Kenneth Todd Trow
joined the RCAF a year and a day before Pearl Harbor
and it was there he received his flight training and
commission as a, Pilot Officer. In 1942, he was transferred
in grade to the US Army Air Force and was assigned
as an instructor pilot in AT-6's. At the end of October
1943, it was decided it was time for Ken to become
more active in the war effort, and he was sent to
Lockburne AFF in Columbus. Ohio to learn how to fly
four engine aircraft. They turned out to be war-weary
B-17's. By the end of December he had completed his
transition training and was sent to Clovis, New Mexico
to train as a pilot in the very latest in aircraft
- the B-29. He and his wife, Alice, arrived in Clovis
on New years Day, 1944. After a very comprehensive
training period, which consisted of five hours of
flying time - Trow was judged to be a qualified B-29
instructor pilot. Most of the crew training during
this time was done in B-17's. There just weren't enough
B-29's available yet.
At this stage, the B-29 was not a tried and true aircraft.
It was still very much in the developmental process
and crews were actually being used as much for the
purpose of testing them as for training. It was difficult
to catch up in the building of needed B-29's because
we were losing them nearly as fast as new ones arrived.
Ken remembers two occasions when he was lined up waiting
for take off. Both times, the planes ahead of him
crashed. Also, there were many times he returned to
the field on three engines, sometimes even two. He
never failed to kiss his wife when leaving the house
to go flying. The way things were going, it could
be his last flight.
the spring of 1945, it was determined that Trow had
done enough instructing and it was time for him to
become more closely involved in the war. The director
of training at Clovis, who was a close friend, received
a call for a weather reconnaissance crew for overseas
duty. He thought this might be a good deal so he named
Ken for the job. The bombardier was replaced with
a weather observer, and the crew did some additional
training. A great deal of time was spent climbing
to 30, 000 feet and dropping out a radiosonde transmitter
and as it descended by parachute to the ground, the
radio operator would record the transmissions. A radiosonde
that was normally sent up by balloon from the ground,
in this case the procedure was reversed.
weatherman assigned to A/C Trow had not had any formal
gunnery training and a nose gunner was required. The
man assigned to this position was a young fellow named
Charles Buchinski, which at the time was not significant.
It wasn't until after the war that the name again
came into view - this time on the movie screen. He
later changed Buchinski to Bronson!
it came time to depart for overseas, the crew moved
up to Wichita to await their B-29. As soon as it arrived,
they were on their way to Mather Field, Sacramento,
CA. After a final briefing there, they headed for
North Field, Guam by way of Hawaii and Kwajaleln.
When Ken reported to the Commanding Officer, he immediately
recognized him as having been in a class of students
he had instructed at Dothan, Alabama! It's truly a
recalls one take off very vividly. It was dark and
rainy and visibility was poor. Instead of turning
the generator switches on, flight engineer Kit Carson
made a major goof and turned them off! This meant
that the only electric the aircraft had was that
supplied by the "Putt-Putt." When the plane became
air bound, and the gear up switch was hit, all of
the lights went out! Even though Sgt. Carson immediately
realized his error, the instrument panel lights
were fluorescent and it required several seconds
for them to restart. The 500 feet gained as they
passed over the cliff gave Trow a short breathing
spell. It was at that point, that nose gunner Buchinsky,
who had been sitting on the aisle stand, reacted.
He quickly produced a flashlight, which allowed
the pilot to see the panel instead of flying blind.
also recalls the method they would use to take care
of rats that occupied the airplane. Occasionally,
one would be seen scurrying along when they were
flying at high altitude. He would order all the
crew to put on oxygen masks then depressurize the
aircraft. It would only be a minute or two before
the rat had succumbed. They would dispose of the
body by throwing it in the nose wheel well where
it would drop out when the gear was let down. Capt.
Trow would then re-pressurize.
Trow and his crew had only flown five missions,
when the Japanese decided to quit. Ken likes to
think that he had something to do with it.
November of 1945, he flew "Old Overcast" back to
the States and was separated from the service at
January of 1946, Ken decided to re-enter the service.
He did so with the permanent rank of Master Sergeant.
as Crew Chief on a C-54, Trow's crew had the pleasure
of flying General Curtis LeMay around for over a week
and developed a genuine like, and respect for him.
There were four other generals along on the trip.
One day as LeMay was walking through the fuel compartment
of the C-54, puffing on a cigar as usual, one of the
'generals cautioned him, declaring he could blow up
LeMay so typically snapped, "It wouldn't dare!"
During the next 16 years - 1946-1962 - Ken had many
assignments in many places - Eglin AFB, Florida,
Ladd Field, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Great Falls,
Montana to name only a few. His career had been
interesting, varied and fulfilling, but now it was
time to quit. He and his wife settled down to civilian
life in Vaughn, Montana.
Observation Crew Main Page
| Kenneth & Alice have one daughter Kenni; 3 grandchildren and four great grandchildren; Alice passed away in 2008;
Ken took his final flight on 21 July 2009 at the age of 88 yrs of age.
61st Squadron Crew Index