"Tiger" Walt Kaestner

Lt. Walter O. Kaestner, Plainfield, IN - B-24 Pilot, 14th AF, CBI

(Photo courtesy of Walter Kaestner)



Walter Kaestner and my grandfather - Frederic "Bam" Hernandez

(Photo courtesy of Walter Kaestner)


Walt Kaestner, was featured in a story in the Hendricks County (IN) Flyer, on March 2, 2007. Story by Wade Coggeshall.

War veteran/Thirty-something Share Special Bond

PLAINFIELD - Chad Platt was your typical boy growing up.

As a kid, I liked airplanes, he said. I built all the models. I've always been interested, especially in World War II aircraft. So when he met Walter Kaestner, a B-24 bomber pilot veteran of World War II, it was a special treat.

One that's developed into a lasting friendship.

Platt, 39, works part-time at the Plainfield Recreation & Aquatic Center. Kaestner may be Plainfield's most fit 88-year-old, exercising regularly at the facility.

"One day someone came up to me and said, 'There's a story behind that old man over there.'", Platt recalls from his first meeting with Kaestner. "I said, 'oh yeah, whats that?'".

Platt discovered Kaestner had been a member of the Flying Tigers, a group of pilots recruited by Army Air Corps Capt. Claire Chennault to defend the Burma supply line to China prior to the United States entering the war.

"That really interested me, and I thought 'I've got to go over and talk to him.'", Platt said. "That's how we started interacting ,me just asking him questions and him telling me."

Eventually, Kaestner saw that Platt had more than just a passing interest in his service. He invited Platt to accompany him to Nashville, Tenn., to the annual meeting of the Bald Eagles Squadron, a general aviation interest group.

Two and a half years later, the two have attended many air shows together and visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Platt said he has never met anyone like Kaestner.

"(WWII) vets are thinning out now, so their stories need to be told, he said. I'm glad I met him. I've asked a lot of questions and learned quite a bit from him."

Likewise, Kaestner said he has never had company quite as captivated as Platt.

"(He) has an interest.", Kaestner said. "He'll spend a half-hour with me on the treadmill. I've told many stories."

Kaestner has a vast collection of books, notes, and photos on the 14th Air Force, which served in the Flying Tigers. Kaestner had a friend in U.S. intelligence who gave him several aerial photos of bombing missions that he snuck into the country after his five years of service ended.

"As it turned out, I didn't need to smuggle them back in.", Kaestner said. "I arrived in Miami 15 minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve. The inspectors were all drunk."

But it wasn't those classified photos that impressed Platt as much as one taken from Kaestner's plane that appeared in an official report to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The photo was shot 18,000 feet over Hong Kong shortly after the Tigers bombed the harbor. A Japanese Zeke fighter plane can be seen arching toward the B-24. Because Zeke fighters were made out of lightweight material, they were much more maneuverable than the U.S.'s fortified machinery.

Kaestner has a framed copy of the photo in his home, and one that's poster size in his garage. Platt used the photo as the base of a B-24 model he made for Kaestner, complete with exact markings. A Zeke is flying off to the side.

"I built that because a lot of people have asked Walt about the kind of aircraft he's flown.", Platt said. "All he had was pictures. You really can't take much from a picture. I thought I could build this and present it to him, and he could always show friends and family what he did. This was my way of saying thanks."

Kaestner said, "Chad did an excellent job on that (model). I was really surprised. There was a lot of ingenuity, putting that picture at the bottom. It almost looks like the real thing."

Theirs is a friendship that also serves an important purpose. As Platt alluded to, WWII vets are dying at a rapid rate. Some estimates put it at 2,000 a day. This is the last year the Bald Eagles Squadron is meeting. There's no longer enough members to keep it going.

"Everyone's too old and can't do it anymore", Kaestner said.

He wants someone to organize and preserve his collection after he's gone. Kaestner would do it himself, but has such bad tremors that he can't even write his name anymore.

But at least for these two, one man's incredible experience will be remembered a little longer.

"He's like the grandfather I haven't had for 30 years", Platt said. "When I was younger, I never even thought to ask these kinds of questions. As I get older (there's more appreciation)." Fortunately he's here to tell you what it was like.

Lt. Walter Kaestner and Chad Platt hold the B-24 model Platt made for Kaestner. The base features a photo taken from Kaestner’s plane during World War II. (Photo credit: WADE COGGESHALL)

WALT KAESTNER'S DIARY OF COMBAT TIME

(Misspellings - if any - left as they were entered into diary)

Left Chabua April 16, 1944 - Crossed Hump on Southern Route to 375th near Kunming.

Took Off 14:05 Arrived 17:35 Total 3:30

APRIL 21 -- Took off 7:30, had runaway prop on #1. Feathered prop and came in to land. No time counted.

APRIL 22 -- Left Chengkung 7:30, landed Jorhat 11:30 Total 4:00 Left Jorhat 13:00, landed 16:15 Total 3:15

Time over very good. Trip back was rough and a little rain in clouds.

Third Hump trip Total 10:45

APRIL 25 -- Flew Chengkung toward target but couldn't get around weather. Landed at Chengtu.

Carried 30 - 100 lb. Demo's.

Total that day 5:15 16:00

APRIL 28 -- Bombed bridge at Chengksien on Hwang River. (Bombardier Don) Bassist got 6 direct hits. Heavy flak.

Total that day 8:40 24:00

APRIL 29 -- Took off from Chengtu with 12 - 500 lb. bombs. Headed for Chenghsien area to bomb warehouses. Had to turn back because of weather.

Total that day 6:30 30:30 Returned to Chengkung

MAY 1 -- Left Chengkung 18:30 for Hainan Island. Very bad weather except over China Sea. The Island was overcast at 500 ft. Target was three ships anchored outside of the inner bay. Several airfields in close range. Expected over 50 fighters. Could not locate ships because of clouds. Encountered machine gun fire and heavy flak. Dropped 6 - 500 lb. Demo's on airfield from 800 ft. and took off for home. On way home lost #2 engine, instruments, lights #3 prop governor, flaps, radios, compass and was plenty scared. (Super-chargers also, fire in bomb bay and bad icing, too.) Reached home but couldn't find field (above clouds). Luckily missed mountains in let down and landed at 03:30. Said my prayers.

Time 9:00 hrs. 39:30

5 Hump trips. 2 official combat raids.

MAY 3 -- Went to test hop a plane. Bassist and Beale dropped 10 - 100 lb. practice bombs. Local flight.

Time - 1:50 Not combat time.

MAY 4 - Took off Chengkung for Liuchow. Had radio compass trouble, and picked up a lot of ice, so we returned to Chengkung.

MAY 5 -- Took off again for Liuchow and had a good trip. On the way found out 8 Jap bombers, 6 fighters and another group of 62 fighters -------------. We didn't see any and damned glad too.

