target, and on a guess, the bombardier dropped our bomb load.  There is a characteristic "lift" as the load is released, and the radio operator and scanners told us that all bombs were indeed dropped  And I hadn't done a thing to guide them.  So much for high technology and months of training.

. . .

The problem with my radar set was to continue for as long as we had that aircraft.  I never fully grasped what was wrong, and I gather the ground technicians didn't know either.  As best as we could determine, at altitude (which was never exactly the same, but about 8,000 feet) there was condensation inside the presumably sealed antenna, and this shorted something.  On the ground the set behaved perfectly.  In the air, no one could get at the antenna.  Once, a technician opened the antenna on the ground and water drained out.  But that therapy was not a permanent cure.  I ranted and raved, even argued with superiors to tear the damned thing out and give me at least a place to lie down on the mission.  But no, ineffectual treatments continued.  The only thing that seemed sure was that at low altitudes I had a functioning set.

Back at McCook [where] we had been trained for 30,000 feet altitudes, the fierce jet streams had actually "stopped" planes re: ground speed.  On the other hand, bombing accuracy at high altitudes was not what LeMay (General) wanted.  So altitudes were being reduced.  It was a "crap shoot" if I would have a set operating on a mission.  There was no replacement set or antenna, so there we were.

It was, as I see it today, a totally typical Army way of dealing with a real problem.  The aircraft carried the equipment.  It checked out on the ground, so there was no problem to repair.  No repairmen went up on a flight, so it was only our written report (and verbal anguish falling on deaf ears) that proved there was a problem.  And if the ground condition was different, there was no problem whatever the reports said.  You can't fix something that isn't broken, and on the ground it wasn't.

Another example of this was the fact that our Group had a combat strength of 45 aircraft.  We thus had 45 crews, and each one had signed out an aircraft at Herington, Kansas.  45 crews left the United States but 46 aircraft arrived on Guam.  The colonel signed (?) [sic] for an aircraft, and command people or someone flew it over.  Actually, we never knew how it got to Guam, but it was the colonel's plane.  But we had only 45 numbers to assign our aircraft.  So the colonel's airplane had two zeros.  An army solution.  We were Slicker-three-one.  The colonel was Slicker-zero-zero, and we violated no numbering order.  And no one seemed concerned over a "lost," half-million-dollar B‑29.

Our "training" was concluded, and we were scheduled for the next mission over Japan.

Missions had been flying regularly since we had arrived on Guam.  We watched them taking off, about a minute apart, alternating on the two runways.  The heavily loaded planes needed all ten-thousand feet of runway and then just barely cleared the trees.  The base was about 600 feet above sea-level and the planes would actually drop about 300 feet to help gain airspeed once they cleared the edge of the cliffs.  We never lost an aircraft that way, but we did hear of cases where they dropped and continued into the sea.  At our vantage point we could only see the "drop," and then there was the interminable wait to see if it would reappear in the distance.  As each of our crafts went down the runway, John the chaplain blessed each craft.  More on Father John later.

"A New Type Bomb"

We had arrived in Guam in late July.  On August 7th (Guam calendar) we heard an announcement on the P.A. system strung in the trees.  We heard that a single B‑29 had dropped a new type bomb that had the force of 20,000 tons of TNT.  That translated to 2,000 B‑29s carrying full bomb loads.  Since the 20th Air Force could not muster [even] 1,000 B‑29s over Japan for a strike, the concept was beyond belief.

We talked about "the bomb," but we couldn't comprehend it as something real.  Words coming from a speaker in the trees did not erase the reality of 250 and 500 lb bombs filling the two bomb bays of a B‑29, and trying to visualize one bomb being the equivalent of 2,000 such loadings was beyond our imaginations.

One missions continued.  Curiously, I don't recall if we heard about the second "bomb."  If we did, it carried no real impact, but we realized by then that Japan had a decision to make.  If it chose not to surrender, we would be continuing our missions, and to support an invasion.  This we all knew.

Combat Mission: Tsuchizaki (Akita)

We were scheduled to fly.  It was to be a maximum effort for the Group, all available aircraft.  It was scheduled to depart (Guam date) August 14th and to attack an oil refinery in [the] far northern [part of] Honshu island, at Tsuchizaki.  This was to be farther than any Marianas-based aircraft had flown.

The briefing was a spectacular display with ultraviolet lights to cause displays to [?fluoresce] and be clearer.  We took our notes, checked our charts, photos, etc.  Then finally it was our turn to make the long, laborious run down the tarmac toward the end of the cliff.

We were airborne, and began the deadly boring run toward Japan, nursing our fuel, climbing ever so slowly to altitude.  I seem to remember that it was 8,000 feet.  And miracle of miracles, the radar set behaved and I had a picture.

As we neared the island, and it was now night, we prepared ourselves.  Mac the bombardier and I went into the front bomb bay to pull the safety pins on the bomb fuses.  Midway, we looked at each other across the bomb bay and grinned.  It wasn't a grin of glee, rather in mute recognition that Mac's pledge to keep us out of combat had finally run out.  In the rear bomb bay, the two scanners were pulling pins.  The tail gunner got into his turret.

Back in position, we prepared ourselves.  Order were that we wore flight helmets, oxygen masks and goggles to protect faces from flak fires.  We wore gloves as well.  There were then flak helmets on top of the flight helmets.  Hinged earflaps adjusted to our earphones.  I sat on a piece of a flak curtain and tried to keep a flak suit snapped together over my torso.  My parachute plus my movement kept unsnapping the two halves.

The final precaution, attaching a one-man raft as if it were a seat cushion to my parachute harness, was impossible.  That put me so high on my chair I couldn't operate the set (my position was so cramped under "normal" circumstances).  So there we were, all in bizarre and totally ungainly gear, ready for the "real thing."  It was a deadly real masquerade show.

As I recall, we ran up the east side of Honshu, offshore, then crossed to the west side to hit our IP (Initial Point of the bomb run), then head for the target.  The pilots said they saw searchlights in the distance but none near, nor was there any flak or fighters.  The assumption was that the Japanese could not believe that northern Honshu was in our range, and thus were not prepared for so far north an attack.  Perhaps this was true.  But then too, they were on the edge of surrender, unknown to our crew.

As we turned on our bomb run, my set was operating perfectly—well, almost so.  I switched on the markers that I would use to call angles for the bombardier.  It was a multiple position rotary switch, with degree marks.  I switched but no mark appeared on my screen.  Nothing I did worked.  All I could do [was] correct for course, to ensure we would go over the target.

The bombardier had fires [on the ground] to suggest the target, and so between us—I correcting the course by feeding data to the pilots, the bombardier trying to adjust the bombsight for range using fires set by earlier bombs—we made our run.  Finally, it was "bombs away" and we turned to head for safety and home.

And that was as close as I came to doing what my position and training called for.  Ironically I had never controlled the dropping of bombs except in practice missions.  Here, over Japan, I only guided by indirect means the course of the aircraft.  So much for "real combat."

The flight back, past Iwo Jima, was a deadly game between the plane and the pilots and flight engineer.  Would we have enough fuel?  If not, we could stop at Saipan or Tinian islands, but Guam was beyond Tinian by a hundred miles, and that was what we wanted to reach.

Finally we were near, and we had no recourse but attempt Guam.  The flight engineer was not overly optimistic, but we went through the turns that brought us to the runway approach, and finally we landed.  My flight record shows that we were airborne 16:45 hours.  Add about six hours preparation beforehand, and now a couple of hours of debriefing, and we were tottering with fatigue.  Red Cross ladies (gals) had coffee and donuts, but bed was preferred to chitchat and such.

Would there be more missions?  Not to drop bombs.  For the next day, Japan indicated it would surrender.

The End of the War

Once it dawned on everyone that the war had for us come to an end, there was a bizarre and dangerous celebration.  Liquor was widely available and then people began shooting off flares which all of us carried on flights to serve in case of ditching.  Flare guns were removed from aircraft, with flares.  Our crew behaved itself, though we may have shot a handheld flare or two.  I didn't; I was a terribly correct soldier.

Then the real guns began.  We all had some tracer cartridges along with standard ammunition.  The tracers were for signaling in case we were "down," and sought to alert rescuers.  People began firing pistols to see the tracers, and to make noise.

Many of us cowered in real fear of being killed by drunken Americans celebrating the end of the war.  We did survive.

Mercy Mission: The Philippines

Life on the base became curiously fragmented and indolent.  We had no direction for some time, and then we were alerted to prepare for a flight to the Philippines.  Though the war was over, large sections of the Pacific area were still in Japanese hands and control.  Ground forces were slowly moving in to assume command.  They were also releasing prisoners.  We were scheduled for a mercy mission, to fly supplies such as blankets, etc. to released prisoners, etc.

Using platforms to carry loads, these were hoisted into bomb bays, and on September 8th we headed west to the airfield on the Bataan peninsula.  Because things were still so unsettled, this too would count as a combat mission, despite our totally benign load in the bomb bays.  Our only caution was to reach the correct island and airfield, and not overfly.

The flight to Luzon and then Bataan went without a hitch, though I believe another aircraft managed to go astray and strike the highest mountain on Formosa, or was that on another occasion?  Why the hazards re: flying to the Philippines?  Simply, we were totally oriented toward Japan in our wing, and thus maps, navigational aids, etc. were for the north-south, not the west-east runs.

Well, we found our destination and landed on an otherwise barren runway.  I cannot recall seeing any buildings, and I have no idea of whether it was a Japanese or an old American airstrip.  We taxied to a parking area and our load of blankets, etc. was removed and dispersed.  We were scheduled to remain one day and then return to Guam.

I decided I would try to find my cousin Ernest Temmer, whom I had been informed by mail from home was in the Philippines and on Luzon.  So I and some others began hitchhiking to Army Headquarters in Manila by grabbing a truck ride going that way. I had, for a map, an "escape and evasion" silk map of the western Pacific area to guide me.  Actually I got to Manila very quickly, in about two hours.  I had Ernie's APO number so I thought I could identify his whereabouts.  However, the exercise was fruitless, and I managed to get a C‑47 flight back to my airstrip.  That was my only Army Air Force flight in the venerable "Dakota," with bucket seats along the fuselage.

The round trip lasted a good part of the day, and I saw a wild pattern of images, ranging from Igorot tribesmen with bows and arrows, to small donkey carts and the debris of war, and the mixture of our ground forces and native population.

Back at our strip we had cans of food, C-rations and some gallon cans of fruit.  We gathered in the shade of the plane to eat, and soon we were being watched by a group of young children, all male as I recall.  There was perhaps a dozen.  Each had an empty tin can and they were waiting quietly for our scraps.  The very youngest wore only shirts; the older ones had shorts as well.  While waiting, they sat on their small tin cans.  The bare bottomed ones had imprinted pressure circles.

That was the most intimidating meal I have ever eaten.  Cold C-rations were no treat, [but] were satisfying when hungry, which we were.  But our rations were now delicacies to the children and we knew it.  The rations also meant avoidance of starvation for them.  Presumably they were orphans; we had no way to communicate with them, for they knew [only] Tagalog, and English and Spanish on our part would elicit nothing.

Well, we ate enough to reduce our hunger.  We then opened the gallon can of slices of peach.  We each had a few and then we indicated that the children could have the leftover peaches and anything else they wanted.  One of the boys was the leader, and he then apportioned the food in a careful and equitable manner to each of the others.  It went into their cans.  Then they quietly withdrew to where they left us alone and then ate their portions.

The image is still vivid to me, nearly forty years later.  As Air Force types, we were really quite immune from the physical ravage of war.  I knew it only through the newsreel.  This overnight flight to Bataan had been a new and unforgettable experience.

While I had been hunting Ernie (who by the way was stationed on my route to Manila, and I actually passed through his area—I learned this after the war was over and we were both back in the States), our navigator had obtained some local "brew."  As it turned out, its effect was not to be felt until the next day, when he became deathly ill.

Sleeping was to be a problem, as were toilet facilities.  The latter consisted of [a] half-drum with a hole, placed on a hole in the ground.  A small canopy was over the [?entry], but it was supported on four poles.  Toilet paper was on a stick stuck in the ground.  While we were used to such "necessaries," we were not used to finding them in areas where a mixed population of natives could stand in attendance.  As it was, the "natives" simply squatted wherever they were, so to speak.  Women simply hiked their skirts somewhat.

I'm not sure any of us used the can [under] the canopy.  I believe we retreated to behind some trees.  The bowels that time around for me behaved, and my intimidation at defecating before women offset my usually fluid stool.  Urination is more a matter of "turning your back," and thus it was.

As I said, sleeping was a problem.  We had brought nothing and nothing was furnished at this desolate strip.  So we dispersed ourselves in the plane, heat and all.  It was safer and more comfortable.  I slept in the tunnel with my head under the astrodome and near the opening of the tunnel.  The pilots slept in their seats, and I'm not sure about the others.

Touched by a Typhoon

The next morning we headed back to Guam.  The navigator, Archer, upon waking was clearly very ill—the "home brew" we assumed.  But we worked together well, and we got a good fix as we departed land and headed over the ocean.  Unfortunately we could not obtain by radio, or locally, an accurate time-back, thus we were probably as much as two minutes off on time accuracy.  Celestial fixes then were virtually useless given our speed.  But there were other ways, and there were two of us to navigate.  But Archer was getting sicker and finally we just let him curl up on the one-man rafts and other gear in the forward compartment, and I took his seat.  Radar was useless over water.

So we headed east, but found ourselves in the clouds, and remained there hour after hour.  My flight record shows that we were on instruments 3½ hours.  I used dead reckoning and waited patiently to get within Loran range of Guam.

I finally was able to get signals and took a Loran fix.  It was so far off course that clearly it was wrong.  This was not 30 or 50 miles, it was more like 350 miles.  So I recalibrated the set, took another fix and received about the same results.  I was getting rather perturbed.  I waited awhile, recalibrated the set, and took another fix.  The three fixes were all in an arrow—straight line, which headed toward Iwo Jima, not Guam.  That meant we would be 750 miles off course at my ETA.  That was so far off it was nearly impossible—but not absolutely so.

I informed the airplane commander and told him I would take a couple of more fixes over the next half hour or so to check our direction and airspeed.  This I did and confirmed our course and our growing divergence from destination.  So, whatever the reason, we had been blown off course, probably while we were in the dense clouds.  A typhoon had been reported to us before our departure, but it had been hundreds of miles off our projected track.  So that presumably could not have affected us—or had there been an error in its presumed location?

Anyhow, I had to give a course correction, and I calculated a new course and new ETA.  The correction was something in the order of a 70° turn to the right, something that was hard for all of us to accept.  We were by now out of the clouds and all we could see was the Pacific Ocean stretching out in all directions.  But turn we did and droned on toward, I hoped, our destination.

I recall I had calculated we would be going near either Saipan or Tinian, the most northerly of the Marianas, and also Air Force bases.  So I determined when we would see—I think—Tinian.  Near that time I went forward, and stood between the pilots.  Finally I said something like, "In ten minutes, Tinian."  And then, sure enough, under its canopy of clouds, there it was.  We now knew our correction had been correct, and the pilots were now able to hone in on the radio for Guam.  I had brought us home.

It is ironic it was the Loran set that had saved us, and my use of it, for that mixup over my proficiency with it had delayed our departure overseas, and reduced our combat missions by nine.

After landing and reporting all of this, we learned that the Typhoon had been indeed much closer to our track than the Philippine weatherman had known, and it was the culprit.  We also learned that the B‑29 that had taken off right after us, to head back to one of the Marianas (it too had been on a similar mercy mission) had never arrived.  It too must have been blown off course, but either their Loran hadn't worked or they didn't believe it.  It was a humbling experience.

Support Mission: Japan

Life returned to its tedium.  Boredom was epidemic and all we had to do was make physical improvements to the base and to while away the hours.

John the chaplain wanted his church, and we all pitched in to help build one, complete with steeple, painted white, and with colored paper "stained glass" windows.  Where the lumber came from I don't know, but it must have been scavenged from the Navy as was the paint.  An internal battleship-gray market [sic].  We also built an officers's club the same way.  Wind-driven washing machines, boats, etc. were built or scavenged and assembled.  Movies and drinking and cards and singing filled the evenings.

