I enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Allentown, PA, and was sworn in on March 7, 1941 in Philadelphia at age 18. The next day I arrived in Tampa, FL on a train ... assigned to the 67th Sqdn of the 44th Bomb Group(H) at MacDill Field.
It was a new base, with the transition just being made from tents to barracks ... was fortunate to be assigned to Barracks B-18, along with John Supko, who was sworn in with me in Philly.
Participated in Dedication Ceremony of MacDill Field on Wed. 4/16/41 ... Col. MacDill's wife and two daughters were guests of honor. Senator Claude Pepper was the featured speaker.
Arrived in Newark, NJ Sat. 5/3/41 to attend Casey Jones School of Aeronautics ... assigned to Broad St. barracks ... school started Mon. 5/5/41. Student body was 600.
Tues. 5/27/41--President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared National Emergency in radio speech.
Wed. 10/22/41--graduated from Casey Jones and received diploma ... assigned to ground crew for B-18A bomber after return to MacDill 10/24/41.
Sun. 12/7/41 PEARL HARBOR DAY--on guard duty, reported to guardhouse at 0730 hrs ... made Supernumery …. standing by … heard the news about the attack on Pearl Harbor while listening to Sammy Kaye's "Sunday Serenade".
Mon. 12/8/41--Congress declared war on Japan ... Articles of War were read to us at 1300 hrs.
Tues. 1/6/42--new assignment--Assistant Aerial Engineer ... planes LB-30's. Arrived in Las Vegas, NV Fri. 1/23/42 to attend Aerial Gunnery School ... assigned to barracks 3-3 with Noel Meek ... school started Mon. 1/26.
2/21/42 to 2/27/42--spent this time away from Gunnery School location at area called Indian Springs in tent with Anglin, Aswell, Meek and Theis ... here's where we did "air to air" firing at tow targets from AT-6's.
Sat. 2/28/42--graduated from gunnery school ... Commander Beamish of Royal Air Force gave out diplomas.
Tues. 3/3/42--arrived at Barksdale Field, Shreveport, Louisiana ... assigned to 344th Sqdn of 98th Bomb Group(H) as Flight Engineer … ground school training was intensified and flew regularly.
3/30/42--arrived at Fort Myers, Florida, a new base carved out of sand, palmetto bushes and pine trees ... slept in tents.
4/1/42--the first B-24D bomber arrived .... my first flight there was on 4/2, pilot was Capt. John Kane in B-24D #699 ... Col. Hugo Rush inspected combat crews on the ramp on 4/6 … same day I was assigned (temporarily) to crew #4: officers were: Krippendorf, Leader and Hiatt ... enlisted men were: Cwikiel, Snell and Milliner.
4/14/42--reassigned to crew #6. Officers were: Brown and Dwyer … enlisted men were Van Gilder, Ransdell and Wido.
4/21--our crew number was changed to #8 in B Flight ... here was my first reference to HALPRO the next day.
4/23/42 Fort Myers, FL--my' first flight with new crew. Lt. Norman Davis was added to crew as Navigator-Bombardier on 4/25.
4/28/42--flew with Capt. Volin to Brookley Field, Mobile, Alabama. Took officers to ferry modified B-24D'Is back to Fort Myers ... Flew back same day with Lt's Brown and Dwyer in B-24D #11618.
5/5/42--crew #8 was assigned to HALPRO plane #11592(B-24D) ... to be known as #17.
5/7/42--M/Sgt. Pat McClosky was assigned Crew Chief of #11. 5/10-14/42--crew #8 flew to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio and back. Pilots were asked to check on maximum altitude attainable on flight to Dayton. We reached 38000', before one of the bomb bay tanks(empty)suddenly collapsed ... temperature was minus 40 degrees ... drew supplies(flying clothes, radio equipment, flashlights, bulbs, fuses, safety wire, hoses, oxygen fittings) ... plane received thorough 100 hour inspection.
5/15/42(Fri.)--Sgt's Fogash, Supko and the rest of the 344th left for Lakeland ... we prepared for an overseas trip ... installed baggage racks .... Drew from supply: parachutes, flares, rifles, canned foods, 45 pistols and tools.
'5/20/42 (Wed. ) __ "A " Flight left for Morrison Field in West Palm Beach. 5/22/42(Fri.)--Took off at 0850 in #17 and landed at Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Florida at 1205 (it was not a direct flight).
5/24/42(Sun.)--Left West Palm Beach and the USA at 0715 as part of an 8 plane flight ... landed Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico at 1325.
S/2S/42(Mon.)--Took off at 0915 and landed at Waller Field, Trinidad at 1400, after circling airport for 30 minutes awaiting clearance to land in mist amd rain.
5/26/42(Tues.)--Took off at 0145 and landed at Natal, Brazil at 1610. low on fuel, after long flight of 14 hours and 25 minutes!
5/27/42(Wed.)--After all night torrential rain, water had leaked into 'our plane in several areas ... dried equipment in the sun .... refueled, put 2400 gallons of gas through large strainers ... did 25 hour aircraft inspection ... took off at 2235 on a non stop flight to Africa!
5/28/42(Thurs.)--headed eastward all night in starry, moonlit skies ... passed through several storms ... gas gauges were reading very low when we landed at Accra, West Africa (now Ghana) at 1330, after a flight of 14 hrs. and 55 min!
5/29/42(Fri. )--took off at 1945, still heading east, now overland ... takeoff was delayed almost 2 hours when wheels sank 6" in soft spot while taxiing ...
5/30/42(Fri)--Landed at Khartoum, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan at 1105, after a .record flight of 15 hrs. and 20 minutes non-stop! The temperature here was 115 degrees in the shade!
6/1/42(Mon.)--"C" Flight began arriving ... had to cover engine air ducts because of frequent dust(sand)storms .... did 50 hr. inspection on engines
6/4/42(Thurs.)--Roll call was held for all crews at 15:45 ... put baggage back on planes ... hope to leave soon ... delay due to sand storms…
6/7/42(Sun.)--#3 gas tank developed bad leak ... drained it ... filled bomb bay tanks.
6/8/42(Mon.)—“A” Flight and part of "B" took off for Fayid ... another storm-poor visibility grounded balance of planes.
6/9/42(Tues.)--Up at 0330. Took off at 0525 (with #3 engine running on bomb bay tank) ... passed over Cairo and the pyramids ... landed at Fayid, Egypt at 1140 .... pulled baggage racks … prepared to remove bad gas tank cell.
6/10/42(Wed.)--#23 landed with nose wheel retracted, no injuries ... worked all day until 1800 hrs. to remove leaky cell from wing.
6/11/42(Thurs.)--first combat mission for HALPRO--Ploesti Oil Fields in Rumania--our crew was scheduled in #15, but did not go--another gas leak!