Edward A. 'Hawk' Cave

HALPRO

I left there March 28, 1942, after 46 hours of first pilot time on a B-24. Some of us pulled out of the 98th Bomb Group to Ft. Myers, Florida April 6, 1942, to what was later known as Page Field. We called it Palmetto Field because it had no name.

There were two runways, a parking ramp, enlisted personnel lived in tents and had tar paper and stand up screen mess structures with sand floors. Officers were permitted to live in town. Flew day and night putting in 97 hours flying time to learn combat tactics - had no idea what it was all about. On April 28, 1942, we flew to Mobile, Alabama and picked up 23 new B-24s flown in from Long Beach, California and returned to Ft. Myers on the first day of May, 1942. We flew to Wright Patterson Field to get overseas equipment, where they took out the ball turrets in the belly since they did not work properly and put a piece of metal skin under the bottom and filled the hole with gear.

The B-24 was made for 48,000 pounds and we carried 67,000 pounds before we left the states. They put in two 500-gallon rubber gas tanks, one in the right and one in the left side of the front bomb bays. I knew then we were in for some long flights to the unknown. Each of the 23 B-24's had two extra ground crew members to help take care of the aircraft and bombsights, etc.