The Last Surviving Marine Ace of The Korean War
For his service he was awarded the Silver Star, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 7 Air Medals and 14 other citations and is only one of two surviving Marine Aces alive today.
I had always wanted to fly planes. I dreamed about it practically each day. Every time a plane flew overhead I had to stop and look at it. I was obviously a dreamer as many young boys are, but I was uneducated and had no idea about early flying and certainly knew less about the history of flight. America didn’t seem to have near the romantic love of flight until after World War I. So if you wanted to be a pilot in World War I, your best bet was to go to Europe and fly over there – even if it meant flying for the enemy.
I followed the story of Charles Lindbergh, Wiley Post and Amelia Earhart. As a ten year old, I built small balsa-wood airplane and earned the Avaiation Merit Badge for the boy Scouts. This feeling of pride, though just a small award, drove me incessently to become not only a pilot, but the very best one I could be.
While I was finishing high school in Texas, we became aware of the new Germany under Hitler and the invasion of China by Japan. There was a fragile alliance between many of the nations of Europe at the time. We expected the dominos to fall, just as they had in World War I. Still, I graduated from high school and entered Pan American at Edinburgh Texas.
I wasn’t what you would say, focused, when I was in college. I had two majors, Aeronautical Engineering and girls, and not always in this order. I loved pretty girls. But by 1941 it became clear that the war in Europe would affect us. By this time I was working at Lockheed, and so when I received my draft notice, Lockheed arranged a deferment for me. We were making P-38 fighters and Hudson Bombers for the British. It was a great job for me and it kept me out of trouble.
Since you asked about how I got into the military, I thought I would share with you how this happened. My cousin, Carl, and I were close to the same age and he asked me if wanted to meet him in Hollywood and catch a Burlesque show. I had never seen one before but I knew it would be fun, so I went.
We met at the Trolley Terminal in downtown LA and decided to enhance out evening with a couple of pints of ‘Four Roses; bourbon. This was my first exposure to alcohol of any kind and it didn’t take me long to feel the effects. Around 2am, the manager of the bar comes over and escorts us out of the building. The streets were empty and both my cousin and I were stumbling around Los Angeles trying to gain some kind of composure.
We were singing and generally having a good time when out of a doorway, a tall man with a white-billed cap and gold stripes on his sleeve, mentioned to us that we looked like we were in pretty rough shape. It dawned on my then that come the morning, I wasn’t going to feel like singing at all. ‘’Come have a cup of coffee’ he offered, and we folllowed along. Another man stepped out and it was clear these were military recruiters.
So when we sobered up, still feeling like a train rolled over on us, Carl and I had enlisted for the Navy, and for me, the Marines. Because I enlisted and wasn’t drafted first, I was able to request flight training-----and that was a lucky break for me that made a huge difference in my life.
Days later, just a few days in fact, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. In Los Angeles, there was political chaos. The Nazi party and the Communist parties were far more
active than anyone reported. They were marching in the streets, down Brentwood, into Hollywood and generally throughout populated areas. They were marching in the streets and fighting each other, when they should have been backing the USA.
Rumors and the ‘’Fog of War’’ added fire to people’s fears. People tend to look at Pearl Harbor today, and they think – ‘’that is so far away, how could they make it to bomb our cities on the west coast?’’ But back then, that wasn’t the case at all. You were afraid no matter where you lived in the United States.
Like JFK’s assassination, we all remember where we were when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I never thought Japan would be our main enemy. It had always been Germany, and we didn't hear much about Japan. In fact, all throughout California there were a large number of Asians and we always got along very well with them. I had just started my career – if you can call it that – when we were rounded up and told of the attack. It got very quiet. Laughter and relaxation that comes with a Sunday afternoon were replaced with stillness and fear. It was surreal. We listened to the radio with a sense of awe and trepidation.
Prior to Pearl Harbor, there wasn’t a concensus on where to put me. Now, all the military indecision was gone altogether. Almost immediately, they put my in a P5 program. This was because I volunteered to join them. The Marines were seriously short of aircraft fighers, so they began to earnesty train us in an effort to get us up in the air. Quickly.
Training was very hard. You first get trained for civililan flight. If you can’t handle this, they won’t let you near the military aircraft. I cleared civilian trining and soon began Naval Fight training. Almost immediaetely I was put into a Bi-Plane, a Boeing Stearman N2S. To some the purpose of flying a biplane, open cockpit, leather helmet and white scarf blowing in the slipstream was a goal in and of itself. Flying alone in an open airplane is the purest experience of flight possible. I loved the aerobatics.
