While at Pascal, I, and a dozen other pilots waiting with me,
were assigned to ferrying planes to Clinton, Oklahoma, where
the planes would be stored before being salvaged. They were no
longer needed for a war that didn't exist. The plane I was to
fly had only about 10 hours on it and I wouldn't add much more
time to it. The first leg of our flight was to Yakima, Washington
a distance of 50 miles. We hardly got off the ground before we
were landing. Spent the night in Yakima and left the next morning
for Red Bluff, California. This flight was a little longer, maybe
300 miles. Arriving at Red Bluff the lead pilot (this was some
guy who had been ferrying planes from the factory to the west
coast and bumping guys like me off commercial flights with their
number one priority, when they were ready to return to the factory.),
ground looped his plane and tore up the wing tip. With an ulterior
motive in mind, I volunteered to let him have my plane. He accepted
and later that afternoon I crawled in the second seat of an SNJ
and took off for NAS Alameda across the bay from San Francisco.
For the next seven days and for every hour that Margie could
get away from the hospital we would enjoy everything that San
Francisco had to offer. The good thing was that I was on per
diem drawing an additional seven dollars a day in addition to
my base pay. After seven days I got a little self conscious and
caught a NATS plane back to Pascal.
I was again assigned to another plane and followed the same route
only this time after Red Bluff we flew to Madera, Ca., Holtville,
Ca., Tucson, Arizona, El Paso, Texas, Midland, Texas and finally
Clinton. We spent the night at each of these fields. Seven days
to get there. If we had taken a direct route we could have done
it in one day. But we had time to kill.
It was on one of the return trips from Clinton, OK while I was
with Margie in San Francisco, that we were walking down one of
the streets in the center of town and I spotted this Naval Officer
walking down the other side of the street, his hat cocked on
the back of his head, his blouse hanging wide open in an unmilitary
way and a woman hanging on his arm. For some reason his back
looked familiar and I wanted to know if I truly recognized this
guy. We crossed the street just as he and the woman turned into
a bar. We followed them in and sure enough there sitting at the
bar was Tom Hartshorn. He and I had gone all the way through
high school together and were on the swimming team together.
We swam naked during practice so maybe that is why I recognized
his figure from the backside. Plus the fact that we lived next
door to each other for a few years. The three of us, minus the
other woman (he had a wife back in Des Moines), spent the rest
of the day together. I saw him once shortly after the war and
called him on the phone a few years ago. He never returned my
call and that was that! He died just a few months ago.
Another chance meeting happened on these SF junkets. While with
Margie, I ran into Tom Bloski in the lobby of the Saint Francis
Hotel. He had just returned from the pacific and was on his way
home. From him I found out that Mike Michaelich and Sy Gonzalaz
had survived the war but Bill Tuohimaa had been killed when his
plane was shot down over Japan.
That afternoon, with Bloski and Margie and Margie's friend, Carmen
from her nursing school days, went to the fleet landing where
the USS Ticonderoga had tied up. Somewhere Bloski had gotten
the word that our instructor from Green Cove Springs, Lieutenant
Crommelin, was aboard. His squadron was attached to this ship.
Unfortunately, he was a shore. We left a note just to let him
know what had happened to his first students.
I had a Christmas card correspondence going with Bloski until
about 1954 when his cards stopped coming. Some twenty years later
on one of our driving vacations through the south, I looked up
his phone number in the Pensacola directory and I called the
number. The lady that answered gave me his number at the newspaper
where he worked. I called, the guy who answered didn't know me.
It was Tom's son by the same name. He told me Tom senior had
been killed in a helicopter crash in New Orleans in 1954.
Caught another NATS plane at Alameda for a flight to NAS Sand
Point and Pascal, Wa. after spending the week courting Lieutenant
Wada around our favorite liberty town. Another seven days on
per diem. That was my last ferry flight. A few days later I was
on a train headed for the Great Lakes Naval Training Station
and discharge. I was out of the Navy and on my way home on December
15, 1945, three years, five months and seven days after being
sworn in to the Navy.
Did I ever see Lieutenant Wada again? Oh yeah! We were married
fifteen months later on July 1, 1947, after she received her
discharge from the Army Nurse Corps. She has been my heart and
soul for the past fifty-one years.
Did I ever fly again? No! I have never flown a plane from that
last flight to Clinton, Oklahoma. Did I enjoy flying? Absolutely.
Why didn't I join the reserve and fly or do it privately? Because
I was going to school and didn't have the time nor the money.
Do I regret the time I spent in the service? Absolutely not!
It was one truly great experience. I would have hated to have
missed it, but I wouldn't care to do it again and I certainly
would not want my son or grandsons to have to go through any