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39th Bomb Group (VH)
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with
Oak Leaf Cluster

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Cpl Jesse Molina
Tail Gunner

I joined the AAF (Brown Shoe Army) during June 1942 at my home in Waco, TX, and immediately sent to Camp Wolters, TX for the preliminaries; and subsequently to Sheppard Field for five weeks and one and one-half hours of arduous, rigorous and undignified basic training administered by American southern corn-fed, red-necked country boys! Shortly after assigned to Chanute Field , IL as photo lab technician. In 1943 assigned to Fort Myers FL as an aerial photographer, participating in many flights in the Gulf and Caribbean areas.

In August of ’43 I married Amalia Cruz of Williams, AZ and later three children were born – Rosemary, Theodore and Arthur who presently live in Flagstaff, AZ.

It was at Ft Myers that I applied for the then B-29 program as an aerial gunner. The B-29 program was the Cinderella and the Cat’s Meow of the AAF! We enjoyed many priviledges as B-29 trainees, ie at the PX we were allowed to buy 2 boxes of Kleenex , instead of 1; at the class 6 store we could purchase bourbon instead of gin and rum, etc!

After graduation I was sent to Kearny , Nebraska for assignment to a specific combat crew. I shall never forget meeting my crew members of the TAPP Crew.

After this unforgettable assemblage we had the honor of being assigned to AAF, Pyote , TX for our advanced training. (No pun intended, if the Lord ever had the necessity for giving his earth an enema, no doubt, he would have chosen Pyote!) However , our saving grace – our B-29 priviledges! We were informed of our assignment to the 39th Bomb Group, 20th Air Force. Westward HO to Guam…..

All-in-all we participated in fifteen missions not including about ten practice missions over several islands of the Mariannas still inhabited by the enemy. (By this time we had established a bond within our crew. ….people we never knew before, not friends or acquaintances. This bond became reality when we all became targets of enemy fire and will probably exist forever). The most welcome and memorable mission was on 6 August ’45, when returning home to Guam from a mission over Japan we were met with news of Hiroshima and the Enola Gay. Other memories were not so pleasant – returning to find that some of your buddies from other crews were not coming “home”. The most enjoyable mission was on 2 September ’45, VJ-Day, during Crew 6’s participation in a Power Display over the Japanese Islands , some of us at tree-top level! Spoils belong to the victorious! The rest is history.

I was discharged at Fort MacArthur and immediately went to work for Civil Service at Navajo Army Depot, Flagstaff, AZ. I remained there until February ’62 when I was selected for assignment to a US ammunition base in France at Trois Fontaines. Involved in the standardization of class V ammunition and weapons accounting procedures to include mechanization. For a period of time I was appointed as a US Liaison Officer to the French Army of the Meuse. After Operation FRELOC (Relocation from France, Ordered by then President Degaulle) I was assigned to Miesau , Germany as accountable officer for all class V materiel in USAEUR.

During 1969 reassigned to England as operations officer for Class V and later to the US Marine Fleet Activity in southern England. This base was owned by Royal Air Force, operated jointly by the US and Royal Navy and maintaining close liaison with higher echelons of USDOD and NATO. As assistant OIC , and later OIC, became involved in plans and operations functions with certain elements of the British government and NATO. Traveled throughout Europe and Mid-East on official matters. Divorced in 1973.

I remarried during 1979 to Yolah Tregarthen, a Briish citizen and have two children – Jeffrey, married to Teresa and their two children, Emma Jane and Bethany Tregarthen of Fawley, Southampton, England. Our daughter, Jennifer lives here in San Antonio, TX near our home.. Yolah was born in Tanganyika (Tanzania) of British
parents; educated in Arusha and Kongwa, Tanzania. Speaks Ki Swahili and joined frequent safaris to remote areas of the kingdom.

In 1984 I was reassigned to the Health Services Command, Fort Sam Houston, TX as a member of a fact finding, or pre-inspector general team , nick- name The “A” Team. Motto: “We may not always be right, BUT we are never wrong!” Retired from federal service during June 1986.

We travel occasionally to our home in England and to visit our son, his wife and two grand daughters.

Jesse Molina took his Final Flight on 6 May 2013

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Source: Jesse Molina, Tail Gunner