Time 2:45 42:15

MAY 6 -- Took off with 3,500 gals. and 20 - 100 lb. Demo's from Liuchow and headed south over the Gulf of Tongking and over South Indo-China and back out to sea near Saigon, turned and came up river onto Saigon. We were the third ship over target, and it was burning brightly. Ack-ack, searchlights, pompoms and machine gun fire came up at us. The fire works were beautiful and there was plenty of it. At 5,000 ft. we could read a newspaper from the shells and burning warehouses below. After landing fiver hours later, we found flak holes in the bomb bay doors, and in the tail. We were third of the three that reached the target out of the seven what started. The rest had turned back because of the weather. We left the target, a strip two blocks wide and seven blocks long, completely ablaze. We could see the tarted fifty miles away and burning brightly. It was the best mission Ive been on so far. Two ships from another squadron, that bombed the target and hour later, were lost. We were flying over Jap waters and territory for 9-1/2 hours out of the 11-1/2 hour trip.

Time 11:30 53:45

MAY 7 -- Today I flew first pilot over the Hump. The trip over was very good. We were supposed to land at Jorhat, but the field was closed, so we landed at Chabua. We couldn't get gas till after 3:30. Took off at 4:30 with 4,000 gals. We ran into weather at 14,000 ft. and started above it. Weather got worse so we started to dodge thunder heaps, but couldn't make it. So we just went through. We started to pick up ice and frost at 17,500 ft. and in 10 minutes time, we had from one to two inches of snow, or frost, on the plane but luckily found a hole which saved our turning back. By this time we were well off course and position uncertain at 20,500 ft. The plane just wouldn't go higher to get above the weather. Everyone was darned scared and I would have been too if I hadn't been so busy flying instruments. Four planes left Chabua to cross the Hump and we were the only ones to make it. The rest had to go back, which was the smart thing to do. I was darned glad to land at Chengkung at 7:30. (Navigator Harold) Crawford did a very good job navigating and I was darned proud of it. Tom got sick from the rough air.

Time over 3:40 Time back 3:15 60:00

MAY 9 -- Took plane up to test engines. Also took up five practice bombs and Bassist and Barnard. We flew around Kunming and landed with 2:05 time.

MAY 17 -- Flew "Pistol Packin' Mama" over the Hump. Before we arrived at Chabua, (William) Luebbers received radio message to stay clear, Japs bombing. We then headed for Jorhat, but found out Jorhat was being raided also and we knew then, there were Japs on both sides of us. I dove the plane straight down to within twenty feet of the ground and headed north to get out of the area. By then all radio aids were silent and Crawford's maps did not cover the ground we were flying over. In other words, after a half hour of circling and wandering around to keep out of sight, we were lost. When we fly the Hump, we only take enough gas to get to Chabua, so our supply was VERY low. We slowly climbed up to 1,000 ft. so we could jump if we could not reach the field again when it was all clear. After flying on empty tanks for one hour, the radio came on and the Japs had gone. We landed with fifty gals. which is enough for about ten minutes of flying. We were darned glad to put our feet on the ground. Good weather over the Hump.

Time 4:45 64:45

MAY 17 -- After loading food, 3,300 gals. gas and another crew. Total 13 men. Total weight 60,000 lbs and fixing the radio, generators, and changing oil, we took off with not an inch of runway to spare. In fact, we picked up some leaves from trees just off the end of the runway in our bomb bay doors. We started back to Chengkung about 30 minutes out (A.V.) Smitty (Smith) tells me we only have one generator working. We turned back and landed at Chabua. If we had gone on, and the other generator had gone bad, we would have been without lights, radio and instruments, so we did the smart thing.

Time 1:00 Not combat.

MAY 18 -- Took off Chabua with same load as 17th. After the plane had been repaired, got off OK because of the cool air in the morning. We had to pick our way between clouds all the way back, but it wasn't too bad. When we came in for landing we had blow out on right wheel. However, we had already slowed down, so no damage was done. We unloaded our supplies and ate dinner.

Time 3:15 68:00

MAY 19 -- Today R.L. Smith was scheduled to fly the Hump. He flew with Detor. After leaving Chabua, we received word by radio that the ship had lost #2 engine and that they were trying to make it back to Ledo and that they were throwing everything overboard to lighten the load. Later, we received a telegram that the plane caught fire and it had lost another engine just before it crash landed four miles from Ledo. The plane had ten men aboard and five men were killed. R.L. Smith was among those killed. Lt. Olson also killed. Detor, Holland and Bassist were among those five who were only slightly injured. More about this later.

Also on this same day, a telegram from Kweilin saying that Lt. Walton was going to attack two freighters while on sea sweeps and was never heard from since. Dead or missing???? Later, found out Walton made a run on freighter and was on fire when he crossed over the ship. Hit water and bounced out again and exploded.

Same day heard 6 P-40s were shot down by ground fire over the Hump. Another P-40 dove into ground. My guess was that he blacked out.

Found out that Detor was going to land at Ledo air strip with only one good engine and 2 ATC ships pulled out on runway to take off at the same time Detor was landing. He could not land so he picked a rice field and crash landed. Plane broke in two and pinned Olson in alive and then burned up. Others were killed in the crash.

MAY 20 -- Seven ships took off from Kweilin to bomb ten ship convoy. Three ships were seen to crash and burn. Another ship had to bail out sixteen miles from shore on way home. Another plane got lost in weather on way home and haven't been heard of since. They gave their report that they were coming. (See May 30, 1944.)

MAY 21 -- Saw a P-40 pilot buzz barracks and then the runway. He touched prop on runway and scraped belly tank. He climbed up to as high a he could and prop fell off. He crash landed and tipped over. Four enlisted men reached plane first and while three men help up wing of the plane, the other went into the burning plane and dragged him out. The crash broke both legs, one arm and smashed his face. The whole upper part of his body, face and hands were burned black. He lived six or eight hours. The impact threw both GI shoes off when they were laced to the top. He was well known in this squadron. Called "Pee Wee".

MAY 28 -- Took off from Chengkung to Kunming in bad rain and low ceiling. Landed at Kunming and unloaded equipment and took off again for Chengkung. Flew about 200 ft. off the ground because of the ceiling. Landed OK.

Total non-combat 3 flights 30 min. plus 30 min.

MAY 29 -- Took off with 1,500 gals. to bomb Burma Road with 8 - 1000 lb. Demo's. Flew formation and really splattered the road, knocking it completely out. Caused a large land slide to cover up the road. Landed at Chabua. Flew my own crew. Saw a little flak.

