20th AAF Insignia 1945
39th Bomb Group (VH)
Letter from John H. Day's best friend
to Day's daughter ....


Thanks for sending the photos of your Dad. The single picture of John is how I remember him. I really enjoyed talking to you. It really brought back a lot of memories.

I told you that I reported to Ft. Sill, about an hour out of Oklahoma City, on June 14th. I signed up for Aviation Cadet Training the next day. I don't know what day John arrived at Ft. Sill but it had to be around the same time. He apparently signed up for Cadets, also. We shipped out on July 16th for Miami Beach. We went by troop train. The rail cars were very old. They were coaches by day and then converted into upper and lower berths at night. It was very hot day and night going through the south. Of course there was no air conditioning. Our first stop was Dallas, Texas where we had dinner. The next day we found ourselves in Shreveport, LA. The train windows were always open since it was so hot and the engine was a coal burner so the smoke all came in the windows with the cinders which permeated our clothes, hair, eyes, nose, etc. etc.

We then headed for Jackson, Mississippi and then on to Alabama and Georgia. We had a 4 hour layover in Atlanta so we were able to go to the USO. There we got our first shower in three days. Then on to Florida and we arrived in Miami Beach on the 5th day at about 10 PM.

The Air Corps had taken over all of the luxury hotels on Miami Beach, made them in to barracks by taking out all of the carpeting, furniture, etc. They also turned off the hot water. They put in army bunks and chests. No amenities at all. If you were on the first five floors of a hotel, you walked up the stairs. Only 5th and up got to use the elevators. It was beautiful, but spartan.

I think I actually met your Dad a week or so after we arrived. He had applied to play the drum in the drum and bugle corps and suggested I do the same, that he could teach me the drum beats very quickly. That way we got out of standing in review for hours in the hot sun. John taught me to play the drum. We would march the troops out to the review field and then we sat down under the palm trees and waited to take the troops back to the main area. The troops had to stand at attention in the hot sun and many would faint. I will always be grateful to John for introducing me to the drums.

We had classes on various subjects, physical training and constant marching. We did a lot of marching back and forth through town singing all the service songs. There wasn't much time for resting, we were kept busy most of the day. We learned what it meant to be a cadet, lots of work and sweat.

We were in Miami Beach until October 3rd when we shipped out for Indianapolis, IN to Butler University for the college phase of our training. John and I both joined the band. I played the clarinet in high school and of course John played the drums. Eventually we moved in to one of the fraternity houses and John and I and another cadet roomed together for the next four months. Being in the band got us out of a lot of scut work and marching. We had about 85 members and played at many events in the Indianapolis area.

John came to my rescue again when I was having trouble with Geometry and he tutored me in the evenings and after lights out when we went in to a large closet which had a light in it. I will always appreciate that a great deal. We had classes in Physics, History, English, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry. We also got out of physical training because we were in the band. We earned a years college credit in 4 months.

It was winter time and got quite cold and it often snowed so it was quite different from Miami Beach. We got 10 hours flying time in Piper Cubs the last month we were there, which was a lot of fun.

We shipped out of Butler on February 5, 1944 for San Antonio, Texas to the Classification center. We had all kinds of phychomotor tests which were like various styles of games of skill, eye coordination and the like. Then in a couple of weeks we were notified if we would continue training as pilots, navigators or bombardiers. As you know, John was classified a bombardier which he did not want. He really wanted to go on to pilot training and he was disappointed. I was fortunate to get pilot training. So after February 19th John went on to bombardier training in Big Spring, Texas and I went to Preflight in San Antonio.

Your father was a very good friend to me and I appreciated being in training with him. We were both sorry that we had to go different directions. I have a distant memory that I saw John again once more after he graduated from bombardier school. I will have to check out my letters to my brother which I wrote while in training. He and his wife kept all my letters and put them in an album for me after the war. They are a big help if I want to wander down memory lane.

I hope this information helps you to know what your Dad experienced in his training and the dates and places.

Best Regards

Harry Johnson

Close Window