Richard P. Spring

In the U S Army Air Corps

      I graduated from St. Nicholas High School in Zanesville, Ohio the last part of May of 1943. My father had died in my arms April 12th of that year. My brother, Ralph, was one of the first drafted in February of 1941. He was now serving with 37th Division in the South Pacific. I was asked by a classmate, Tom Nader, if I wanted to go with him to Lockbourne Air Field in Columbus to apply for Army Air Corps Cadet Training. I had worn glasses since the 2nd grade, but had quit wearing them about Christmas time in 1942. I was able to see as well with out glasses as I could with them, they just helped the strain on my eyes during the day. I started having trouble seeing with them being dirty or something so I had quit wearing them. I went to a different Doctor to have my eyes checked and was told I should be able to pass.

      Tom made the arrangements and on June 27th we went to Lockbourne. We were given the written test in the morning, which we passed. We were given physicals in the afternoon and passed them as well. We were told that we would now have to go the Draft board and volunteer, you could not enlist. A letter would be sent to us requesting us to be assigned to the Army Air Corps. We went the next day, June 28th, and volunteered. When I went to my best neighborhood friend’s house the next day and told him, he had joined the Marines, his parents told me they never thought I could pass the physicals for the draft.

      We received our letters and on July 17th we went with the other draftees to Columbus, there were 8 of us from our High School class in the group.  We presented our letters when we arrived and were told to take a seat. The others went on and were processed and we just sat there. That afternoon we were given minor check ups and joined the others in line where we were given our serial numbers; Tom’s was one number higher as he was behind me. The others were asked which branch of service they wanted and then assigned to the chosen branch. One of my classmates said he didn’t care and was sent to the Seabees. We were then sworn into the branch of service we were to go to. Tom and I were told we would receive our orders from the Army Air Corps by mail. We hoped that we would get to be together in service.

      I received my orders on August 3rd and was to report to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana by noon August 5th; from there I would go to Keessler Field in Biloxi, Miss. I still have this form. I left by bus on the evening of August 4th.  When I arrived in Indianapolis, I met a man from there who had the same orders and he helped me to get to the base. I remember that they served us liver for lunch which I didn’t like nor did I eat it. I don’t have any other memories of that day except that we boarded a troop train.

      The next morning when we went to breakfast in the chow car, the coffee they served was a pea green color and had sweetener in it. It tasted of terrible, but I drank it. I don’t remember if we arrived that day or the next one at Keessler.  I do remember the men there yelling, “You’ll be sorry!” from their barracks windows. We marched on to the barracks area and assigned to a bed in one. I don’t remember just how things happened but we were issued our uniforms and all other equipment.  We were given boxes to put our civilian clothes in and then shipped them home.  At the first or second inspections the Sergeant told me to go shave.  I had never shaved in my life and at the time I had only a little peach fuzz. I have shaved every morning since except times in back country with Scouts.

      The Sergeant we were first assigned to was sent to OCS school and we were assigned to another. We had to serve KP duty 7 days of the five weeks we were there. One Saturday after we came back from supper, a list of names was called off, mine was among them, we were told to fall out and get cleaned up as we were to report to the bakery at midnight. The rest had to police the area. Later after the others were back in the barracks, the Sergeant came in and said that there was a mistake in the time we were to report to bakery. We were to report at 12 noon the next day.

      We ran loaves of bread though a slicing machine for about 4 hours and we were done.  This was the easiest KP duty I was ever to do. The others were at the mess from early morning to long after supper.

      I do remember dry firing a Springfield rifle and that’s all the guns I saw.  We did a lot of drilling and did calisthenics most everyday.  I remember seeing a fellow I knew from back home on the Hospital grounds, he had broken his leg. Then another time we were told we were going on a five mile hike and everybody was happy we were going off the base. The hike however was just outside the gate and back and forth along an inlet. So we didn’t see much.  I would not get to see the town of Biloxi till 19 years later. This was the only time we would be off the base.

This was taken at Keesler field.  I am number 1 kneeling, next is Edward Masak, Pingery,
Standing James Mayhall, Bill O’Neil, Robert Myers, Bitshitkey and behind Rod Hamel.

