When World War II began, American boys by the millions enlisted or were
drafted into the military, and the transition from civilian to soldier
was set in motion. I was age 21 at the time I enlisted in the Air Corps
in August 1942 with the hope that I could become a fighter pilot.
Because there was a shortage of training facilities, I was not called
to active duty until February 1943. The photographs and brief captions
below will allow you to trace one man's trail from being a young
civilian to gradually becoming a war weary combat fighter pilot in
Snapshots of me from civilian
life through phases of military and flight training, then into combat,
and finally nearing the end of my wartime journey:
1. February 21, 1943, leaving Long Beach, California, to report to
Santa Ana Air Force base for pre-flight training.
2. June 1943. Primary Flight School at Thunderbird Field near Phoenix,
3. September 1943. Basic Flight School at Gardner Field near
4. November 1943 until January 7, 1944. Advanced Flight Training at
Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona. Received my "Wings" and my commission as
a 2nd Lieutenant.
5. January 22, 1944 until May 3, 1944. Harding Field, Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, when we left to go overseas. Received combat training in
P-47 Thunderbolts in preparation for going into battle.
6. Early October 1944, Laon, France, after being in combat four months.
7. This is how I looked after being in combat seven months. Photograph
taken at our airfield near Maastricht, Holland. The numbing fatigue and
the endless trauma of war are beginning to show.
8. Early May 1945. Home on 'Rest and Recuperation' leave.
But I could close my eyes, and see
us going into battle. I could listen,
and hear the sound of the
We went into combat as young men, but the relentless impact of killing
enemy soldiers and seeing our friends die gradually took away our
youth. When it was finally over and we were able to go home, we did our
best to deal with the agony that was within us. It took time to get rid
of the demons and go forward with our lives. But in spite of the
terrible memories and the haunting nightmares, we were proud that we
had been able to handle the job we had called upon to do.
Additional stories and photos
of my personal war experience.