One Man's War


  Impossible, you say, to make a fly-away take off with only a seventy foot run! Well, maybe. I, too, had a hard time accepting something I didn't see. So I am considering the possibility of the feat.

First, assuming the plane's wheels are ten feet behind the propeller, the run down the deck would be eighty feet, not seventy . The plane was sitting with brakes released and under it's engine's full 1500 horse power and propeller adjusted to full low pitch, when the holding ring broke releasing the plane. The wind velocity and the forward motion of the ship was creating a flow of air over the wings of twenty one knots before the plane moved an inch. This speed, combined with the pull of the propeller must reach a minimum of sixty three knots to maintain level flight. In addition, as the plane leaves the flight deck it has about forty feet to fall before hitting the water, adding more speed to what ever it's speed it had attained at the end of the flight deck, in reaching that sixty three knots. The plane does not fall straight down but continues it's forward motion adding more time until it either hits the water or flies away. Another condition that could help attain the necessary speed is the pitch of the ship. There is always a rise and a fall to the fore and aft line of the ship due to the wave or the swell action. If the ring broke at the moment the ship was at an even keel and is on it's way down stroke of this pitch, then a down hill attitude would exist on the ship and the plane would travel with less resistance making it easier to add speed thus adding to the attained airspeed.

In a normal fly-away take-off, the first plane in line for take-off is about three hundred feet from the leading edge of the flight deck and must reach this same sixty three knots. It was quite normal for a FM-2 to be airborne well before this three hundred feet is used up and be several feet in the air when passing over the end of the flight deck. indicating that, maybe, only two hundred feet would be used to lift off the deck. So, maybe it's not unreasonable that Glista's plane did cover that eighty-two feet and did fly away I have no reason to doubt the report. As a matter of fact, I believe it!


During this time many of the Marines that were wounded at Iwo Jima were transported to Guam for treatment. Our squadron Doctor, Lt. Starr, was transferred to the naval hospital on Guam to lend a hand with his special talents. This he was happy to do for there wasn't much surgery to practice in the squadron.

One of the things that Wells and I did for amusement while there was to go to the north end of the island

 
Guamese villagers capturing small fish in lagoon

to an army camp to go hunting with a squad of these "doggies". The hunt was to be on the cliffs overlooking the ocean where the few remaining Japanese soldiers were hiding. What we were to hunt were these Japs. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, it was raining on the cliffs and the "doggies" do not go down there in the rain because the rain deadens the sounds and it is too easy to be surprised by the enemy. We spent a little time listening to the tales, true or not true, of these hunts. They might inflate the truth

 
VC 93 pilots sampling catch
but they had little jars of gold teeth that they had removed from the mouths of the dead (or nearly dead} and other personal items belonging to these dead. I don't think now that I would relish the memory of shooting or even seeing a man shot even if he was the enemy. Shooting a plane out of the sky and killing the pilot seemed not to have been a problem for me nor do I think that I would be bothered by the memory of it now.


The beaches at Guam were first class. The one we used was at the bottom of the cliff at Agana and just beyond the army air force field. This was the beach where the marines had invaded just nine months before. There were still rusted out tanks sitting in the water off shore and in the jungle. In the hills along the beach there were still concrete pill boxes and other fortifications but in some disrepair from the shelling and flame throwers. We spent quite a bit of time browsing through these fortifications and caves and tunnels looking for souvenirs. After being probably the 10,000th snooper, the only thing we found were a few tattered and burned bits of clothing and a few shoes that were weathered and coming apart and with the bones of the feet still in them.

Several years after the war I came across a book with a picture of this beach. It had been taken by our squadron photographer of a group of our officers in swimming trunks lounging on the sand with several young women also in swimming suits. I recognized the guys in the picture with the women. The picture was taken on one of our outings. The women were Navy Nurses and Red Cross ladies from NAS Agana. The picture had been selected from the ships photographic files to be printed in a book published after the war.

 
Beach on Guam
VC 93 pilots, nurses and Red Cross ladies


The name of the book was "Escort Carriers in Action". The book was paid for by Richard Reynolds of the Reynolds Tobacco Company, who was the navigation officer on the USS Makin Island, and a copy was issued to every member of the ship's crew of the escort carriers but not the members of the air groups that flew from them. Strange deal, since the only reason these carriers were out there was because of the pilots and air crewmen.

   

 

 
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