I got my commision in the Field Artillery from VMI in
May '42 and immediately requested a transfer to the
Air Corps. It came in July and I trained in the Southeast
and got my wings Feb. 16, 1943.
I completed my 25 missions flying B17s with the 388th
Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, out of England over Europe,
from about Oct. '43 to about March '44. We got 4 Air
Medals and the DFC for being lucky.
When I came back to the States, I did not enjoy
trying to teach those kids to fly B17s so I volunteered
for B-29s and joined the 39th at Smoky Hill.
We got in 28 missions before the war ended and got
credit for the 29th for the flyover at the peace signing,
where we buzzed the Missouri. I got four clusters
for the Air Medal, a DFC for letting a West Point
Col. fly with us, so he could get a medal, another
DFC for shooting down the Jap Ruffe and one for just
After the war the headquarters brass wanted some
fame, so they planned to strip a B-29 and fly from
northern Japan to Washington, DC, non-stop. Some how,
I was selected to fly their baggage to Washington.
The services were counting points and figuring who
would go back to the States, so we were happy to carry
baggage. We were to fly the baggage to Washington
and fly back to Guam!
I was from Richmond, VA, which is only about 100
miles from Washington, so I was going to get home,
for a while anyway. We used the plane we had flown
over in and on most of our missions. No.1 engine was
not the best, but we were going home. We flew to Kwajalein,
Hawaii and Sacramento. We took off in the evening,
with No.1 not in top shape, but we were going home.
At 3600' No. 2 started running away. We tried to feather
it, without success. We were holding altitude and
that is all. Then No. 3 and 4 stated running away.
No. 2 caught fire and we got it out. We were loosing
altitude at 1500 fpm so I gave the order to bail out.
At 1000', (the ground I figured later was 160'), I
looked around and everybody was gone. I stared to
get up and the throat mike was caught. I got that
loose and went back to the nose wheel hatch and checked,
three times, to be sure the chute harness was buckled,
jumped out, saw the bottom of the plane and pulled
the ripcord. Nothing happened. I gave it a big pull.
The chute opened and I hit the ground at the same
instant! My knee hurt a little, but I was able the
gather the chute, find the North Star and head north,
until I was found.
The knee bothered me a little for years but no more.
I run three miles, every other day, and play tennis
several times a week.
Sorry to hear about Bud Elvgreen. He came by to see
me one time and I saw him one time in St. Paul. My
favorite about Bud, the co-pilot, was that on the
way to Japan, I would get sleepy and ask Bud to take
over. I would then get to sleep, but wake up and see
Bud with his head in his lap, fast asleep. I would
stay awake for 2 hours, while he continued to sleep.
I would wake him and he would say, "I am not
sleeping, just resting my eyes."