We also did do some training missions to retain our competency as a combat crew.  Almost all of this is erased from memory, except for a wild scheme that our general had that involved us in another trip to Japan.  Here there is some confusion in the records and I hesitate to guess the dates and the details, other than it occurred in October.  We flew about mid-October to Iwo Jima, and from there to Japan carrying all sorts of supplies in our bomb bays.  This was to support the flight of a single B‑29 from Japan to the United States, nonstop.  The flight was to take place from the only airbase for such a heavily loaded aircraft.  Apparently the Japanese had once planned to construct some aircraft that would fly (one way) to Seattle to bomb the Boeing plant and naval yards, but nothing came of it.

The base was on Hokkaido, the northernmost island, near Sapporo.  We arrived after an uneventful flight, but one where we had a marvelous opportunity to see Mt. Fujiyama over the clouds as we coursed north along the coast of Honshu.  We landed and remained a relatively brief time while they embarked.

The whole thing was bizarre.  Apparently the Air Force had arrived there before any land forces, so the Japanese naval base (for that was what it was) commander surrendered to the totally surprised Air Force colonel or general.  We arrived a few days later.  The only people we saw, except for a few Americans, were Japanese.  They were still mounting guard over ammunition dumps and equipment.  I noticed that crates had English labels (booty from Singapore?  Perhaps).

There was complete order and no discipline problems.  The implacable enemy, once he had been told by the Emperor to stop the warfare, had become totally docile—at least toward us, their late enemy.  Remarkable.

We wandered around a bit, saw a few vandalized Japanese aircraft, and little else.  It was, for me, bitter cold.  If I read the records correctly, and if they are correct, this would have been late October, the 25th.  However, the orders sending us on TDY to Iwo Jim were cut on October 9th.  I believe the 25th is correct for the trip to Japan.

 Standby: Iwo Jima

So we flew in, and flew out, back to Iwo, the same day.  Then we were told to wait at Iwo Jima.  And wait we did.  We were there something like nine days.  We had flown in only underwear and a flight suit; we also had flight jackets.  We carried no changes of clothing or shaving or washing gear.  And there we were, growing rank and surly to boot.

We explored the island, which was in the Navy's hands.  We bought some skivvies and dungarees from Ship's Stores so we could have a change of clothing and thus do laundry.  We explored some more, including some of the caves that the Japanese used in resisting the invasion.  I did not climb Mt. Suribachi, but otherwise went wherever we could, including the invasion beaches.

The island was nearly bald; very little vegetation remained.  It was a grim cheerless place that was close to driving us, who had nothing to do, crazy.  That led us to climb a cliff and explore the manmade caves.  Going up was easy, coming down was perilous—for me.  A nervous experience I care not ever to repeat.  The caves were incredible holes which swallowed the light of our flashlights.

Pettis found some large artillery shells and insisted on bringing two back to decorate our tent.  I was—typically—worried for fear that they might be armed and thus lethal.  Pettis was less conservative, and adamant.

Our tent with army cots was nothing much.  It sufficed in a boring way.  At least it was boring until one of our party became the victim of a truly savage attack of insect bites/stings.  He had to be sent to the infirmary.  It was bedbugs in the joints of the folding cot.  He alone had sustained a mass attack.  Some months later, back on Guam, I met the critters and I could sympathize firsthand.  Then it was a case of pulling everything out and breaking down each cot to make sure the infestation was stopped.

While on Iwo, there were two incidents.  There was a typhoon somewhere, I believe on October 30th, and a B‑29 caught in it limped into Iwo to land.  It had lost both ailerons, and thus could not maneuver very well, especially for a landing.  The success was testimony to pilot skill.  We marveled at how much had been taken from the wings.  We had never seen a B‑29 without its ailerons.

Then there was the P‑47 that crashed instead of landing.  What happened we knew not.  We saw him on his final approach and then the sound of a crack and a plume of black smoke.  When we arrived the flames were out but the pilot was dead, still strapped in his seat.  Suddenly I was closer to the hazards of war than earlier, when the war was underway.

Finally we were told to go home: the flight from Hokkaido to the U.S. was on its way, and we were no longer on standby.

War Wound

We discovered on our return that several of us had been promoted.  I was now a first lieutenant.  A bit more pay, but otherwise it wasn't much of a difference.  My bars were silver, gold-plated, so I polished off the gold of the second lieutenant bars to get the silver needed, and that was that.

And it was back to the incredible boredom, which included the food.  It was wretched and monotonous.  One period of about two weeks, all we had for meat was canned salmon, which was served in various forms, none memorable except for a sameness of taste.

For one brief period we had a "mess officer" who insisted that good food could be prepared, even grilled (fried) steaks.  To prove it, he took the meat the usually ended up as stew and had it cut in slices.  Then by having orders placed while standing in line we got ours cooked to order.  The mess officer was everywhere and as a result proved his point.  But then it was back to the nearly indigestible sequence of meals that did so much damage to my bowels.  Of course, the poor beer and worse whiskey that we drank daily didn't help.

What do you do with the troops when a war is over?  The point system had been established as a formula to determine the order of return.  This was by individuals, not units.  Time in service and time overseas were the dominant factors, and that would mean the most senior and experienced would go home first.  But before that, we continued to "perfect" the base.

Flying was now reduced considerably, to just enough to maintain proficiency.  And we all got ground-related jobs to augment our duty.  I was attached to "personal equipment," which basically was parachutes and Mae Wests and rubber rafts.  I had little to do, but we were instructed to build some Quonset huts to shelter them.  I guess previously they were in a less durable arrangement, part canvas.  Elsewhere, wooden barracks were constructed for housing.  The barracks were built by others, but we helped with the Quonset huts.  About all I was useful for was to help set the floors, which consisted of 4'x7' and ¾" plywood panels that were nailed into the joints of the metal frame.

The task went forward, and did ease our boredom.  The site was near the revetments and thus near aircraft.  While working one day, the ground crew ran up the engines of a B‑29.  At full power, the four "fans" generated a great deal of noise and prop wash.  I recall turning my head to see what happened to cause the noise so suddenly, and saw instead sheets of plywood sailing through the air—at us.

A stack of plywood was close enough to the plane that the wash was literally flipping the sheets as if they were cards from a deck.  Several of us got hit by the wood.  One sheet struck two of us.  In my case it hit my left shoulder first and then my head.  I was knocked to my knees by the blow, and stunned.  I remember being unable to move, though still on my knees, and then seeing people run toward us, one carrying a first aid kit.

I finally got some sensations back and was quizzed, as were other injured people, as to how I felt, could I move, did I have special pain, etc.  Since I could see, hear, talk and move, though I did hurt, I said I was OK.  Then I discovered my sunglasses had been broken.  These were the famous glass "aviator style" that were standard issue.  They had a bow to conform to the curvature of the brow.  Mine still did have the bow, but now it went the other way.  I had taken the plywood on my shoulder and the bridge of my nose.  My shoulder and my neighbor had reduced the impact just enough to have saved my head, or at least my eyes.

My treatment consisted of some antiseptic and a bandaid for the bridge of my nose.  There was a deep gouge where the glasses had cut while bending the other way.  Why none of us chose to see the flight surgeon or seek any kind of medical aid I don't know.  Youthful stupidity I guess.  We had simply been knocked down, bruised, scraped a bit and had a few cuts.  So that was all.  Of course I now have a bump on one side of the bridge of my nose: my war wound (along with my loose bowels).  I did get some new sunglasses, but it was quite a while before I could wear them with any comfort.

Japanese POW

While working in Personal Equipment we had occasion to see some Japanese prisoners of war.  They were required to do heavy manual labor.  A trench for some purpose was being dug, and since the soil on Guam was only a few inches deep, set over coral, digging was difficult.  Jackhammers and dynamite were needed (the latter was for latrine pits: an explosion was "another latrine for victory").

The Japanese had a jackhammer and in the tropical sun he had to break rock.  I heard the hammer regularly chattering away.  I looked out once, and I saw him but he could not see me.  He would look around to see if the guards could see him.  If not, he simply leaned back and pressed the "trigger" on the hammer, which was lying in the trench.  The sound was enough for the guard who remained (where?) sheltered from the sun.

For a fleeting moment I thought I ought to do something to correct this abuse by the prisoner, but then I couldn't help but see his side of that wretched situation.  The "fanatical Jap" was a very human being, and a typical put-upon soldier.  I could relate to that and so I simply smiled and turned my back, as had the guard.

Ditching Practice and Submariners Aloft

My references to "personal equipment" remind me of one training episode which occurred soon after arriving on the island.  We were trucked to a harbor—not the big one at Agana, but on the east side of Guam.  There we were to board a landing craft - infantry (LCI).  This was an ungainly ship with two long ramps, one on each side, which could be lowered to permit getting on and off the vessel from a beach.  It was not at all like the ones used for assault that one sees in the films.  This was an oceangoing vessel.

Why were we to board it?  For ditching practice.

Our first task was to wade out and board.  Off we went.  Unfortunately the tide had come in, or the ship anchored too far out.  The water at the end of the ramp was over six feet deep.  The last few yards had to be swum, and then there was the nearly impossible task of dragging myself up on the ramp, heavy with sodden clothing.  Well, I finally managed it and was on board.

We then put out to sea: perhaps a mile or so.  Then, one by one, we were put through the following routine.  We got into a parachute harness that was attached to a cable.  We then were hoisted up into the air and the boom swung out over the side of the ship, and we were then told to prepare for release.  We were suddenly dumped about twenty feet into the water.  We had to get out of the harness (which was like our quick-release models), inflate our Mae West, and get into a five-man raft nearby.  It was really a very sensible training exercise, since we all were subject to ditching and needed to have some insight into survival techniques.

Well, it was my turn.  I got dunked, got out of the harness and inflated my life vest and got into the raft.  Great, I could do it.  Unfortunately, a raft-eye view of the sea—and the motion—was too much.  I promptly got seasick and simply stretched out on the bottom of the raft and stayed there until we were returned.  Back aboard the large vessel, I recovered.

Seasickness at sea in a raft did not worry me however.  As a person who paid attention to "the facts," I knew that the ditching reports said that if you weren't found in the first 24 hours, you likely would never be found.  The Eddie Rickenbacker saga of (was [it] 31?) 31 days was so unlikely as to not count.

To help recover ditched crew members, submarines were on station between the Marianas and Japan, and they were the best chance of recovery.  When allowed back in port, the submarine crews seemed all to want a chance to fly, to see "the other side" of the experience.  We once took several of them up on one of our training missions.  I think there were about three up in our cabin.  It always was crowded, but now it was jammed.

They were intrigued by the experience but they noted it felt like being in a submarine in the air.  The many people, too much equipment and not enough room.  But they enjoyed it.  But we did have a near disaster.

On either side of our entrance to the tunnel that connected the fore and aft cabins there were two sets of handles.  One set was to help pull yourself up in or out of the tunnel.  They were like the C-handles on a screen door.  The other handles were larger, shielded by a guard and painted red.  These were to release the life rafts above the wing on each side.  One of the submariners was returning through the tunnel and was trying to ease himself out of the tunnel and reaching blindly for something to grab.  I saw his hands reach for the wrong handles and I leaped screaming to stop him.  He must have thought I was insane, until I explained what almost happened.  The danger was that the rafts would hit and damage our tail assembly and thus our ability to control the ship.

Two things I never wanted to do [were] to bail out or to ditch.  But if I had a choice, it was ditching.  I think all of my crew felt that way.  At least then we would likely be together.

Whether it was our charity toward the Navy in giving them a ride, or whatever, we got an invite to Agana to have dinner with some Chief Petty Officers there.  We, of course, went.  They had a pyramidal tent, but just for two people instead of eight.  A cargo chute hung as a ceiling.  There were electric lights.  They had an honest to goodness electric console phonograph with great records, and electric cooking utensils.  They served steak, French fries, beer, and a superb time was had by all.  The tent was screened on all four sides for air, but it also provided a view of the harbor.  As night fell, the twinkling lights of the harbor gave us the impression of being up high overlooking a city.  It was [like a] penthouse overlooking Manhattan, and with the music [and] the drinks, the illusion was absolutely true.  A memorable experience.  But then it was back to our regular life and our barracks.

Life on Guam, Part II

Movies were one of the few entertainments, but the quality wasn't much.  They were shown in improvised outdoor areas.  Seats were either directly on the ground or on the small metal frames which protected bomb fins in shipment.  We used them as stools. It usually rained, so ponchos and helmet liners were standard gear.  As I said, the movies were not very good.  One was so bad that, bored by life as we were, we finally left.  That must have been an incredibly dreadful film which I cannot—naturally—identify now.

It rained nearly every day.  In the rainy season, it rained more and harder.  Mud was everywhere.  Things grew fungi and rotted rapidly.  Our clotheslines were of braided cotton rope, and this disintegrated [at the] most unexpected times.  A perfectly sound line would suddenly part and catapult the wash into the red mud.

We all worked on keeping clean, and laundry was a daily chore.  I acquired a five-gallon square food tin for my washtub.  Washboards were few and so we improvised.  A board wound with clothesline was a model which worked moderately well.  Some invented windmill-driven washing machines.

Water had to be trucked in, so showers were the pull-chain type.  Wet down, soap up, rinse.  If water was in short supply, no showers or laundry [were] permitted.  On some occasions we washed ourselves in the rain, standing under the eaves of the barracks to rinse.  To wash our hands and face, use a toothbrush and shave, we used our steel helmets.  A wash rack was built which had hand faucets to fill the helmet and this was placed against a brace on a shelf.  A board above carried nails, on which we could hang a mirror.  Usually this was the signal mirror we carried with our "escape and evasion" gear.

We explored Guam, at least the parts permitted.  We'd get a jeep and the five officers piled in and drove around the island.  One day clockwise.  The next day counterclockwise.  On Sunday, we made both tours.  It was thus I learned how to drive—first in a jeep and then a weapon carrier.

The barracks (wooden) contained two groups of officers from flight crews.  Ten in all.  We built some furniture.  Eventually we had electric lights from a diesel generator that powered the base.  Before that, it was gasoline Coleman lanterns.

"The Wheel and Skull House"

Finally the return listings began to catch up with our Group, and as men left for the U.S.A. it was time to consolidate the remainder and to close down half the airbase.  We were shifted to the 501st Group on the other side of the base—or perhaps it was to North Field.  Regardless, it was to wait there until the list got down to my number of points, so I could return to the "Zone of the Interior."

Before all this happened, we were at such reduced strength that I was, for about one month, the Executive Officer of our squadron.  Merely paperwork.

In the 501st, we were grouped into Quonset huts.  Ours was decorated on the outside with a wheel from a wagon, over the door.  Someone then found a skull in the jungle,  Japanese?  It was added to the exterior decor, and informally it was the "wheel and skull house."  There must have been an ex-fraternity member in the group.  Our shift occurred on the 17th of February, after one month's service as an executive officer.  From then until I left Guam there was nothing notable except for three things.

First, there was a typhoon.  It was plotted to go directly over Guam.  There was much scurrying around, boarding up things, securing the base as best we could.  Then the trucks arrived.  What were they for?  To evacuate us!  Where to, we wanted to know.  We were on an island, and while large, it wasn't that big.  Finally someone in charge saw the nonsense of the evacuation order.  It was rescinded.

In our hut we decided to cope by making whiskey sours by using powdered lemon flavor, sugar, water, and blended whiskey.  They were dreadful, but had the desired effect.  Then we put our possessions into foot lockers and under our cots.  Ponchos went on top of the cots  We went under the ponchos.  And the storm arrived.  There was a continuous screened "window" along each side of the hut.  The rain blew in one and horizontally out the other, but a good portion did make it to the floor.

Nature called—it always did, about three times a day (except when flying).  I had to get to the latrine.  So off I went.  Sitting alone in the eight-holer, I saw the horizontal rain clearly and received its force.  I also watched parts of the camp go by horizontally.  Yet there was no severe damage.  Back to my poncho-covered cot to wait.  Obviously, we all survived.

Second, there was the arrival of new, permanent, replacements.  I guess we were at North Field, now Andersen AFB.  These were personnel who had not yet been overseas, and they were either regular army or wanted to stay in.  They were to take over as we departed.  They arrived with such strange gear as pajamas and bathrobes.  They were nice fellows, but those in our hut were aliens, for our vision was directed to getting back home.

Third, I had the opportunity to go once again to the Philippines.  A colonel was being transferred there, and we were to fly all of his household gear—it was peacetime now—sort of.  This was a Thursday trip to Clark Field, in mid-April 1946.  We had ample time for sightseeing, and it was extraordinary at how the place had changed since last October.  Now one could buy anything.  How it was obtained in that broken country—especially devastated Manila—is testament to men's ingenuity and the marketplace (black/gray/other).

I got some odds and ends to carry back, including a bottle of good Scotch whiskey.  That was to celebrate our/my orders to go home.

