I was born in Barry County, Missouri and attended schools in the same county until graduating. A friend and I decided to head west to find work as we were in a deep depression in the Midwest and were going through the dust bowl days. For the younger generation, go to your favorite search engine on the computer to see what times were like during these trying times. We left Cassville, Missouri together with only $5.00 between the two of us heading for California to find some kind of work. We hopped freight cars and hitchhiked until finally arriving in California. We did find work in construction.
We worked until December, 1941 when we entered the war against Japan. I tried my luck getting in as a pilot, but was unable to make it. My experience with machinery and construction work did put me in a position to get into the Army Air Force. I was at Wendover and Hammer Field as well as several other training camps. After training I was assigned to 461st Bombardment Group and sent to Italy.
I have a great memory of Col. Glantzberg as one of the finest men and officers I ever served under. When we arrived in Italy we only had tents to sleep in. Being an improviser we gathered several old spent German cannon shell casings and made a stack for an old barrel stove we made from a 55 gallon drum. It was cold and I suppose Col. Glantzberg, commanding officer, must have either seen the smoke or was told of it as he came by and spent the night in the tent with a few of us enlisted men. I was close to Col. G, Col. Knapp and others. We flew missions about every day or two.
I will always remember one dark morning as we woke early for mission duty. We were surprised to see a fighter plane on the field placed there during the night. It seems no one knew exactly where it came from. This plane was used by Col. G to herd all the B-24 as they headed off on a mission. I remember Col. Glantzberg would not ask his crew to do anything he would not do himself. On one bomb run I remember him saying to me, “Sarge, I am going to fly in the gun turret of the B-24 today and I would like to fire the 50 cal. machine guns.” I said, “OK, Sir, but wait until we get into formation. We will be the lead plane.” After several minutes he came on the radio and said, “Sarge, is it OK to fire now?” I told him, “Yes!” and instructed him about how the triggers worked and in no time I heard several burst of machine gun fire.
After I finished my missions, I was sent back to the States to be discharged on a point system from the Army Air Force. I later got to thinking about the great experiences and pride we had in helping to defend our country against evil powers.
I was married after the war and my wife understood my wanting to make a career in the Air Force. I decided to sign up again but found because of military regulations I would have to go back at a lower rank and with a cut in pay. This may come as a shock, but I wrote a letter to General Eisenhower about my intent to re-enlist and the problem I encountered. Believe it or not, I received a letter from General Eisenhower telling me to try again. I did, and got my rank back and I served until retiring with a lot of time in Spain.
One more memory, while in Turkey and Spain they had a club called “pigeon shooting”. I belonged to this club and one day I got a call from my commanding officer asking if we could get General Tibbets in on a shoot. After some string pulling General Tibbets and I shot pigeons for about four hours. General Tibbets was another great man as most know he was the pilot of the Enola Gay – the airplane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. I recently met with him again at Bentonville, Arkansas.
I have kept busy taking care of bee hives. Here in my home town, I am called the “flag man” as I service flags and make sure they are clean and neat looking. I get called quite often with questions about the flag. I am so proud of our flag and our good country - the United States of America.