Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
George Ernst, Racine, Wisconsin native, describes his World War II experiences in the European Theater as a second lieutenant pilot with the 3rd Division, 96th Bomber Group, 337th Squadron of the Army Air Corps -- Ernst describes enlisting in at Milwaukee in 1942 and states that all enlistment into the Air Corps had been recently frozen. However, Ernst's uncle was a notary public and he was able to notarize Ernst's application at a date prior to the enlistment freeze. Ernst describes his transfer to various bases for specialized flight training until finally receiving his commission as second lieutenant. Ernst then describes picking up a flight crew in Louisiana, flying to Liverpool (England), and eventually being assigned to a base in Ipswitch (England). He says he flew a new B-17 to England where his new plane was taken away. He was issued an older plane as he was a new recruit who might be quickly shot down. Ernst relates completing seventeen missions before the war's end; also ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
Reinke, a Madison, Wisconsin resident, discusses his experiences during World War II as a pilot in the 512th Squadron, 376th Bomb Group, 47th Wing, 15th Air Force and as a prisoner of war in Germany. Reinke grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the request of his mother, he finished high school before enlisting at Wright Field (Ohio) in the Army Air Corps. Reinke spends time describing the physical and psychological exams and flight training and that qualified him as a pilot at Santa Ana (California), Wickenburg (Arizona), and Yuma (Arizona). He mentions 50% of pilot candidates "washed out" and became gunners, navigators, or bombardiers. Reinke compares various aircraft at length, including: the BT-13 Vultee Vibrator, Stearman bi-plane, Cessna AT-9, P-38, A-20, and B-24. Reinke recalls his frustration when, after flight school, he was assigned to a B-24 instead of an A-20. In August 1943, Reinke traveled by boat to Casablanca (Morocco) as a replacement joining the 376th Bomb Group. He ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
Aix Harrison, a Zearing, Iowa native, discusses his experience as a bombardier in the Air Force during World War II -- Harrison recalls hearing the news about Pearl Harbor on the street. He mentions his brother, who was already in the Air Force when the war started. He describes joining the Air Corps at age seventeen and going to junior college for a year after high school. He speaks about basic training at Shepherd Field (Texas), the College Training Detachments program at Peabody College in Nashville (Tennessee), pre-flight school in Santa Anna (California), aerial gunnery school in Kingman (Arizona), and bombardier school in Demming (New Mexico). Harrison talks about playing drums in the Army band, his classes and flying instruction, training with .50 caliber machine guns, simulated turrets, shooting clay pigeons, and being assigned walking tours for being in a plane that dropped bombs where people were working, though no one was hurt. He discusses his assignment to a B-24 crew in ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
Van Dyke, a Coronado (California) native, discusses his U.S. Air Force service during the Vietnam War. Van Dyke discusses his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base (San Antonio, Texas), and officer training school in Valdosta (Georgia) before service in Vietnam in late 1969. Van Dyke mentions his survival skills training at various U.S. Air Force bases before his attachment to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Laikay) at Ben Wa (Vietnam) in October 1969. He details various ordnance aspects of his daily flight missions as a FAC (Forward Air Controller) in OB-10 and T-37 aircraft as a lieutenant. Van Dyke talks about the ambiance of rustic living and being the "second guy" in combat in Cambodia, May 1970, while assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Tienyen, Vietnam). He elaborates on his combat impressions of "blowing up a lot of trees and monkeys" and having to fly after a long night of drinking at a USO show in Vietnam. He concludes with his impressions of ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
John "Jack" Webb, a Durand, Wisconsin native, relates his twenty-year career with the United States Air Force overseas in Asia and stateside service that ended as a recruiter in Green Bay (Wisconsin) -- Webb talks about enlisting with two friends in 1954, basic training at Lackland Air Force Base (Texas), and radio repair school at Scott AFB (Illinois). He touches upon his repair duties with the 6147th Tactical Control Group in Korea and, after a year, being transferred to a base in Chandler (Minnesota) where he got married. Next in Hokkaido (Japan), he discusses Cold War work with a detachment of the 1st Shoran Beacon Squadron using short range navigation equipment in bomb training, and he touches on being told to avoid talking to the Russians there. He talks about duty with the 509th Bomb Group under Strategic Air Command doing repair of bomber equipment in Pease AFB (New Hampshire), and he states he did not enjoy it because "you were paperwork-bound." He describes transferring to ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