The Voyage of the Mendocino Maru

Finally, not too long after our return from Manila, the orders were received.  We boarded an old excursion/inter-island boat to go to Saipan: the first stop.  This was almost at the end of April.  In Saipan, we had the option of flying a B‑29 back to the U.S. or taking a troop ship.  Everyone I knew, including me, opted for the troop ship.

We had been hearing rumors that the ones who elected to fly back were having problems.  Aircraft were now badly maintained; the most experienced  mechanics had all gone home in the first groups to return.  Crews were arbitrarily patched together, and thus did not have the experience of flying together.  The flight to California, with one or two stops en route, was ever so much more dangerous than my recent flight to Manila.  That was in a plane they intended to keep in Guam, and there was greater control over what was going on and in crew selection.  Not so in the case of those planes heading back to the U.S.  One count we heard had about ten aircraft lost, with most of their crews.  I wonder if that was true?  It certainly must have had a kernel of truth, but it would be almost impossible to confirm.

Troop ship it was—and officer class wasn't so bad.  Not if it was available.  But the flying part of the Air Corps had too many officers, and troop ships had not expected that ratio.  There wasn't enough space for all of us.  We had the option to wait on space, or go now in what was called "troop class."

I wanted to go home and return to civilian life, so I said I'd go troop class.  And so I boarded the SS Cape Mendocino.  [insert: We embarked April 28th.]  A liberty ship, designed for cargo, but converted to accommodate about 1,200 troops, the Mendocino was a far cry from the Queen Mary-type troop ship.  It was my home for eighteen wretched days.

Our ship was quickly retitled the Mendocino Maru.  The choice was natural.  While waiting for our departure, we saw a demilitarized Japanese cruiser (?) which was repatriating Japanese personnel who had been bypassed in the island-hopping invasion; I suspect they were from Truk.  That vessel was brim full with people.  We were told that each person had the space of one tatami mat, and every horizontal space on that ship was assigned.  It looked, in the harbor, as if it was infested with people/vermin.  Everything was crawling with people.  It was a wretched sight, one I still see.  And since "Maru" was the second half of the binomial identifying Japanese ships, that vision plus our experience on the SS Cape Mendocino led us to see ourselves as the U.S. equivalent.  So Mendocino Maru it became.

As first there were only about 530 of us onboard, almost all officers.  I no longer recall whether we began in the rear or forward hold, the only difference was we shifted to the other in Hawaii when they loaded another group, filling the vessel.  In the one hold we were five deep, in the other three deep. The bunks were pipe frames, less than six feet long, to which a canvas pallet was attached with rope lacing.  Distance between bunks was 18".  This was no bedding, and life preservers were the pillows (sic) [sic].

The ship was carrying cargo, small arms ammunition, in the bow, and thus was strangely balanced.  The ship pitched wildly, such that the screw regularly came out of the water.  When it did the entire vessel shuddered.  Add the rolling [and] it was surprising we didn't become motion sick, but fortunately the weather the entire time was benign.

Rumor had it that the vessel's captain was a former POW, and this was his first command since release.  I correct myself.  He was a civilian, so the term should be "internee."

We averaged about 300 nautical miles a day (we usually did that in our aircraft in an hour), and so we began to go "loony" wanting to get across the Pacific.  There was nothing to do, and not much space if we wanted to.  Cards, chess, etc. occupied time.  We got two meals a day, standing at tables in the "mess room."  The food was impossible.  One memorable day we got, for one of our meals, a slice of head cheese and two pieces of white bread.  That was the meal.

Toilets were malfunctioning, and there was very little toilet paper; we used tissue paper [that had been] used to wrap fruit, [of] which (as I recall) we got one piece a day.  Showers were salt water, of course, and for that we used a special soap.  People took to "doing laundry" by tying a line through a trouser leg and shirt sleeve, and throwing it over the side to be towed.  And so it went, day after day.

When we arrived at Oahu and were given a day's leave, a delegation of "passengers" complained to someone in charge about the ship's condition and the food.  For the last leg (to San Francisco) things were better on that score, but we had a full ship then, and that provided other problems.  Before recounting them, to return to our day's leave.  We went into Honolulu, rented a car and drove around.  We went over the Pali (I drove down!) and in general spent the day sightseeing.  In Honolulu I recall very little (was it then I saw the Gypsy woman, in costume, with a cigar?).  The switchbacks on the Pali I remember.

Back onboard the Mendocino, we watched them load about 1,000 enlisted men.  It turned out these were reform school types who had the option of being freed if they enlisted at age eighteen.  So they did.  They were untrained but uniformed, and they were being sent to the U.S. for training.  We were engulfed by a bunch of delinquents, and suddenly nothing on the ship was safe.  Anything could get stolen, and was.

Arrival and Departure

Well, it was another five days and we went under the Golden Gate Bridge.  There was an interminable delay getting us debarked.  Photos were made of the ship in port with us aboard.  The wildly cheering group are the delinquents from Hawaii.  The glum group are those who boarded in Saipan.

By the time we finally got off, there was no evidence of any reception party (if there was one to begin with).  We crossed the pier to get aboard a ferryboat, to go to Oakland.  This was, I gather from my orders, the 18th of May.

As we started out across the bay, we saw two vessels collide, in broad daylight, in the harbor.  So much for pilots and navigational aids.  We finally got into Oakland and were in some sort of a processing center.

That night, a bunch of us went into San Francisco.  We felt cold, so we wore our flight jackets (which we were allowed to keep) and scrungy suntans and GI shoes.  We were not elegant; we were returned-home veterans, and while not particularly combat weary, we were fatigued but ready to party.

So we went on a pub crawl in Chinatown.  The temperature was probably in the low 60s, but we were wretchedly cold after months in the tropics.  The entire "adventure" was less than exciting, but it was a celebration of sorts.

Back in Oakland, we were put on a train to go to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin.  I suppose we were sent by regions of residence.  Camp McCoy would be my separation center.  There, on the 25th of May, I was given orders sending me back home.  I had 28 days of leave accumulated, and on the expiration of that I would be a civilian officially, but for all practical purposes I was through once I left Camp McCoy.

By one of the ironies of my ongoing experience with the military, my separation occurred on June 22nd, completing exactly three years.  So there I was, finally a civilian, 21 years old, and back in summer school at the University of Illinois.


There was, however, one additional factor I should mention.  At Camp McCoy I was asked if I wanted to join the Air Corps reserves.  I decided I would.  Perhaps that way I could keep current on radar and navigation, and make a bit of money on the side in two-week summer camps.  It was not a clear mission to my mind, and more a case of not losing the few positive features of my three years of service.  Comradery was one of them.  But how was I to know that the entire reserve program was a dud, and that in fact I got absolutely nothing positive out of it?  Indeed, I never did anything nor was there an opportunity, until it was for a totally different type of setup.

But I get ahead of myself.

The return to civilian life was relatively painless.  I returned to the University of Illinois to start a program in architectural design.  The summer session was expanded to twelve weeks (and 12 credit hours) and I was deep into it along with quite a few other returned veterans, including my roommate.  Mel Straus had returned from Europe a bit earlier and had obtained a room once again at the Granada Club (where we had been in 1942-43) and once again I was his roommate.

Wearing old uniforms sans insignia, plus the benefit of the GI Bill (for education) and savings accumulated over three years of service meant a civilian life sustained in part by my military past.

The details of that period, wherein I obtained bachelor's and master's degrees, are not pertinent to this account except for several minor aspects.  Besides, that has been recounted in a memoir dealing with why and how I came to UKC/UMKC.

One aspect of the years 1946-1951 was the early realization that reserve status in the Air Force (now a separate branch of service) was meaningless.  There was absolutely no activities or even loose ties to keep me linked.  Perhaps I should resign?  I debated that and decided that instead I'd let the commission lapse once the five years were completed, which would be in May 1951.  Resignation might be viewed by some as a blemish on an otherwise "honorable" period of service.

Another aspect was the fact that I discovered the discipline of art and architectural history, as well as the joy of making sculpture, and thus had evolved out of architecture into art and art history.  I also got bitten with the "bug" to become a college-level teacher in some aspect of this newly acquired knowledge and skill.

However, the Korean War was abruptly begun in 1950.  What an appalling change.  Would this effect me in any way?  While brooding over that, among other things to occupy my attention was the problem of finding work after the completion of my MFA.

I began graduate work in the autumn of 1949 (or was it the summer?) and received (unsolicited) a graduate teaching assistantship.  That helped me to stretch my GI Bill and savings to cover the graduate degree.  But all three were due to run out at the end of May or June [1951], when I would get my MFA.

My search for work was complicated by the fact that the start of the Korean War coincided with a general departure of the GI's from the college campuses.  Enrollments were declining rapidly.  Jobs in teaching at the college level were extremely scarce.  This situation has been fully described in the UKC/UMKC memoir already mentioned.  For here it is enough to note I was becoming truly desperate; what should or would I do?

Meanwhile, President Truman froze all reservists in their status; terms of appointment would not end as scheduled.  And then of course it happened.  The day I succeeded in getting an appointment to a college faculty was the day my orders to report for processing for return to active duty were received.  So instead of no job, I had two, and one I could not refuse, though I would sure try.  I wanted no part of going back into military service.


Appendix:  Recalled for (but not to) Korea

As a surprise to everyone (himself not least) George was "backing into the teaching profession," or at any rate trying to.  Very few positions were available in his field, the history of art and architecture.  The University of Oklahoma expressed interest in someone with a background in both art history and sculpture, as George had, but they lacked the budget to hire him.  Then came news of an opening at the University of Kansas City (in Missouri, though not yet of Missouri).  George visited KCMO in July 1951; was immediately impressed by the city's monumental Union Station and Liberty Memorial; got hired as a KCU instructor at a decent starting salary; and took his first tour of the Nelson Gallery of Art—"one of those magical experiences which are truly unforgettable."  Having been "catapulted from the edge of despair to a situation far better than I dreamed I could attain... I thought I had hit the jackpot of good fortune."

The first bad omen was when George boarded an overnight sleeper to Chicago, only to awake next morning and find the train had barely left Kansas City.  The next came when he returned home to Urbana to prepare for his move to KCMO—and found a letter from the Air Force, informing him he was being recalled to active service for the Korean War.  George hurriedly returned to Kansas City, met with KCU President Clarence Decker, and obtained a letter requesting his deferment. 

My processing at Chanute deserves mention only in three matters.  First, the physical examinations were cursory; they needed us.  I saw then and later people certified as fit for flying duty who would have been grounded or even discharged in World War II.  Pilots who needed glasses for reading, men with ulcers who needed special diets, and one fellow who had an arm he could not extend fully due to a wound received in combat.  All were certified.

Second, when I was asked for my profession in civilian life, so a suitable code could be entered in my record.  I said, "art historian."  The large book that listed professions and codes did not include art historians.  "Any other profession?"  "Sculptor," I said.  Once again there was no entry in the book.  Finally we settled on "teacher."  This had a code, and so that was how I got listed.

Finally, there was my one chance to plead for an exemption to being recalled.  I went before a colonel and presented Decker's "To Whom It May Concern" letter.  He read it, looked at me and asked, "Do you know what I was doing before I got this job?"  Of course I didn't, and so I pled ignorance.  "I was a Professor of Law at the University of Florida.  Petition denied."

I was scheduled to go back onto [sic] active service in the United States Air Force.

Scheduled to return to active duty in September, George had to notify KCU he would not be available to teach there.  Whereupon the University of Oklahoma wrote to say they'd be able to fund a position after all, and was George still interested?

He was not amused.

Selling his car to get some ready cash, George took the Panama Limited to New Orleans and another train to San Antonio, reporting once more to Randolph Air Force Base.

I discovered I had been "called up" not to be a radar navigator-bombardier as before, bit to be a radar operator in a two-man night jet interceptor.  The recall went alphabetically, and the first call took men whose last names started with A, B, and C.  I was in the second call, for D, E, and F.  By the time we were processed into active service, the evidence re: the A, B, and Cs had demonstrated that retreaded heavy-bomber radar operators could not meet the stress of the interceptor's maneuvers.  So by the time the D, E, and F contingent appeared, the original orders had been cancelled.  But since we were back in uniform they weren't about to let us go.

Most of the former bomber-crewmen were being called up to enter the so-called "pipeline."  This locked one into an immutable sequence that sent men to Korea to serve in B-29 aircraft on bombing missions.  Would we D, E, & F fellows now go that way or not?  Well, someone had to train those in the pipeline sequence, and there was a shortage of instructors because no one could be extricated from the pipeline, even selectively.  Losing flying status might do it, but then one could not be an instructor, since they too had to fly.  So at that critical time in September 1951, only we few radar operators with last names starting with D, E, & F were available, and thus it was that I and some others were sent to California to receive our refresher training before returning two months later to resume our role as instructors.  So much for aptitude.  Given this sort of typical situation, it is not surprising that I was extremely glad to get out of the Air Force at the end of my tour. 

George and the rest of the D-E-Fs were sent to Mather Field near Sacramento for two months of refresher training.  George drove there with Tom Donnelly of Chicago and Ray Dedo of Detroit—driving nonstop, day and night, pausing only to take a photo or two near Las Cruces and Tucson.  In October they began retraining, using B‑25s; at the end of 1951 they received orders to report back to Randolph Field, after brief trips home.  Ray Dedo flew to Detroit, but George and Tom Donnelly again drove nonstop: a grueling trip, part of it on Route 66.  George was at the wheel the night they passed through St. Louis and across the Mississippi into Illinois; despite being dead tired, he could find nowhere (in those pre-Interstate times) to pull off the narrow road and take a nap.  George kept the car inching along at maybe ten miles per hour, his chin resting on the steering wheel, till they reached Effingham—at which point he realized "I can make it home!" and drove with fanatic-wakefulness at 70 mph.  Donnelly dropped George off in Urbana; he was put to bed at the home of friends, and then of course found himself utterly unable to sleep.

Back at Randolph in January 1952, George began a year of instructing airmen in radar operation.  He was part of an instructor crew (pilot-instructor, bombardier-instructor, flight-engineer-instructor, etc.) that worked for a month or so with each new training crew, familiarizing them with equipment, flying along with them, monitoring and evaluating.  Flying status had been voluntary in World War II, but during Korea a large number of retreads (in San Antonio at least) refused to fly.  This was "quite a celebrated problem" according to George, and one which the Air Force tried to keep very hush-hush.

George flew, at any rate, and in this war there was at least Dramamine to deal with airsickness.  On George's crew the pilot-instructor was John White of Virginia, a fellow World War II veteran and also an architect, married to a "sassy lassie" named Crystal.  The navigator and flight engineer instructors had been POWs during World War II; the bombardier instructor, "a very small Texan," drove a yellow Cadillac convertible with tailfins.

George found nothing about his year at Randolph appealing.  He was constantly coming down with throat inflammations, probably caused by tobacco smoke in the close quarters of aircraft; new medications were tested on him, often with dreadful side effects.  At one point (so to speak) he was injected with his own blood as part of a treatment called "autohemotherapy," and his posterior was in horrible shape for a month afterwards.  Then in mid-December 1952, a month or six weeks before George was due for discharge, he had a routine medical checkup and was diagnosed with a double hernia.

The Korean War pipeline was closing down by then, and John White wangled a training flight to Washington DC around Christmas.  George went along to visit the Capitol and National Gallery for the first time; and the hernia diagnosis (of which he'd been skeptical) proved itself true—so much so that he returned from Washington to Randolph Field in excruciating pain, and spent twelve days in the hospital in January 1953 before being discharged from the Air Force: this time permanently.


During his recuperation George wrote the University of Kansas City that he was once again a civilian.  KCU Vice President Robert Mortvedt replied that they'd hired a Mr. Fehl in 1952, and he was doing well.  Even so, George decided to return to Illinois via KCMO, to at least see the place once more.  He arrived there in late February and at three different KCU offices asked to see President Decker, Vice President Mortvedt, and Dean Norman Royall of the College of Liberal Arts.  Each office told George "He isn't in"—with no mention where these gentlemen might be or when they would return, and no one asking George why he wanted to see them.  Thoroughly annoyed, he left "in a 'to hell with them' attitude" and went home to Urbana.  Not till considerably afterward would George learn that he'd wandered onto the KCU campus smack in the middle of a "Revolution," when four faculty heads (including Mortvedt and Royall) resigned over differences with President Decker; five hundred students (including senior Mila Jean Smith) boycotted classes; and finally Decker himself resigned.