      I had learned from mail from my mother that Tom Nader was at Keessler too. I, of course being so green and shy, didn’t know how to find him. I was standing in mail call when I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was Tom. We were able to be together a little but not much.

      In mid September, I boarded another Troop Train; we knew we were going to College or University. Either later that day or the next an Officer came in and said he was going home on leave where we were going. He said that we were going to the University of Toledo Ohio. Everybody was happy we would be close to home; some of the men were even from Toledo, there were about 6 men from Oklahoma. Tom was sent to Maine.

      We got off the train and onto a bus, and pulled away from the station and I saw a billboard sign that said White Chevrolet and I felt at home. This was the name of the Chevrolet agency back home. I would find out later that this was the son of the man back in Zanesville. When we arrived at University I saw some of the Cadets and their shoes shone brightly. I didn’t think Army shoes could be shinned that bright, but in the next day or two mine did too. Were given inspections each morning before breakfast, shoes and belt buckles shined, uniform in good shape, and shirt and pants in alignment. Beds made up tight so a quarter would bounce, area around bed clean, lockers arranged as we were instructed, under garments and socks put up as required. We were also required to buy sweat clothes for calisthenics. I would later have my uniform shirts form fitted.

      We were housed in the field house at the University. The first floor had the basketball area divided into 3 barracks; there were bunk beds and lockers. I was assigned to one on the second floor; this area had been another basketball court.

      The days here would start with wake up call, showers etc. inspection of clothes, shoes and belt buckle at assembly and marching to breakfast. The food here was the best and to prove this I put on 20 pounds in less than a month. The women working in cafeteria were all Blue Stars mothers, for you who do not the term; they were mothers with sons in service. The exception was one girl who was working her way through college.  We would then go to classes and study halls though out the day. We had lunch break of course.  We would drill marching with 2 by 4s shaped like guns and PT after classes.  We would then assemble and march to supper, have a short break, then go to study hall from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, then lights out at 10:00. The exception was Wednesday night when we only had an hour of study hall. There were table’s lined up on the north side of the barracks and churches and other groups brought cake, cookies and all other goodies to feed us. This was done EVERY WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

       Saturday morning we would be assembled after breakfast, have inspection, then march in front of University and pass in review.  If you had received too many demerits during week you had to walk hour tours with your wood gun. I had to a few times.  My mother came up for a couple week ends while I was there. My grandmother would tell me after the war that this was of a great benefit to my mother and seen her through the bad times she was having. We were given flight training in Piper Cubs for a time in December.

This is our group at airfield in Toledo                                                I had this taken while in Toledo

      The time spent at University of Toledo was very pleasant and I had a good time. I had friends but no close one as was true of most of my time in service.

      I was given a 3 day pass to go home the weekend before Christmas and some more time at Christmas. I did have to be back by Christmas evening. We were shipping out the 26th.

      My mother had gotten me a box of Bloomer’s Chocolates which I took back with me. I was saving it to share on the train, but tried to sit it on a luggage truck and spilled it all over the platform. The Troop Train took us to San Antonio, Texas to the SAC Base. We were processed and given tests. I was eliminated from Cadets. I was given the choice of going to Engineering School or Armament School in Denver. I chose Armament for 2 reasons, 1st I did not have any desire to go back to Keesler and checking with my friends they were going to Armament. I had to have my teeth worked on and the Doctor saw I was down and asked what my trouble was? I told him I could not understand why I had been turned down. He said son, they are checking off every 10th one because they have too many. Around the first of the year they had a heavy snow, about 4 inches and the schools in town were dismissed so kids could play in it.

      We took a Troop Train to Denver and went to Buckley Field for training. We were there a few days before we started training. I remember doing KP one day and worked at the bakery. I rode in a truck and took pies to the mess halls. They were Lemon Pies with a meringue topping, these were put in shelved wire racks.  I carried racks in my hands but resting against my body so that by end of day I had lines of meringue across the sweater I was wearing. We, 4 of us, went into town the first weekend and stayed in a Hotel overnight.  Don’t remember who the others were.  We were dressed in the winter uniforms but did not need overcoats and this was in mid January. The weather would change later we would have blowing winds and snow at which times it was cold. This the only time I went into Denver all the time I was there.

