One Man's War

CHAPTER 22

JULY 24, 1945 -- DECEMBER 15, 1945
FINAL DAYS OF THE WAR !


In the time span from March 25th to July 24th the squadron, both fighters and bombers, had flown 2360 missions and had 110 incidents of damage to it's planes by enemy antiaircraft fire. The squadron is credited with having shot down 17 enemy aircraft while losing only one to a Japanese plane. My particular contribution to the war effort was 54 missions. How much damage I caused I cannot say because it is impossible to assess damage to something that is behind you. I have always been skeptical of the glowing reports of anyone flying a plane. I fired thousands of rounds of ammunition, fired dozens of rockets, dropped several napalm bombs and several 100 pound bombs on designated enemy targets with a reasonable amount of accuracy. But in the jungle and camouflage areas I could not look back and leisurely estimate the damage. Planes in the sky or on a runway, or boats on the sea, or large barracks, or man made structures you can see and maybe assess damage. On Okinawa by the time the invasion started the towns were demolished and the Japanese soldiers did not live in barracks at this time. Still I feel we did what we had been sent there for and I am satisfied that the squadron deserved the "Well Done" as received from fleet commander.

During our cruise from Pearl Harbor to San Diego we received word that the atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan. I'm sure we must have thought that the war was nearly over and must have wondered what was in store for us. I just don't remember. Upon arrival in San Diego the squadron was decommissioned. I received a thirty day leave and headed for Port Orchard, Washington where my family was now living.

On the way to Washington I spent a few days in San Francisco, enjoying what I consider the most fun town in the US with the girl I had acquired a very warm feeling for. This was Margie, whom I dated in Los Angeles. While I was over seas, she and three of her girl friend nurses had joined the Army Nurse Corps and were stationed at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco.

I arrived in San Francisco on the 16th of August, the day after Japan surrendered. The night before, August 15th, had been one tremendous victory celebration in the USA and especially there in San Francisco. The service men, and probably the civilians too, had torn the downtown apart. Every window on Market Street had been broken and stores looted. The commander of the 12th Naval district and the Army commander had placed a restriction on all locally stationed personnel.

Since I was traveling on orders we had no trouble being on the street. There were damned few service personnel and very few civilians but there were plenty of police and shore patrol.

 
Lt. Margie F. Wada

As Margie and I were walking down the street we saw two sailors were strolling along when one of them kicked a garbage can. It had hardly hit the ground when two shore patrol and a cop had them by the collar.

I returned to San Diego after the leave and was reassigned to Air Group 5 at Klamath Falls, Oregon. I was with the squadron for only two or three weeks when an announcement came out that those wishing to resign from the Navy could do so. The things that influenced my decision to resign were first: I was not an academy graduate. Not being an academy man limits advancement possibilities. Second, I was not a college graduate and that too would limit my possibilities for an extended career. Third, I wasn't too sure I wanted to stay in the Navy for twenty years. So I requested to get out and was assigned to a CASU unit at NAS Pascal, Pascal, Washington to await discharge.

With time heavy on my hands at Pascal I checked out an F6F, filed a flight plane to Kitsap County Airport in Port Orchard, Washington and flew there to visit my family. Guess the reason for this was to show off the big fighter plane that I had been flying. A little personal ego coming through again. This wasn't the first time they had witnessed their little boy flying. They had driven down to NAS Ottumwa to visit me while I was there in primary. It was fortunate I happened to be scheduled to fly that Sunday morning. The humorous part of the day was when we attended a program given for the local civilian people by the Navy, a teenage girl came up to me and asked for my autograph. I thought she must be nuts but my sisters, Marilyn and Helen thought it was great.

 

 

 
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