We had 75-hours of cross-wind landings, navigation, slips to a circle and barrell rolls. It was simply amazing – everything I could have hoped for. I leanred quickly – Cuban Eights, Falling Leafs, Short-Field landings….The more tricks in the air, the better. Sometimes you could get uncomfortable doing these tricks. But I was amazed at the what the plane could do. I started on Cuban Eights, demonstrating the gravity pull and that the safety belt would do its job. I was convinced, but when I was upside down I still instinctively held on to the sides of the cockpit. My instructor inspired confidence in me and had me do more lops until I wasn’t holding on anymore.
Finally – the confidence came and I enjoyed flying more-and-more each day. When I flew the Stearman I felt pretty much at home in the cockpit and was always proud of each flight. I spent a lot of time perfecting manuevers like ‘’Falling Leaves,’’ ‘’Outside Loops’’ and ‘’Short Field Loops’’ and many more. It got to the point where I would even create aerobatics to add to the ones I had already mastered. Even the other pilots were most respectful. As a sidenote – I nearly became a great singer rather than a pilot! We had a talent show and the great Benny Goodman brought his band in. I was chosen to sing ‘White Christmas’’ for the show. I was scared to death but I sang so well they had me perform again! I was worried they were going to take me out of the air and put me on the USO tour!
There was a lot of fun during this training. Gunnery and Bombing. A flight of four planes or eight planes, as the mission prescribes, would take off over the Gulf, away from shore; and one of the flights would tow a fabric sleeve towed by a long cable. The entire flight would climb to around 10,000 feet. Then one at a time the other pilots would climb a bit higher and one at a time would dive his plane in a long and graceful S-Curve from high above the tow plane. When he was in good position he would fire his loaded twin 30-caliber machine guns at the towed sleeve.
A target tug is an aircraft which tows an unmanned drone, a fabric drogue or other kind of target, for the purposes of gun or missile target practice. Target tugs are often conversions of transport and utility aircraft, as well as obsolescent combat types. Some, such as the Miles Martinet, were specially designed for the role. It was, and is, a relatively hazardous job, as live fire is typically employed and the people doing the shooting are usually still in training.
For the first time, I saw over 200 miles per hour on my airspeed indicator. When the sleeve was dropped on the runaway we could tell who was actually hitting the target because each pilot had a unique paint smear on his bullers which left a colored mark on the target sleeve. We did this many until we were good at it.
Action in the Pacific
The Pacific Military leaders were presented with two options to fight off Japan. MaCarthur wanted to do it by island hopping in the Pacific. His idea was to seize the Soloman Islands, Papua-New Guinea and the Soloman Islands. In this way, he could cut off newly defeated Burma and the Dutch East Indies. Japan would be starved, you see…forcing them to surrender.
But the Navy had a different plan. They sought to bypass the bigger islands and go after smaller ones like Iwo Jima, Wake, Guam and essentially have airports closer to Japan. They believed it would be quicker and more economical. Both plans sounded good.
In June 1942, MacArthur’s plan was launched. They would name it Operation Cartwheel for the way it looked on a map. A two-pronged attack over the north of New Guinea and the other one went over the island itself. The unheatlhy climate and jungle made this a slow mover! No one wanted to be in New Guinea! God Forbid my plane got shot down in that place. I’d get eaten alive before being found!
On April 28, 1945 a six-aircraft F4U Corsair flight from VMF-221, attached to the U.S.S. Bunker Hill (CV-17), was operating in the vicinity of Okinawa when they intercepted approximately thirty Japanese aircraft. The Japanese were trying to stop the U.S. landing on Okinawa. 2nd Lt. Dean Caswell and the other Corsair pilots immediately attacked. During the aerial battle Caswell shot down three enemy aircraft and one probable; this action turned back the Japanese.
In his short time aboard the USS Bunker Hill, Caswell flew over 100 combat missions, had seven confirmed aerial victories, destroyed 25-30 planes on the ground and never received a single bullet hole in his Corsair. Among the decorations he received was the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with three Gold Stars and the Air Medal with five Gold Stars. Caswell also completed two tours of duty during the Korean War and served in Vietnam. ’’ http://www.military-art.com/mall/aces.php?PilotID=2582
As is often the case, Postage Stamps tell a great story. They speak for themselves. The one on the left is designed to show life in the placid islands. The middle stamp is in honor of MacArthur and the far right is Yamamoto, Japanese architect of the Imperial Navy.
