Capt Air Force
WWII & Korea
14AF 23FG 76FS
DFC Air Medal
23rd Fighter Group
DFC, Purple Heart, Air Meda;
On December 27, 1919, I was born on a farm at Columbia, Iowa and attended elementary school at Columbia. I graduated from Knoxville Iowa High School in 1937 and later farmed with my father and grandfather. I also worked as a rural mail carrier.
After Pearl Harbor I enlisted in the Army Air Corps on December 22, 1941 and went through airplane mechanics school at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas. After graduating from mechanics school I was sent to Kelly Field to start Cadet training, which was done entirely in Texas. I received my wings and commission at Eagle Pass, Texas on February 16, 1943 and then went to Florida where I learned to fly the P-40 Warhawk at Sarasota and Pinellas.
Twelve of us were flown from Miami down through South America, across the Atlantic to the Ascension Island then to Accra Ghana and across Africa and India to the Assam Valley where we flew across the Himalayan Mountains commonly called the Hump. We landed at Kunming, China, the headquarters of the 14th Air Force. All twelve of us were assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group as replacements. Five of us were assigned to the 76th Fighter Squadron. We were lucky to be in this special group. The 23rd on July 4, 1942, had replaced the American volunteer group, the original Flying Tigers under Claire L. Chennault.
While in China we were stationed at Lingling, Hengyang, Dweilin, and Suichwan, all in Southeastern China. At first our only fighter in China was the P-40. We flew many kinds of missions such as escorting B-25 and B-24 bombers, strafing missions, dive bombing, and skip bombing missions. We also had to be on alert with out planes during the daylight hours as the Japanese would frequently bomb our bases. During October 1943 our squadron received the first P-51 Mustang to arrive in China and gradually we had all P-51s.
During my tour in China I flew 80 missions, about half in the P-40 and half in the P-51. I shot down two Zeros and was shot down once. I bailed out when my plane was on fire and was in freindly territory. I received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart while in China. I also received two promotions and came home a Captain in October 1944.
Back in the States I was stationed at Esler Field, Alexandria, Louisiana with a tactical group flying the P-51. I got out of the Air Corps as few months after the war ended and went back to Iowa and my old mail route. I married Mary Willson from Hastings, Nebraska in June 1947 and we lived in Knoxville, Iowa.
March 1951 I was recalled into the Air Force and made an aircraft controller with the Air Defense Command. Most of the next two years were spent in northern Michigan. I left the service and returned to Iowa. In 1958 we moved to Kinston, North Carolina and Mary taught school at Southwood and I carried mail on Rural Routes 2 and 4 until I retired in 1980.