With a year of military pay saved, George did not have the same desperate urgency to find employment as in mid-1951; but he could not begin work on a doctorate till autumn.  The University of Illinois personnel office suggested he take a job as draftsman in the digital computer lab.  Thinking this a comedown of sorts, George put in a "token appearance" at the lab, copied a computer diagram, and was promptly offered the job.  He decided to take it: as a civil service employee he could go to school tuition-free with employer approval, and though Illinois didn't offer a PhD in art history, his sympathetic faculty mentors set up an unusual interdisciplinary program for him to pursue.  The computer lab had no objection so long as George put in forty hours of drafting work per week.  He found the job much more interesting than anticipated, helping to bring ILLIAC I to the final stages of full operation; and was even tempted to switch fields and concentrate on computers.  (Which might be viewed as a development of his training in radar operation.)

But George still harbored hopes of becoming an art historian.  In the spring of 1954 he applied for an opening at the University of Nebraska, only to lose out to the same Mr. Fehl who'd taken his place at KCU in 1952.  "It was so tempting to bring the circle full around," that George immediately wrote to Kansas City asking about the vacancy there.  After some delay and confusion he again traveled to KCMO, this time during a hideous late-summer heat wave that made his lightweight suit feel like heavy tweed.  After being interviewed, George felt the situation at KCU was definitely unpromising; why should he leave his home, friends and family, the computer world and free tuition for his doctoral program—for this?

However: he was nearing his thirtieth birthday and did indeed want a chance at fulltime teaching.  George accepted the position at the University of Kansas City, though only after certain conditions were met.  After arranging to continue work on his Illinois doctorate while living out of state, he moved to KCMO and commenced his faculty duties on Sep. 20, 1954, at registration for the fall semester.  (Since Art was nearest the registration entrance, George was "the focus for all inquiries" and had to become an instant expert on KCU procedures and requirements.)

"The irony, of course, is that Dad quickly became aware of the university's dreadful position and began plotting his escape, only never quite being able to pull it off (à la George Bailey)" in It's a Wonderful Life, as my brother Matthew would say.  A year after that first day of registration, George would be introduced to "Mila Jean Smith, who has been abroad"; a year after that he was a married man; a year after that came fatherhood.  Had the Korean War not intervened, George would have begun work at KCU in 1951 and very possibly made his escape circa 1952; in which case the present author would not have existed, and someone else might be weblishing this War Memoir.

I suspect my father never resumed its composition because it had essentially been completed.  The gist of the unwritten recalled-for-Korea segment was how he'd gained and lost his first fulltime faculty job, and suffered his first clash with the nemesis hernia.  His coming-of-age story had all been told in the World War II chronicle; Korea by comparison was a retreading-of-water.

There is no evidence that he had any further contact with his military colleagues; certainly he never attended any Air Force reunions or the like.  Being a pack rat, he did keep all the navigation and related paraphernalia he'd managed to bring back with him on the Mendocino Maru.  And being a frugal man, he arranged that he and Mila Jean would be laid to rest in Leavenworth National Cemetery.  This was "an honor reserved for Armed Forces veterans and their eligible dependents.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains this tradition in behalf of a grateful nation," providing at no charge the grave space, its opening and closure, and suitable headstones or markers.  (On the VA Fact Sheet about Burial in a National Cemetery, George wrote "I want NO military honors" and underscored "NO" twice in red.)  As he wrote me on Sep. 15, 1992:

I learned that as an honorably discharged veteran, I and my spouse are eligible for free interment (inurnment) at a national cemetery.  There is one on the south end of Leavenworth, Kansas, near the VA hospital.  This makes a lot of sense, for more than money reasons, since we don't have to make any arrangements, now or later; it is all automatic once the agreement with the funeral home is signed.  The funeral home and the cemetery then do all that is required, beginning immediately after time of death.  I very much like the idea of getting everything tidied to the extent that there is "a carefully marked map" one can regularly update and is readily available for consultation.  Survivors have enough on their hands, and deserve to have sensible assistance provided.

When he died in 2009, Mila Jean was disinclined to follow through with this "map," thinking the destination too martial; but she went along with it rather than seek an alternative (e.g. scattering his ashes over Union Station).  "Well, they took George to Leavenworth yesterday," she dolefully announced—followed by a Mila Spiral laugh at how that could be interpreted.  Six years and three months later, she joined him there.

George's marker in the National Cemetery reads simply "GEORGE EHRLICH / 1ST LT / US AIR FORCE / WORLD WAR II / KOREA / JAN 28 1925 / NOV 28 2009."  A different memorial can be found twenty or so miles (as the plane flies) to the southeast, on the "Community Bookshelf" decorating the facade of the KCMO Central Library's parking garage.  This consists of twenty-two book spines measuring 25' x 9', upon which appear forty-two titles suggested by local readers and selected by the Public Library's Board of Trustees in 2004.  Among those adorning "Volume I" is "Kansas City Missouri / An Architectural History / George Ehrlich"—proof positive and lasting evidence that he was as steadfast in defense of historic preservation as he was in the service of his country as a young airman.



[click on the > at the end of each Note to return to its source above]

  Matthew (the journalist) read the memoir for the first time circa 2004.  >
  George tended to write full dates such as "30 July 1982" European-style, with the month following the day.  >
  Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago, which George attended 1938-42.  >
 On Dec. 5, 1941, George attended a seminar at the University of Chicago and “heard a very lucid and clever fellow tell us why there would be no war between Japan and the United States for at least three months.”  >
  The friend was Ted Rufener; in the Spring 1942 semester he and George would respectively be president and treasurer of the Senn International Relations Club.  After Ted's call, George "hastened to the radio and heard the news.  Then President Roosevelt spoke to Congress the next day...  Somebody brought a radio to school [and] we listened to the broadcast in homeroom...  They called up the National Guard, and some of them in the high school were in it.  One of our former ROTC members, named Rubenstein, had been at Pearl Harbor."  >
 I have been unable to confirm whether Theodore Rufener (so named in the 1942 Senn Forum yearbook) was the Charles T. Rufener born in 1925, son of a Swiss chef, and living in 1930 on Kenmore Street a couple miles south of Senn High School.  In later years Charles T. lived in Arlington Heights IL.  >
  Though unsurprised in retrospect, when George jotted down "My reactions when I first heard of war" in December 1941 he wrote:

At the very first news I was amazed, flabbergasted.  Then, it was funny it was so fantastic, then I felt relieved, the tension was over.  Monday morning: I am sick.  Our nation is at war, perhaps soon with Germany also.  How will this affect the nation?  How will it affect me?  I am really sick to heart.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

"I think that was my heavy-handed attempt at sarcasm," George would later remark.  >
  On Feb. 16, 1942, Senn ROTC cadets (including newly-promoted Captain George) worked fourteen straight hours without relief to help teachers with draft registration.  Two days earlier, George spoke on WBBM radio's "Young America Answers" (Minute Man American School of the Air) about "What Your School Is Doing Toward National Defense."  >
  With a GPA of 95.58, George tied Etta Fine for 31st in a graduating class of 606.  The Class of '42's official song was set to the tune of "Anchors Aweigh," with lyrics by Belle Bernice Gottlieb: High School away my friends, High School away! / Farewell to teenage joys: we leave at end of day, day, day, day...  >
  George had been admitted to both the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology, but without a scholarship to either he went instead to the University of Illinois in Urbana, as had his older sister Martha.  Tuition there was nominal for Illinois residents; the real expenses were books, supplies, and especially housing.  George roomed in the Granada Club dormitory with Melvin Straus (1924-2006), a fellow Senn alumnus and ROTC officer.  >
  While George's father Joseph groomed Martha from an early age to become a teacher, George was initially envisioned as a violinist (which would have the added benefit, should there be another war, of his being able to serve in the military band).  When music lessons didn't pan out, engineering was considered.  "I'm sure my father had suggested this ... the problem though was what kind of engineer?...  Given civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, I picked chemical engineering I guess because high school chemistry seemed to be fairly easy and interesting."  (George was president of the Senn High Chemistry Club in 1942.)  "It seemed appropriately scientific ... [and] closest to something I understood, what they did.  Which was not true at all."  >
  George's mother Mathilda would comment that "He was in the ROTC ... it wasn't mandatory, because everybody wasn't in it, but he liked the uniform ... it was prestigious, you know."  >
  Soon after George graduated from high school, he received an ornate oversized certificate that proclaimed:

GREETING / Know Ye that I, Dwight H. Green, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Reposing special trust and confidence in the ability, integrity, patriotism and valor of [typed and underlined in red: GEORGE EHRLICH] by virtue of the laws in force and on behalf of the People do hereby appoint and Commission him [typed and underlined in red: BREVET SECOND LIEUTENANT / ILLINOIS NATIONAL GUARD / to rank from June 26, 1942] / He is therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duties of said office according to law / In Testimony whereof I have herewith set my hand and caused the Seal of the Office of Adjutant General to be hereunto affixed.  >

  Dwight H. Green, a Republican who had fought Al Capone and other gangster operations in Chicago, was elected Governor of Illinois in 1940.  He would be defeated for re-election to a third term in 1948 by Adlai Stevenson.  >
  On Nov. 11, 1942 Congress expanded the draft age's minimum to 18 and maximum to 37; all men aged up to 64 had to register.  >
  "I really had neither genuine interest nor, I think, a vocation" for chemistry, George would reflect.  "Whereas clearly ... I was obviously interested in history, I was interested in
art—but in these I didn't even see any professional connection.  I took the first semester of the chemical engineering curriculum ... and I started out like a house afire .. and slowly began to disintegrate...  The chemistry I did so poorly that I got a D.  I went from an A on the first exam, just cascaded down.  And I attribute this to a combination of total turn-off by the way the subject was taught, and the lab content, and the amount of rote memorization...  As a result of that, I was dropped from the chemical engineering curriculum, because you had to maintain a certain grade-point average—but I was allowed to continue as kind of a general major, pursuing the second semester of the same curriculum.  I told my father—which was not easy—that I'd gotten a D in chemistry, but I thought I could resolve this, and salvage it in the second semester.  Which proved not to be true...  I found that if anything the chemistry became more distasteful.  And so I got a D the second semester as well.  And resolved that ... if I ever came back to college (which I assumed I would) it would not be in chemical engineering, not indeed in chemistry.  And it would probably not be in engineering.  However: part of that curriculum included a semester of engineering drawing.  And I enjoyed that very much ... I found that entrancing.  And it was also at that time that ... I was introduced to the field of architecture.  And I thought, 'Well, you know, this is kind of like engineering, it's professional, respectable, and it includes drafting,' which I found I liked to do, could do, and it had some art aspects.  And there was a totally different sense of camaraderie and, to me, a much more stimulating environment in the architectural drafting labs...  So it was at that point that the seed was planted: that if I came back I would shift into architecture."  >
 Joseph memorably informed his children that they didn't have to be the best in their academic classes—"just in the top 10%."  >
  At Senn High, George's Public Speaking class "participated in a round table discussion in which the aims and objections of Mechanical Drawing were set forth, as well as subject material of various drawing courses such as blue printing, architectural drawing, and aviation drawing."  When reminded of this in 1984, George said (over Mila Jean's loud delighted laughter): "Oh surely that's wrong—we weren't talking about that.>
 Following up on the Battle of Midway, the Allies took the offensive against Japan during the Guadalcanal Campaign (August 1942 to February 1943).  The United States participated in the North African Campaign till victory in May 1943; the Italian Campaign began that July.  >
  On May 23, 1943 the University of Illinois ROTC held its annual Military Day program, with George appearing in a photo of the review in the May 24th Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.  The accompanying article noted that the majority of these cadets were likely to go to war, and that the ceremony itself had been streamlined for wartime.  >
  George (after very brief summer employment at the Chicago Fair department store, checking shipments off invoices and unpacking merchandise) was called up on June 9, 1943.  >
  Name: George nmn Ehrlich.  Rank: private.  Serial number: 36673168.  >
  Named after Ulysses S. Grant, Camp Grant was established in 1917 and reactivated as an induction center in 1941.  Closed in 1946, the Chicago Rockford International Airport was built on its site.  >
  This was not George's first night away from home: besides trips to visit family in Racine WI, he accompanied his parents to St. Petersburg FL in February 1937 (one of the more boring episodes of his life, with nothing to do except eat citrus fruit and do homework out in the sun).  George then spent part of that summer on a farm near Glen MI, where "I literally learned how to harness a mule, mow the oat field... shovel manure."  >
  From Camp Grant George notified his parents: "Please don't write to me here."  >
  As a noun, G.I. ("government issue") defined enlisted men; as a verb, it meant conforming to or bringing into accordance with military regulations or procedures.  > 
  U.S. Marines invaded Honduras in 1924-25 to quell political disorders.  > 
 Mila Jean would most assuredly have laughed at this line.  >
  The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) became a subordinate component of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in 1941, but continued as one of the Army's combat arms till the United States Air Force (USAF) was created in 1947.  >
 Many Allied servicemen spent World War II engaged in "island-hopping" or "leapfrogging."  This strategy was to seize control of Pacific islands that were not strongly defended by the Japanese, and on them build small bases and airstrips from which other islands could be targeted, gradually approaching Japan's home islands.  >
  George would call his remaining behind at Camp Grant "the first of my lucky breaks."  >
  Originally Madison Army Airfield, Truax Field was renamed to honor a Wisconsin-born lieutenant killed in a flight training accident.  Serving as a USAAF airfield from 1942 to 1945, it is now Truax Field Air National Guard Base.  >
  Bascom Hall, dating from 1857, is the University of Wisconsin-Madison's main administration building.  >
  After a week or so at Truax, having qualified for appointment as an Aviation Cadet, George was ordered on July 14, 1943 to go to Miami (Beach, as it turned out) for basic training.  He arrived on July 23rd.  >
 A quarter-century later, my seventh-grade physical education teacher rendered the name as "Earl-ritch."  >
  George became a finicky eater after a tonsillectomy in 1929, eventu
ally touching nothing but milk and ham sandwiches.  One day his father decided George was going to eat the vegetables that were on his plate or else he could leave—period.  Young George donned winter coat and galoshes, tied his hat's earflaps under his chin and marched downstairs, "apparently ready to join the Foreign Legion."  >
  George and the others on backup guard duty wondered what they were to do if the Enemy got past the guards with guns.  >
  In 1938 Liberty magazine sponsored a competition for the Air Corps's official song, requiring it to be "within the limits of [an] untrained voice."  The winning entry was chosen in 1939, beating out an Irving Berlin composition later used in Winged Victory.  >
  The Army and Navy were using college campuses to further prepare officer candidates.  George's reduced four-month program began on Oct. 5, 1943.  >
  Originally Arkadelphia Methodist College in 1890, Henderson State Teachers College became a university in 1975, and is the state's only representative in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.  >
 Otis Whaley (1893-1956) was professor of economics at Henderson State for twenty years.  >
  The Piper J-3 Cub, first produced in 1937-38, became almost synonymous with light aircraft.  >
  Presumably the antifungal gentian violet, such as was painted on airmen's gums and toes in Catch-22 (standard treatment for those on sick call with temperatures under 102, along with being given "a laxative to throw away into the bushes").  >
 Gordon Gullman Eriksen was born in St. Paul MN in 1922, the son of Danish émigrés who soon moved south.  Graduating from high school in Graham TX, he attended the University of Oklahoma for two years before enlisting in the Air Corps.  After the war he earned a BA in English and BFA in drama, taught at several high schools, completed an MA in English literature in 1967 and a PhD in the same subject in 1973.  After teaching at the University of Northern Iowa-Cedar Falls, he earned an MS in library science at the University of Illinois and wound up in 1976 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where he remained through his (very active) retirement.  Known to colleagues as the Great Dane, Gordon Eriksen was profiled in the Spring 1997 "Gatherings" published by WMU's Friends of the University Libraries.  (George would mostly spell his surname "Erickson," and once "Erikson.")  >
  "One of his great passions is music," remarked WMU's 1997 Eriksen profile.  "Gordon inherited a fine voice from his father.  He first participated in the church choir, then the undergraduate university chorus, and eventually the Houston Chorale."  >
  Irving Berlin's melancholy "White Christmas" had its first impact the previous year in the film Holiday Inn, and topped Your Hit Parade through the 1942-43 Christmas season.  >
 Fort Sill has been a U.S. Army post in continuous operation since 1869.  >
 George's ten hours of flying lessons came in January 1944.  >
 The Boeing-Stearman Model 75 biplane was the primary military trainer craft through World War II.  In postwar years, thousands or surplus Stearmans were used in air shows and for crop dusting.  > 
 George's parents were Joseph (born József) Ehrlich (1894-1963) and Mathilda (née Matild) Kohn/Kun Ehrlich (1895-1992); his older sister was Martha Ehrlich Lewis Mlinarich (1919-1991).  Their stories are told in To Be Honest>
 On Jan. 28, 1944 (coincidentally his nineteenth birthday) George attended the Farewell Banquet for the 66th College Training Detachment's Class 43-C-11, at Arkadelphia's Caddo Hotel.  >
 The San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center was established in 1942, with the 78th Flying Training Wing (Preflight) activated there a year later.  The facility was renamed Lackland Air Force Base in 1948.  >
  Randolph Field has been used as a military flight training facility since it opened in 1931.  >
  On Mar. 8th, George signed (or tried to sign) his name four times in a decompression chamber simulating flight at 28,000 feet without oxygen.  >
  (One wonders if there was any commentary regarding a Chicago native's being proficient with a Tommy gun.)  >
 The encyclopedia salesman was wholly unable to step out of his memorized spiel; when George would ask a question about the Britannica, the salesman would have to go back and recite until he came to the relevant matter.  >
 George bought the encyclopedia one volume at a time, using coupons over the next eighteen months, and having each volume delivered to Chicago.  His father Joseph found them vastly interesting and started to read through them, from "A" on.  >
  George's classification actually took place early in his stay in San Antonio: on Feb. 15th he wrote his parents that it had "finally come through.  I'm to study navigation.  Hooray!  I should be off to preflight in about two weeks...  Yes sir, from now on I'm an aviation cadet in navigation."  In the same letter he noted having first seen the new B‑29 "Super Fortress" in flight.  >
  On Mar. 4, 1944, a letter from G.C. Brant (Commanding General of the Central Flying Training Command) was sent to George's parents:

In a memorandum which has come to my desk this morning, I note that your boy has been classified for training as a Navigator in the Army Air Forces.  In order to win this war, it is vital to have the best qualified young men in charge of navigating our bombardment airplanes.  Upon them will depend in large measure the success of the entire war effort.  The position of Navigator calls for a high degree of intelligence, alertness and coolness.  Not only the success of the mission, but the safety of his crew-mates, depends on the speed and skill with which he performs his calculations.  Men who will make good material for training as Navigators are rare.  The Classification Board believes that your boy has the necessary reliability, character, and mathematical aptitude.  If he shows the progress we confidently expect of him, he will in all probability win his wings as a qualified Navigator.  Considering the rigid requirements for this training, you have every reason to be proud of your boy today.  I congratulate you and him.  >

  Major General Gerald Clark Brant (1880-1958) received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1943 for "singularly distinctive accomplishments" while in charge of Newfoundland Base Command.  >
  Since the student navigators were training to fly B‑17s or B‑24s, all were trained to fill in as the nose or tail turret gunner.  With the arrival of the B‑29, this training would go for naught.  >
 As its name indicates, the Aerial Gunnery School at Harlingen Army Airfield (opened in 1941) trained aerial gunnery students.  >
  Matagorda is a barrier island on the Texas Gulf coast.  A bombing and gunnery range was built there in 1942.  >
  Kool-Aid was introduced in 1927, as a powder left after removing the liquid from fruit concentrate.  >
  The B-24 Liberator bomber was first produced in 1941, to improve upon the B-17's range, speed, and ceiling.  >
 The lister bag was invented in 1917 by army surgeon William Lyster, as a heavy canvas bag lined with rubber and containing water purified by a chlorine solution.  > 
  Matamoros is on the Mexican bank of the Rio Grande, directly across from Brownsville TX.  >
  George also brought back a Matamoros bullfight poster.  >
  On July 22nd George received a Certificate of Proficiency in B‑24 flexible gunnery.  >
 George arrived in Harlingen on June 5th and heard about D-Day the next day.  >
  George returned in Chicago on July 24th, then reported to San Marcos on the 31st, beginning his education as a navigator on Aug. 1st.  >
 Joseph began to assemble George's Scrapbook circa 1938.  This was not a running account of his life such as Martha's Diary (1919-34) had been, but consisted mostly of recollections and carefully-saved keepsakes.  A notable feature of the Scrapbook was Joseph’s writing its captions and commentaries in English rather than Hungarian.  > 
  The San Marcos Army Air Field was activated at the end of 1942, and the 80th Flying Training Wing's AAF Advanced Navigation School opened there at the beginning of 1943.  Before its closure in September 1945, some 10,000 navigation students were trained there.  >
 The twin-engined Beechcraft Model 18 ("Twin Beech") was manufactured from 1937 till 1969; over 4,500 of these light aircraft were used by the military during World War II.  >
 "An old piece of Air Corps doggerel:
     You can always tell a gunner by his greasy hands and vacant stare / You can always tell a bombardier by his manners debonair /
     You can always tell a navigator by his pencils, books, and such / You can always tell a
pilot—but you cannot tell him much."  (Dorr p 145)
 A knot is a nautical mile per hour, equaling 1.15 standard miles or 1.852 kilometers per hour.  >
  An aircraft astrodome was a hemispherical bubble in the cabin roof, where the navigator could take star sights at night using a sextant.  >
  Charge of Quarters (CQ) was a serviceman designated to handle a unit's administrative (or a barracks's guard/custodial) duties, especially after duty hours.  >
 Patty, Maxine, and LaVerne Andrews were the most popular female vocal group of their era, and the "Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service" during World War II.  >
 Mathilda usually (and fittingly) referred to her baked goods as "fancy cookies," and news spread very quickly at San Marcos whenever George received a package from home.  Long afterwards, he would semi-seriously offer to set up Mathilda in a bakery business.  >
  Yank: The Army Weekly was published between June 1942 and December 1945.  Sgt. George Baker's Sad Sack comic strips first appeared in Yank.  >
  George was one of three (out of many who took the "curious test") selected to receive "RESTRICTED" Special Orders to report on Nov. 26th for assignment to radar observer training, which was "pretty hush-hush" at this time.  >
  Class (Echelon) 44-47 N-6 graduated from the San Marcos Navigation School on  Nov. 18, 1944.  George sent his parents a class photo with a list of names and descriptions of classmates; about himself, he noted "His mother is famous for cookies."  >
 George and Mila Jean both favored the spelling "theatre."  >
  World War II navigator's wings are depicted on either side of "The War Memoir" title above, as well as on the Navigation School graduation program >
 Boca Raton Army Air Field was developed on acreage largely seized from the Japanese-American Yamato Colony.  During World War II it was the Army Air Force's only radar training base, using top secret (at the time) technology.  >
an abbreviation, first used in 1941, of radio detecting and ranginguses a synchronized transmitter and receiver to emit radio waves and display their reflections, in order to locate objects (principally targets, during World War II) by measuring the length of time and from which direction the echoes return.  >
  The B‑17 Flying Fortress, produced from 1938 to 1945, was renowned for its efficiency as a bomber and its resilience even when damaged.  >
  During this period George (as per his mother's request) called on a cousin of Mathilda's who ran a restaurant around South Miami Beach.  George got a steak dinner and noted the cousin's resemblance to Mathilda.  It was one of his very few contacts with a relative outside the Chicago/Racine family circle.  >
  The lovely Ann Rutherford played Mickey Rooney's on-again/off-again girlfriend Polly Benedict in most of the Andy Hardy movies; she also appeared as Scarlett O'Hara's youngest sister in Gone With the Wind, and Lydia Bennet in the 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  >
  George attended Mr. Huntinghaus's Dancing Academy once a week for six weeks circa 1935.  He learned the foxtrot, the tango, the "fairly entertaining" waltz, and also the polka, which struck him as "mostly kind of a jumping thing."  >
 In a curious transposition, George's sister Martha was working a few months earlier as a USO hostess in Urbana IL when she met a sailor from Florida named Murel Lewis, who was attending a specialist training program at the University of Illinois.  As Martha later put it: "We danced together, chatted together, and then got married."  Five years later in Miami, they produced daughter Sherry Renee; their marriage ended shortly thereafter.  >
  Louis Prima achieved great success during World War II, even by performing Italian songs (e.g. "Baciagaloop Makes Love on the Stoop" and "Please No Squeeze Da Banana") during a time of anti-Italian sentiment.  >
  (Perhaps sweet young Miss Peach Blossom sensed George's proficiency with a Tommy gun.)  >
 "Lili Marlene" (variously spelled) was a 1915 German poem set to music in 1937, though not recorded in English till 1942.  Axis and Allied soldiers alike enjoyed listening to its end-of-day radio broadcasts.  Marlene Dietrich's version was recorded in 1944 and released as a single in 1945.  >
  The first airborne ground scanning radar used in combat was the British H2S in 1942.  An improved American version in early 1944 was called the H2X (officially the AN/AP‑15).  Further improvement produced the AN/APQ‑13, which after the war would be converted to a weather warning radar.  >
 The AN/APQ‑7 radar bombsight system, codenamed "Eagle," had a higher resolution to enable precision bombing.  Produced too late for use in the European Theater; it debuted in May 1945 on B‑29s in the Pacific.  The Eagle's antenna design would make it too difficult for use by future jet bombers.  >
  The Twentieth Air Force was created in April 1944 for heavy strategic bombardment of Japan.  Originally operating out of India and China, it redeployed to freshly captured bases in the Mariana Islands in early 1945.  >
  A Mercator projection displays a map of the world onto a cylinder, so that all parallels of latitude have the same length as the equator.  >
  Eddie Rickenbacker, fighter ace of World War I, was touring Pacific airbases in October 1942 when his bomber strayed off course and was forced to ditch in the ocean.  Rickenbacker and the bomber's crew drifted in life rafts for 24 days before being rescued.  >
  This story would go untold, as the narrative never reached its point.  >
  The canvas B‑4 military garment bag was developed in 1941 for Army Air Force officers: a "multipocketed, fabric-covered equivalent of a travel suitcase." (Dorr p 4)  >
  Ernest Temmer (1917-1994) was the older son of Mathilda's first cousin and future roommate Margaret Kohn Temmer (1897-1987).  >
  Taken on Mar. 4th at his furlough's end, the portrait photo of George in uniform (captioned "A Hadnagy Úr," "Mr. Lieutenant," by his father) caused his sister Martha to burst into tears.  >
 Laura Christman (1887-1963), whose surname George spelled "Crisman," always seemed to be listed among unphotographed faculty in Senn High School yearbooks.  >
  Rose Kohn Ruhig (1895-1990), Margaret's older sister, was born the day before Mathilda Kohn Ehrlich: Sep. 1st to Mathilda's Sep. 2nd.  Rose married Bela Ruhig (aka Ben Ruhig: 1887-1966), a Chicago furrier, in whose shop Joseph Ehrlich learned the trade before opening his own business.  >
  The Blue Danube Cafe ("A Cafe of Distinction, with all the Charm and Delight of Old Budapest") was located at 500 West North Avenue.  George would remark that his father seldom or never dined at such places.  > 
  Mildred Marian (Milli/Mili) Butkin was born in Chicago in 1927, the older daughter of Dr. Max Butkin, a Russian dentist, and Hedwig Butkin née Schwartzenberger, a Hungarian-born milliner.  As such, Hedwig may have been a past coworker of Mathilda, who'd quickly found a job in a wholesale millinery after arriving in America in 1923.  ("With my European background and ability, I made good right away... I got all the model hats to copy and could do them all with no effort on my part.")  In 1940 the Butkins lived at 2715 W Division St., a block away from 2607 W Division where George was born in 1925.  ("Even then it was a rather run-down area," he would unsentimentally state.)  >
 Eddie Albert was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island IL in 1906, and raised in Minneapolis.  The 1910 census shows his parents as having American ancestry (though Eddie would be taunted during World War I for having a German surname).  It also shows Eddie as being only two years old: his mother gave 1908 as his birthyear since Eddie'd been born out of wedlock.  During World War II he was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic rescue efforts during the Battle of Tarawa.  (If he had been Hungarian, a new dimension would be added to his Green Acres byplay with Eva Gabor.)   >
  A two-step invasion of Japan was envisioned: first amphibious landings on the island of Kyushu (Operation Olympic) on Nov. 1, 1945; then an assault on the beaches of Kanto Plain before Tokyo (Operation Coronet) in March 1946.  "In combination, Olympic and Coronet would be carried out by a naval, air, and land force greater than any other ever before assembled....  'We planned to take Japan by fighting block to block, street to street, house to house.  Even given the damage they'd suffered during the B‑29 attacks, we believed that every last Japanese was ready to resist to the bitter end.'"  (Dorr p 275-276)  >
  The B‑29 Superfortress was designed to be the largest, fastest, and longest-range bomber of World War II, the first with a pressurized cabin.  After developmental delays, it began flying combat missions in June 1944.  "In America's entire war inventory, no other aircraft was harder to maintain or keep airworthy."  (Dorr p 74)  >
  Going from most micro to most macro levels, George was assigned to Crew 6B6 of B Flight of the 356th Bomb Squadron of the 331st Bomb Group of the 315th Bomb Wing of the Twentieth Air Force.  >
  The 356th Squadron's emblem appears to be a heavy-lidded bomb-bearing cannon-carrying goose with its neck in a knot, wearing an unstrapped flight helmet.  >
  The 331st Bombardment Group's motto was Imparido Pectore: "With Undaunted Heart."  >
  The 315th Bombardment Wing (VH for Very Heavy) was activated in July 1944.  It was composed of four bomb groups, each consisting of three bomb squadrons.  Each combat group was assigned a service group and a photographic squadron.  All of these were gradually manned to authorized strength.  >
 On Dec. 17, 1944, the 315th Bomb Wing was notified that its B‑29s would be modified to use the new APQ‑7 radar instead of the APQ‑13.  As George related, this entailed removing the Plexiglas gunners's blisters from the planes's sides, and replacing the three original gunners with two visual scanners; thus reducing the flight crews from eleven to ten airmen, and armaments to a new radar-directed tail turret with three .50 caliber machine guns.  The lighter weight of the stripped-down B‑29s (designated B‑29Bs) improved their ability to climb, to fly above 30,000 feet, and to carry the maximum 20,000-pound bomb loads.  (Swann pp 26-27)  >
  Bob Hope performed for the 331st Bomb Group at McCook on Jan. 12, 1945 (some weeks before George arrived there).  >
 McCook Army Air Field was activated in 1943.  The 331st Bomb Group trained there from November 1944 to April 1945.  >
 "The B‑29 was the only bomber on which the pilots did not have a complete set of instruments or controls.  The flight engineer was in actual control of the mechanical function of the aircraft."  (Dorr p. 42)  >
 The gunners-turned-scanners "had no guns to fire if Japanese night fighters found them... but [their] role as a scanner, tipping off the flight-deck crew about engine operations and events around the aircraft, would never be more important."  (Dorr p 39)  >
 "The 356th [Squadron] consisted of three flights: A, B, and C, with A and B each having six crews assigned while C had only five.  The crews were designated 6A1 through 6A6, 6B1 through 6B6 [George's crew], and 6C1 through 6C5.  The crews in C flight resented being shorted a crew and agreed to create D.H. McGillicudhay as the sole member of crew 6C6.  D.H. McGillicudhay 'officially' joined the 356th when the crews started ground school at McCook AAF in December [1944].  As the crews enrolled in each class, the instructor called roll call for crews 6C1 through 6C5, then asked if there were any crews missing.  The crews chimed in saying, 'Yes, McGillicudhay, 6C6,' and he was duly enrolled in each class...  Thereafter, D.H. McGillicudhay became a major contributor to the morale of the 356th."  (Swann pp 23-25)   >
 C Flight was in need of morale boosting: Crew 6C4 was disbanded after its commander and another airman died in a B‑17 crash at McCook.  >
 Bud Fisher's tall Mutt character, whose comic strip made its debut in 1907, was joined by short Jeff a year later.  Their strip, carried on by later cartoonists, would run until 1983.  >
  Hercules (Herk) Pettis (1919-1997) was born in Columbia PA, southeast of Harrisburg; his family moved to Brooklyn NY by 1940, when Herk worked in a luncheonette as a "soda dispenser."  After the war he served in the Florida National Guard through the 1950s, retiring as a major.  He and wife Clio (1915-2006) settled in Panama City FL and were longtime leaders of the Panama City Music Association.  >
 The Brooklyn NY Marriage License Index for Oct. 2, 1941 shows Hercules Pettis marrying Clio Calogeropoulos.  Interestingly, Maria Callas was born Maria Calogeropoulos in New York in 1923; and a 2014 Panama City profile states Clio had a "career with the Metropolitan Opera" before the Pettises left NYC for Florida.  (Clio's grave marker shows her maiden name to be "Calo.")  >
 Charles Braden (Chuck) Clawson Jr. (1924-1978) came from Kiskiminetas Township, Armstrong County PA (east of Pittsburgh) where his family had lived since at least the 1850s.  After his comparatively early death he was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Dunbar borough, Fayette County PA.  >
  Blair Clifford Archer (1920-2001) received his Bachelor of Science degree from Moorhead State Teachers College (now part of Minnesota State) in 1942, his Master of Education from the University of Minnesota in 1947, and his PhD from the same university in 1958; his doctoral thesis was The Measurement of Change in Certain Aspects of Art Ability.  For many years he was on the art education faculty of Long Beach State College, which evolved into California State University, Long Beach.  (No mention of whether George ever encountered him at College Art Association conventions.)  >
  Wayne Francis (Mac) MacFarland (1921-2013) was a "steadfast workaholic" from Seattle.  "As a 'triple thr
eat'—navigator, bombardier, radar expert—Wayne was transferred from one pool of navigators to the next, and received many lucky breaks, as he never had to fly over a war zone" [sic].  He retired from the Air Force in 1965 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and worked as a civil service officer at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island.  "A fantastic dancer with the sharpest wit in the bunch, Wayne never lost a gin or cribbage match (although [he] would occasionally let his granddaughters win a hand)"; as per his obituary.  >
 Donald Eugene (Don) Allen (1919-1997) was working with his father and brothers in the steel mills of Duquesne PA when he enlisted in 1941.  After the war he lived in Palm Springs CA, and died in nearby Palm Desert.  >
  Charles Vernon Badger (1925-2014) came from Iowa, had a Piper airplane dealership in civilian life, and was buried in Fort Logan National Cemetery.  >
  Robert William (Bob) Phill Sr. (1925-1992) came from Connecticut, remained in the Air Force through the 1950s, and died in Virginia.  >
  Lester H. Raven (1922-1996) came from and returned to Oneida in upstate New York.  He enlisted at the fabled Fort Dix NJ.  >
 Edward Eugene (Ed) Thomison Jr. (born 1924) hailed from Dayton TN, site of the Scopes Trial; he studied pharmacology at Alabama Polytechnic Institute and later lived in Florida.  >
  The island of Iwo Jima was captured from the Japanese in a fierce month-long battle, February to March 1945.  "Iwo Jima's ultimate significance was that it could be an emergency landing spot for a B‑29 in trouble on the way home from Japan.  By the end of the war, the tally would be an extraordinary 2,400 Superfortress emergency landings on the sulphur island."  (Dorr p 101)  >
 The Mariana Islands lie south of Japan, west of the Philippines and north of New Guinea, roughly equidistant from each.  Magellan visited them during his circumnavigation in 1521; they were colonized by Spain in the 17th Century and named in honor of Philip IV's Queen Mariana.  After the Spanish-American War, southernmost Guam was ceded to the United States and the other Marianas to Germany till they were seized by Japan during World War I.  Japan, assisted by natives from the northern Marianas, conquered Guam shortly after Pearl Harbor.  In battles fought during the summer of 1944, the U.S. won control of Saipan and Tinian and regained Guam; this put mainland Japan within round-trip range of B‑29 bombers.  >
  "Guam was farther south than Saipan and Tinian, and was the only island among the three considered to be fully tropical, with palm trees, high mountains and great jungles....  The temperature was in the eighties with a constant parade of showers carried through by high Pacific trade winds....  'The Guam natives, called Chamorros, are glad to see Americans.  They were treated to various forms of torture when their Japanese occupiers were here.'"   (Dorr p 2)  >
  "The men [stationed there] never liked Saipan, despite its semitropical charm.  It was a beautiful island where savagery had been commonplace during a bloody invasion by U.S. Marines, an island transformed now into a B‑29 Superfortress base....  Saipan, with its tall cliffs from which so many Japanese flung themselves in suicide leaps while the Marines were securing the island, was a place of raw beauty... from which a B‑29 Superfortress could plummet down toward the sea after leaving the runway's end, taking a pronounced dip before gaining sufficient power to climb alof
t—or, instead, go smashing into an ocean that could crumple the big plane into pieces and swallow it up."  (Dorr p 7)  >
  "Tinian was a little green flat slab formed by prehistoric volcanoes and dead coral animals.  It lay 125 miles northeast of Guam and just 3 miles southwest of Saipan....  Tinian boasted two airfields... with parking revetments for 265 Superfortresses between the runways, making it the largest and busiest airport in the world."  (Dorr p 8)  >
  In 1940, President Roosevelt transferred fifty old destroyers to the British Royal Navy in exchange for land rights on British possessions (such as Jamaica).  >
 Adverse weather in Nebraska hampered flight training there in late 1944, so the "Gypsy Task Force" set up training bases in the Caribbean: one in Puerto Rico, one in Cuba, and one at Vernam Field in Jamaica.  Training at the latter was delayed till March 1945 "because the facilities at Vernam were poor and the runway was too short for B‑29 operations.  After arriving at Vernam, the 331st and 501st [Bomb Groups] faced a severe shortage of maintenance personnel and maintenance equipment, especially aircraft and radar parts.  In addition, no night operations were permitted because of unlighted terrain obstructions around the field.  Despite these problems, the 331st and 501st put their best efforts into accomplishing the training...  Flight training included long-range, 13-hour missions to the eastern coast of the United States and back before nightfall at Vernam Field.  The simulated combat operations for the 331st and 501st at Vernam were challenging and productive with all personnel honing their respective skills."  (Swann pp 35-36)  >
  They practiced flying from an island, practiced bombing, and practiced flying by radar for 1,500 miles—the distance of the Marianas from Japan—on as little fuel as possible in fifteen hours, theoretically bombing an oil refinery, and flying the 1,500 miles back.  >
