Crew 55 like many other crews was put together at Lincoln, Nebraska. They traveled from there by train to Clovis Army Air Field, Clovis, New Mexico where they got their flight training as a replacement crew. They arrived there in November 1944 and their first flight as a crew was in a B-17 on November 27. Their last training mission at Clovis was on 9 March 1945.
They traveled by train to Kearney, Nebraska, which was their staging area for overseas. They were issued gear and a brand new B-29. On 26 March 1945, they flew 4-hours in that plane as a "check out" flight.
They departed Kearney on 29 March and arrived at Mather Field, California, 9 hours later. The next day, they took off for Hawaii, but the flight only lasted 35 minutes because of an over-heating problem in an engine. They returned to Mather Field, where they stayed for a little over a week while waiting on a replacement engine.
David Fisher, Radio Operator of the crew stated - " I have always said I felt that was a very meaningful time for our crew. We had no duties during that time, and all of us, officers and enlisted men alike, went to Sacramento together, and socialized, eating together, going to the movies, joking around while waiting on bus back to the base."
The check-out flight was short on 10 April, and on 13 April, they departed for Hawaii. This was the day after President Roosevelt's death. We did go into Honolulu - but things were pretty subdued.
The next day, they flew to Kwajalein, with a short stop at Johnson Island, to have cowling flaps inspected. After an over-night stay at Kwajalein, we flew to Saipan the next day, where they gave our plane to another crew. After another week or so in a transient barracks, we were assigned to the 39th Bomb Group, 62nd Bomb Squadron and became Crew No. 55.
We flew a few practice missions before being scheduled for our first combat mission over Otake, Honshu on May 10. However, a cracked cylinder forced us t abort the mission and land at Iwo Jima. Our first completed combat mission was May 14 over Nagoya.
David Hirsch, Left Gunner from Crew 50 (one of only 3 crew members of crew P-50 to survive their 27 April mission) flew with Crew 55 on about 10-12 missions which would put the time he joined Crew 55 about the third week in June, replacing S/Sgt Robert Lawhorn as Tail Gunner. Lawhorn was transferred to a ground section position and reduced in rank to Private.