Time 4:30

MAY 30 -- Took off Chabua with 40 -100 lb. bombs and 2,750 gals. gas. 62,000 lbs. total. Flew formation till weather got too bad. Broke up and hunted for target through clouds. Target was Wanling warehouses and storage for animals and trucks. Found target and dropped bombs. Saw Japs run for slit trenches as our bombs fell in the trench. Hit several buildings. Did moderate damage. Out of eleven ships, 75th was only ones to drop bombs and hit target. One of our three ships turned and went home. One other ship and us got in. No enemy fire.

Time was 5:15

Today a crew came walking home from a 200 mile trip, after bailing out, because of weather over Kunming and flew till they ran out of gas. Only one man out of the eleven still missing. (See May 19.)

MAY 31 -- Today 375 led formation of fifteen ships, bombed city of Lasho in Burma. Blew up large oil and gas storage and buildings. Had 12 P-40s for escorts. Expected Jap opposition but had none. Over Jap territory three and one-half hours. Had 40 - 100 lb. Demo's. Landed at Chabua.

Total 5:15

Same day, took off from Chabua with 40 - 100 lb. Demo's. We took off in single ship. On way back dropped bombs on city of Lunling. Blew up four warehouses and left two others burning. Did good job on target. Weather was pretty bad, but made it without trouble. Landed at Chengkung.

JUNE 1 -- Took "Rose of Juarez" to Chabua for four engine changes. We took clothes for three days. After landing made arrangements to fly 74 ship back next day. Flew instruments most of the way over. So bad we started back once and then found a hole in clouds so we went on. Picked up ice also. Lots of rain.

Time over was....Total time 3:35 93:50

JUNE 2 -- Took off at Chabua to slow time, or test hop, 74th ship, "Shooting Star". Flew in Assum Valley, or around the field, for 1:25. Flew over hospital at Ledo where Bassist is.

Time 1:25 (not combat)

JUNE 2 -- Took off Chabua and brought ten men, or new crew, over the Hump with us. Weather was very bad and I think we may have scared the new crew a little. Landed OK.

Total time 4:00 97:50

JUNE 5 -- Took off from Chengkung to bomb Lashio again. Carried 40 - 100 lb. Demo's. Russel led formation for 375 and 375 led group. 16 planes. Ran into weather and broke up formation. Rendezvous over Yunnanyi and picked up fighter escort. 12 P-40s with bazooka guns. We were first ships over target and let go a perfect pattern of bombs. By the time last squadron came over target, they couldn't even see what to bomb for the amount of smoke, fire and explosions going on. The target was undoubtedly completely smashed. One nose gunner got his face cut up pretty badly from a flying bomb start that caved in the glass on the nose turret. We then headed for Chabua and landed. While on course, we crossed over a small mining town and they set up "a hell of a barrage of anti-aircraft fire". Black and white puffs of flak. It was with perfect accuracy and the puffs seemed to follow right next to us. It kept bursting right next to our wing tip. Boy, they really had a perfect bead on us, and it seemed we would be hit for sure. I still don't see how they missed us. After that everything went fine and when we arrived at Chabua, they wouldn't let us land as they were having an alert. So, we got out of the area for about a half hour till all was clear and landed OK.

That was the most flak I had ever seen and the closest, or most accurate. Boy they sure wanted us badly.

Total time 5:45

SAME DAY. After refueling, we took off for Jorhat, to pick up some peanuts (sea mines). We loaded 6 - 1100 lb. mines. It was too late to go back to China so we stayed over night. Ceiling at Chengkung was only 2,000 ft. When we landed at Chabua we had to take the Navigator to the hospital. The Doc said he was very nervous and faint. It was a new navigator and his first mission. Doc said with a sleeping tablet and some rest he would be OK.

Time from Chabua to Jorhat 1:00

JUNE 6 -- Took off for China. Climbed on instruments through heavy rain to 14,000 ft. Weather was pretty rough, but we didn't have too much trouble. #2 engine cut in and out most of the way, but held out OK. We just about passed over the field above the clouds, but found a hole and let down on instruments. Broke out 1,000 ft. over the mountains. Landed OK. It rained most of the trip and went thru a little snow.

Total time 3:45

JUNE 11 -- Saw a P-40 pilot split "S" out of a practice fight and dive into the ground a a very fast speed. He dove straight into the ground. The plane was almost buried. The engine was 12 ft. under the surface. We could see the pilot at least 6 ft. under the ground. He must have been completely broken up. Killed instantly. The tail was the only part above the ground.

JUNE 13 -- Saw plane land and glide down the runway, but the brakes wouldn't work. At the end of the runway is a 12ft. ditch. The nose hit the bank on the other side of the ditch and stopped the plane. The nose was pushed clear back into the pilot's seat. The pilot, co-pilot and navigator was pinned in. They were cut out with axes and saws. Capt. Curtiss was pilot and was bringing a new radar crew over. Curtiss had 550 combat hours and had already received his orders to come home. He was operations officer at Chabua. His left arm was terribly mangled and broken in four places. They applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding and gave plasma immediately. Later had to have a transfusion. He may never use his left arm again. The co-pilot had three breaks in his right leg and two breaks in his right arm plus four broken ribs. His right arm ha a perfect break and doctors doubt whether it will mend properly. The navigator had a broken back, broken ribs which punctured his lung and his left hand was mangled and all broken. That was most of the severe damage. Many others had cuts and bad bruises, but were able to climb out themselves. Two men escaped unhurt. All the rest were treated for something. It was a horrible sight to see, but we all helped to cut the airplane up to get the men out. The three hurt men will be disabled permanently. Knew Capt. Curtiss very well from my trips across the Hump.

JUNE 15 -- Took off with 2,500 gals. and 28 - 100 lb. Demo's and 2 flares. We taxied out to take off. Started down the runway after using up all the runway I pulled back on the wheel because we had to fly from there on. We left the ground with 120 MPH and settled back down. I pulled back more, but it kept settling, so we bounced off the top of the ditch and kept stalling. Soon after that I got enough air speed and flew. That was really a close call. We climbed up above the field, lowered the gear to see if it was OK, in case we had to make a crash landing. I would rather do it during daylight. We took off on course and headed for Canton. That's when I read my mail. We arrivd at target with plenty of weather around. We saw Japs shooting at the planes ahead of us. As we went over the target we saw guns shooting on the ground and plenty of tracers. Boy they were really shooting. The ground was just red with gun bursts and white puffs all around us. We dropped our bombs and really got out of there. On the way home we flew right next to the worst storm I have ever seen. The lightning blinded us all the time. When we reached the field, it was crowded with other planes trying to land and our transmitter was out. I could get the field, but could not call them. Smitty said we were almost out of gas. We flashed our landing lights and came in to land. I landed hard, and slowly applied the brakes when they grabbed and locked. We slid and everyone was thrown forward. Jones got a bump on the head, but no other damage. Crawford got about 30 miles off course on the way home, but we found the field OK. He also got sick and used his helmet. Outside of that, nothing happened, but we damned glad to take our shot of whiskey. About everyone got happy. That was the worst landing and take-off I have ever made.