  In Kingston photos were taken (several in color) of dinner at the Esquire, of the Hope Gardens, and of George's new acquisition that Joseph captioned in the Scrapbook as "!!NOTE THE MUSTACHE??"  (Joseph himself had grown one during World War I.  "He raised that mustache while he was in the service," Mathilda would sniff, as though referring to a pet ferret.  "But I didn't like it, so then he shaved it off."  She never reconciled herself to my wearing both mustache and beard.)  >
  Maxwell Air Force Base occupies the site where Orville Wright taught students to fly in 1910.  >
  If George & Co. returned from Jamaica in "late April 1945," they could not have heard about VE Day (May 8th) in Jamaica.  They could certainly have heard about President Roosevelt's death (Apr. 12th) while there.  >
  A photo was taken of Crew 6B6 partying (with officers and enlisted men jumbled equably together) at McCook after their return from Jamaica.  >
  Victory in Europe Day: May 8, 1945.  (See the note above re: whether George & Co. were in Jamaica at this time.  More likely it was Alabama.)  > 
 President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on Apr. 12, 1945.  >
  Mildred's much younger sister was Nancy Joyce Butkin, born 1938; she attended the Elgin Academy in the early 1950s, married Frederick C. Wranovics in 1957, and later lived in California.  >
 One has to wonder whether Mildred's lack of long-term interest resulted from George's thinking her friend Francine was a comparatively-advantaged "stunner."  Mildred went on to marry Robert Irvin Morrow in 1950 and have four children; she died in Denver in 2009 (a couple of weeks, as it happened, after George's death in KCMO).  >
  Omega (originating as La Generale) has been making Swiss luxury watches since 1848.  >
  At the conclusion of To Be Honest, I wrote of my grandfather Joseph that: "He would not have viewed his fortitude in adapting to life as an accomplishment, because he had not been able to achieve the goals he had set for himself.  First and foremost he had wanted to be a teacher, and to a lesser extent a musician and an artist; Fate (as he saw it) had frustrated him in all these pursuits when he was a young man.  To the end of his life Joseph wanted to go back to Budapest, if only to see the school he had taught at, to see if it was still there.  Otherwise he stopped dreaming of what he could have done.  Instead he dreamed for his children, hoping they would want to achieve what he had not, and be able to achieve it with his and Mathilda’s encouragement and support.  And the dreams came true—if not in the most straightforward manner—and this gave Joseph that great and deep satisfaction which is born of fulfillment."  >
 George's crew was to have flown the 331st Bomb Group commander, Col. James N. "Big Jim" Peyton, to Guam.  That privilege went instead to Crew 6A1, led by Capt. Julius H. Baughn.  They arrived on June 23, 1945, and Col. Peyton remarked: "That ocean's big!"  (Swann p 76)  >
  LORAN was a Long Range Navigation system using hyperbolic radio to provide a range of up to 1,500 miles, used mainly by ships and aircraft in the Pacific Theater.  >
  Herington was named after its founder, who'd been born Davis Monroe Herrington but rearranged himself (and reduced his R's) as Monroe Davis Herington.  >
  The comprehensive roster of the 331st Bomb Group's crews and crafts identifies George's crew as 6B6, but does not connect that crew with their B‑29B, which George states was Slicker 31.  The roster shows Slicker 31 as having serial number 44-83924 and ground crew chief Machin (Staff Sergeant Arthur T. Machin); but it shows no name for the plane or its commander.  "Pom Pom" is then name given for Slicker 32, assigned to crew 6B4, with three different commanders (none of whom were actually in 6B4); the roster also shows 6B4 assigned with a different plane, Slicker 35, with a commander who was in that crew.  Compounding the confusion are three snapshots in George's Scrapbook: one captioned "Hokkaido Japan / Oct 26 1945 / Chuck Clawson and me in front of 'Pom Pom' (Slicker-31)."  A second photo shows the entire plane, with "31" painted near the tail and "Pom Pom's" nose art visible on the other end.  The third photo is a closer shot of the nose art, with a pinup girl displaying ample cleavage and leggage, and the name "Betty" appearing to her left.  From this photographic evidence we can conclude that "Pom Pom" was indeed the name of crew 6B6's Slicker
31—though a complicated untold story may lie behind the variant roster associations.  Most notably (and regrettably), George made no mention at all of his plane's name or decoration; though surely (not to say Betty) these merited an explanation of how "Pom Pom" was selected, and her cultural significance to art history.  (Other B‑29's in the 356th Bomb Squadron were called Sexy One, Battered Bat, Ragged But Right, and Nocturnal Intrudor [sic].  The 355th's planes included 8-Ball, Salome!, Shrewd Maneuver, and Jus'One Mo'Time.  The 357th's featured Nosmo King, Victory Jean, and Night Prowler.  "A typical crew spent days or weeks haggling over a name for its B‑29"—Dorr p 10)  >
 B‑29B-45-BA Superfortress, serial number 44-B3924, was built by Bell Aircraft in Marietta GA.  Delivered to the USAAF on May 11, 1945, it would be transferred from the 356th Bomb Squadron to the 501st Bomb Group on Mar. 23, 1946, and go on to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Ohio.  After a 1951 accident landing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, it would be reclaimed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma on Oct. 4, 1954.  >
 Hickam, the only Hawaiian airfield able to accommodate the B‑17, was extensively damaged by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941.  From World War II through the Vietnam War it served as an aerial hub for planes heading to and from areas further east.  >
  Kwajalein Atoll and the rest of the Marshall Islands were controlled by Japan from World War I until taken by the U.S. in early 1944, after the most concentrated bombardment of the Pacific War.  >
 At 210 square miles, Guam is the largest of the Marianas and the largest island in Micronesia.  After a brutal three-year occupation by Japan, the Battle of Guam was fought from July 21 to Aug. 10, 1944, when the United States regained control.  Guam remains an American territory, separate from the commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.  >
 The 315th Bomb Wing was initially assigned to West Field on Tinian in March 1945, then reassigned to the new Northwest Field being constructed on Guam in April.  Ten Army Engineer and Navy Seabee battalions "worked around-the-clock to change near impenetrable jungle into an airfield that met the special operational requirements of the very heavy B‑29 bomber...  The hard coral rock lying beneath the jungle growth dramatically slowed the construction pace.  The engineers used dynamite, jack-hammers, and bulldozers to loosen, move, and replace the stubborn coral in a valiant effort to meet the scheduled 1 June operational date for the airfield."  (Swann p 57)  >
  "The final wing to join XXI Bomber Command was the 315th Wing, commanded by Brig. Gen. Frank A. Armstrong Jr.  On May 27, 1945, the first bombers of the wing's 16th Bombardment Group touched down at Northwest Field, Guam....  The Superfortresses of the 315th Wing, known as B‑29B models, were different in important ways from those of the four other bomb wings in XXI Bomber Command.  The wing's sole mission was to bomb petroleum targets under the cover of night and in all weather conditions.  The B‑29Bs were equipped with AN/APQ‑7 Eagle radar... [which] dangled distinctly beneath the fuselage of a B‑29, in effect resembling a tiny additional wing.  Though it provided a higher state of resolution than its predecessor, the Eagle also required a longer bomb run of up to seventy miles from initial point to drop, meaning that that newly arrived wing would have to be limited to nocturnal missions or to bad weather conditions when Japanese defenses would be degraded.  The members of the wing quickly found themselves dubbed 'the Gasoline Alley Boys'....  In the weeks ahead, they were going to deal a mighty blow to Japan's refineries and storage and distribution centers.  They were doing a type of bombing that required hair-trigger coordination among the radar operator, the bombardier, and the airplane commander."  (Dorr pp 265-68)  >
  "When the wing's first ground echelons arrived at Northwest Field on 14 April 1945, they found very primitive living conditions.  The wing had been assigned the last available piece of property on the northwest coast of Guam overlooking a sheer cliff that dropped to the sea.  Bulldozer crews had cleared part of the airfield's living areas from the jungle just prior to their arrival. Consequently, there were no living quarters, mess halls, or bathing facilities.  There were only a few latrines blasted out of solid coral and a limited supply of water for drinking or bathing in homemade washstands.  Temporary living quarters consisted of two-man pup tents and bedrolls on the ground."  (Swann pp 57-58)  >
 The 315th Wing commander, Gen. Frank A. Armstrong Jr. (on whom Frank Savage in Twelve O'Clock High was based) attended a shakedown mission's pre-briefing in June 1945.  "He welcomed the crews to the combat area and congratulated them on the start of their combat careers.  He warned them that 'War is hell, but it is double hell in the skies.'"  (Swann p 73)  >
  DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was first used as an insecticide in 1939; during World War II it was routine employed for fighting malaria and typhus.  Made available for public sale in 1945, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) drew attention to DDT's harmful impact, and it was subsequently banned.  >
  In early June 1945 Lt. Wesley Rhodenhamel, a radar navigator in the 15th Bomb Squadron, negotiated with Seabees who'd come to Northwest Field "trying to trade fake war souvenirs for booze."  Lt. Rhodenhamel offered four quarts of whiskey for a refrigerator; the Seabees demanded eight quarts but settled for seven.  Rhodenhamel & Co. hid the fridge under bomb crates in their Quonset hut.  "Two days later, notices were posted all over Guam requesting information from anyone 'knowing the whereabouts of Admiral Nimitz's refrigerator.'"  (Swann p 70)  >
  "The 315th's flight crews had to complete several weeks of theater indoctrination training before they could fly missions over the Japanese Empire.  The training included two days of ground school, two orientation flights, and two shakedown missions required by a special XXI Bomber Command directive.  Ground training included target study, air-sea rescue procedures, and tactical doctrine.  The local orientation flights prepared crews for operations out of Guam.  The two shakedown mission targets assigned to the 315th were Truk and Farajon de Pajaros."  (Swann p 71)  >
 On Rota the Japanese maintained a radio transmitter to warn the home islands about B-29 takeoffs from Guam, Saipan, and Tinian.  Periodically the Allies bombed Rota in hopes of taking out this transmitter, but the island remained in Japanese hands till the formal surrender in September 1945.  >
 "Truk, a major Japanese stronghold in the Eastern Carolines Islands bypassed by advancing American forces, still had Japanese forces on it and provided an excellent training target...  The flight crews practiced their defensive measures on these relatively safe shakedown missions.  They were authorized to go to full power and top speed in their B‑29Bs to evade enemy fighters, searchlights, and flak.  In addition, pieces of aluminum foil, or 'rope,' were also ejected over the target area to confuse enemy radar-controlled searchlights.  If the rope was dropped too late, the aircraft could be lit up, or 'coned,' by the searchlights, and the antiaircraft batteries could zero-in for the kill.  Finally, the crews depended on the APG-15 tail turret guns as their only defensive firepower against fighter attacks.  Despite these defensive measures, the 315th's crews were excellent targets in their lightly armed Superforts flying in a single-ship stream over the target."  (Swann pp 71-74)  >
  ETA stands for Estimated Time of Arrival.  > 
  At this point George completed the first notebook of his 1982 memoir, and began the second one.  >
 Gen. Curtis E. LeMay was commander of the XXI Bomber Command and the strategic bombing operations against Japan.  "In April [1945], Gen. LeMay decided the 315th would attack the Japanese oil industry.  This industry had barely been scratched because it 'was not specified as a top priority objective in the current assigned target list.'  However, Gen. LeMay believed Japan's oil industry was in a critical state and should be knocked out.  Moreover, he thought the 315th should strike the refineries because they were located on or near the coastline where the 315th's Eagle radar could pick them up effectively...  As a result, the 315th was put under extreme pressure to perform.  Gen. LeMay's previous attempts to test selective target bombing using the APQ-13 radar had proved inadequate.  Now the 315th, with its highly touted Eagle radar, was given 'the opportunity to test again the feasibility of all-weather attack against selected targets and at the same time to make a substantial contribution to the conduct of the war.'  Since Japan's oil industry was practically intact, it provided an excellent target to evaluate the 315th's performance.  Thus, the 315th was under the gun to prove its radar bombing accuracy."  (Swann p 64)  >
  Gen. LeMay went on to serve as the USAF Chief of Staff from 1961 to 1965, then as George Wallace's running mate in the 1968 presidential election.  Theodore H. White remarked in The Making of the President 1968 that if conversation among American GIs "got away from girls, grub and guns, their anger would be directed not at the enemy but at the brass.  Certain generals were exempted from their irrit
ation—Eisenhower, Bradley, Chennault.  MacArthur amused them by his flamboyance.  But most generals were hated—notably Patton and Curtis LeMay.  Meeting Curtis LeMay, as I had in Asia, one could not but instantly respect him then, and later, in retrospect, recognize how great a debt the Republic-in-arms owed to him.  But one could not love him; and the men of his command loathed the harsh, unsparing, iron discipline by which he made the United States Air Force the supreme instrument of annihilation it became in the skies of Japan."  >
  On July 16, 1945 the XXI Bomber Command was phased out as redundant, and Gen. LeMay became commander of the Twentieth Air Force (now headquartered on Guam), operating independently of Gen. MacArthur and Adm. Nimitz.  (Dorr p 277)  >
  Until March 1945, bombing missions over the Japanese home islands took place at "about 28,000 fee
t—from which their bombing hadn't been especially accurate," and in daylight.  "Their bombs were often ineffectual....  Aborts were common because engines overheated in the process of climbing to altitude....  Bad weather over Japan, poor target maps, too few planes, and formidable Japanese opposition were 'creating a situation where precision bombing from [high] altitude just wasn't working....'  Partly because of the jetstream (the furious winds high over Japan), partly because of weather, and partly because of mechanical issues, the Americans weren't hitting their targets."  Starting on Mar. 9th, Gen. LeMay changed tactics: flying at night, reducing altitude to around 8,000 feet [to as low as 5,000 feet], and ordering the Superfortresses "to leave guns, gunners, and ammunition behind," so as to carry less fuel and more bombs.  Many crewmembers "shared the general concern that this might be a catastrophic mistake by the big brass—meaning LeMay—that would get a lot of men killed....  Nothing like this had ever been done before.  No armada of warplanes had ever been launched in such numbers without flying in formation.  No American heavy bomber had ever flown so low on a mission against a major target."  (Dorr pp 4-8, 15-16)  >
  "Slicker 00" (serial number 44-84087) duly appears on the list of 331st Bomb Group Aircraft, though oddly between Slicker 34 (assigned to Crew 6B1) and Slicker 35 (assigned to Crew 6B4); thus four planes down from George's Slicker 31.  >
 "On 26 June [1945], the 315th was charged with excitement as the wing prepared for its first mission against Japan's home islands...  Every man was anxious to show what the 315th could do, and each flight crew member keenly felt the anxiety and tension of the occasion."  At the briefing for this mission, "in tones of understatement that underlined his emphasis, General Armstrong declared, 'The 315th Bomb Wing is making history today.  If this mission is successful, this raid will revolutionize aerial bombardment.'"  In all, the "Gasoline Alley Boys" of the 315th would fly fifteen bombing missions over Japan, with George's crew (delayed by the Loran snafu) participating in the fifteenth.  >
  "The fledgling 315th Wing with its Eagle radar mounted its first mission on the night of June 26-27, 1945, striking the Utsube oil refinery near Yokkachi.  Going into July, the Gasoline Alley Boys flew larger and larger missions against petroleum targets.  Striking the Kawasaki petroleum center on the night of July 12-13, the 315th Wing lost its first two B‑29s in combat.  The wing hit Ube on July 23-24.  Kobe-Osaka received more attention in July as B‑29 raids went after different industrial facilities in the port city complex."  (Dorr p 277)  >
  "Tinian-based chaplains were always on the scene to bless each plane and crew just at the start of the takeoff roll.  Chaplains appeared similarly at Guam and Saipan....  'The blessing and signing of the cross by the chaplains provides [a] feeling of comfort as we accelerate down the runway,'" wrote one crewmember.  (Dorr p 70)  >
  Among those preparing for an invasion of Japan was William Henry "Pete" Nash (1918-1985), the Mississippi-born brother-in-law of Mila Jean Smith.  As his wife (my sainted Aunt Mellie: 1918-2017) would write, Pete had been "an instructor in machine gun training, and laying telephone lines and communications—sergeant.  Overseas he was in France, Holland, Germany and Austria.  He returned from European Theater in June 1945—had thirty-day leave and was then sent to the Philippines.  He had been trained for invasion of Japan in an underwater unit to swim in ahead and set up communications secretly and relay back to invasion forces.  I have always been eternally grateful he was never called upon to do it—for it was truly a suicide mission." >
  "On the night of 14-15 August, the 315th conducted its longest and largest raid of the war.  The target for Empire Mission 15 was the Nippon Oil Refinery at Tsuchizaki on the northern coast of Honshu Island—a round trip distance of 3740 statute miles.  Gen. Armstrong led the mission...  Postponed for several days by Japanese-American peace negotiations, the wing's maximum effort mission was finally underway."  (Swann p 113)  >
  Dorr describes this mission from the viewpoint of Crew Y-29 in the 501st Bomb Group's 21st Bomb Squadron, whose plane was called the Boomerang.  "What must have been the final B-29 mission of the war was flown by, among others, Boomerang, a Bell-manufactured B-29B Superfortress....  Although bombing missions were initially canceled when hints appeared that there might be a settlement with the Japanese to end the fighting, on August 13, 1945, Superfortress crews were placed on standby to strike more targets....  On August 14, notwithstanding expectations of a Japanese surrender, [the crews] were alerted for a maximum effort, a 143-aircraft mission."  (Dorr p 296)  >
  Honshu is the main island of Japan; Tsuchizaki is near its northern end.  >
  Tsuchizaki (officially part of the neighboring city of Akita) was not only a oil refinery center but a railway nexus and major port on the Sea of Japan.  Its remote location had saved it from attack until now.  >
 "The 315th Wing's final mission came on the night of August 14-15, the final night of fighting....  Although bombing missions were initially canceled when hints appeared that there might be a settlement with the Japanese to end the fighting, on August 13, 1945, Superfortress crews were placed on standby to strike more targets....  'This will be the longest B-29 mission ever attempted from the Marianas (logged time was seventeen hours total),' the briefer told crewmen.  'You will be carrying a full 10-ton bomb load with no bomb bay fuel tanks.  Your assignment is to bomb the Nippon Oil Company Refinery at Akita.  (Akita represented 67 percent of Japan's remaining annual oil refining capability)....  The Japanese do not believe we can reach Akita from the Marianas, and fortunately have not built large defenses there.  You shouldn't encounter much opposition unless they figure out your B-29Bs have been stripped of armament.  The mission to Akita and back will take you almost 3,800 miles.  You'll be going to the end of your cruise control envelope since you'll be carrying a minimum of fuel for that distance (a rock bottom 6,300 gallons) and an absolute maximum allowable bomb load of 20,500 pounds....'  The briefing officer explained that the word 'Apple' would be sent in Morse code if the United States received word of a Japanese surrender.  That would be the order for the 315th Wing to salvo their bombs and return to base."  (Dorr p 296-297.  In subsequent pages, the mission to Akita is contrasted with efforts by Imperial Japanese hardliners to prevent Hirohito's proclamation of surrender from being broadcast)  >
 "All their lives, the thousand kids who flew B‑29s against the Japanese home islands would remember the roar of engines as a strike force began taking off....  Tinian and Saipan were so close the roar of engines could be heard from one island to the other, and when both were mounting a major effort, both islands were engulfed in noise.  Guam produced its own noise but, because it was slightly farther from Japan, did so about twenty minutes earlier."  (Dorr p 69)  >
 "Every man on Guam, Saipan, and Tinian had witnessed what happened when a B‑29 didn't gain the right combination of power and lift, failed to get into the sky, and dropped into the ground or the ocean with horrific results....  On the day of a mission, once committed, B‑29 crewmembers somehow shoved their fear of flying close to other bombers in the darkness, of Japanese fighters, and of antiaircraft fire to the side.  But everyone was afraid of takeoff....  All would breathe easier when they got into the air."  (Dorr pp 69-70)  >
 In all, 134 B‑29 Superfortress bombers from the 315th Wing dropped 954 tons of explosives on Tsuchizaki, destroying the Nippon Oil refinery.  "Enroute to the target, the skies were full of B‑29s.  Approaching the coast of Japan, the 315th's crews saw hundreds of homeward bound B‑29s...  Aircraft commanders turned their landing lights on to avoid a collision in the traffic jam above Honshu Island."  (Swann p 115)  >
