The Earl E. Myers Story
Chapter 17 Return To The B-29
|I was reassigned as a First Lt. to Carswell, A.B in November 1947. My duty assignment was as a B-29 Aircraft Commander and after 2 rides of 4 hours each, I got the Holy Water sprinkled on me. I was given a crew consisting of a copilot, Capt. John Chapman who had been a POW in Germany; a 1st Lt. flight engineer, Clinton (Sparky) Sparks; and a Master Sergeant Navigator. The rest were Staff Sgts and above. We all crewed up with good compatibility. We had a lot of fun getting acquainted and flying together. During my off duty time I would go to Base Ops. where Maj. Pevey was the Base Ops Officer. I took my Form 5 and let him review it. My goal was to stay current in the AT-6, C-45, B-25 and C-47s and still do my B-29 primary assignment. My Sq. Commander, L/C Bill Savoie and the Sq. Ops officer Maj. Woolwine, gave there approval as long as it didn't interfere with my normal crew duties.
Our crew completed our assigned missions with ease. On one cross country we dropped off some personnel in Long Beach, Ca. and RONed. We departed the next evening as scheduled for a night training flight doing celestial navigation to return to Carswell. About 2 hours out from Carswell we were informed by Military Flight Service that our destination was becoming zero zero and that our alternate of Oklahoma City, Tinker Field was already closed. The entire area was zapped from ABQ, ELP to the East and North, etc. so there was no turning back. We were committed to either bail out or attempt a GCA. [Remember that the GCA approach procedures were very new and as yet unpracticed by most aircrews.] I elected to do a GCA and offered any crew member who wanted to bail out over Carswell that they could. We had flown enough together to have confidence in each other; so, we all chose the GCA. All was fine right down to touchdown and then we had a problem staying on the runway as the runway lights were just barely visible from one light to the other. They brought out a tug and towed us in. B/Gen. Rodger Ramey, Division Commander; the Wing Commander, Col. Harry Goldsworthy; L/C Bill Savoie and the Sq Ops Officer, Major George Woolwine were in the GCA Shack and watched the proceedings but I didn't know it at the time.
March of 1948 our Squadron was to deploy to Furstenfeldbruk A.B. Germany, the West Point of the Luftwaffa, near Munich. Our routing was from Carswell to McDill where I had taken my aviation cadet exams just a short time before. We were then to proceed in trail to Lages, A.B. Azores. We were tail end Charlie and our Navigator had some problems with some unpredicted winds and we had to land at Bermuda. This was a night flight. We refueled and continued on and arrived about 1000 hrs. Of course the Sqdn. Commander, Sqdn. Ops and Sqdn. Navigator met us and took all the logs and computations and examined them. It was determined that an unusual high altitude wind developed that caused the problem. I knew that. Possibly the Bermuda Triangle? Perhaps!
While in Germany we did many sorties. There were a number of classified missions and some that were “routine” training flights all across Europe. Perhaps it was a Show of Force for the Communist Regime, that the United States was not to be messed with. Like the Texas saying, "Don't mess with Texas".
The Berlin Corridor was being created and International relations were terse. We were scheduled for a 90 day TDY and were extended 60 days. Tough! Munich was still in a shambles at that time with crumbled buildings still closing streets, etc. Not a vacation site for anyone. It should be everyone's responsibility to observe the disaster that war
There were still loved ones buried in the rubble. The Germans did not have the resources to cope with it, but the beer halls were open. Garmish, Berchasgarten, Oberammergau were typical small hamlets that were like a story book in a fairy tail. "BEAUTIFUL!" One place we visited was a small hotel about 3/4th the way up a mountain. It was quaint and quiet until we got there. The food was better than excellent, as was the draft "BEER". For some reason the keg ran dry. The innkeeper did not know that so many crew members were to arrive. About 12 of us. He made a special trip down the mountain for 2 more kegs of beer.
[Editors Note: We have published an Earl Myers Short Story that is directly related to the information shared in these paragraphs. The story title is “The Saudi Sojourn,” This story contains selected photos of the Garmish, Oberamergau, Zugspitze area of Germany, as well as an unforgettable story of Earl’s mishap while skiing down the mountain. Click here for a jump over to that story with an easy return.]