      We would attend classes in morning and afternoons. We fired 45 caliber pistols, sub machine guns and 30 caliber machine guns. We were taught how to work on the cannon which was installed in the B25’s. How to set the cams on planes whose machine guns fired between the propellers. There were many other things but these are the ones I remember.

      My leisure time was spent going to the movies, the bowling alley, and restaurant where egg sandwiches were the favorite. I had a friend, Eugene Tehee from Oklahoma that I did some of these things with. We were hit with an outbreak of rheumatic fever and several from the barracks got it. Tehee was one of those. The last correspondence I had with him, he was in a hospital in Arizona. I also met Don Roberts at this time and he would be with me the rest of the time even to the boat ride home from overseas. I also met, Charlie Taylor, we were friends here, he had the bottom bunk and I the top. We had an argument over open or closed window one night and I put my hand though the window. We became good friends at the next base.

      I was standing in chow line one day when I heard a guy say, from 52 miles east of Columbus, this is what I said when people asked where I was from or Zanesville was. I turned and said you must be from Zanesville, I am too. We then ate together and talked.

      I graduated at the top of my class with the highest score in 2 months. Had this happened 6 months earlier I would have been sent to OCS. It was now mid April and we were shipped out.

      We again boarded a Troop train which went down through Texas to Harlingen Air Base for gunnery school. Charlie gave me a sweetened cigar to smoke on the ride in back of truck to the base and it made me sick. No more cigars for a long time. We were put up in a two story barracks temporarily and transferred to one story barracks later. Harlingen was the prettiest base I was to have in service. The barracks were white with green trim, there was a lot of green grass and the streets were all asphalt. We did many things here, silhouette identification of airplanes, field stripping 50 caliber machine gun, blind folded and with gloves on. We done a lot of trap and sheet shoot with Remington pump shot guns. I really enjoyed this and did pretty well. I got my little finger on my left hand pinched in a turret gear and it broke the skin. It did not hurt but the sergeant in charge made me go to the hospital and have it checked out. They doctored it a little and bandaged it. I still have a small scar from it.

      We went out to the range for a week to fire the 50 caliber machine guns at targets. I did not do too well. I know my trouble now but didn’t at the time. I did not lead the target which is why we shot the shotguns.  I trained to be the ball turret gunner on a B24. You would get in it and it would be lowered out of the plane. I liked it but you could not wear a parashute while in it. It also probably would be hard to get out of if you were shot down. I did fly in it and shot up some targets on water, a towed target behind a plane and took pictures with cameras attached to guns of fighter planes. I and Don Roberts were eliminated a week before graduation. Charlie Taylor made it on through and would do missions in Europe. We were at the range on June 6th, D-day in Europe.

      Charlie and I were together most of the free time here. We went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant in Harlingen where we got great steaks served on metal plates and would be sizzling when they placed them in front of us. We wrote letters together, went to Brownsville Air Field and took their bus to beach to swim.  I hated it when we went our separate ways. I was able to see him several times after the war.

      I worked in the mail room for a week before we again shipped out. This time however we went on regular trains as there was just a few of us. Henry Johnson joined us about that time and we would be together on Guam. We rode the train across Texas again and back to Denver and on to Lincoln, Nebraska. This was a staging area where we went to be reassigned. Don and I were put on KP. I took the job of cleaning up the garbage cans. Don was working inside and met Everett Reed who was from McConnelsville, a town south of Zanesville. Don brought him out to meet me. He shipped out before us.

      We then boarded another Troop Train that took us to Dalhart, Texas again through Denver.

The train had to stop a few miles out of Dalhart because a sand storm had covered the tracks. They brought trucks out and took us to the Air Base. It was the middle of the night. The next morning we met up with Reed and he said he was going home on furlough.