One thing about being a pilot…I was privy to all kinds of top-secret information. After-all, I had to know where I was flying, right? So often I would get to sit in on these meetings. I understood how the earth looked from 25,000 feet and very few of these guys had flown enough to appreciate let-alone understand the different terrains. So often, my feedback was enlisted, especially when it came to matters that affect pilots that you don’t normally think of. Things like updraft off of a warm beach, or changes in cyclonic weather in the South Pacific. I knew these things intimately. Very few of them had nary a clue.
Meanwhile, as the US Army took control of the Soloman Islands, the US Navy began flying these Essex Class Aircraft Carriers. The new carriers were equipped with great new planes, like the Hellcat, Torpedo Bombers and my own beauty, the Corsair. These aircraft carriers were the most important weapon outside of the Atom Bomb in WWII. No gun, no destroyer, and no plane changed the course of history like these ‘’mobile airports’ where we landed our fighter planes.
The Navy’s first targets were the outposes at Makin and Tarawa Islands. For a week, carrier based aircrafts softened the shoreline. Amphibious boats made an almost unopposed landing. The Japanese took positions on the island in well-built tunnels and caves.
Then in November of 1943, the island of Makin was captured easily. But the island of Tarawa was a different matter. As I mentioned, sometimes the top brass would look at a map of colored-thumb tacks and make war decisions based on their two-dimensional view. You cannot win a war in this way. What they failed to account for was the lack of geological knowledge of he landscape of the island.
The Amphibious landers weren’t able to land, and the men had to swim to the shore. It was a Pacific version of D-Day really. 1500 of our boys and nearly 300 Aussies were killed and buried there, in a tiny remote piece of jungle and desert island in the dead-center of the Pacific. It was too bad. But of the 4,200 Japanese soldiers on the island, only 17 – that’s right – 17 – were taken out alive.
Pretty soon, atoll after atoll fell to the USA. But the Japs put up one hell of a fight. They would fight to the last man and even then they would launch suicidal ‘’Banzai’’ charges screaming in an awful manner and most never made it within 50 yards of a US Soldier- cut down. I just knew that I loved flying and I did everything to fly that I could.
Now then you can imagine how news of this went over in Tokyo. On June 19th, 1944, the Japanese set out to launch airstrikes on our ships. I’ll never forget the day. Our radar saw them coming and we took to the skies. We had 15 Aircraft Carriers and over 900 Aircraft. The Japanese had 9 Aircraft Carriers and 400 planes. Many of their pilots were inexperienced, their planes falling apart. But still to this day, it is the largest Aircraft and Naval battle of all time. And I was part of it. I took down two confirmed Jap planes and four unconfirmed planes.
Take Saipan for instance. The Japanese civilians who lived there decided to jump to their deaths rather than be under American rule. And then came their suicide charge. My friends who were there described it as ‘unreal.’ They simply ran directly at the American and Aussie troops. 32,000 Japanese soldiers were dead. We lost 3,000. And all for a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.
And then on May 11th, 1945, we had a black day for the Flying Falcons VMF221 and the entire ship’s crew. Two kamikazees slipped under the radar and the combat air patrols and dove into the USS Bunker Hill. These suicide planes each dropped huge 550-lb bombs just before impact – one on he flight deck and the other on the surface. The destruction was severe and the additional explosions of the two planes was made even worse by the explosions of ammunition that were on the ship. Fires were everywhere. The heat was so severe that iron bars were reduced to twisted and unrecognizable rubble.
Oh the losses! This was one of the worst days of my career. The USS Bunker Hill and the USS Bennington had roughly one third of their ninety-six Marine pilots killed, one third shot down and rescued…I lost many close friends that day, many close friends….
Task Force 58 moved back north to begin the final push in early March 1945. The Allied plan of island hopping and passing by some when they could no longer be decisive in the conquest of Japan, was working. Saipan, the Philippinesm Iwo Jima the powerful Naval base at Truk had all been taken or neutralized. The B-29s were hitting Tokyo and other cities on a regular basis. In addition, the war in Europe seemed to be winding down that would mean the availibility of thousands of men and mountains of equipment.
