In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. (Genesis, 1).
On May 5, 1925, I was born in Baylor Hospital, located in the City of Dallas, Texas.
From 1925 to 1938, I resided with my family at 5637 Victor St, Dallas, Texas.
In the year 1938 we moved to 7012 Clayton Street in Dallas, Texas, where I resided until February 1948, at which time I married the former Joan Brune. The only absence from this address was the time I spent in the military service, beginning in 1943.
I attended William Lipscomb Elementary School, J. L. Long Jr. High and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, in the year 1942. Prior to my graduation and sometime after my seventeenth birthday, I made an application to be accepted into the Army aviation cadet program looking toward being, either a pilot, navigator, or a bombardier. After mental and physical examinations and tests, I was accepted into the program, but was not immediately called to active duty.
In 1943, I was finally called to active duty and my mother drove me down to the post office on Harwood Street where I caught the truck or bus to my first assigned station, which was...
Shepherd Field, Wichita Falls, Texas. Shepherd Field was a dismal place. I have no fond recollection of this area. My only recollections were of being almost on constant kitchen police (K.P.) duty where I was usually engaged in scrubbing floors and tables. For some reason, I never advanced in the technology of kitchen maintenance, nor did I ever become proficient as a potato peeler or garbage carrier. There was an additional job that I performed which was absolutely enjoyable: I was a night guard of the sewerage disposal dump! Why this was necessary was never explained to me, and I could not believe that the Germans or Japanese could be interested in sabotaging the sewerage disposal dump at Shepherd Field. It may have been that this was the only valuable asset on the entire base.
After being dehumanized and suffering through the pains of basic training, I was put on a train and sent to..
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. Life was now getting better. We lived in the dormitories of the University and ate in the University cafeteria. The quarters were most comfortable and the food was good. This place was like heaven compared to Shepherd Field.
The reasons that we were sent to this college were not made clear to me. I was given the usual freshman college courses. There were other courses, such as aircraft and ship recognition and other things of a military nature. This college work turned out to be an advantage to me, as I received college credits, which were transferred to Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
During the latter part of my being stationed in Lubbock, we were given some flying instructions in a small field somewhere outside of Lubbock. The airplanes were modified Piper Cubs - I think the designation was L-4 - and they had originally been intended for use as artillery spotters for the infantry. It was a little two-seater. The student sat in back of the instructor, who almost obliterated the student’s view forward, and of course, of all instruments. My ability to learn to fly this crate never reached any great skill. I had the unhappy habit of always landing about ten feet above the ground. The airplane would hit the ground with a tremendous thud! All I could hear was the screaming of the instructor.
After my last flight, the instructor and I were walking to put away our parachutes, when he turned to me and asked, ”I understand you are going to California in the next few days to be classified?” I said, “Yes, that’s true”. Instructor, ”What are you going to try to be, a navigator?” This was the voice of prophecy. He understood that I was not capable of being a pilot. It was difficult to try to fly with your vision obscured. I didn’t do very well as you can imagine.
Within a few days I was put on a train and shipped to...
Santa Ana, California. This base was the area where the aviation cadets were given further mental and physical tests and were classified as to their apparent ability to perform the duties of either pilot, navigator or bombardier.
The tests were interesting and quite fun. After a period of time and psychological evaluations, etc, we were classified. I was classified as a navigator. The reason for this, as I understood at the time, was that navigators were not having very long lives. There was a short supply and a need for them in combat air forces. On departing this station, I was given my evaluation papers and I noted that I had actually qualified for all three pilot, navigator and bombardier, but as was stated above, the need was for navigators because they were losing quite a few of them in the combat zone.
The large loss of navigators was explained to me as follows: The combat zones of the European theater had the greatest loss of navigators, This was the result of a defensive flaw in the B-17 bomber. Prior to the B-17G, the bombers had little or no effective firepower from the nose. The German fighters discovered that there was a “cone of safety” directly in front of the nose of the bomber. German fighters would attack straight into the nose! Good-bye navigator and bombardier! The B-17G solved this problem by putting a twin fifty caliber, machine gun turret under the nose of the plane. These guns protected the area in front of the plane. The turret was aimed and operated by the bombardier.
Again, I was put on a train and shipped to……
Hondo Air Base, Hondo, Texas. It was a common joke that if the world had an elimination orifice, it had to be Hondo, Texas. This was out in the middle of nowhere and was really spartan in its facilities. But here, at last, was the beginning of my flying experience and training.
Even though I had not done too well in high school and math had always been a problem, I found that navigation was easy. I understood it and I did quite well with it. On or before our graduation from this navigation school, I was selected as the member of my class to navigate from Hondo to Little Rock, Arkansas. The occasion was the inspection by the Air Inspector from Washington, D.C. to test the training and proficiency of the students that were about to graduate. This was quite an honor and I was very pleased that I was selected. I did well. The flight consisted of a celestial navigation procedure. I would shoot the sun and use it as speed lines. I was able to do this so well, that I came in right over Little Rock and was congratulated by the Air Inspector, personally. Upon landing, my instructor, who was our flight commander, ran out onto the field, shook my hand, put his arm around me and congratulated me and said that the report was that I had done a spectacular job.
After graduation, as a Second Lieutenant Flying Navigator, I was given a seven- day delay en route before reporting to my next station. After this delay, here I am back on a train to my next destination which is ...
Lincoln Army Air Base, Lincoln, Nebraska. Arriving at the airbase in Lincoln, I was terrified when I looked out on the field and all I saw were B-24 Bombers. One time I had been in a B-24 Bomber. I never could figure out how the navigator could get out of one in an emergency. This fear turned out to be baseless as I was never put into a B-24 or forced to fly one.
This was the first of two times that I would be in Lincoln, Nebraska. The only thing that was accomplished on this trip was being put on another train and shipped to ...(next chapter)