Total time 8:55

JUNE 18 -- Took off about 6 o'clock P.M. Had 2,500 gals. and 30 -100 lb. bombs. It was raining when we took off and we had a tough time getting off. We stalled off the end of the runway at 105 MPH. We climbed over the south end of the lake and at 11,000 ft. we started for our departure point through thunderheads. After fifteen minutes we broke through into the clear. Set up the auto pilot and were on our way. We flew instruments for quite a while and it got dark. We reached Chengsha and they started shooting at us. But, we continued on course to target. We picked up check points and dropped our bombs at the same time they cut loose with plenty of tracers. We turned out to the lake and started home. Yochang was the target. We climbed up to 15,000 ft. to top the weather. The weather continued to get worse and we could neither see ground nor starts. We went highere, but started to pick up ice, so came back down. We must have gone through forty ice and rain clouds. There was plenty of lightning and sparks flew from the props and every rain drop. We went through strong up and down drafts. About 10 minutes before we got home, we came out of the weather except for clouds under us. We homed in on Kunming and made an instrument let down between the mountains and the lake. We came out over our field and I made a good landing. Even the Major commented on it. He was in control tower. Four ships got lost coming home and two landed at other fields. It was a long wet and cold ride. It's nice to be on the ground again.

Total time 8:35

JUNE 21 -- Took off with 2,500 gals. and 8 - 500 lb. bombs. Had no trouble taking off. Climbed to 12,000 ft. on instruments. Headed for Hainan Island to bomb two carriers. Flew through thunder and weather and broke out in the clear over the water. Let down to 5,000 ft. Saw flares and made a run on docks off Bakli Bay. Could not locate carriers. Dropped bombs on barracks, warehouses and docks. Started fires. Climbed up to 12,000 ft. and flew through weather, rain and plenty of lightning. Made instrument let down on Kunming. Landed OK. Night mission.

If we had located the carriers, we probably wouldn't have come back. One carrier carries 16 -5 inch guns with a range of 18,000 yards, plus 50 small turrets.

Total time 7:25

TOTAL TIME THROUGH THIS MISSION, counting only Hump and combat 132 hrs. plus

JUNE 26 -- Took off with 2,700 gals. and 8 - 500 lb. incendiaries. Four ship formation to light up target of Hankow. Took off at 15:30 and joined formation over Kunming. 2 - 374 and 2 - 375 ships. Took off on new part of runway. We were second ship over the target at 7,600 ft. First ship bombed from 11,000 ft. With opposite heading on target. We fund target OK. At the same time the bombs went away, the searchlights (13) picked us up and followed us for seven miles. Target is very long. We dove down to 3,000 ft. at 250 MPH but could not shake off the lights. They shot tracers and heavy flak. Tom said they were always bursting right behind us. Very close. Some tracers came up ahead of us and we flew right through it. Why they didn't hit us is a miracle to me. After getting out of range, we climbed back up to 12,000 ft. to go home. Fires could be seen for 120 miles from the target. We really hit them that time.

The trip home was long and cold. Made instrument let down and landed OK.

One ship had to bail out. Another got shot up and landed at Kweilin. No one hurt and crew walked home. Flak was heavy and very close. Expected night fighters as there were three fighter strips within ten miles of the target. Moon was up and bright.

JUNE 29 -- Took "Floogie" over Hump for engine change. Weather was bad here but good over Hump and bad at Chabua. Made instrument let down and broke out at 800ft. John (Apsega) took off and landed. Made good landing.

Trip over 3:45

At Chabua we bought a gunny sack full of pineapples, some bananas, 2 cans of orange marmalade, couple of brass trinkets, 1 case of beer and cigarettes, fruit juices and candy. We really made the rounds and went to see everyone we could to get more supplies. We stayed over night and it rained all night. It REALLY rained all night!

The next day the plane we were to take back was loaded with the food and new refrigerator.

JUNE 30 -- Took off with 2,000 gals. Weight 61,000 lbs. 13 passengers. Plane was very tail heavy, but we got off OK. We even brought a finance officer over with a payroll of $90,000.00. Brought Doc Mattson and Lt. (John) Kerst also. We took off in rain and climbed on instruments to 13,000 ft. Flew most of Hump with overclouds up to 14,000 ft. Good weather up to Yunnanyi. Then flew instruments to Kunming and let down on instrument in severe storm. Broke out at 8,000 ft. indicated. I think the Doc was pretty scared (I was too). We finally found the field, but lost it in the rain again. We didn't see the field again until we were on approach. Made a good landing in the rain. We had some of the food for supper.

Total time 4:10

JULY 5 -- Took off with 40 - 100 lb. bombs toward Canton. Took off and joined formation, started out on course. About 1:15 minutes on course #3 engine acted up so we broke formation and headed back. Shortly after turning back, #4 engine acted up also. We dropped our bombs safely on top of a mountain. #3 prop runaway so we could not get 18# manifold pressure. #4 continued to act up but operated good enough. We reached the field OK and made a good landing. Radio transmitter also went out. Later found out #3 had a hole in the piston and #4 had a cracked head. We were flying 374 ship named "Shooting Star". Found out that we used 90 qts. of oil in #3 and in 10 minutes would have had to feather it.

Total time 2:50 (not combat)

JULY 11 -- Took off with 40 - 100 lb. bombs and 2,500 gals. gas. Had a hard time getting into formation because of clouds. Joined formation over Kunming but again had trouble joining the group. After an hour of messing around in rough clouds which made half the crew sick, we started for Shingsin, located north of Changsha and south of Yoyang. Just a small place. We picked up fighter escort an hour from target and stayed on course. We reached the target and was surprised to see no flak. As soon as our bombs went away, we knew the reason. Right above our heads the P-40s were dog-fighting with Zeros. I was two of them and called out their position. (James) Mann in top and (Hobert) Jones in waist opened fire on them for about four minutes. Later we learned that six Zeros were shot down out of the eight we ran into. One of our ships had to land at Kweilin. All the rest were OK. The Zeros were Oscars, I think.

Total time 9:10

JULY 13 -- We were to take off with 12 - 250 lb. bombs and 2,500 gals. gas to bomb Paluchi Airdrome near Yochow. Three ships from 374 took off at 23:00. [Navigator Harold West, one of the crewmen from my Grandfather's original crew - No. 67 - was among those killed in the following account] The third [B-24J, 44-40573, Esky II] got off OK, but for some unknown reason hit ground about 1,000 ft. from the end of the runway and exploded. No one got out. They reversed traffic and five of our ships got off OK. The 6th [B-24J, 42-73305, Rose of Juarez] was McCubbin or Ades' crew. We watched them take off, but they didn't climb like they should have and we saw them crash and explode. Were the 7th to take off. When we got in position to take off, Major Edney told us to taxi back in. That made us rather happy, after seeing what happened to two others just before us. We then went to the crash. The Doc was working on the four fellows pulled out of the crash and those that were thrown clear. One enlisted man with a fractured skull, broken thigh and broken hip came crawling out of the plane with another fellow. He was blind also. The fellow he brought out was unconscious having received a fractured skull. They were all badly burned. They found Ades on fire and dragged him out, but he was dead. All this time bullets were going off, gas exploding and 250 lb. bombs also. The ground men that went to the crash deserve the highest honor there is for risking their lives around that plane. They saved three lives by going into the fire. Four men killed, four with chances of living, two of those blind.