  "Before the last 315th B‑29B landed at Guam on the morning of 15 August, the war was over.  President Truman had announced the unconditional surrender of Japan, and the returning crews heard the news over their radios.  Thus, the 315th had inflicted the final bombing damage to the Japanese Empire with the last bombs away at 0339 hours, 15 August 1945...  The bombing results were particularly impressive for the longest nonstop combat mission ever flown."  (Swann pp 115-16)  >
 "Shortly after the end of hostilities. Twentieth Air Force was tasked to fly mercy supply missions to 70,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) held in Japanese camps.  The POWs desperately needed food, medicine, and clothing to survive until friendly forces could reach them.  Unfortunately, friendly ground forces were still far away from the POW camps located in China, Manchuria, Formosa, Korea, and the four main Japanese home islands. Consequently, Twentieth Air Force was directed to use its B‑29 force to airlift the needed supplies to the POW camps.  Naturally, the 315th contributed to this great humanitarian effort."  (Swann pp 116)  >
  Bataan is a central province of Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines.  When Japan invaded Luzon in Jan. 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur consolidated his defensive forces on the Bataan peninsula where they held out for three months before surrendering in April.  American and Filipino POWs were then forcibly transferred in the Bataan Death March.  >
  "Unfortunately, the 502nd Bomb Group had two fatal aircraft accidents during the 315th's support missions.  On the night of 27 August, Captain Claude S. Larson's aircraft crashed into Mt. Tapotchau, near Isley Field, Saipan.  The crash occurred when Capt Larson attempted a second approach following a missed landing attempt in low visibility.  There were no survivors."  (Swann pp 117)  >
 APO stands for Army Post Office.  >
  The C‑47 Skytrain (called the Dakota by the Royal Air Force, and the "Gooney Bird" in the European Theater) was the most widely used military transport aircraft in World War II.  Adapted from the DC‑3 commercial airplane, it remained in use by the USAF until 1975.  >
  Igorot ("mountaineer") is a general term for the mountain tribes of northern Luzon; at one time they practiced headhunting.  >
 C-rations were canned and pre-cooked, as opposed to A-rations (fresh food), B-rations (packaged but unprepared), and D- or K-rations (survival fare).  >
 Tagalog is the standardized national language of the Philippines (and much heard among the large Filipino-American population of Seattle).  >
 "Typhoon" was capitalized here in the manuscript.  >
  "Four days later [Aug. 31, 1945], on another flight to Manila, airplanes of the 411th Squadron took off from the Philippines to return to Guam.  Crews landing at base reported very bad weather enroute, possibly a typhoon.  Consequently anxiety spread through the Group when it became apparent late [on] the night of 31 August that Captain William J. Pananes and his crew were overdue.  As time passed with no word, search parties were sent out to scour the sea on his flight path.  No traces were found except an empty life raft.  The 315th paid a heavy price to support the mercy missions, however the wing successfully completed its assigned taskings for a worthy cause."  (Swann pp 117.  Although the date here is a week earlier than George's Sep. 8-9 dating of his mercy mission, this would seem to refer to the same typhoon.)  >
  "The period after V-J Day was one of frustration, boredom, and constant thoughts of one go
al—going home.  Most of the men felt they would be the last to go home because they had been overseas for less than six months and hadn't accumulated enough discharge points to leave the Army.  Moreover, there was insufficient work to keep the men busy.  To meet this problem, education, athletic, and recreation programs were started.  Officers clubs and service clubs for the enlisted men were built.  Although the tiny island of Guam provided few diversions, there were frequent visits to the beaches at Tumon Bay and Talefafo Bay as well as numerous sightseeing and social trips up and down the island.  Movies, letter writing, and bull sessions about postwar plans helped to fill the hours.  The postwar atmosphere became resort-like, but the weeks turned into months and by November only a trickle of men had shipped out for home."  (Swann pp 119)  >
  George said on more than one occasion that his AAF chaplain had been almost exactly like William Christopher's portrayal of Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H.  >
 On Sep. 18-19, 1945, three B‑29s (one commanded by Gen. LeMay) attempted to fly nonstop from Japan to Washington DC, using a "great circle" flight plan where the jet stream would serve as a tailwind.  However, unexpected headwinds caused the three planes to land in Chicago for refueling.  George's crew assisted with preparations for another attempt: "The 315th's last major achievement as part of [the] Twentieth Air Force occurred on 1 November 1945.  On that day, Gen. Armstrong, leading a flight of three Superforts, flew nonstop from Chitose Airfield in Hokkaido, Japan, to Washington D.C., over the great circle route.  This was the first such flight of its kind."  (Swann pp 119)  >
  The Mizutani airdrome at Chitose, a suburb of Sapporo, had been built with 8200-foot concrete runways to send four-engined bombers on kamikaze missions against American cities on the Pacific coast.  >
  Hokkaido is the second largest as well as northernmost Japanese island.  The Soviet Union was preparing to invade it before Japan formally surrendered.  >
  Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, was bombed by B‑29s on Jul. 14-15, 1945, with a firestorm that destroyed much of the city.  It would be rebuilt and go on to host the 1972 Winter Olympics.  >
  "Mt. Fujiyama" is a redundancy, since Fujiyama translates as Mount Fuji.  >
 TDY stands for Temporary Duty.  >
 "Oct 26 1945," George captioned a photo of himself and Chuck Clawson standing in front of "Pom Pom" at Mizutani Air Field.  (The caption was on the back of the photo mounted in his Scrapbook, so George may not have seen it while writing the Memoir in 1982.)  >
  Named after a suribachi or "grinding bowl," Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi has a volcanic peak.  The iconic flag-raising by the Marines on Iwo Jima took place here on Feb. 23, 1945.  >
 Ailerons are hinged trailing edges of airplane wings, used to control the plane's rolling and banking.  >
 Circa 1940 the Royal Air Force began calling their inflatable life preservers (invented in 1928) after the full-figured Mae West.  By 1943 this put her name in the Oxford English Dictionary, as "a device used by RAF aviators to keep afloat a person in the water."  Mae's reaction: "I'm glad the Oxford boys didn't say a Mae West was something that men fly around with at night."  >
  The first prefabricated semicircular structures of corrugated galvanized steel were manufactured by the U.S. Navy at Quonset Point RI in 1941.  >
 Agana is the capital of Guam.  A race riot between white and black U.S. Marines took place here at Christmastime in 1944.  >
  "A new air-sea rescue (ASR) system was implemented during June [1945].  Under this system, an LCI (landing craft, infantry) would patrol the shoreline of the island just off the runways when the Superforts started their Empire missions.  In addition, a Dumbo (rescue aircraft) would cruise over the shoreline area to direct the LCI to any aircraft and crew in distress.  Subsequently, the flight crews were required to practice ditching drills using this new ASR system.  Each crew was taken a few miles out to sea in an LCI and tossed overboard with only a Mae West (life vest) for floatation.  Shortly thereafter, a Dumbo dropped a rubber raft to the crew who inflated the raft and then used a signaling mirror to contact the Dumbo.  The Dumbo contacted the LCI and directed it to pick up the crew.  This local ASR system was part of an elaborate system set up in the Pacific using submarines, destroyers, and long-range patrol search planes to support downed aircrews.  Although the flight crews hoped they would never have to use the ASR system, it was reassuring to know it was there as they crossed the vast Pacific."  (Swann p 74)  >
  The officers of George's Crew 6B6 evidently shared a barracks with those of Crew 6C3: 1st Lt. Harold G. Slipp, commander; 2nd Lt. David W. Porterfield, [co-]pilot; 2nd Lt. Harold E. Lawton II, navigator; 2nd Lt. Wallace J. Doan Jr., bombardier; and 2nd Lt. George H. Normandin, radar observer.  6C3's enlisted men were T/Sgt. Robert S. Leland, flight engineer; Cpl. Stephen E. Friet, radio operator; Sgt. Adolph E. Masson and Cpl. James W. Hughes, scanners; and Cpl. Raymond E. Miller, tail gunner.  Unlike most other crews, 6C3 posed for their photo with the enlisted men standing and the officers crouching in front of them.  (Perhaps they were also the crew who suggested that "D.H. McGillicudhay" be "Crew 6C6.")  >
  Harold G. (Hal) Slipp (1919-2007) came from Maine; he returned to his high school and taught mathematics there till retirement.  >
  David W. Porterfield (1923-2006) was a Texan who went into the insurance business and started his own company.  (The comprehensive crew roster erroneously gives him the middle initial "M," but the group roster has the correct "W.")  >
  The 5'4" Harold Elliott Lawton II (1923-2008), called "Sparky" in George's photo captions and "Sparkey" in his obituary, was born in Pennsylvania, lived in Delaware and retired to Florida, where he started a banjo band called Sparkey's Strummers.  >
  Wallace John Doan Jr. (1918-2014) came from Michigan and was an electrician in civilian life.  >
  George Hayward Normandin (1919-2018) came from Los Angeles and earned a degree in engineering at UC Berkeley.  After service in the Korean War he was an IBM salesman who adopted ten children.  (The comprehensive crew roster erroneously gives him the surname "Normandie" but the group roster has the correct one)  >
 "In November 1945, the 315th began a rapid withdrawal to the States....  Each bomb group's authorized aircraft strength was reduced from 50 to 30, and the Superforts were ferried to the States by the flight crews.  This first stage aircraft transfer was also used to carry personnel eligible for discharge from the Army.  However, most of the men boarded slow-moving troop ships for the long voyage to San Francisco via Honolulu.  By February 1946. the wing's manpower strength had been reduced from 11,500 to 3,000 men, and the wing was directed to reduce its total aircraft to 24 B-29Bs."  (Swann p 120)  >
  "On 15 February 1946, the wing was consolidated for the final withdrawal period.  All remaining bomb group personnel joined the 501st Bomb Group, reducing the 16th, 331st, and 502nd to 'paper unit' status....  A steady stream of aircraft headed for the States.  The three unmanned bomb groups were deactivated on 15 April. and all remaining 315th Wing Headquarters personnel were transferred to the 501st.  For the next month, the 501st Group staff also served as the wing staff."  (Swann p 120)  >
 Anderson Air Force Base was named after Gen. James Roy Andersen, declared killed in action during a Feb. 1945 accident near Kwajalein.  >
  The SS Cape Mendocino, a "huge cargo ship," was launched into Los Angeles Harbor in a gala ceremony on Jan. 24, 1943, as per an article in the next day's Los Angeles Times.  It "was the 23rd C-1 cargo and passenger vessel of 9600 tons to be launched" at the Consolidated Steel Corporation's Wilmington shipyards.  In June 1945 it was escorted by the destroyer U.S.S. Holt from San Pedro Bay to the Navy base at Ulithi in the Caroline Islands.  (Most other references online are to a later barge carrier of the same name, that operated from 1971 to 2008.)  >
  Liberty ships were cargo freighters mass-produced during World War II, originally to replace British ships torpedoed by German U-boats.  Of the 2,700+ built during 1941-45, only four still exist.  >
  Tatami mats are used as flooring material in traditional Japanese rooms.  >
 The Pali pass traveled steeply (pali being Hawaiian for cliff or precipice) between the Windward and Honolulu sides of Oahu.  >
  Suntans were tan-colored military uniforms for summer wear.  >
 Camp McCoy, located between Sparta and Tomah in western Wisconsin, served as a detention center for Japanese and German POWs during World War II.  > 
  This twelve-week session was a special accelerated summer program for returning veterans, in which others could participate.  >
 The GI Bill (formally the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944) was designed to provide immediate benefits for returning veterans of World War II.  For those attending college, tuition and living expenses were paid; with this and his three years of saved military pay, George was economically independe
nt—for awhile.  During 1946-49 he attended the University of Illinois year-round: "I actually had a hell of a good time going to school...  It was a very stimulating, provocative period, the later Forties."  He found he was more interested in architectural history than design, indulged himself with extra art history and sculpture electives, became involved with social causes and the Unitarian church, and made some lifelong friends: particularly the Holshousers, Don (1920-2002) and Marion (1921-2011).  >
  Since the typescript of "A Memoir for the Jubilee Year of UMKC" (aka "How I Came to KCMO") is dated March 1984, the "has been recounted" reference implies that George worked on "The War Memoir" (on and off) for two years.  However, KCU/UMKC marked its semicentennial in 1983; and it may be that George composed a handwritten draft of "How I Came to KCMO" during 1982-83 in parallel with "The War Memoir," typing up a version of the KCMO memoir (doubtless revised) in 1984, while leaving his military memoir untyped and incomplete.  >
  In 1948 George was hired as a studio assistant in sculpture classes, and found he rather enjoyed teaching; he also got his first camera and learned how to develop film.  After accumulating almost 200 hours of coursework, he earned a Bachelor of Science (Division of Special Services for War Veterans) in 1949.  George promptly began work on his graduate degree, a Master of Fine Arts with an art history option, while serving as a teaching assistant in sculpture and also in Art Appreciation, pulling slides and occasionally delivering lectures; thus managing to secure a foot in both the studio art and art history camps.  > 
 When George revisited Chicago at this time, older relatives like the Ruhigs and Temmers would ask why he was "always going to school" instead of getting a Real Job and maybe doing art on weekends.  A photo taken in April 1951 was captioned "Poor George: Thesis to do / No money / NO job in sight / Et al."  While completing his thesis (The International Exposition: An Index to American Art of the Nineteenth Century) and work on casting the first large-scale concrete statue at the University of Illinois, he applied for jobs at a wide variety of schools and museums.  In June 1951 he received his MFA.  >
  The Aug. 8, 1951 Daily Illini reported that "The 1,000 pound over-life-size statue is the six months's work of George Ehrlich, assistant in art, and Alice Boatwright, graduate student....  Miss Boatwright, who will be assistant in art in the fall, has been working with Ehrlich since last February, filling in the [seven-feet-tall] mold with colored, steel-reinforced concrete.  They are now removing the mold from the cured concrete....  Miss Boatwright and Ehrlich have never worked together before, although both have been represented in a recent graduate student exhibition in the Architecture building gallery."  A month later, George was gone from Illinois and university life.  (An Alice A. Boatrig
ht—no W—worked as the U of I Zoology Department's staff artist/illustrator in the late 1950s.)  > 
  Chanute Field (about fifteen miles north of the University of Illinois) was established in 1917 after the United States entered World War I.  The base was decommissioned in 1993.  >
  Like Chanute, Mather Field began as a training camp in 1917 and was closed in 1993.  >
 Possibly Thomas David Donnelly Jr. (1924-1990), son of a Chicago police sergeant, who lived on South Evans Avenue in 1940 and (like George) served in the Army 1943-46.  >
  Probably Raymond Frank Dedo (1918-1999) of Dearborn MI, who enrolled in the Air Corps as an aviation cadet in 1942.  >
  The B‑25 Mitchell was a twin-engine medium bomber used in every theater of World War II.  Catch-22 called it a "stable, dependable, dull-green" ship whose single fault, so far as Yossarian was concerned, was the tight crawlway separating him from the nearest escape hatch.  (Patricia Chapman Meder's The True Story of Catch-22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller's 340th Bomb Group in World War II is recommended to any reader seeking insight into the origins of that novel.)  >
 Effingham IL is about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis, and about 75 miles south of Urbana IL.  >
 George also visited Chicago briefly during this leave, and encountered his parents's new television set.  That night, on a rollaway bed in the living room, he turned the TV's sound down and watched the tube in fascination.  >
  John White the Virginia architect and his sassy-lassie wife Crystal have eluded my attempts to detect them online.  >
  One bright spot was Phil and Mary Schug's having moved to San Antonio.  The Rev. Phillip C. Schug (1914-2005) had been the Unitarian minister in Champaign-Urbana during George's undergraduate years; no Sunday evening meal was served at the Illinois Student Union, so the Unitarians ran a sort of co-op food service to which Phil and wife Mary (1918-2011) would bring a bottle of port wine.  George and the Holshouser family were among those who took part in these social gatherings.  In San Antonio in 1952, the Schugs's new church was a haven for George, though he did not formally become a Unitarian till after a rollover auto accident on an icy blacktop in December 1954.  The following spring he visited the Schugs in San Antonio and joined their church, wanting to begin with them before transferring his membership to KCMO.  >
  George would have recurrent hernia grief for the next half-century, undergoing further repair in 1964 and 1983, and finally a drastic procedure in 2000 that may have started him down the slippery slope to dementia.  >
 Philipp Fehl (1920-2000) was an Austrian-born artist, author, and art historian, who also served as an interrogator at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.  Besides KCU, he taught at the Universities of Chicago, Nebraska, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and finally Illinois, becoming a Professor Emeritus there in 1990.  >
  George wrote his parents that he was working "forty hours a week doing drawings from engineers's sketches for the circuits, etc. of the 'electronic brain'....  Meanwhile I am studying German and will work on 'articles for publishing' and other schoolwork at nights, and on the weekends.  If I do stay at Illinois for the PhD then I can make arrangements to work and go to school.  This is ideal.  The work is easy, about five minutes walk from the house [where he was living with sister Martha and niece Sherry Renee], and the laboratory I work in is very pleasant....  And of course I am looking for a teaching job.  I might not be making two chairs to sit in, Dad, but it is a long bench."  (One of Joseph's maxims was "You mustn't fall between two chairs.")  George also recommended that his father take Dramamine for seasickness ("I used it while flying and it was very good") and added "No Mother, I do not need a 'belt' for support" re: his recent hernia.  >
 ILLIAC I (Illinois Automatic Computer) was the first to be built and owned by an American university.  It became operational in Sep. 1952 and was succeeded a decade later by ILLIAC II.  (In 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL states "I became operational at the HAL Plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January, 1992.")  >
  George never lost his interest in computers, buying his first PC in 1987 and delighting in the capabilities of word processing.  (I once saw him try to teach the basics of this to antimechanical Mila Jean, who wore the expression of a cat undergoing a flea bath.)  >
  George's conditions were that he would not accept a teaching load over twelve hours; he wanted confirmation of authority over the courses he would teach, particularly the controversial Art 110 (a requisite for graduation and the least popular among stud
ents); and he should be offered at least $3600 a year, $300 more than he was making at the Illinois computer lab.  KCU offered him $3700 to teach twelve hours—in 1951 he would have received $2800 to teach fifteenand to be in full charge of Art 110.  (For decades afterward, when students complained about having to take Art 110, George would say "But you don't have to take it"—and when they started to smile, he'd add "Unless you want to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.")  >
 Still beset by the horrendous summer heat wave, George met with the Illinois Graduate School administration to argue that he'd satisfied the state residency requirement (living fulltime in Illinois for two semesters).  George watched as the Grad School secretary—"a formidable woman who really ran the school"—gave the dean a tiny go-ahead nod; whereupon George's request was approved.  He could now continue to pursue his PhD while in KCMO, with six of the original seven years remaining to complete it; which he did in 1960.  >
  Leavenworth National Cemetery was originally part of a Delaware Indian reservation, then of the Western Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers; its first soldier's interment took place in 1886.  The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.  >
 George's wanting "NO" military honors at his funeral was in reaction to that of Mila Jean's brother-in-law Pete Nash in 1985, which included a three-volley rifle salute.  (In 2015 the Air Force stopped offering this option, since it could no longer support the riflemen for veteran funeral services.)  >
  The ashes of George's sister Martha and her husband Nick Mlinarich had been scattered over their beloved Mojave Desert in 1993.  >
 George and Mila Jean's plot at Leavenworth is Section 53-A, row 3, site 12.  >
  Original edition (covering 1826-1976) published by the Historic Kansas City Foundation in 1979; revised and enlarged edition (extending through 1990) published by the University of Missouri Press in 1992.  >

