World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
23 March 1987
Thanks for your note of the 15th. We enjoyed our lunch trip and the conversation too.
In regard to records and crew and things, please be aware that Mickey operators, since they flew only lead or later had a deputy lead, outlasted several crews, in the normal course of things. The aircraft commander which my increasingly faulty memory tells me I flew with include a Solomon (the only food hardy soul to let me "land" a B-24!), Vaughn, and possibly, but not for sure, Van Dyke. I mention Van because I roomed with his crew after I moved out of the Nissen hut where I first put down my things. There are others, but I regret I can't remember their names.
As to arrival, my memory recalls May 1944, but we were immediately shipped to Alconbury. I remember that when we completed the course there, we were offered a choice of remaining in the B24 or moving over into the (horrors!) B17. It is possible, therefore, that our names were expunged from the rolls of the group of our original assignment and then replaced after we had avoided the ignominy of becoming B17 crewmembers. I remember that several of my fellows in the radar clan at Langley were with me at Alconbury and some came to the 44th: Orczar [Casimerc 0-699235], Hare [Loyd W.], Ellberg [Wayne 0-667268] and (?) [Fowler, Fred].
I must admit to a certain strangeness concerning my wartime memories. It's related to the facts of later years. After I had abortively tried pilot training immediately after the war, I was transferred into the 43rd Bomb Group, a WWII B29 unit) as SAC was being formed and remained with them as a B29 and B50 RN for seven years. Then, after a short stay in RB 36, at the 99th SRW/99th BW and some upgraded navigator/bombardier/radar training. I spent nine years in the 93rd BW as everything from brand new B52 radar navigator to the wing bomb-nav. Chief.
These wings, along with Tom's at 15th and 2nd Air Force, provide me memories and old friendships which are equally as strong, or more so, than those associated with the 44th. The same thing is true in a somewhat different sense, about my much more recent and therefore, better remembered service in Southeast Asia. My tour there was in company mostly with fighter pilot types who were friends and acquaintances from USAFE, where I had just spent four years.
The only two SAC and ex-WWII-8th AF folks I knew there were both two-stars, one of whom was my boss and I'm pleased to say, an old friend. So my recollections of the 44th suffer from a sort of disjoined reverse déjà vu. Young David Klaus may discover this when he goes about editing the taped comments he elicited from me.
I am most interested to see the 44th photography that you've gathered. Unfortunately, my camera in those days was a plastic cheapie and even my output from that was lost in a house fire in Tucson in 1950 or 51. My very first good photo that I've kept was taken after that of an Arizona sunset from the roof to the house that replaced the one which burned.
Let's get together and look at pictures.