      I would soon get one too. I took the train to Kansas City, Mo. and then took The Wabash train to St. Louis. In all my travel on trains while in service it was the best. I took the Jeffersonian, a Pennsylvania Railroad train to Columbus, Ohio and then the bus to Zanesville. I was traveling between Indianapolis and Columbus, just a year later but in the opposite direction, from reporting for induction, I was home for about 2 weeks. I was there to sign for a telegram from Ralph, my brother that he was back in the states and hoped to be home in about a month. It had not dawned on me that it could have been bad news. He arrived home a week after I left. I would be home on another furlough a week after he left. We would both get 3 days passes to come home just before I went overseas.

      Chuck Magruder had been given a Medical discharge because he damaged a knee. I enjoyed my time home very much.  I spent a lot of time with him when he was not working.

      When riding back on the train I got to thinking that it was like living 2 lives, the one at home and the one in service. I arrive back at the barracks about 12:00 midnight. I was awakened at 5:00AM and told we were going on bivouac. I don’t remember if we were given backpacks or how we carried our clothes, blankets and half of a pup tent. We were taken in the back of trucks. We stopped along the way and were given K rations for lunch. We went through Clayton and Raton, New Mexico. We went to Yankee Canyon to bivouac, which is 2 miles east of Raton off RT. 72.  I have just found this out since I started writing this, 60 years later. We set up our tents in the pine trees. A bigger tent was set up down the hill for the meals to be cooked in. I was on guard duty in camp while across the canyon the rest went though an infiltration course. It was not that bad on the bivouac except the last day we marched up the road and climbed a hill. We spent the night in our ponchos in the rain on the rocky top of that hill. The trucks were there the next morning to take us back. The funny part of all this is that 30, 40, and 50 years later I would bring Scouts to backpack in the mountains 50 miles southeast of here, pay for the privilege, carry a lot more in a pack, hike further and really enjoy it.

This picture was taken at Dalhart

      We went back to Dalhart and we really didn’t do a lot of training. They did start giving us the shots which we needed before we went overseas. A group of us were riding the shuttle bus, a truck pulling a trailer with platform seats on it, back to our area after taking the shots at the Hospital. We first decided we would ride on up to the mess hall but when it started to move, we changed our minds and jumped off.  I jumped off the wrong way and fell hurting my wrist.  I went into the barracks and lay down on my bunk. One of the fellows came over later and asked if I wanted to go to the PX with them. I got up and went with them. I ordered a milk shake and was standing there when I felt like I was going to pass out. One of them helped me outside. He then said you should go to the hospital and get checked out. He went with me and after checking me out, they said I had sprained my wrist and they wrapped it up. A week later one of the men came into barracks and said they are going to send us all home on furlough, every body just laughed at him. We were all called out for assembly and they did just what he said, gave us all a furlough. It seems that the outfit that was at the Base we going to needed a little more training time there. I had money to buy the train ticket but Reed did not and called home for money to be sent to him and we took the train the next day. I took the bandage off on the train so mother would not see it. This is the second furlough I talked about earlier. I had another 2 weeks back at my other life at home. I know that I had a good time but don’t remember much of the details. I had a few dates and once took 2 girls to an Ohio State football game. I had to have the car worked on in the morning before the Columbus trip that afternoon and we were late in leaving but it only took me 45 minutes to drive from Zanesville to down town Columbus.

      We again boarded a Troop Train which took us back through Denver and on to Grand Island, Nebraska. It was late October when we arrived. I saw my first B29 and the Pilot banked it sharply like a fighter, I could not believe you could do that. I was working the machine guns when one of the gunners came over and said, “I never expected to have you working on my guns”. He had been in my class at Buckley Field. He was not in my Group but the one ahead of us which was getting ready to leave. 

      A Corporal and I were doing an inspection on a B29 and following a guide list of things to check. He said we need to check the manual bomb release, turn that wheel. I turned it and the gasoline tanks which had been installed in the front bomb bay dropped partially out. They were hanging there by just their connections to the plane. A Lieutenant of engineering came running and stuck his head up into the pilot compartment. He gave us what for and took us into Lt. Bengoechea in our office and told him what we had done. We then had to help winch them back in place with the electric hoist.