List of Illustrations

●  George Ehrlich's senior picture, Senn High School, Class of 1942
●  George as Treasurer of the Senn International Relations Club, 1942
●  University of Illinois Military Day program, May 1943 (George at far right of front rank)
●  George's "Greeting" from Uncle Sam, June 1943

●  Private George (in "Smokey Bear hat") at the Embassy Hotel, Miami Beach, Summer 1943
●  George and Old Glory, September 1943
●  George in Arkadelphia, Christmas 1943
●  George's Aviation Cadet identification badge
●  The Encyclopedia Britannica certificate
●  George home on leave in Chicago with his parents, Mathilda and Joseph: July 1944
●  "Why Is the Big Smile?" (father Joseph's caption), October 1944
●  George (post-removal of wisdom tooth) graduating from Navigation School
●  Navigation School Graduation program, November 1944
●  George's Navigation School Diploma
●  a view of George and a B-17 in Boca Raton, December 1944
●  another view of George and a B-17 in Boca Raton, December 1944
●  "A Hadnagy Úr"—2nd Lt. George Ehrlich, March 1945
●  George's Radar Observation School Diploma
●  George home on leave in Chicago with his parents, March 1945
●  The Blue Danube Cafe ("with all the Charm and Delight of Old Budapest")
●  four Army Air Force patches: Twentieth Air Force, 315th Bomb Wing, 331st Bomb Group, 356th Bomb Squadron
●  Crew 6B6 of the 356th Bomb Squadron
●  Crew 6B6, partying back at McCook after Gypsy Task Force training in Jamaica, c. May 1945
●  George in Jamaica's Hope Garden, c. April 1945
●  the Omega watch George bought for his father in Jamaica
●  Clio and Hercules Pettis
●  Wayne MacFarland in the Feb. 11, 1944 Seattle Times
●  Chuck Clawson in flight gear at McCook
●  George, Blair Archer, and Wayne MacFarland, April 1945
●  "Pom Pom," Slicker 31 (from George's Scrapbook)
●  a color photo of "Pom Pom"
●  Slicker 31, with "Pom Pom" visible on the nose and "31" toward the tail
●  George, Chuck Clawson, and "Pom Pom" huddling in Japan, October 1945
●  George standing below Slicker 31's nose
●  The APQ-7 Eagle radar antenna
●  "Gasoline Alley": the 315th Bomb Wing's targets on their fifteen combat missions
●  Crew 6C3, whose officers shared a barracks on Guam with George's Crew 6B6
●  Living in tents on Guam, August 1945
●  Building barracks on Guam, August 1945
●  George inside the barracks, October 1945
●  George outside the barracks ("interrupted while reading"), November 1945
●  a sketch George made inside the barracks on Guam
●  Chuck Clawson outside the "Wheel and Skull House," April 1946
●  George about to bid farewell to Guam, April 1946
●  "The B-29s are all gone," April 1946
●  The Mendocino Maru arriving in San Francisco, May 1946
●  The not-so-merry passengers of the Mendocino Maru
●  George and Alice Boat(w)right working on a statue at the U of I, August 1951
●  George recalled to active service; near Tucson AZ in September 1951
●  George at Randolph Air Force Base, January 1952
●  George at Randolph, April 1952: a decade after graduating from Senn High School
●  George with Mila Jean in 1982, the year he wrote his War Memoir
●  George's marker at Leavenworth National Cemetery
●  George and his other marker, on the KCMO Central Library's "Community Bookshelf," May 2006

A Split Infinitive Production
Copyright © 2018-19 by P. S. Ehrlich