The Earl E. Myers Story
Chapter 21 Homebound
|. When I rotated back to the States in April of 1951, I was scheduled to return by Military Sea Transport. During my tour with the 31st and later 91st SRS I had had a rocky relationship with our squadron CO. At the time of my departure, he had already relinquished his command to a new C.O., a real nice guy. I am 99% sure the man he replaced influenced him to ship me back to the States by surface transport, just to tick me off. Well it did tick me off but, why fight it. It turned out to be four weeks of R/R with stops at Oki and Pearl.
I reported to the departure port and boarded the ship. We were not even 3 feet away from the dock, on departure, when I got seasick. There was a Army Col., “Barney, God Bless Him,” watching me and he said “Capt come to my quarters, I'll fix your problem.” He had a voice like a GRIZZLY and 30 years of military callouses all over him. He was tough. He was rotating from Korea. He poured me out a glass of Old Grandad and said, “Drink this, it will take care of your problem.” I replied “Col., that will kill me.” He said “So what, you have to die sometime,” so I drank it, but not all in one swig. Well, he was right, I was not seasick for the remainder of the trip.
We stopped at Buckner Bay, Okinawa for two days on the way back and, since I had been stationed on Oki, he wanted me to show him the Island. He arranged for a jeep and off we went. First stop, the "Class SIX" store. He bought a case of Old Grandad and I bought a fifth of V.O. He said, “Damnit Capt, that won't last the whole return trip, buy a case.” Well he was a full Col. and who was I to argue with him. I did say that I wouldn't be able to get it on board. He said. “I'll take care of that, don't worry about it.” We had two days of touring the Island, (we stayed on board at night) and we had quite a time.
We sailed from Oki on the 19th of April and my birthday is 21 April, so we celebrated with a Typhoon in progress for the next 3 days Never got seasick. Well, when things smoothed out we spent every afternoon in his private stateroom and every evening in the Cabin Passenger Lounge. I bunked with Air Force Capt. Fredrick E. "Boots" Blesse, a F-51 jock from the 51st Fighter Sq. in Korea. He was returning to the States to convert to F-86s. Subsequently he completed his checkout and later, returned to Korea and became a double Ace. He eventually retired as a M/Gen. We have remained in contact since that time. We had a lot of laughs over that trip.
I was originally scheduled for Travis AFB and B-36s. When I reported in I found that my orders had been changed (at my old CO’s request) to Fairchild AFB to the 99th. He was the Wing CO. I departed for Spokane and reported in. I was assigned to the 103rd Recon Sq. We were training recce crews for duty with the 91st which was still at Yokota. All was going well and one evening, about sundown at Fairchild, we aborted a take off and taxied back. The Wing CO met us and ordered us to stand by and have maintenance repair the problem. After about six hours of waiting around, the aircraft was ready. It was bitter cold. We taxied out again and had the same problem. We taxied back and there was the CO, waiting for us. He ordered us to go. I refused. My crew departed and a standby crew took over the aircraft. This did nothing to improve my relationship with the CO.
Later, while shooting touch and goes at Castle AFB at sundown, we had an engine fire in the traffic pattern and almost jumped the whole crew. By the way it was the same Honeybucket crew, as all of us were reassigned to Fairchild. The WX at Fairchild was down and we had been directed to Castle to continue our transition training. We landed OK and secured the A/C and left it in the hands of local maintenance for repair. The next day our Sq. Commander from Fairchild arrived and did an Inspection of the A/C at our Wing CO’s orders. The Squadron Commander stated that the aircraft was dirty and the parachutes were strung all over and he fired me. All due respect to the maintenance crews, as they have a job to do and I'm sure that some things did get moved. I wasn’t allowed to go to the aircraft to see what the problem was.
The Wing CO had me transferred to the 99th Rece Tech Sq. and shipped to Lowery AFB for Photo Interpretation and Intelligence School. It was one heck of a good education but I didn’t let the Wing CO know it. He thought he had put me out to pasture and was chuckling about it.
I was assigned to Base OPs for flying duty and was operating several different A/C. The B-25 was my primary proficiency aircraft. One evening, about dusk I was cleared for takeoff. We were just about 10 knots under rotation speed when a maintenance truck pulled out in front of us about midway on the runway. He was checking the runway night lights. I have no idea why I reacted the way I did except that God was with me again. Without calling for full flaps down, I did it myself and hopped over the
I went to the Officers Club and had two beers to relax. I was called before the accident board they convened and testified as to the experience. At first, they were not too kind to the T/Sgt that was driving the truck. I pleaded with them for leniency and he was finally only given a verbal reprimand. Thank the Good Lord for that, as he had a family to support. We all make mistakes regardless who we are or what our job may be, so why should the guy be hung. We all learned a lesson from life in the art of survival.
Later on, I flew a B-25 to March AFB, 15th AF Hdq., and visited Tom Coleman and the Personnel Officer. Before I returned from March AFB orders were published for me to attend AOB school at Ellington and Mather. My Wing CO was furious. The Mather school was the Triple-Headed Monster program where we were trained as bombardiers, celestial navigators and radar operators to qualify for B-47 Aircraft Commander training. He gave me a bad OER of course. But I got it rescinded. I truly enjoyed and benefited from the AOB training program, which put me on track for an assignment to the RB-47 recon program at Forbes AFB, Kansas.
End of Chapter 21 Go to Chapter 22