39th Bomb Group (VH)
Gunner's Badge


with 3

br_oak2.jpg [Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster]

Unit Citation
and Awards

arpuc.jpg [The Presidental Unit Citation]

Oak Leaf Cluster

Service Awards

amcamp.gif [The American Campaign Medal]

apcm.jpg [The Asiatic-Pacfic Campaign Medal]

with 3

star1.gif [Bronze Star]

wwiivic.gif [The Victory Medal, World War II]

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Captain Thomas A. Wacht
Airplane Commander

Thomas Allen Wacht was born 1/21/1919 in Redfield, IA.; Thomas married Helen Francis John on December 14, 1946 in Tucson, AZ. They had 2 children, Thomas A., Jr., (My father) and William J. They have 2 granddaughters and 4 great grandsons and 1 great granddaughter.

Both sons have passed away, William in 1991 and Thomas, Jr. 1998.

Tom Wacht remembers many humorous incidents during the days on Guam. In particular, the following are most prominent in his mind:

"The first thing that comes to mind are the austere living conditions on Guam. All of the Quonset huts were infested with good sired rats that kept us company. In an effort to control the population some of my crew, and other crews as well, used to shoot the little buggers with their Colt pistols. This was OK when we were supplied with bird shot ammo but left holes in the roof when we were issued tracers. It resulted in omnipresent leaks during the frequent heavy rain on Guam!

I think the most amusing contrivance was our primitive sanitary facilities. Situated at the edge of the jungle, 'these multiple-holers inspired many stories from those whom they accommodated. David Shaffalo, our radar operator, had many encounters with the large flies that infested the latrine. The rest of us, somehow, tolerated these winged swarms, but not Dave. He referred to them as 'damn dive bombers' They were particularly annoying to him when he was in the act of doing "#2." Each time when nature called he would gather all available paper or other flammable material, set it afire, and drop it into the pit below - home base of these 'dive bombers.' We all wondered when these incendiary attacks would ignite the building, and possibly Dave along with it. His reply would always be the same, 'Don't worry about me, and if the whole damn shack burns down, let them build another.

The water truck would generally come around at erratic times to replenish the suspended shower tanks. It would pull up between two duckboards behind the hut, blow its horn, and begin the filling operation. He seemed as if the procedure was purposely limited to one minute. The operator would then shut off the water and move on to the next set of duckboards. If a showeree had arrived a little late, he might have to follow the water truck au natural to finish rinsing off the suds. This happened many times, much to the dismay of the bathers.

When we had our grand opening of the Officer's Club, our CO selected two unmarried airplane commanders to act as escorts for two young females to the affair, John Harvey and I were the chosen two from the 62nd Squadron. As I recall, John was paired up with a navy nurse and I with a Red Cross lady. My date was not particularly attractive - in fact quite the contrary. She had the proboscis of a puppet in the fairy tale. There were remarks from my crew about being able to chin one's self on her nose, and other unsympathetic comments regarding my predicament. The merriment ceased, however, when I allowed them to share my pleasure by stepping forth and dancing with the young lady. Come to think of it, though, the request came more in the form of an order.

Dave Shaffalo was the instigator: I see him at most of our crew reunions.

Then there was the "Gooney Bird." When, periodically it would spray DDT, we'd have to hurry out and cover the "lister bags" to keep the oily chemical out of the drinking water (so called).

Of course everyone remembers the outdoor movies and the accompanying downpours that would drench us every night.

On the serious side, a mission that comes to mind is the low-level raid on Tokyo early in May 1945. When the Japanese blew a king size hole in our left wing near the inboard engine and we lost over 300 gallons of fuel, it became clear that we had an emergency on our hands. Iwo Jima was zero-zero; Siapan and Tinian were so saturated with traffic we didn't even try to land there, and North Field made us go around for a B-29 with a dead tail gunner aboard. We landed at the little field south of there with something like 100 gallons of gasoline remaining. We learned that we had received 41 flak holes in our aircraft. Ho-hum ….. "

Thomas A. Wacht, Sr. took his Final Flight on 17 Sept 2001.

Source: Amber Wacht OBrien, granddaughter; History of the 39th BG"