DONALD F. ESLOCKER|
World War II Memories
I joined the Army Air Corps on March 1, 1941 and was sent to MacDill Field with the 66th Bomb Squadron, 44th Bomb Group. I spent two weeks in training on the sand and was then assigned to Scott Field, Belleville, IL, for a six-month radio-training course.
When I returned to MacDill Field, there was a white plane on the ramp, which was an LB.-30, forerunner of the B-24. We only had B-18s and B17s at that time. A short time later, we moved to Barksdale Field, LA, where we saw our first B-24. War was declared on December 7, 1941, and we were ordered to Bakersfield, CA. On Christmas Day, we were sent to Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas, where they loaded our plane with all types of spare parts. We were assigned to fly to Spokane, WA, where we were relieved of our planes and given a three-day train ride back to Tampa, Florida.
In the spring of 1942, we were flying B-24s, training pilots, and hunting submarines in the Gulf of Mexico. The shifts for training pilots was from 7 to 11 a.m.; 1 to 5 p.m., and 6 to 10 p.m., day in and day out with no let up.
One night we didn't have to fly from 6 to 10 p.m., so Cummins and I went to the town of Shreveport where we got very soused. The next morning, they couldn't wake me until 11 a.m. and Major Posey told me what I had done the night before. Needless to say, I lost my sergeant stripes and was transferred from the 44th to the 90th, which was being activated, on the same base.
I had been in the 90th about two weeks when a plane came in to land in a thick fog and crashed. All aboard were killed. It was my morning flight to go submarine hunting and my friend, Worley, the radio operator who had taken my place, was killed instead of me.
In May of 1942, I was ordered back to the 44th, 67th Squadron on detached service and learned Major McDonald had requested me as his radio operator to go on a special mission. We flew to Bolling Air Force Base, where Colonel Northup and a Navy Commander joined us. The plane was overloaded that Major Mac wasn't sure we would clear the Potomac River. We made it and flew to Goose Bay, Labrador, where Marsh and Ward, our engineers, worked all night on one of our engines. We flew form there to Bluey West Eight in Greenland. We (three planes, that is) photographed most of that island looking for a German WX station.
We arrived back in Montreal, Canada, some time in July where we stayed a week while a new engine was installed. We flew from there to Winnepeg where we stayed overnight, and went from there to Barksdale. We were told there that the 44th had moved to Oklahoma City, so Major Mac made out a bunch of three-day passes and told us to fill in the dates as we needed them. We all went our separate ways until I was notified to report to Wright Patterson AirField in Ohio. I flew from there to Middletown, PA, and Air Force Depot. From there I was ordered to take a commercial plane to Oklahoma City where we stayed at the Black Hotel until the 44th packed up and wen to Grenier Field, Manchester, New Hampshire. I flew from there to Prestwick, Scotland.
Colonel Moffit of the 90th Bomb Group sent Teletype after Teletype to the 44th Headquarters, requesting my return but Major Mac told me t lay low and he would take me with him, which he did.
P.S. The same Major Posey who busted me when I was in the 66th gave me my promotion to T/Sgt. As soon as we got overseas.
P.P.S. My service records went with the 90th to the Pacific, so I lost a record of all the flying time of spring of 1942.