JULY 15 -- Saw a P-38 crash land and catch on fire. Pilot was not hurt and the flame was put out quickly.

JULY 16 -- We took off with 2,500 gals. gas and 48 - 100 lb. bombs. Took off 10:30 and joined formation. Had trouble getting into formation with group. Had to go to 17,000 ft. Picked up fighters for escort and went through lots of weather to and from target. About 10 minutes from target they started shooting and were very accurate. Three minutes from the target we got hit several times again; No flak over target, but we got shot at plenty over the river while leaving the target. The flak was bouncing off the lane like hail. Meanwhile the fighters overhead got into several dog-fights with Zeros, but the Zeros didn't get into us. We really left the town burning and exploding. We must have left half of the town in flames. On the way back, the gas got very low. We came straight in to land and had less than 100 gals. left. Enough for less than 25 minutes of flying. We were glad to get down on the ground. One ship couldn't make it back and landed at Liuchow.

Total time 8:50

JULY 16 -- While we were gone a new crew crash landed on the runway. No one hurt but a good new plane ruined.

JULY 18 -- Saw a B-24 land with new crew and right landing gear was unlocked. None were hurt. Five minutes later, saw 2 P-51s crash into the ditch on take off. No one hurt. 10 minutes later, saw a P-40 go wild on take off and run off runway. No one hurt. Must have been a freak and lucky day.

JULY 20 -- Took off second in "Tough Titti" with 2,500 gals. and 48 Demo's and G.P. bombs. Joined formation and lead ship dropped out. We climbed up over Kunming and joined group and took out on course. Ran into solid wall of weather. Formation broke u and half went back to field. We went through weather of snow and ice and broke out into clear after half an hour. Continued on course to Chikcyang and circled and joined another bunch of ships. Came to target too far north, so we turned south and flew to right of target. (Bombardier Ben) Adelson got excited and dropped bombs before we got to target and hit rice fields. I didn't know he had dropped bombs and stayed in formation. Our lead ship crowded me into propwash and too near another ship, so I broke formation after finding out our bombs were already gone and left for home. Adelson made the whole crew pretty mad and isn't very well looked upon right now. I will never know why bombardiers are so damned C......S.... The mission before he almost broke his arm patting his own back. He told us how good he was for at least an hour on the way home over the interphone. i told him to keep his mouth shut so someone else could talk.

Our target was supposed to be Changsha. He doesn't rate very high in my opinion. That's the second time he showed how p-p-p-poor he was. On way home we had to come through same storm. It rained, snowed and hailed. i thought the ship would break in two from the rough air and hail. Lightning struck all around us. (Navigator Harold) Crawford did a good job getting us home. Made instrument let down on Kunming and landed OK.

Total time 9:00

JULY 25 -- Took off to fly right wing, first element of Maj. Edney. Gas load 2,750 gals. Bombs 12 - 250 Demo's. We flew "Tough Titti". Joined formation and climbed over field and at 14,000 ft. went to rest camp lake to join up group. Climbed to 18,000 ft. over rest camp. 375 led group. Took off on course about 12:10 and had to climb to 19,500 ft. to clear tops of clouds. We were to pick up 20 P-40s at Chickyang. We picked up 8, circled the field once and proceeded to target. Had hard time finding Yochow and while approaching we saw Zeros taking off Paluchi Airdrome. We dropped our bombs and hit railroads, barracks and factories and storage. We bombed from 15,000 ft. As soon as bombs were away we started to turn for home. Over target light ack-ack bursts close under us. But, the heavy 3-inch guns had our range. One shell burst under us and lifted the tail about 5 ft. Smitty and Luebbers found themselves about a foot off of the floor. Then several others started bursting around us and soon they really cut loose. The sky was full of black patches of flak bursts and we flew right through. As soon as the flak stopped coming up we got hit by from 40 to 50 Zeros. We closed in the formation and the gunners were firing almost continuously. One Zero came down fish-tailing and slipped inside our formation. We, or no other ship, could fire for fear of hitting our own planes. He soon pulled up and at least 6 gunners shot at him; we watched him go down. We also saw a P-40 go down in smoke and crash into the lake. Another Zero, painted white, came in towards Smitty in the waist. Smitty opened up and the plane quit turning. When Smitty stopped firing, Tom in the tail heard him and swung his turret right and the Zero was in his sights. So, he let him have it. Smitty and Tom saw pieces of glass canopy fly off and pieces of fabric from his plane. They watched him go down and the ship behind us saw him crash. Others followed us for seven minutes, but were scared off by a few tracers. Many Zeros came in plenty close and it really sounded good to hear out 50s cut loose. All this time P-40s were dog-fighting and planes were all over the sky. Just like you see in the movies. The gunners on our ship were really having the time of their lives, and I sure wished I had a gun instead of having to fly. The P-40s really did a swell job. They deserve all of the credit. The rest of the trip was uneventful. One of our ships had to drop our of formation because of engine trouble, but he made it in OK. We landed just at dark with 300 gals. left. It was a good mission. Later we saw pictures of the bombing and of the P-40 crashing and several Zeros. Our only loss was one P-40. We had plenty of flak holes and some Zero bullet holes, but no damage. I'm pretty proud of my gunners.

Total time 9:00

JULY 29 -- Flew plane called "Paul's Playhouse". Took off with 40 - 100 lb. bombs and 2,750 gals. gas. Took off at 10:30 and joined formation. Had trouble with the runaway prop and just didn't get off. Crash trucks had already started toward the end of the runway to pick us up. Cylinder head temperature above 300 degrees C. Had trouble climbing. Joined formation over rest camp and started on course. Couldn't keep up with formation. Met fighters at Nanning. 16 P-38s. Turned south for Samah Bay and Hainan Island. #1 and #4 engines started acting up so we left formation and dropped our bombs in the China Sea, and turned around. Went to Nanning and headed home. #4 engine started to run away also. #4 engine got worse and #3 started up again. Same as on take off. I thought we would have to leave the plane, but with a lot of babying it along, we got back home. Called tower for emergency landing and came in. When we landed the nose wheel was flat and we about crashed. Managed to stay on runway and finally got it stopped. The whole nose strut was bent up and ruined. We climbed out and at the same time the crash truck arrived and the ambulance too. Even the Chaplain was there. But no one was hurt except the plane. We had a big crowd around in no time and the Maj. complimented me on good job of landing and getting back home with three bad engines. I guess we were pretty lucky to get back. The next day they were working on the nose wheel and putting three new engines on. Adelson was bombardier. He makes me mad, too.