The conrtrol of the Pacific was ours, but the cost in American and Allied lives were staggering. And still more would required. We needed a huge staging area for the final invasion of the Japanese home islands. It’s loication – just 325 miles south of Kyushi made the largest island of the Ryukyus chain, Okinawa, the logical choice. The plan was to take Ohinawea and was called ‘’Operation Iceberg.’’
Okinawa would be Japan’s last major stand before the invasion of their homeland. Okinawa would be very tough, and with the added enemy intent to use the most of his remaining aircraft in suicide dives on the American fleet , it became even harder. The kamikaze raids started in October in the Philippines and be April they had reached a crescendo.
They were using every type of airplane they had and their aircraft factories were turning out more than they were losing. On the morning of March 18, 1945, at 0445, we had a deck of fighters with cockpits full of pilots and were ready for the first phase of our coming attacks on the home island of Japan. When we finished our job, the strikes almost completely destroyed the airports and factories of Koizumi, Nittagahara, Sadohara, and Korimoto.
We carried 5-inch rockets and a full load of 50-caliber ammo for our six machine guns. As we pulled out of our attack it lookled like the aircraft factory was in complete ruins from about 70-direct rocket hits.
We knew it was going to be a big day because we had steak and eggs for breakfast. Captain John Delancey my division leader, gave us a good briefing and our team was ready for a fight. I didn’t see any planes in the air which disappointed me because I wanted to shoot some down. I should have been more careful about the things I asked for – because we got bushwhacked over Tomitaka Airfield. On our return flight to the fleet, steaming offshore they were waiting for us, in force. Jap planes were everywhere and I flamed three of them in about five minutes. And yet the film in my camera caused a bit of hard feeling in me . There was no way I could get a count on the nimner of fighters.
They were all around me and I didn’t help anyone without knowing these things. My inexperience was on total display and suddenly I was scared to death.
The method of determining enemy kills were always different in the various branches. Some accept the word of the pilot – even though this is rare. Sometimes it is determined when wreakage is found and there is an eyewitnes – essentially another pilot. Some units only accepted positive evidence from a gun camera. And sometimes a soldier wouldn't get credit for a kill if a ranking officer decided to claim it. After they viewed my camera, my superior, a wonderful man named Roberts, the squadron CO, awarded me three kills and three probables. As a 2nd Lieutennent I knew not to dispute this, but I was sure that I had taken out more then five on my own. Not a bad day’s work!
On April 1st, 1945, it was D-Day for the battle of Okinawa. This was going to be hell. Simple as that, hell. Over 100,000 well armed and well trained men. Task-Force 58 had had allocated part of its carrier fleet to make raids and strikes on Okinawa airfields and other military installations. The softening up process was aimed at clearing the beaches for the largest amphibious assault in history, the First and Sixth Marine Division the ten Army divisions.
If the pilots were taking off the aircraft carriers like I was, there was almost a state of shock or something like that. Two and three flights a day, udner combat conditions for several months, produce a numbness of mind and body. Two or three flights a day and your adrenalin is rushing and draining you each time you land your plane. I suffered from severe headaches and nausea.
The hardest thing for me during this time was watching my friends get shot down It was traumatic, and it still is, to this very day. Task Force 58 had come to Okinawa early, supplying heavy strikes on the big island and the many small islands north of Kyushu. Supply vessels were covered by air-cover. Wow, what a sight. Perhaps a thousand planes filled the air, the noise was deafening, the feeling on your skin still gives me chills. I witnessed a huge invasion fleet as far as the eye could see in the waters. The bombers softened the defenses as the ships moved closer and closer to the shore.
The Japanese mounted a military suicide bombing mission that defied all logic. They dove their planes directly into our ships. It was hell to watch. These planes were very fast and almost impossible to intercept before they dove into our ships. In one battle, we had just three Corsairs against 25-30 Japanese fighters, all determined to blow themselves up. Their planes would twist and dive and try to catch our Corsairs before they kamikazeed themselves into our ships.
The battle wore on and the Japanese kept coming and coming. I would climb to 10,000 feet and dive to 5,000, twisting, turning, divind, and shooting the entire time. I was doing a ‘’Thatch Wave’’ with my other pilot and I was terrified….I am not ashamed to admit that I wet my pants out of complete fear. But one think you can be sure of, I never lost my bearing during aerial combat.
And just like that, the Japs vanished into the bows and sterns of our battleships and carriers. It was terrible. I was helpless in the air, watching our men float and wade around helplessly in the shark-filled waters. It is something I go to sleep with every night. And as fast as it began, it ended. Smoke filled the waters, debris and fire was everywhere. But we took Okinawa and the battle put me on the map as a pilot. Four Kills and three or four more probable.
