Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hanger Talk and Unusual Situations

Nostalgia at Camp Grayling 

In Michigan, Camp Grayling was the destination of The Michigan National Guard. Troop exercises and refresher work for the Air national Guard were common during the 50s just after the Korean War (United Nations Action - If you remember!) Just to the east of the current US-27 between Gaylord and Grayling (Inter-State 75 didn't exist then) was the bombing and artillery range practice area.

Pops and I used to sit down by Bradford Lake and listen to the explosions taking place by both artillery and aircraft. That same morning we decided to canoe for a bit before the chores. As we started out from the little cove we noticed three P-51s peeling off in a direction that was unusual for the bombing range pattern we observed many times before.

As we continued to canoe we found the three P-51s. From the north end of Bradford lake the three planes were leveling out of a co-ordinated dive just about at the surface of the lake. So close to the surface rooster tails of water trailed far behind the magnificence formation close to their attack speed. Pops and I were less than half a football field away. We watched in awe as the three sped by intent on buzzing the lake for some reason. At the end of Bradford Lake they suddenly applied climb power narrowly missing a bank of trees in front of a row of small cabins. They quickly climbed skyward disappearing just as fast as they appeared, just moments before.

We were breathless from just watching these powerful P- 51s slide by over the lake. The next day we discovered that a newly married couple occupied one of the cabins at the end of the lake. So much for peace and quiet on their honeymoon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pops and the B-29 on Gaum in WWII.

Nostalgia - B -29s

Pops was an MD with the 3rd Marine Division in the Japanese campaign. He was with the Marines from 1943 through 1945. His last island station was Guam in the Marianas Group. It was there where a little prank was played on Pops.

With other island bases in the Pacific, including Guam, the bombing of Japan increased as the possibility of invading Japan rose higher and higher as we prepared for that eventuality.

One very early morning my Dad took his morning stroll near the B-29s as they began to warm up for a morning flight to Japan. One of the pilots, who knew my Dads love for flying, asked if he wanted to go for a ride. It was, of course, a set-up. Dad said, "Sure."

He was told to climb up into the fuselage and take the seat in the upper bubble that didn't seem to have a gun. Evidently the intercom was active and everyone in the plane could hear the conversation.

Dad asked what the camera in the bubble was for? The pilot replied, "Once were airborne and you see several targets coming toward us, all you have to do is point the "little camera" and focus on the nearest rapidly approaching Zero and pull the trigger! You see Doc, that little camera co-ordinates every gun on the "29." You are the "main man!"

Dad asked where they were going? Pilot replied, "Japan Doc, Japan!" Lots of laughter ensued as my Dad was yelling about a possible court martial and was quickly finding his way out of the stationary B-29 warming up!

Humor had its way of easing the tensions for all involved on the dangerous formation soon to take off toward Japan.