Although this series of events begins during the Korean War, my service in the Air Force began in 1942 when that branch of the military was the Army Air Corps. It was then that I enlisted early in World War II.
Having qualified for pilot training at Santa Ana preflight school I completed primary flight training at Visalia, California basic flight training at Merced, California advanced flight training at Luke Field outside Phoenix, Arizona, where I earned my Wings and was commissioned as a brand new 2nd Lieutenant.
“What do you want to fly?”, the Training Squadron Commander asked as I took my place before his desk. “P-51s, Sir,” says I. He was looking at a chart, the content of which I could not see if there was anything there. I'm not certain he even pretended to write anything but he smiled and said, “OK Lieutenant”. My subsequent orders read, “Twin Engine Instructors School”.
After completing the instructors' program, I was sent to Roswell, New Mexico where I instructed cadets in Advanced Twin Engine School. This lasted only a few months during which construction began on the runways and ramps. This was the prelude to the introduction of four-engine B-17s.
Again, I went through instructors' school, this time in B-17s. However, this time we were instructing commissioned , flight-rated officers, some fresh out of flying school and some older pilots. Again, construction began on the field longer runways, wider taxi strips and additional parking space. Sure enough one day a B-29 showed up! At that time the B-29 was the biggest bomber we had.
When I first started working in the B-17 I was not too pleased, but now, the bigger they came, the greater my desire to fly them and I really liked that bird!
I remained at Roswell all during the war, and though I had applied for combat on a couple of occasions when “Do-you-want-to-go” lists came out. I suspect that these lists were mostly morale boosters because it seemed that only a few instructors who had gotten into difficulty ever went.
At the end of the war I was separated, but remained in the Army Air Force Reserves.
I attended college on the GI Bill and earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. While in college I managed to maintain a certain level of flying proficiency while joining Reserve units which had planes.
After graduating I investigated a couple of engineering offers and two airline offers. The ground jobs did not appeal to me nor did the airline prospects which meant starting as a flight engineer and, over time, being promoted to copilot and, eventually to captain. If I went back on active duty and probably went to Korea I would be again in the seat as Aircraft Commander.
After a refresher course, I was assigned to a crew and following some additional training, I became a member of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, now wearing the new U.S. Air Force Blue.