      The next evening I was checking the guns in the aft bottom pod when Lt. Bengoechea came up and ask me where the rest of my crew were and I told him, one was in Hospital, and where else each of them was. He just smiled and walked away. The Corporal had left on furlough as he was on special training mission when we got the second furlough. The Corporal came back but I don’t remember going overseas with us.

      We spent a cold winter in Grand Island. We were given sweaters to wear and sheep lined outer clothing like the air crews wore.  We serviced the planes in the hangers and they went to Puerto Rico airfield where they flew practice missions. Some of the armament section went there to load the bombs. Everett Reed had gotten married on the last furlough and brought his wife back with him. They and another couple, John Vandercay and his wife, had rooms in a home in Grand Island. They had kitchen privileges and John invited Don Roberts to share Christmas Dinner and Everett invited me. We had a nice steak dinner, but one bite I took caught in my throat and I gagged but got it back up. We had a good laugh. The people who they lived with went elsewhere for Christmas leaving us the house.

      I drove my first Army vehicles here, a command car and a weapons carrier.

      Preuss & Me                                       Wilkey                                 Williams & Johnson

              Me                              Mr. & Mrs. Donald Roberts

      We did a few things in the spring, 2 others and I got shotguns and went pheasant hunting. I was able to get 2 of the 4 we saw. We brought them back to barracks and Williams, who was on KP, took them to clean. He left them in a freezer at mess hall. We were going to have them some night for a treat. Some how they were given to a guy in the barracks and he took them to his girl friends and they had a meal of them. I didn’t know about this till afterwards. I would have had him bring me a taste. He was always borrowing money from me till payday.

      A group of us also went to the skeet range. The only one to get more clay pigeons than me was Henry Miller. This was just before we went overseas.

      April 6th we again boarded a Troop Train and started west. I do not know for sure how we went but we did go through and over mountains. The scenery at times was beautiful. We passed through one town where Tatum had been for CTD, he was able to go to a drug store and see a man he became friends with while stationed there. There were some very big steam engines pulling our train in the mountains.  We were taken to Fort Lawton where we stayed for a few days. We were called about 1 o’clock on the 12th of April and told that President Roosevelt had died. The 502nd on April 14th boarded the USAT Cape Newman at pier 39 in Seattle.  We were taken down into the ship hold where there were stacks of cot type beds made of pipe and canvas. They were stacked 12 or more high and about 2 feet apart. I had one about waist high. We sailed on to Pearl Harbor where we stayed for about a week.  I was on KP the day we pulled in, you might know when there was something to see. The 6th day we docked at Hickam Field where we were given 6 hours off ship. I remember with others going into Honolulu by bus from the base. We went into a Hotel restaurant and had ice cream. We then went back to the base and to PX snack bar. They had pineapple juice. I liked it so well I bought 6 cans to take back to ship. We were looking over the rail later and they brought case after case aboard to be sold at the ship’s store. There were some Navy boys put on our ship and they were not happy. I don’t blame them as I came home on a Navy ship and it was much nicer.

      We sailed out that night after we were asleep. Days later we learned the war in Europe was over. We had turkey for supper one night that tasted good, but the next morning everybody had the runs. I had loose bowls but not that bad, this seemed to be the case with me when things like this happened while I was in service. It might have been because I was not a big eater. The morning I am talking about we were in the harbor at Eniwetok. The men were setting over the rails of the ship with diarrhea and the men on guard duty were going along with toilet paper on their billy clubs, passing it out.

      We sailed on to Guam and I can still see the Officer who came into the hold and told us we were getting off here but he thought it would be temporary, that we would probably go on to Okinawa. I found out 2 weeks ago that we were originally going to Tinian but they had sent another Wing there. We were sent to the Northwest field on Guam.