Total time 6:45 (not combat, but going home time)

JULY 30 -- 2,750 gals. gas 12 - 250 lb. bombs. Took off with four other planes to bomb Wuchow next to Hankow. Flew "Tough Titti". Joined formation. Had good weather till dark. Took off 13:15. Broke up formation at dark and ran into bad weather. Flew through bad weather for over one hour and broke out into moonlight about half hour from target. Crawford took us to target, came in on wrong heading and then saw three night fighters. We were picked up by searchlights over target when bombs were going out. At same time, two night fighters made passes with guns blazing. They passed over without hitting us when we dove away from target. One fighter followed us down but I don’t think he could see us because we were below him. Mann in the tail and Luebbers kept calling out his position so we always turned away from him. I wouldn’t let the gunners fire at him because it would give our position away. As we left the target we saw small fires stat, then suddenly we saw at least 12 large fires, or explosions, which must have been gas of ammunition. We could see fires at least 75 miles away. We then went back into the clouds and weather. Later, came out and moon was very clear. Crawford took 4 celestial shots and took us home nicely. Luebbers couldn’t get the radio to work and we could see bad weather ahead. I really wanted the weather report badly for our home field. We started to climb and had 21,000 ft. when we hit the weather, managed to slide through holes in clouds and Luebbers finally got weather report from the field, it cleared and we let down and landed OK. I really sweat the weather out for fear we couldn’t get into our field, but when Luebbers got the weather over the field, I felt 95% better and not so scared of the weather. We topped most of the weather, but did pick up several inches of ice and plenty of really rough air. But, everything came out OK. We didn’t have much gas left so we couldn’t mess around very long.

Total time 10:15

AUGUST 8 – Rode as passenger over the Hump to fly new plane and new crew back. Instrument conditions all the way over. Capt. Spector and I rode in back. The first ride I’ve ever had in the tail of the plane. I rode as tail gunner over Jap country. 374 radar ship.

AUGUST 8 – Took 12 cases of beer plus four extra gunners and baggage, plus new crew and baggage. 15 men. Ship was rather crowded. Explained route to navigator. Took off 14:30. Trip back was very good. Could see ground almost all the way. Didn’t have any trouble. Landed at “D.B.” OK. Was met by almost entire squadron. Happy to see new crew. Plane 826 (44-40826 "Old Acquaintance").

Time back 3:30 (combat

AUGUST 11 – John (Apsega) went as co-pilot with Batchelor, to hit Changsha. One the way back got lost. ETA 21:22. They flew around and got more lost. Called for bearings but was given reciprocal which took them farther away from home. Over Yunnanyi got more bearings and got further lost. Finally saw a small village and circled and bailed out because they were out of gas. Bailed out at 23:40. John slept all night where he was and next morning walked into the village. There he offered the Chinese 1,000 Chinese dollars for every American brought in. Before the day was up, all nine men were brought in. Some with sprains and one Sgt. (Fred Allen) Duckett with a broken ankle. Next day they were taken to Yunnanyi and the next day flown back to Kunming. Village was about 80 miles south and west of Yunnanyi. John is OK now, skinned nose and slightly sprained back, but will be flying when he gets back from rest camp next week. I was sure glad to see him back. The ship lost was “Innocence Abroad”.

AUGUST 14 – Took off at 8:40 with 2,750 gals. Gas and 6 – 500 lb. incendiary clusters. I had a new pilot as co-pilot, named (George Turpyn) Tirpyn (sic). We had four ship formation. Joined group over the rest camp. Picked up fighters over Chickyang and went on toward target but ran into bad weather and had to turn back. Flew formation all the way back and landed OK. First one back out of two squadrons.

Time, No Mission 8:00 combat

AUGUST 17 – Took off in “Tough Titti” with 2,750 gals. Gas and 12 -250 lb. bombs. Maj. Crawford led the squadron. We flew #4 in the group. Had hard time joining group. Took out on course for Chickyang, picked up fighters. 16 P-40s. Headed for Yochow. Formed column of squadrons at initial point and flew over target. We watched the squadrons ahead of us get hit several times by flak and knew when we got there, we could really be in for it because they get the range from the first ships and really let go on us. We flew through plenty of black some from the bursts ahead of us and once Smitty and Luebbers were knocked flat on the floor of the plane by some very close ones. They must have thrown up everything but the kitchen sink, and I think we brought home part of that. When we got back on the ground, we only had some 20 odd holes in the plane, plus glass in the nose, tail and top of pilot’s glass knocked out. No one had a scratch. They say the target was really burning and couldn’t see the town for smoke. Darned glad to get back. After leaving target took fighters back to Chickyang and broke formation because of weather, poured on the gas for home. We were first ones back again by five minutes. Got interrogated and went to mess hall and had three double shots. Almost got tight, after not having eaten anything for eleven hours. Daylight mission. Major complimented me on flying best formation and having cool nerves over target.

Combat time 9:00 Tirpyn co-pilot.

AUGUST 19 – Flew “Georgia Peach” with 2,750 gals. Gas and 40 -100 lb. bombs. Today I led whole squadron of six ships. Before this I usually flew #2 position in case lead ship fell out, I could take over. Formed squadron over lake and headed for the rest camp lake. Joined group and flew #3 position in group. Picked up 17 P-40s at Chickyang and dodged clouds up to turning point, and more up to I.P. Made run on Puchi, town just south of Hankow. Hankow has 150 Jap fighters and we were plenty worried. One way up flew near Paluchi Airdrome which had 50 fighters. I think we completely surprised Puchi because few bursts came up compared to Yochow. Weather got worse and twice had to break up formation. Then we were really worried because we were expecting fighters all the time. Got back in formation OK and flew directly over Paluchi Airdrome on way home. Broke up formation over Chickyang and flew instruments for two hours on way home. But, we still were first one home by ten minutes. Because the other planes went around the weather and we came straight through, because we were low on gas. I’m getting a reputation for coming in first. They say I now all the short cuts. Several missions ago, ground men placed bets on our ship to be in formation first in a certain number of minutes. Target was said to be in complete flames when we left it. Crawford did a good job in navigating and I think now that we have a flight, he will make 1st (Lieutenant) in September. I hope so. After we got down, I had to report to Maj. Edney and he complemented me again on doing good job. Later pilots that flew in our formation said I did good job. I hope I never screw up. Major also said Jake Havens and I would probably do most of the leading in the future whenever he doesn’t fly. Sounds good to me.

