How I First Met Charles Lindbergh
Page 1 of 4 Pages
|I was assigned to Headquarters 20th Air Force on the island of Guam in the last half of 1948. Since I was single, the “overseas tour” was only one year. But due to my previous assignment during World War II on the island of Tinian, 125-miles north of Guam, and my war experience as a B-29 instructor pilot, when I reported to 20th Air Force, the then Commanding General, A. C. Kincaid, kept me at the Headquarters as Flying Safety Officer and later Inspector General. With the initials of A.C.K., General Kincaid soon became known as “Ack-Ack” Kincaid. But with both of us being from Indiana, we got along very well.
As a single officer, I was assigned a room in a Quonset Hut building directly across the street from Gen. Kincaid’s cliffside house. Gen. Kincaid’s quarters were the same ones used by Gen. LeMay during World War II when he commanded the entire B-29 operation against Japan, including the two atomic bomb missions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Late one afternoon the phone rang on the porch near my BOQ room and it was General Kincaid. He asked me what I was doing for dinner that night and I told him I had no plans. He then said that General Lindbergh was there to spend the night and would I come over for Christmas Eve dinner. He also said that a few Colonels who commanded our bases would be there and to dress in just khaki everyday uniforms and be there about 6:30.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to review a few brief quotations and photos relating to Lindbergh’s tour and findings, you may click here with a quick return to this page.
One can imagine my surprise and eagerness to meet Lindbergh for he had been a boyhood idol of mine since I was a kid back in Indiana. So after taking a shower and putting on a clean uniform I walked across the street at the appointed time and was ushered into the spacious living room to meet General Lindbergh.
He was dressed very casually in gray flannel slacks and a blue shirt open at the collar. The climate on Guam is quite humid so no one ever wore a necktie. The other invitees were either already there or showed up promptly. As I recall, there may have been five or six of us invited to Meet Gen. Lindbergh.
Filipino houseboys took drink orders and I think most of the Air Force officers took either a coke or a whiskey drink. Lindbergh drank either a Coke or ice water.
As the conversation got underway, Lindbergh was interested in where we were all from, how and where we had learned to fly and a little about our World War II experiences in the Air Force. Most of the invited guests were senior in rank to me and it turned out all of them had first learned to fly after they joined the flying cadet program. Some had gone to West Point and then moved on to the Army Air Corps.
When Lindbergh got to me I told him I had grown up building model airplanes and had learned to fly before I got into the Air Corps. That I had soloed in a small, Piper Cub and had about 50-hours before I went into the Air Corps flying program. He wanted to know if I had ever flown an airplane with an OX-5 engine and I told him I had ridden in some but had not actually piloted any.
That was about the extent of his questioning except he wanted to know what state we were from and if we had been to a college he might recognize. I told him I had graduated from Wabash College, a small, all-male liberal arts college in my small, hometown of Crawfordsville, Indiana, two years before I joined the Air Corps.
We had a delightful dinner that Christmas Eve and we all went back to wherever we lived about 9:30.
Christmas Day, 1948
The next morning, around 8:00, the phone at my BOQ rang again and it was General Kincaid. He said General Lindbergh wanted to know if I would show him the island of Guam that Christmas day since I had been there a few times during World War II, and seemed to know my way around the island. He said he had further picked me because I had learned to fly in light airplanes and knew something about barnstorming. Of course, the answer was immediately forthcoming and I was across the street to the General’s quarters in a few minutes.
I normally drove a Jeep around the island, but since this was a special occasion General Kincaid instructed me to take his staff car. General Lindbergh was all ready to go, only this time he was dressed in khaki pants and shirt like everyone else, but he had no insignia on his clothes and he did not wear a hat like we did in uniform.
We started out with me driving and Lindbergh was in the front seat. The car was a Chevrolet with the gear shift on the steering column and I had a little difficulty shifting due to a caste on my left hand from a broken little finger caused by a beach accident. It was nothing serious but it bothered me in shifting and Lindbergh immediately noticed the problem. So he said, “why don’t you let me drive and you just tell me where to go”. That was fine with me, so I stopped and we changed seats. Lindbergh did all the driving that day which turned out to be rather interesting, but that can wait.
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