      I remember that we were put aboard the drop front landing crafts like those used for invasions. I do not remember how we left the ship to board them but it was not down a cargo net the way so many were.  We circled around a while and I got a slight wind and sunburn. This was the only time I did. This was the 12th of May, 2 days before my 20th birthday. We took our duffel bags and loaded on the trucks. There were no docks, but the area was congested. The road soon became a 3 lane concrete highway which took us past Agana the Capital of the island. There was a church there with no roof and holes though the sides. It was adobe and the walls looked to be about a foot thick. I was surprised to see the high hills. This I did not expect to see.  The highway gave way to a two lane blacktop road. We would pass several Troop areas, then past a transportation airfield and still more miles of road.

      We came to an area where they were using heavy earth movers. They were building our field and  they were really moving that equipment. I would not have thought they would go that fast. The road became a road of two dirt lines with green in between and jungle on each side. We pulled into a cleared area where a lot of tents were partially set up. We got out and were told to pick out a tent and finish setting it up. Roberts, Reed, and I picked one out and did so. We were given canvas cots to sleep on. Later we would be given platforms to serve as floors, a T arrangement of wood to fasten to each end of cot to hold up mosquito netting to sleep under. We would line the walk ways with stone later. We would live this way for a few weeks until we built our barracks. We of course had no mess hall but they heated C rations in barrels of water and dipped one out and you ate what you were given or traded somebody.  We ate this way for about a week then they cooked regular food. I remember also taking a bath out of my helmet. I also remember little lizards about 5 inches long running over the area. There bodies were black with yellow markings; I had turtles which were colored like that as a kid. Their tails were light blue. If you caught them by the tail it just came off. There were some that were 3 feet long but they were out in the jungle.

      I did many different jobs, I rode in the Navy truck that hauled out materials from the landing area, we stopped at Navy mess hall for lunch, then nailing wood on the roof of a warehouse, stacking sacks of concrete several high on a 22 foot semi trailer and taking it to its destination and unloading. We would do 2 or 3 loads a day; we would eat with the engineers. I was asked to unpack the typewriters for the office staff.  Later I worked with a crew headed by Lorenz putting tar paper roofing on our barracks.  I was given a letter of recommendation for cheerful service during this period.

      Everett had been assigned to KP and was not hungry and I was, so I ate his leftovers. In times before, this it was the other way around. Maybe it was because I was doing more hard labor.

      We loaded our first bombs on July 9th and the B29’s took off that night for a training flight to Truk, an island which had been bypassed but provided a good target for practice missions. We lost the last plane to take off that night, it wavered in the air moments after take off and plunged into the sea 200 yards northeast of Guam. There were no survivors. The mission was successful but marred by the loss of this crew. We loaded the bombs in the planes using electric hoists. The bombs I loaded were all 500lb. I am told that some were loaded with 100lb. which had to be hand loaded. I did hear of a man being killed by a bomb dropping on him while loading in the Group next to us.

      The first combat mission of planes from 502nd was flown by 4 planes on July 15-16 to bomb the Nippon Oil Refinery at Kudamatsu. All four planes bombed Kudamtsu and Capt. Hall’s crew split the target in half with 27 bombs. Our planes later would carry 40 bombs which was a full load. I had just found out before I started to write this article that the special assignment for the 315th Wing was to destroy the Oil refineries of Japan, so all our missions were bombing these.

      The 315th’s military police went to search for Japanese soldiers on July 16th. Six days earlier, security guards patrolling the jungle area east of Northwest Field had found evidence of recent Japanese habitation. Thus a patrol was organized and sent into the designated sector. On the first day of the patrol, they killed four Japanese soldiers and wounded another who died later, “Two days later, another pair of enemy survivors were sent to accompany their ancestors.” Although this patrol was successful, more Japanese soldiers were probably still at large on the island; as a result, two weapons carriers were equipped with 50-caliber machine guns and were used to guard against future reprisals by any remaining Japanese soldiers. I remember doing guard duty on the planes with my carbine and only 5 rounds of ammunition. I guess we were expendable but this was enough ammo to sound a warning.

