were assigned a B-29 Bomber at Clovis, New Mexico A. A,
B., where we had just completed out Combat Training. We
named our plane “OLD EIGHTY-ONE” since we
had good luck training in an airplane with the serial
number ending in “81”. The plane we were to
have in combat also ended in “81”.
then left Kearny, Nebraska where we were issued over-seas
equipment consisting of a “Mae West” life
preserver, 45 caliber side-arm weapon, parachute etc.
We stopped in Sacramento, California where we spent
our last two days in the States.
left the United States by flying over the “Golden
Gate Bridge”. It took us a total of 36 flying
hours to reach our destination, Guam. We had a stop-over
at Hawaii and the Kwajalein Islands. Our day in Hawaii
was spent on the beach, an evening show in Honolulu.
At Kwajalein we had our first experience at viewing
the damage that war causes. The fighting had ceased
many months before, but the wreckage was still plentiful.
arrived at North Field, Guam.
17 & 20, 1945
flew bombing missions on the Island of Rota, a member
of the Marianna’s Island group. Although this
Island was not secured by American Forces, it was not
considered a threat. The missions were completed, primarily,
to familiarize ourselves with combat conditions.
– Our first combat mission was a night raid on
the capital of Japan. The raids at this time were plenty
rough and this one was no exception. Our Commanding
Officer, Col. Sturdivent, did not want to break us in
on a night raid but since this was a Maximum Effort,
nothing could be done about it. The Chaplain, Capt Pelt,
Col. Sturivent, and a few others came to our plane and
wished us good-luck. It seems that if a crew does go
down, it is either the first or second mission.
was 3:00 A. M. when we reached the target area. As we
approached we could see heavy bursts of flak that lit
up the skies. ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE AS WE ENTERED THE
FLAK AREA. During our bomb run we had 12 search-lights
concentrated on us. They frightened me as much as the
flak exploding all around. It was an eerie sight looking
down on blue-white lights. We knew that, though these
lights, the anti-aircraft guns were being sighted by
means of Radar. We knew that it would not be long before
flak would be coming at us. This was happening during
our bomb-run and we could not take evasive action until
our bombs were away. It seemed like an eternity until
our bombs were dropped. Capt Wren immediately put our
plane in a dive to the left and not a second too soon.
Flak came directly in the path of our bomb run. If we
had not taken evasive action when we did, we most assuredly
would have been hit. There were some fighters in the
area, but they pressed no attacks. They did fly over
us and dropped some phosphorus bombs. These bombs would
explode above us and they would hope that the white-hot
streamers would land on our plane and burn holes in
May 25, 1945
– On David Curry’s first and only mission,
I went to the plane with him to see him off, wish him
good-luck and to return safely. I was a gasp when
he said, “This is the last time that I will see
you. I know that I will not be returning. I want to
thank you for all that you have done for me and wish
that I could have been more like you”. I answered
him saying, “Don’t worry too much. I just
flew my first mission and I returned O.K.” I tried
to further him that everything would be all-right, but
I could see by his somber expression that I wasn’t
getting through to him. I always had a very optimistic
outlook on life and that only “other” people
Both David and I were in the process
of helping build a more permanent church to replace
the tent that we had at the time. We were friends with
the Chaplain, Capt. Pelt, and I was there when he said
a prayer and blessed the crew prior to their take-off.
rest is history. David’s premonition had come
true. As the days and months went by I would think of
things that may have happened to him and his crew. My
most positive hope was that they did survive the crash
and were safe somewhere. This was realized when one
of the crew did show up after the war was over, in a
prisoner of war camp in northern Japan. He was, Harry
Slater, the Central Fire Control gunner. He related
that he was able to bail-out through the open bomb-bay
doors. The plane exploded as he left. After the war
was over, David and the rest of the crew were later
found outside of the Tokyo area buried in a common grave
by a Japanese farmer.
– We arrived in the target area during the day.
The sky around us was polka-dotted with bursts flak.
Several of these bursts rocked our plane. There were
several Japanese fighter planes in the area, but they
did not press any attacks. I used my guns for the first
time, but the fighters remained out of range. After
dropping our bombs, one of our engines caught fire and
had to be feathered (A process that would keep the propellers
from turning and not causing further damage). Captain
Wren then radioed for emergency instructions. We received
word back that the airfield at Okinawa had been secured
and we could land there. Shortly after this, one of
the other engines started leaking oil badly and had
to be feathered. We were able maintain altitude with
the two remaining engines and make it to Okinawa. As
we landed on the runway, a third engine started throwing
oil and also had to be feathered. You might say that
we were lucky to make it back. I left with rest of the
crew to survey the damage. We received damage to the
wing and tail areas. One hole was in the tail section
about one foot over my head. I didn’t like wearing
my flak suit and helmet, but this indicated that it
was well worth it.
trees at the end of landing strip had been cut in two
by previous bombings and artillery. As I was about to
leave the strip to view the area more closely, a marine
came out of the brush and ordered me to stay on the
strip. He showed me some of the tunnels that the Japanese
were using and stated that they were not all cleaned
out yet. We returned to our plane and slept while repairs
were being made. The next morning we returned to Guam.
Out of our group of 30 planes only 2 returned without
the de-briefing room we were always greeted by the Red
Cross. They would have coffee, doughnuts, and whisky available
for us. After the first mission I could not rest or sleep
soundly, so I decided to take double shot of whisky even
though I didn’t like the taste of it and still don’t.
After cleaning up, I went to sleep and slept the best
12 hours of my life. After each mission I continued to
take this “medicine” since it made me sleep