39th Bomb Group (VH)

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S/Sgt David H. Fisher
Radio Operator

I attended high school at Jennings, LA, and graduated in May 1943 at seventeen, with my eighteenth birthday coming up in December of that year. During my senior year, I took the Navy V-12 test, with hopes of getting a few semesters of college in, and then going to officer's training school. I passed the mental test, but was rejected on the physical because, of all things, I had an overbite!

Not being old enough to enlist at the time, but expecting to do so, I worked as a roughneck in the oil field for six months. On November 11, 1943, I enlisted in the Army Aviation Cadet Program, was eighteen on December 12, received orders on December 16, to report for active duty at Camp Beauregard, LA on December 23. The entire contingent of 45-50 young men like myself from southwest Louisiana were sent to Gulfport Field, Mississippi, for basic training. While there we spent a week at Keesler Field in Biloxi, MS, where we took batteries of classification tests. None of us made the cadet program, and I ended up going to radio school at Scott Field, Illinois in their 22-week radio-operator-mechanics course. Upon completion of that course, I went to a special B-29 radio school at Scott Field, after which I was given a 14-day delay enroute to Lincoln, Nebraska. It was at this base, probably in October or November that our crew was assembled. From there by train, we went to Clovis Army Air Base, Clovis, New Mexico, where we did our flight training as a replacement crew. After this training, we went to Kearney, Nebraska, which was our overseas staging area. We were issued flight clothes and other essentials, and very importantly to us - a brand new B-29. From there, we flew to Mather Field, California, near Sacramento, from which base we were to fly overseas. We took off from there in early April, but developed engine problems very early in the flight, and returned to Mather.

Having to wait on parts, it took over a week to remedy the problem. Without very much to do, our entire crew, officers and enlisted men alike, hung out together - going into Sacramento every night, eating and visiting together, etc. In retrospect, I have thought how important this time was in helping to mold our crew psychologically.

We finally did leave for Oahu, Hawaii, and landed at John Rodgers Field on April 13, 1945, which was the day of/after President Roosevelt's death. We did go into Honolulu, but most everything was closed because of the president's death. The next day we took off for Kwajalein, but again, it was determined that a cowling flap did not open wide enough to cool one of the engines adequately, so we landed at Johnston Island, about 400 - 600 miles southwest of Hawaii - a very small island perhaps 2 miles long - not really meant to accommodate a B-29. After a brief stop, we proceeded to Kwajalein, where we stayed overnight, while they serviced our plane and armed all the gun turrets. From there, we flew to Saipan, where, even before all the engines were shut down, we were informed to remove all our personal belongings from the plane, because it was to be given to another crew.

We were on Saipan in a transient barracks for 10-12 days before being assigned as the replacement crew we were, to the 39th Bomb Group, 62nd Bomb Squadron, stationed at North Field, Guam as Crew No. 55. We flew several practice missions before being scheduled for our first combat mission on May 7 over Otake, Honshu. Actually a cracked cylinder on an engine caused us to abort and land at Iwo Jima. Our first completed mission was over Nagoya, Honshu on May 14. By the end of the war, we had flown 22 missions.

Having accumulated the minimum number of 50 points in the discharge system that was being used to separate men from the service, I was discharged at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX, on November 22, 1945.

I started college at Southwestern Louisiana Institute (S.L.I.) in Lafayette, LA in March 1946. While there, I played football and ran track for four years. High points, I suppose, of that athletic competition, was running the 400 meter hurdles in preliminary Olympic trials in the N.C.A.A. championships at the University of Minnesota in 1948; being drafted in a middle round by the Baltimore Colts; and having been placed in the athletic hall of fame at my college. I had accepted an assistant coach position at my old high school, and had set our wedding date prior to the draft - so I went with the coaching and teaching position. I coached first as an assistant, and then as head coach, for eight years, during which time I got my master's degree from L.S.U. I joined the faculty of the college I graduated from, which was then called the University of Southwestern Louisiana (U.S.L.) in the physical education department. During that time, I went to L.S.U. and got my Ph. D. in 1970. I retired from the university early in 1974, and spent six years as a partner in a cathodic protection (corrosion) business.

In 1980, after having sold the corrosion business, I began assisting my wife with running two preschools and early childhood development centers - which was an area in which I had done my dissertation for the Ph. D. We are still involved in this, with three of our children now involved, and beginning to take over completely.

Shirley, my wife, and I were married August 5, 1950, and had seven children - five-girls, and two boys - present ages 37 - 50. We now have 18 grandchildren and 2 great- grandchildren. Most all of these offspring are in Lafayette or a few hours driving distance from our home.

Until very recently when I received a phone call from Pete Weiler, son of Robert Weiler, who was in the 39th Bomb Group, 61st Bomb Squadron, I had heard nothing of gatherings of 20th Air Force members. While in Minnesota in 1948, I visited with Richard Jacobsen, our flight engineer, who lived south of Minneapolis, and the two of us drove down to Iowa to visit Roland Johnson, our right waist gunner. Two years ago, I made telephone contact with our radar navigator, Dan Clendening, who lives in Gainesville, GA, and we have corresponded on occasion. Through tips from Pete, I have recently talked on the phone with our left waist gunner, Don Hartshorn in Columbus, Ohio, and our tail gunner, David Hirsch, in Senoia, GA. It has been learned that members of our crew who are deceased are: Robert Dudley, aircraft commander, Harvard Cox, co-pilot, George Tucker, bombardier, and Richard Jacobsen, flight engineer. As this is being written, no contact has been made with Francis Smith, navigator, or J.C. Donoghue, central fire control gunner.

Only through contacts such as have now been made, can one begin to recollect memories and experiences that you would like to hold onto. It is for this reason that I would hope the surviving members of our crew could one day get together, and that I might be able to attend future gatherings of the 39th Bomb Group.

View David Fisher's WWII mission dairy by clicking here

S/Sgt David H. Fisher took his final flight on 27 September 2021

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Source: David H. Fisher, Radio Operator