39th Bomb Group (VH)

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S/Sgt James Woodrow Chennault
Flight Engineer

James W. Chennault
James W. Chennault enlisted 1-7-42; trained at Sheppard Field where he became an instructor; spent a year at Amarillo TX field; then went to Salinas Kansas as Technical Engineer; went overseas March 24, 1945 and was based in Guam.

After the War, he moved his family to Odessa Texas were he went to work in the oilfield as a mechanic on drilling rigs. He spent the rest of his life there. He and his wife of 55 years, LaVesta, raised two children, Randy and Sandy. When he got the chance, he enjoyed fishing. Later in his life he was forced to retire when macular degeneration made him legally blind. Despite this setback he used his remaining sight to get around the house and walk to the nearest coffee shop. During the last 5 years of his life, he loved going to the coffee shop every morning and mixing with his “liars club”. He loved his wife, family, grandkids, and the Dallas Cowboys. When the Confederate Air Force relocated to Midland Field, Woody got excited!! When they flew FiFi in and based her there, he went there every chance he could get. The last two years of his life he underwent treatment for small cell cancer In his lungs. This never got him down mentally or physically--he still looked the same and had the same sense of humor. The last week of his life, he just got tired and slightly confused. He never suffered and died in LaVesta’s arms on the morning of Oct. 16, 1992.

LaVesta, James
and their son Randy
James and LaVesta

As his son, I can say that my Father was an honest, hard workingman who put his family first. We did not live in the large house, but our home was filled wit love and pride. He did not see color and treated everyone with respect. He loved oilfield workers because most of them had a sense of humor which took your mind off the hard working conditions in the oilfield. He said they reminded him of Low & Lonely’s crew--most of then had a sense of humor even when flak was exploding around them. No telling what pranks they played on each other on Guam.

Below the FE's window is "Pappy & Randy" James' nickname "Pappy" along with the name of his son - Randy
(click photo to enlarge area)

The last lime I was with my Dad was in August 1992. We spent half a day at the Confederate Air Force hanger where they were changing out two engines on FiFi. Even though his eyesight was limited, he saw every detail about that plane. His eyes glistened when he looked at her. He beamed with pride and excitement and was even giving advice to the mechanics on how to change out the engines (I don’t think they listened!) I am confident that the presence FiFi and the memories of the 39th prolonged his life and gave him something to look forward to everyday.

James on the steps of his luxurious accommodations on Guam

Click for a list of Chennault's missions from his Record of Combat Duty.

Source: Randy Chennault, son

Crew 54 Main Page
62nd Squadron Crew Index
Source: James R. Chennault, son