The Japanese Kamikaze’s were largely kept off the front-pages in America but we saw them time-and-time again. It would have affected morale for the war effort.
Task-Force 58 took down 155 Japanese Planes and we lost just nine planes. We were so lucky to be alive to join up and go home safely. It is still a moment frozen in time for me. But then again, who can argue – I was unhurt and the pants could go into the wash.
The Imperial Navy’s suicide pilots sunk or damaged 232 ships in that battle alone. Some 3,500 kamikazes were shot down in this attack. Before they went down in flames, the Japanese aviators sent 30 Allied ships to the bottom.
Thousands of Japanese pilots went to their fiery deaths crashing headlong into 122 destroyers, 19 aircraft carriers, 10 battleships, 12 cruisers and 69 auxiliary ships during the 82-days it took to defeat enemy forces on Okinawa.
In this engagement—involving air, sea and land troops—11,933 Allied servicemen lost their lives and 31,312 were wounded. The enemy suffered an estimated 109,629 killed and wounded.
Meeting John Wayne and Hollywood Roles
Colonel Dobbin called me into his office one morning and gave me the shock of a lifetime. It was during the Korean conflict and I had been Quasi-Retired by then. He called me into his office and informed me that Marine Headquarters wanted to provide a combat ace to Republic Studios in Hollywood to do some action flying
And otherwise helping John Wayne make a couple of Marine Corps motion pictures. ‘’You are it.’’ Things seemed to be moving fast with the war on, and I was the only one at El Toro he could pick on. I had not been in an airplane in months, but soon became a quasi-movie star!
These were exciting times for me. I flew the Japanese version of the Zero Mitsubishi AM-6 fighter and it was shot down by John Wayne, Robert Ryan and others I don’t remember. For two months the ‘’Zero’’ was always shot down with smoke trailing from the engine, spinning, corkscrewing, and appearing on he screen as crashing into a California mountain. The Japanese pilots, also known as me, were always losing the fight!’’
I had some good times in Hollywood. John Wayne did introduce me to Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Lauren BaCall and Betty Grable. He even arranged a date for me with Maureen O’hara. I had such a thing for O’Hara. She brought along her own personal body guard! The others were great too.
One thing you may not know about John Wayne --- He didn’t volunteer for the service in WWII, and few really understood why –Perhaps it was because he was already 34 years old at the time pf Pearl Harbor and the Selective Service program was classified 3A, due to age and family status. He attempted to enlist several times, but the movie studios were threatening to sue him if he didn’t honor his movie contracts. So perhaps that explains why ‘The Duke’ never served in the war!
Korea- Experience of a Lifetime
In 1949, I had enrolled at the Massachussetts Institute for Technology for math and science. I was one of ten marined corps officers to be selected to have a future in ground to rocket work. We were hard at work when the Korean conflict began to dominate the newspapers. This war, as I was called, was very taxing on me. The North Koreans were hellbent on pushing Communism onto the South….Of course, it was all about the Chinese. They were great at logistics – running many supplies back and forth across the border. They could run truck after truck after truck across the border and they had uncanny accuracy when it came to supplying the North Koreans.
I lost my bunk-mate and best friend, Bud Iland, in a heavy storm when he became disoriented on take off during a very dark night.
Let me share with you about the Korean fiasco. We were involved in a war we were not allowed to win. While we were allowed to eliminate certain targets this side of the Yalu river, we were not allowed to eliminate tactical targets and we could not destoy the enemy’s bases across the Yalu River. We were engaged in a war where we could not destroy the enemy’s will to fight.
They say that pilots are the lucky ones, we get all the pretty girls. I guess you can say I took liberties with only two things in my life – planes and women. And this is a story that could have cost me my career.
I had been at the Marine Bases Officer Club in Diego enjoying a few beverages when a tall, beautiful woman in uniform slid up to the next stool at the bar. ‘’Wow,’’ I thought….’’..And to think, I wasn’t even looking tonight!’’ She made a lot of flirtatious small talk with me and I with her. The liquor was flowing heavily now, as were my steady pick-up lines. Could anyone believe that?
‘’You fly the F3Ds donbt you? I believe I nodded affirmatively. Then she said, ‘’Those have two seats in them, yes?’’ And again, I told her they did. I could see where this was going, but not sure how I was going to handle it. ‘’I need to be in San Francisco tomorrow. Can you take me?’
