39th Bomb Group (VH)

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S/Sgt Marvin J. Rodich
Crew Chief

S/Sgt Marvin J. Rodich
Guam 1945
My father was a logger in Ely MN, a small town near the Canadian border where I became proficient as a teamster (horses), caterpillar tractor operator, truck and semi-truck driver. We lived across the road from the Ely Airport. It drew me to spend my extra time there. I got my first airplane ride by cleaning the oil from the windshield of a barnstormer whose owner was selling airplane rides,. It was then that I decided that logging was not the life I wanted. A friend, Bernie Slogar from Ely, bought an Aeronca Chief airplane. Little did I know that I would marry his sister in the future. The pilot, who taught Bernie to fly, got me a job as an apprentice airplane mechanic at Stebbins Aviation in Minneapolis at the age of 19. I became a licensed airframe and aircraft engine mechanic. As WWII was approaching, I went to work for Mid-Continent Airlines at the Minneapolis Airport. At that time, besides working on airplane maintenance, we did modifications on Army Air Force P-51 Mustangs, B-17’s, and installed extra fuel tanks on the B-25’s that Doolittle used for his raid on Tokyo. No cameras were allowed but I have pictures that were taken through the fence in Minneapolis. Bill Ellis found them a few years ago while researching the history of Mid-Continent Airlines. This work kept me out of the Draft for a while, but eventually, I was invited to join the Army. In March of 1943 at the age of 22, I was made an Acting Corporal to take a group by train to Miami Beach for my basic training.

From there I went to the Baltimore MD Martin B-26 Plant for maintenance training. It was there that I suggested a change from hydraulic to a mechanical emergency landing gear extender on the B-26 using the bomb bay hoist. They said it would never work. Shortly after it became standard equipment on later models and throughout the airline industry. I guess I should have patented it!

Once flying as Flight Engineer Crew Chief on Martin B-26’s towing targets over the Gulf of Mexico from Lake Charles for aerial and ground gunnery training the pilot got lost. Although I did not get my private pilot license till after the war on the GI Bill, I was proud to be able to navigate us back home without incident. The B-26’s were nicknamed The Prostitute (no visible means of support) or The Widowmaker but once the pilots learned not to be afraid of it’s characteristics it turned out to have the best loss rate in Europe.

I was invited to go to Guam and joined the 39th Bomb Group, 62nd Squadron, ground crew P-59 as a Staff Sergeant. We did our best to keep the bombers flying. When the planes were out on a bombing mission, I worked at maintaining the equipment at the NCO Club. We hauled supplies from the ship dock to the NCO and Officer’s Clubs. The Officers’ Club “misplaced supplies” gave us access to milk, food and beer which we stored behind a secret wall in back of the storehouse for the Clubs. This is where I developed a taste for milk, I never liked it before. It is like a watermelon, it always is sweeter when picked from someone else’s garden at midnight. This food was used when we smelled that foul goat meat wafting from the Mess Hall. This “Innersanctum”, as we called it, reminds me of the secret room back of the cow barn at home where my dad stored his “white lightening booze” back in the prohibition days. Neither of us got caught (in the rooms anyway)!

I also decorated letters and Christmas cards with my cartoon characters and pencil sketches! We also had a photography club where I became more skilled at developing film and doing printing with supplies acquired from aerial photography equipment. We had to cut the large negatives down to a size that fit our cameras.

I was tired of walking around the island, so I built a scooter with a small engine from a gas pump, Mustang tail wheels, scrap iron and V-belts. I was part of a very elite few who had their own personal transportation. Later other guys started building them and that of course led to racing which put so many in the hospital the Brass ended up confiscating all of them.

The base on Guam was so large we had a Minneapolis-St Paul Club of which I am must still be a member because I still have the permanent membership card.

After WWII ended, we dropped food to Prisoner-of-War Camps in Japan. I did repair work on B-29’s, P-61 Blackwidow’s and other airplanes to send back to the U.S. I myself ended up taking a long boat ride home in February 1946.

I continued working for Mid Continent, which merged with Braniff Airlines. I would drive to Ely, my hometown, with a couple fellows from there also, to help pay for the gas. One of them asked if he could bring a girl along. It was Emily Slogar who I had gone to school with and I had had one date with her in high school. I was afraid of girls in those days. But now, I proposed to her before we got 40 miles out of town, and the other two fellows proposed too. After a couple more months of courting, she said, “Ask me again.” It was good that I then taught her to drive before we got married because later on she could do all the shopping by herself. I promised her a tarpaper shack on one of the two-acre lots that four of us Airline mechanics had bought on a dirt road in the farm country just south of St. Paul. I had built logging camps before but this was a little different. Emily and I designed our dreamhouse; we did the carpentry, electrical, plumbing and heating work ourselves. While I worked for the Airlines, we traveled extensively, Alaska, Hawaii, Spain, Germany, France, England, Italy and Yugoslavia. In Yugoslavia, both Emily and I had relatives to visit. We have three boys and three girls and five grandchildren, all of whom we are very proud of. I retired from Braniff Airlines in 1980, after 39 years there.

During WWII, Emily was a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. I was a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Corps. I was a month and a half older than she, with seniority, but at home she was a loveable little General and took care of me. We are so fortunate to have had such a wonderful life and after over 50 years, we still live in that “shack” I promised Emily when we got married.

P.S. I did put siding on it. It has been a wonderful place to raise our children, especially with the white-tailed deer, which we still have in the middle of the City of Eagan.

Marvin J. Rodich took his Final Flight on Wednesday, July 14, 2010 (4 months and 7 days after his beloved "Little General" Emily). He was 89 yrs old. Click here to read the letter sent by the Rodich Family.
Emily Slogar Rodich passed away Sunday, March 7, 2010 she was 89 yrs old. Click here to read the letter sent by the Rodich Family.

"GI Doodling"
Marvin Rodich

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Thanks to Marvin for sharing his drawings and to his son, Marty for scanning them for us
Marvin Can be contacted via email at:

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62nd Squadron Crew Index
Source: Marvin J. Rodich, Crew Chief