He had a donkey with a typical Bavarian cart and off he went. I went with him and the trip was the best R and R that anyone could have, ever. Both down and up. He talked to the donkey like a loved one, like Smoky Williams talked and loved his dog, Stubby, on Okinawa. A typical set up, the donkey was housed in the lower portion of the hotel and the living quarters were upstairs.
While being fed and wined we enjoyed the live music that the Inn Keeper rounded up on short notice. Bavarian dress for all. Again it was like a fairy tale. It reminded me of the "Sound Of Music" setting. Now the "Passion Play" at Oberammergau. What can I say! The ice show at the Copacabana is breathtaking and spectacular. The roof opens up completely like a roller-top desk and allows the sun or moon to accentuate the activity on the ice floor. The evening our crew was there, a light snow was falling through the roof onto the skaters and the surface of the ice. The snow made interesting pattern's as the skater's performed. WOW. Thanks Dear Lord for allowing all of our crew to witness such an event and especially, all of us together.
The return trip to Carswell was without tension. By this time our crew was melded together quite tightly. We became well acquainted and we respected each persons specialty and personality. Again it takes team work to make a team.
We staged through Lages again on departure from “Fursty,” then continued on to Bermuda, Kindley Field, with an overnight, that actually became two nights. Our crew met a Doctor in Hamilton at a restaurant. He invited us all to his residence for a drink and relaxation. He asked me what I would like drink. I said “rum and Coke, please.” He said, son “if you drink rum and water with ice, it would be a lot better for your system”. I said, “O.K. rum and water.” By golly he was correct. It was good, Dark Bacardi, Yumo!
His wife was delightful and a real nice lady. In fact, she was "Lady Constance" from Hamilton. They were there from London for vacation and his residence was a mansion. Eight bedroom's, two stories, with 6 baths, a croquet lawn on about 8 acres of priceless land overlooking Hamilton Bay and Hamilton City. Looking out over Hamilton at night, as well as during the day, the view was really refreshing. No horn blowing allowed except in an emergency. Peaceful. Lord, God in Heaven, how do you do these things?
On to Ft. Worth and Carswell A.F.B., landing at about 1400 hrs. There was a large reception committee awaiting plus all the dependents and invited citizens from Ft. Worth. A marching Band with the review of the colors, after the monster B-29s had all shut down engines. We formed up in front of each aircraft and awaited the passing of the colors. Then Hell Bent for the long awaited reunion with the loved ones. It had been a real education. Like I said before, I flunked geography, but I sure learned fast on this trip. Beautiful Bermuda, Mountains in the Azores, crossing the Alps, overflying every country in free Europe, (And a couple of other places), South over Italy, across the Mediterranean, paralleling Egypt and on to a turning point for Dhahran. The fuel curve was behind schedule and to cross the Sahara Desert on low fuel is not conducive to longevity. We set course for Haifa.
[Editors Note: Here again is a reference to the Earl Myers Short Story. If you have not already done so consider clicking here for a jump over to that story with an easy return..]
After our return to Carswell all functions returned to normal and the training flights began hot and heavy. RBS (Radar Bomb Scoring) was just coming into play and we were hitting every RBS Site in the country. I continued my efforts to stay current and proficient in the AT-6, C-45, C-47, B-25, and B-17. I needed 3 take off and landings in each of these aircraft, which I had accomplished after about a week at home. By this time, our B-29 missions had become more or less routine.
|I especially remember the mass formation flight exercises we participated in, some with more than 100 aircraft, representing three to four separate Bomb Wings. One such formation flight took us over Kansas City and the Kansas City Star picked up on it and had a picture of the formation on the front page, taken with a wide-angle lens. My home folks at Independence, 10 miles East of Kansas City, where my Grandfather lived, saw the formation and wondered if I was involved in it.
Photo Ctsy. Charles B. Hawks Collection
|We were on a Northwest heading and started a right turn and it took us over Omaha and continued in a right turn heading toward Dallas/Ft. Worth and we rolled out of the turn over St. Louis. I guess Gen. LeMay wanted his air crews to stay in shape for possible coming events.
Then, with little advance warning, I was reassigned to RB-29 Reconnaissance Duty.
End of Chapter 17 Go to Chapter 18