She also added that she knew I had taken Marine General Brown to Washington DC last week and he is not a pilot. ‘ Here is where alsohol and women don't mix. I said Yes without even thinking about the ramifications. First of all it was illegal for me to take her at all, but especially bad because she wasn’t a pilot. Indeed however, I had taken General Brown to DC and he was direct suprerior officer. So I rationalized that this was somehow okay.
We spent the next few hours going over emergency procedures and trying to find a flight suit that was not only her size but somewhat clean. I half-way felt like I was givng Mae West a direct orientaton. As for the flight suit, I had to help her into it, but when push came to shove, I was actually a little old fashioned and I decided to treat her more and more like a lady as the alcohol wore off. Good thing too. ‘’Why are you having to go to San Francisco anyway? What’s the big rush?’’ Finally she tells me, ‘’I am getting married tomorrow!’’
I was happy to olblige her but my intentions were not all too pure in the beginning, After all – you are going to help a damsel in distress, a beautiful lady in need, and it seemed I was in a really good spot! So much for that! I was happy to help her out though, and its one of those stories that you can never forget. Nothing ever happened to me and it was an opportunity to strike up a fine friendship with a wonderful person, Lieutennent Schofield.
Witnessing a UFO!
Here is one of those stories that may make you think I lost my mind. But I saw an unidentified flying object – and it still sticks in my mind to this day. It happened like this – I was asked to head up to 8,000 feet in order to check out blips that were showing up in International Waters off the coast of Korea. In no time at all, anti-aircraft rockets were whizzing past me. Though none of them hit me, it was highly unsettling….nothing in our intelligence even suggested that the Chinese had anything close to this powerful.
Once evaded, I was on cruise control, patrolling a relatively quiet area of the universe. I was startled to see a bright shimmering light pulsating that appeared off the starboard wingtip. ‘’Wow!...What IS this?’’ It stayed right off my wingtip, changing colors, from green-to-yellow-to white. No matter what I did, dipping, diving, rolling – the light stayed right on my wingtip. It was amazing, unsettling and surreal.
My crew wanted to eject and get into the water, but I wouldn’t approve of this. The waters were too cold and it was a very low visibility. After ten minutes, I couldn’t shake free of the lights. It moved far faster than any object I have ever seen. It was detected on my early warning radar and even then if It quickly zipped across the skies and ended up in front of me, then behind me, to the sides and above me --- all at speeds I could never have imagined. When I brought this to the attention of my superiors, they listened to my story but did nothing. It was upsetting enough that I could not concentrate on subsequent missions.
As a sidenote, later that month, Allied radar spotted an object zipping along at 50,000 feet at close to 4,000 MPH. It flew over South Korea just a while earlier and allied radar had it rising, then falling, 10,000 feet within seconds. There were reports in military communications, but no such information reached the media.
Years later, while visiting Major George R.A. Jones, who had flown F4’s and F5’s related that he saw to the Intelligence Officers. He said under oath that he saw a flying saucer and he made a full report to his squadron Intelligence officers. But we never heard another word about it….strange???’’
Colonel Caswell was one of the last Marine Corps fighter pilots to become an ace in World War II. Flying F4U Corsairs off the USS Bunker Hill, he is credited with 7 confirmed and one probable kills, many of them in the air around Okinawa.”
I might not have amounted to much if not for the opportunity to fly. The country needed us, we responded. No one ever thought there was a choice. You served because you had to. You learned a lot about yourself as a man in the military. For instance, you learned that you didn’t really need much rest. You learned that you didn’t need much to eat. And, you certainly did not to eat anything very good either! You learned you could reach inside and pull out the fear and the insecurity of being young and stupid and cast it aside when you are with hundreds of other boys just like yourself. The pride – I feel the pride every time I see another blue baseball cap that announces the man wearing it has served our country. I probably won’t know them, but I sure know what they went through. It’s an unspoken brotherhood.
For my part, I had flown over 100 missions, destroyed in the air 10, or more of the enemy, smoked or partially disabled several more, destroyed 25-30 aircraft on the ground and never received a hole on any of the Corsair I had flown. I was awarded the Silver Star, Three Distinguished Flying Crosses and 5 Air Medals. In July of 1945, I received my promition to First Lieutenant, USMCR. One cannot argue that I had a Guardian Angel. I had not won the war, but I felt I had done my part. And no one can ever take that away from me. No one. ###