      The 315th Wing did the last mission of war to The Nippon Oil Refinery at Tsuchizaki on the northern coast of Honshu Island. The mission took place on August 14-15. It was the longest and largest raid of the war, a round trip of 3740 statue miles. The planes on this mission flew over Tokyo causing a blackout that helped to make the revolt by some of the Japanese Army fail. They were going to capture the Emperor and keep him from surrendering the next day. The mission was successful but maybe causing the blackout was more productive. President Truman announced the surrender before some of these planes landed back on Guam.

      The biggest event to happen after the war was the dropping of food and other things to the prison of war camps by our planes. We of the armament section were gotten up at 4:00 AM one morning had breakfast and were taken to the planes and flown to Siapan where we loaded the food on a platform and using the hoists loaded it in the planes and flew back to Guam. The engineering section was to bundle the boxes with rope so parachutes could be attached for the drop. We had no more than got to the barracks when we had to go back to the planes and do this. It seems that engineers had to service the planes. If any of the boxes were broken they could not be sent. I obtained a box about the size of a four package box of crackers which had small cans of cheese in it. I took this and put it in my foot locker. If they had a meal at the mess I didn’t like I would take some bread back and eat it with the cheese. I remember one meal the cooks made was chili and it was so hot nobody but one man of Mexican descent could eat it. He even went back for seconds.

The picture below was taken after the war was over, either in September or October.


      I have fond memories of another meal we had. The cooks worked all night on Christmas Eve cooking Christmas day dinner for us. I never had a better Christmas dinner in my life.  Also along the same line I remember being on KP one evening and peeling potatoes. The cook told us we could get anything we wanted out of the refrigerator and fix it to eat. One of the men went and found 3 steaks, there were 3 of us, and cooked them. We had a nice treat. Later the Baker came in after the movie was looking for the steaks. We told him we ate them but some reason he did not want to believe us.

      I do not remember when but I was assigned to work in the Group Head Quarters Armament Section. I didn’t do much but go to the office. Then some of us were told we were going to be transferred to Tinian. We had a party one night before we left at our service club. This is another building we built ourselves. There was a big mahogany tree cut down and taken to a Navy saw mill and they cut it up into planks. They kept half for sawing it; with our part we made a bar. An officer gave us some whiskey for the party; I was given a glass of it and coke. I would leave the table and go and talk with others. I didn’t know until the next morning but every time I left they put more whiskey in it.

      Doerschner said this is the guy we spiked drinks on last night and he is fine and the rest of us have hangovers. The only other who did not was Rodrigues.

      Reed, Roberts, and I boarded a ship on January 9th for an overnight ride to Tinian. We arrived there on the 10th of January and were taken in back of trucks to the barracks area and assigned to a large tent with several other people.  The people here thought we were replacements but we had more points than they did.

      Reed ended up working in the Officers mess hall, Roberts to the motor pool and I to the line. I reported to a Lieutenant with 12 men and he put us to work cosmolining tools and putting them in took kits. Don and I were moved to a Quonset hut with maybe a dozen other people in it.  We were given canvas cots which had mattresses. The first night after Don and I came back from the movie and were lying on our bunks they brought us each a steak sandwich. It seems that one of the men was the assistant Mess Sergeant.  They were playing cards but not poker. They were playing bridge.

      This kind of feed we had every night I was there. I became the cook. There was a square 10 gallon can with holes punched in its sides. In it was a gallon food can with sand in it. We poured gasoline on the sand, let it stand awhile then lit it. We used a cookie sheet to fry them in. We ate well in the Mess Hall and had ice cream every day for lunch. One day the server was having trouble dishing it out or the can, he bent two spoons and gave up and turned the can over the mans tray and it all came out on his tray. He took the tray and sat it on a table came back and got another tray and picked up the main course again, skipping the ice cream. He and his friends shared the ice cream.

      We worked on the tools the rest of my time there, but after 2 weeks everybody else but I went home, so it was just the Lieutenant and I.  Reed went home at this time. The Lieutenant was unhappy because he had to have more points to get out. He was telling me he had an older brother who was a Top Sergeant and he was stationed at Harlingen field and Harlingen was their home town. He put me in for Staff Sergeant, he said I probably wouldn’t get it, but he was going to try.  Roberts and I left on the February 10th and went to Siapan.  This outfit left for the Philippines on February 23rd.  We where processed and finally found my name on the bulletin board to go home, I saw there was another person on the list from Zanesville.