Ernest Tresch, a Fleming, Ohio native, describes his World War II experience with the Army Air Corps as a combat pilot in North Africa and Southern Europe and as a pilot for General Eisenhower -- After basic and advanced training in Texas, Tresch discusses reporting for active duty at MacDill Field (Florida) and training with B-26 planes. Sent to Africa in 1942, he touches on his flight across the Atlantic and flying sub patrols out of Oran (Algeria). He describes flying combat missions with the 320th Bomb Group in North Africa in support of the 5th Army. Tresch mentions bombing runs in Sicily, Italy, and Sardinia. He describes close calls among the crew, such as flak being stopped by a parachute buckle, and states he was fortunate that no one from his crew was ever wounded. After forty missions, he talks about going into Air Transport Command at the New Castle Army Air Base (Delaware), training with heavier equipment, and flying supplies overseas and wounded back. Tresch describes ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
Strassman talks about his World War II service with the Army Air Force in the Pacific theater as a member of the 400th Bomb Squad, 90th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force. He mentions basic training at Greensboro (North Carolina), radio school, serving as a radio instructor, volunteering for overseas duty, and gunnery school at Yuma (Arizona). Strassman discusses crew assignment, bombing runs in a B24 aircraft, and the differences between a B27 and B17. Stationed at Mindoro Island, he mentions flying in group formation, bombing Hong Kong, encounters with anti-aircraft fire, and the mission where his unit lost a plane. Strassman comments on rest and relaxation in Australia, seeing Bob Hope and Frances Langford in a USO show, and ship ride back to the United States
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
James Chatham, a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin native, tells of his Air Force service with the 330th Troop Carrier during the Berlin Airlift and the Korean War. He discusses enlisting in the Air Force to gain additional job skills. Chatham relates his initial training as a weather observer including use of weather observation instruments and plotting weather maps. He notes he arrived in time to clean up B26 parts after a tornado went through the airfield. He tells of his experience flying weather observation flights from Travis Air Force Base (California) to Alaska and Japan and transmitting data. Chatham details his role as a lead mechanic and flight engineer with the 330th Troop Carrier during the Berlin Airlift. He gives details of the mission, including unloading the planes while taxiing, danger from rubble in landing zones, and Soviet aircraft intervening by "buzzing" American planes. Chatham discusses his re-enlistment in the Air Force as a sergeant with the 330th Squadron in Seoul ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
Papers and photographs pertaining to Thomas J. Classen, a West De Pere, Wisconsin, resident who served as a pilot with the Army Air Forces during World War II. Classen was awared the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in saving his crew when they were missing in action for sixty-six days after their B-17, "My Lovin' Dove," was shot down in the Pacific. Papers include biographical material on Classen relating to his service and being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, a photocopied article detailing the story of Classen and his eight crewmen, members of the 72nd Bombardment Group, who spent over two months in the Japanese-controlled area before their eventual rescue and relocation to Guadalcanal, and photocopies of the diary he kept after being shot down. Also included in the collection is information about the history of the 509th Composite Group, which was the first atomic deployment unit in the United States. Classen served as the first commander of the unit during ... Read More
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
John G. Scocos, a Fond du Lac, Wisconsin native, discusses his World War II service in the Army Air Corps as a bombardier aboard a B-24 and his internment at Stalag Luft III as a German prisoner of war -- Scocos touches on being drafted, clerical school at Fort Logan (Colorado), running a PX at Houlton Army Air Base (Maine), applying for officers training, and bombardier school at Big Spring (Texas). He speaks of being assigned to a B-24 squadron at Clovis (New Mexico) and doing anti-submarine patrols along the Atlantic coast. After flying to Europe, Scocos speaks of arriving in Italy where he was assigned to the 723rd Squadron and began flying missions into Austria, Yugoslavia, and the Balkans. He describes his crew's equipment, the reason German pilots targeted his unit, and missions to bomb the Ploesti oil fields. Scocos details the mission to Vienna where his plane was shot down: the plane's being hit by enemy aircraft, the ball turret gunner's getting left behind in the burning ... Read More