AUGUST 21 -- Col. Powell from 374 squadron called me up and Maj. Edney and I were to come see him. So we went over and he gave me a big compliment on the formation we flew on the last raid. He gave me a big build up.

SEPTEMBER 1 – (George) Pierpont’s crew was shot down over Formosa. Eleven ships went out and only 8 came back. He was the new crew brought over the Hump around the 8th of August. Another ship from our squadron came back with 128 holes in it. No one hurt though. “Rush” crew.

SEPTEMBER 8 – 2,500 gals. Gas, 5 – 1000 lb. bombs with 8 to 11 second delay fuses. Flew “Georgia Peach”. Took off at 9:30 and formed formation over south lake. I led squadron of three ships. On course 10:22 headed south to China Sea to bomb railroad bridge, named DocTho near town of Vinh. Vinh is in Indo-China on coast of China Sea. We flew about 10 miles out to sea and followed the coast till we came to turning point. Turned inland till we picked up railroad, followed railroad to bridge at 1,000 ft. altitude. When we saw bridge, dropped to 50 ft. and dropped bombs. Stayed low till we heard bombs explode and felt concussions. Then climbed up to 3,000 ft. and took pictures of bridge and headed home. Bridge was blown up and boats were capsized all over the river. Some even blown 200 ft. up on shore. On way home saw two trains and went down to strafe them. Blew up one engine and see one oil car on fire. On bombing run to bridge, Jones strafed bridge and banks well. Saw one machine gun shooting from a thatch hut and Jones opened up on hut and it quit shooting at us. Tracers were crossing our nose very close and (Don) Bartell in the waist stopped that gun which was shooting at us from the side. As soon as bombs went off, Mann called up and said we had a large hole in the wing that came through the top. On the way back after buzzing trains, passed over three air strips and saw two fighters take off on of the fields and three off another. The fighters climbed up above and we waited for them to attack but they never came in. They just followed for ½ hour. Meantime, Smitty said two generators were shot out and losing gas fast from #3 tank. He saved as much as he could by transferring to another tank. The rest of the trip home was OK until we got near the field when we ran into bad weather. We made instrument let down and broke out 400 ft. over the lake. Raining very hard. We got cleared to land and as wheels touched I knew we had a flat tire. Had a dolt of trouble holding it on runway but finally got stopped. Brakes were no good and held it straight with throttles. Climbed out of plane and found out we were hit some twenty times with bullets and one 37mm went through front of wing, hit generator junction box, punctured gas tank and blew out tire. No one was hurt. Propeller also had dent caused by bullet. Major complimented me on landing and for bringing plane back being it was full of holes. (Hobert) Jones really did a good job with his nose turret and Tom (Young) in the tail.

Total time 6:45 (combat)

SEPTEMBER 17 – Took 48 – 100 lb. bombs and 2,500 gals. gas. 24 were oil and rubber bombs. Got in takeoff position and started off. Half way down the runway Tom saw gas coming out of the wing and ran through the bomb bay and told Smitty. When Smitty told me Jones called on the interphone that the wing was on fire. We were in the air and too late to stop. I called the tower and told Maj. Edney to get fire trucks ready and meet us as we stopped and to clear the runway. We all expected the plane to explode any second. We made a close approach and stopped quickly. Smitty, Jones and Mann were out on the wing in no time and had the fire out by the time the rest of us even got out of the plane. We measured the amount of gas we had left and got a new gas cap, put it on and in 15 minutes were back on the runway taking off again. We went right to the rest camp lake and joined our formation. We then flew to Chickyang and on to Changsha. We didn’t have fighter cover. We got hit 5 or 6 places by flak and in one gas tank. We lost about 300 gals. And half way home #3 engine went out. We flew by ourselves all the way home. It got dark about half an hour before target. It was pretty clear out and Crawford took several star shots which showed us 70 miles south of course. We were flying 240 degrees and Crawford gave us a course of 270 degrees. We went up to 14,000 ft. and saw plenty of planes still flying 240 degrees. I told Crawford I thought he was wrong, so he took more shots. They still said south of course, so we continued on 270 degrees. About half hour passed and he and I were both getting pretty worried. John was scared and he said he was ready to jump again. Our gas was running very low and flying o three engines wasn’t fun. It started to get cloudy and soon was snowing and icing up. We went down to 11,000 ft. and I happened to see a light on the ground. We went lower and I identified it by oral null as Liuliang. From there on we flew same heading through clouds and finally saw Chengkung through the clouds. We let down over Kunming and called tower for emergency landing and came in to land. Made normal landing and taxied in. We were first ones back regardless of three engines. Because Crawford brought us in straight over the field instead of 100 miles south like all the rest came in. We had a new bombardier named O’Donald and Krammer as radio operator because of Luebbers’ broken finger. O’Donald said I should get him put on our crew because he thought we were pretty good and knew Crawford was a pretty good navigator. He said he felt safer with us than he has on any of the other four crews he has flown with. He’s quiet and may be assigned to the crew. I hope so. The crew’s chief was really glad to see us back and acted like a little kid who was afraid he might lose his toy. We were glad to be back and everybody was glad Crawford knew what he was doing. But, he admitted he thought he was wrong and he was ready to throw his sextant away. John was really scared he would have to jump again and told Crawford he was the best navigator in China when we got down. Flew “Georgia Peach”.

Total time 9:00 (combat)

SEPTEMBER 23 – Took off with 1,800 gals. Gas and 8 – 1,000 lb. bombs. O’Donald was bombardier. I think he will be our regular now. I led our squadron but had to break up about a half hour out because of weather. All the rest climbed up above it, but we dropped down under it to save gas to be able to hit the target and find it easily. We buzzed the mountain peaks all the way and many times couldn’t climb over the mountain without going into the clouds, so we went around them. We were the first one over the target and had to make three runs to hit it. Because of the clouds. The target was a bridge on the old Burma Road near the town of Chefany. We blew up the bridge and took pictures of it and was on our way back home when we met the other planes just coming in. We got credit for the bridge and was back on the ground a half hour before the others got back. We flew “Tough Titti”. We didn’t see a shot fired at us and didn’t see a fighter. A good mission.

Total time 5:00 (combat)

SEPTEMBER 28 – Flew “Georgia Peach” and led our squadron. Had 2,750 gals. Gas and 48 jelly bombs. Took off 11 o’clock and let squadron form. Because of clouds we had to climb to 14,000 ft. south of the field then after coming out on top, we headed for Liuyang to join group. We joined group and flew #3 position. Had to do a lot of cloud dodging on way down. Picked up 20 P-51s for escort. Headed toward Canton and bombed Samsui. We knew Zeros would be waiting. We made long run over target and for ten minutes flew through heavy and accurate flak. We really smashed the target and flak kept coming up. We just got missed by several feet four or five times. After turning from target the Zeros hit us. But, the P-51s took right after them and kept them pretty far back. None got too brave and came in very close. Mann took a shot at one and he turned and started to leave us when he was 2 P-51s take after him. They followed us for about 40 minutes. We went back to Nanning and broke up formation because of darkness. We flew through plenty of weather on way home and Crawford hit our filed right on the nose. We let down and landed OK. Taxied in. It was a good mission and we were lucky not to have gotten hit.