      We boarded the Navy Transport USS Gage, a Troop carrier ship. The quarters to which I was assigned was a small size room and that had been the quarters of the crews of the invasion landing crafts. The bunks here were only stacked about 4 high. Don who had got sea sick coming over asked me to sleep on deck with him and I did. At 2 o’clock he woke me up and it was kind of misty so we went to our bunks. The quarters I was assigned to were just down one set of stairs from chow hall. One night they started frying steak and onions about the time went to bed. I was on guard duty and went on duty at four the next morning on deck next to the vent from the chow hall. We were served the steak for lunch the next day. I was on guard duty one day when it was announced for me and another man to report to the guard office. I got somebody to take over my station and went to the office. It was a Lieutenant Commander on the ship from Zanesville and wanting to see if he knew me or the other man from Zanesville. I found out that the other man from Zanesville was in the same quarters I was, so I looked him up that evening and asked him how come he did not report to the Office when told to. He said that he had not heard it. I then became less formal and introduced myself and told him what it was all about.

      I don’t remember how I found out but it seems the Captain of the ship had bet the Captain of a ship that left the day before he would beat him back to the states. We came back in just 13 days and could have docked in 12 if they had the space. We started into San Francisco Bay in the dark but we could see the lights of houses. We came under the Golden Gate Bridge just as the sun was coming up behind it. It was about 11:00 AM when we got off on dock at Oakland and we were met by the Salvation Army with bottles of milk. We were taken to a big building and to a room with bunk beds and assigned one. We were given a good meal, I think it was steak but I don’t remember for sure. We then started processing, this was the fastest it had ever been done. We were done by supper time.

      We went out to the trolley line, one went to San Francisco and the other into Oakland. We decided to go to Oakland. We walked around a while then went to a fountain in a drug store had ice cream and decided to just go back. We were to ship out the next morning.

      We boarded a Troop Train at 7:00 AM the next morning. I think that Don was on the same train, but in a different car. There was a man I knew from my Bomb Group with me on the train, but he was from a different squadron. There were 2 former MP’s in my car who had guarded the Enola Gay and her sister ship, the atomic bomb planes, on Tinan. I remember us going up into the mountains but that is about all I remember of that day. We would go through Salt Lake City and Denver. The morning after going through Denver and Grand Island for the first time the train had some speed up. We hit a farmer in his truck hauling cattle. I believe this was some where in Iowa. He and the cattle were all killed. One of the cows was hanging on the head light of the engine.  We were all in a hurry to get home but wished this had not happened. The braking before this accident flattened several of the wheels on some of the cars. The train master would not let them get up to speed.  We were told that in Chicago they would change the cars, however the Pennsylvania hooked on and went flying on to Camp Atterbury outside of Indianapolis. 

      We were here over night I think but by noon the next day I was discharged. Walters, the other man, from Zanesville was not going to finish until 1:00 and I was going on. He however got out also the same time I did and we went by bus to the train station and got our train tickets and still had time for lunch. I ate my first sandwich with a slice of tomato on a sandwich that day. We rode the train on to Columbus and walked down town. He wanted to thumb home so we decided to take the street car out to Bexley. A man came up and gave us two transfers to ride on the street car.

      We got off the street car in front of Capital University and started to thumb. A sailor home on leave picked us up and took us out to Reynoldsburg. We were here for a while then a man going home from work picked us up, he would have turned off on route 37, but he took us on into Hebron.  We were here quite a while, but then a man who worked for Timken in Zanesville picked us up and took each of us to our homes.

      I had to ring the doorbell and get Mom and Grandma up to get in. They were glad to see me and wanted to know if I had to go back, I told them no I had been discharged and my service time was completed. My dog Rover, who we put in the basement at night, was scratching on the cellar door and had to come up to see me.                 

Content ©2005, Dick Spring
Used with permission
Web Page by Larry Miller

October 25, 2005