Combat time 9:30

OCTOBER 9 – Flew formation across the Hump to bring back gas. Flew “Paul’s Playhouse”. Turpyn was co-pilot with his crew. We landed at Chabua at 1:15. Took off 5:45 with 3,500 gals. Gas and 5,000 lbs. of food for mess hall. We flew instruments most all the way back and several times we ran into thunder head and iced up some. We had to turn around and get out of the thunder head and find another hole to go through. It was really pitch black. We finally saw Yunnani and the weather cleared up a lot. Landed at home 9:00

Combat time Hump 7:45

OCTOBER 10 – Took Ellis for check ride and to test hop 779 or “Willie Maker”. We feathered #3. Ellis did good job. This was his third of three check rides for pilot.

(not combat) 1:00

OCTOBER 15 – Grobic bombardier. We flew #2 position in formation and Maj. Edney led the group. We flew 826. We flew #2 in case Edney dropped out. The weather was bad almost all the way to target which was White Cloud Airdrome. Our mission was to knock out all the Jap bombers so they couldn’t bomb us. We dropped our bombs and hit eight of the twelve bombers there. Their flak was really accurate. They had 18 three inch guns plus a lot of small guns. We got by pretty luckily but many ships came home full of holes, and made crash landings. Havens’ crew was in lead ship. We had 25 P-51s and 12 P-40s for escorts. On the way from target the Zeros came up, but were ready and the fighters did a swell job of covering us. Not many Zeros even got to make passes. We were told there were about 50. Many were shot down and several of our own also. We saw two fighters heading home smoking. We were later told we did a very good job on the target by group and 14th. Maj. Edney said I flew the best formation he had seen in China and he was proud to have me flying with him.

Total time 7:20 (combat)

OCTOBER 18 – Took off in 445 with 1,200 gals. Gas and five man crew. Let John fly in left seat over the Hump. He made take off and landing. Landed at Chabua. Had trouble with the put-put before we got off. Filled up with 4,000 gals. (weight 63,000 lbs.). After filling up I took off and trip home was pretty good. Landed after dark. The Hump at night is very dangerous.

Time over 4:10 Time back 3:10

OCTOBER 21 – When we came out to the plane in the morning the right tire was flat. It took two hours to change. We were supposed to take off and go to Liuchow with gas and come back to D.B. We took off, lost #3 gas cap, circled the field and landed. Smitty got a new cap and we took off again. Climbed on course and #3 prop and supercharger ran away. We almost had to feather. We tried to climb up above clouds and finally got to 19,000 ft. Got to Yunnani and let down. Got ice on the way down. Landed at D.B. and #3 engine quit. Weather at Liuchow was bad anyway. The other ships had to land because of bad weather. Smitty got mad at the plane when he couldn’t find what was wrong with it. Took Bill Barnard along also.

Time back 4:10 (combat)

Flew the Hump with Turpyn’s (co-pilot Perry) Had good weather. Flew 319 Time over 4:00

Next day we took off with 4,000 gals. Gas and went to Liuchow. Flew instruments and made instrument let down through mountains which is very dangerous. Landed and unloaded 1,400 gals. Took off one hour later and landed at home field. Time 9:25

Next day, took off with Loveridge. Test ride for Loveridge. Flew 684. “King’s X”.

Hours 3:35

Next day. Took off 3,550 gals. gas for Liuchow. Landed OK. Unloaded 1,300 gals. Took off again for home field. Bad weather. Time 8:20.

TOTAL TO THIS DATE 26 Hump Missions 24 Target Total 50 missions 327:45

NOVEMBER 9 – Took off with “Tough Titti” for Yunnani. We stopped there to get parts off “Bitch’s Sister”. Took 2 mechanics along. “Bitch’s Sister” is the plane that John, Crawford, Smitty, Luebbers and Czaia got the scare in. (Walter) Hopper was pilot that day. Picked up parts and ate in Hump Haven. Branif navigator. Landed at Chabua the same day.

Time 5:00 Stayed over night in Chabua.

NOVEMBER 10 -- Flew "Tough Titti" back to Chabua. Had perfect weather. Time back 3:05

NOVEMBER 11 -- Took off in "Tough Titti" with 2,750 gals. and 52 - 100 lb. bombs. Oil and rubber bombs. We headed right out on course. Luetterbi was navigator. Target Hankow. As we got near target saw searchlights and other planes dropping bombs. O’Donald made AFCE run. Searchlights caught us and flak and tracers started coming up. Two night fighters started shooting at us as soon as lights caught us. Dropped bombs and dove out of lights. We saw our P-51s shooting out searchlights and gun batteries. Trip home was good. Hit Chanyi and came on in to our field. Plane had several holes but no serious damage. Good mission. Time 9:35

NOVEMBER – Checked Graper out on first trip over Hump. I rode co-pilot. Hump nice. Trip over and back 7:05. Flew “Georgia Peach”.

NOVEMBER 17 – Flew “Georgia Peach” to Nanning with 3,700 gals. gas. Gas fumes very bad after takeoff. Landed at Nanning’s short grass strip. Unloaded gas and spent an hour talking to fighter pilots. Ate dinner there. Japs eight miles away. Took off and Crawford flew the plane back. Weather good. Had pictures taken by reel cameramen. They said pictures would be shown back in States as Evacuation of Nanning. Nanning was taken by the Japs 48 hours later.

Time 5:40

NOVEMBER 22 – Flew “Taylor Maid” (Perry’s plane) to Hankow again. This time I got to lead the whole group of 24 planes. Assembled our squadron over field. Headed for Liuyan and assembled group. Took out on course. Weather good. Group split up into squadrons at Chickyang and continued on course. We were first plane over target. Dropped our bombs. Lights, night fighters, flak and tracers very accurate. Had interphone and radio shot out by fighters. Fighters shot pretty red tracers. We buzzed ground on way from target. Bombed from 5,000 ft. which is too low. Crawford got us home in good shape. Jones was engineer. Smitty, Luebbers, grounded. Good mission. O’Donald did good job.

Bomb load 18 – 250 lb. demo’s. 2,750 gals. gas.

FLEW THESE PLANES PLUS OTHERS

Tough Titti

Georgia Peach

Taylor Maid

Bitch’s Sister

King’s X

Sitting Pretty

Old Acquaintance

Willie Maker

Paul’s Playhouse

Shooting Star

Floogie

Rose of Juarez

Pistol Packin’ Mama

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