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Haddaway Interview.pdf

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Civil Air Patrol
Oral History Interview
WNHC3,83-8
Mr. George E, Haddaway
14 May 1983

N AT I O N A L H I S TO R I C A L C O M M I T T E E
Headquarters CAP

Civil Air Patrol.
Oral History Interview
WNHC3.83-8
M r. G e o r g e E . H a d d a w a y
14 May 1983



N AT I O N A L H I S T O R I C A L C O M M I T T E E
Headquarters CAP

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

Interview

Mr. George E. Haddaway

Colonel Lester E. Hopper, CAP

Date:
Location:

14 May 1983
D a l l a s , Te x a s

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L O R A L H I S T O R Y I N T E R V I E W S

Civil Air Patrol Oral History Interviews were initiated
i n e a r l y 1 9 8 2 b y C o l o n e l L e s t e r E . H o p p e r , C A P, o f t h e
Civil Air Patrol's National Historical Committee. The
overall purpose of these interviews is to record for
posterity the activities of selected members of the Civil
Air Patrol.

The principle goal of these histories is to increase the
base of knowledge relating to the early accomplishments of
Civil Air Patrol members who in their own unique way cont r i b u t e d t o t h e d e f e n s e o f o u r g r e a t c o u n t r y. C e r t a i n l y
not of a secondary nature is the preservation of the
contributions of individuals as Civil Air Patrol continues
its growth.

The following is the transcript of an oral history interview recorded on magnetic tape. Since only minor emendations have been made, the reader should consistently
bear in mind that he is reading a transcript of the spoken
r a t h e r t h a n t h e w r i t t e n w o r d . A d d i t i o n a l l y, n o a t t e m p t t o
confirm the historical accuracy of the statements has been
made. As a result, the transcript reflects the interviewee's
personal recollections of a situation as he remembered it at
the time of the interview.

Editional notes and additions made by CAP historians are enclosed in brackets. If feasible, first names, ranks, or titles
are also provided. Any additions, deletions and changes subsequently made to the transcript by the interviewee are not
indicated. Researchers may wish to listen to the actual interview tape prior to citing the transcript.

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

T h a t
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oral-magnetic-taped

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interview

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covering my best recollections of events and experiences which may be of
historical signiflcance to the Civil Air Patrol.

X understand that the tape(s) and the transcribed manuscript resulting
therefrom will be accessioned into the Civil Air Patrol's Historlal Holdings.
In the best interest of the Civil Air Patrol, I do hereby voluntarily give,~
t r a n s f e r, c o n v e y, a n d a s s i g n a l l r i g h t , t i t l e , a n d i n t e r e s t i n t h e m e m o i r s
and remembrances contained in the aforementioned magnetic tapes and manuscript
tothe Civil Air Patrol, to have and to hold the same forever, hereby relinquishing for myself, my executors, administrators, heirs, and assigns all
ownership, right , title, and interest therein to the donee expressly on the
condition of strict observance of the following restrictions:

/
Accepted on behalf of the Civil Air Patrol by ,

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SUMMARY OF CONTENTS

In this oral history interview, Mr. George E. Haddaway relates his early experiences in the establishment of the
Civilian Pilot Training program. Because of his unique
background as a professional, well travelled journalist
his observation on the country's state of preparedness
prior to World War II are quite significant. He continues
with his early association with Gill Robb Wilson and his
personal role in the establishment of Civil Air Patrol in
Te x a s . H a d d a w a y p l a c e s c o n s i d e r a b l e e m p h a s i s o n h i s s t a t e ment of fact that patrol missions were flown in the Gulf
prior to the official "first flight" from~CP i0 on July 7,
1942.
By means of two examples of the acquisition of a link
trainer and a life raft, Haddaway illustrates the difficulties in building up his base at Beaumont and equipping
it for safe and efficient operations. He very graphically
recounts the loss of pilots involved and explores it's
impact on the morale of other personnel.
Haddaway's reflections on the relative worth of Coastal
Patrol Operations are of considerable interest to those
involved in the study of the history of World War II.

G U I D E TO C O N T E N T S

1

First Exposure to Aviation

1

Early Flight Training

2

G r a d u a t i o n f r o m U n i v e r s i t y o f Te x a s

2

Experiences at Sea

2

Prediction of World War II

2

Hard Times

3

Early Barnstormers

3

Founding of Southwest Aviation Magazine

4

Friendship with Gill Robb Wilson

5

Civilian Pilot Training Program

7

Te x a s P r i v a t e F l y e r s A s s o c i a t i o n

8

A p p o i n t m e n t o f F i r s t Te x a s W i n g C o m m a n d e r

9

Activation of Coastal Patrol Base 10

i0

Acquisition of Link Trainer

12

"Unofficial" Coastal Patrol

13

Assumption of Command of CP 10

15

Gulf Sinkings

17

Key Staff at CP 10

18

Base i0 Guidon

19

Base i0 Film

21

Base i0 Communications

24

Last Sinkings in the Gulf

G U I D E TO C O N T E N T S C O N T.

25

Convoy Escort Planning

26

Hurricane Plan

27

K o y m - Ta y l o r C r a s h

29

Loss of Sikorski Amphibian

29

"Acquisition" of Life Raft

31

Survival Drill

36

"Duck Club" Initiation

39

Air Medal Criteria

40

Award of Exceptional Civilian Service Medal

44

Base 10 Logo

46

Closing of Base i0

47

Reassignment of Base Personnel

48

Evaluation of Effectiveness of Coastal Patrol

CAP ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW

Number WNHC3.83-8
Ta p e d I n t e r v i e w W i t h :
Date of Interview:
Location:.
Conducted By:

M r. G e o r g e E . H a d d a w a y ( G )
14 May 1983
D a l l a s , Te x a s
Colonel Lester E. Hopper, CAP

George, suppose we get started with the way back there thing
and give us a little personal background where you came from,
how you got interested in aviation and first started flying
and that sort of thing.

I w a s b o r n i n 1 9 0 9 i n F o r t W o r t h , Te x a s . M y fi r s t e x p o s u r e
to aviation was when the Canadian Air Force came to Fort
Worth and established 3 or 4 flying fields in WWI because of
ideal weather and georgraphy for training pilots. Canada was
already in the war. My aunt and my mother often held tea
dances for the pilots. I often sat on the laps of these
picturesque guys with swagger sticks, overseas caps, boots
and goggles. The airplanes would fly low over our house.
That was my first exposure to airplanes and the men who flew
them. Then our next door neighbor was a guy named Dutch
B a r t g i s , a b a r n s t o r m e r w i t h a J e n n y. H e g a v e b o t h m y s i s t e r
and me a ride in 1921. That innoculated me too with the bug
t o fl y. I t w a s n ' t u n t i l e n t e r i n g t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f Te x a s
(1926-1930) that the next step came, not to mention Boy Scout
days when we were called out to help moor the dirigibles at
the helium plant near Fort Worth. I bought some time whenever ~

I'd get $30.00 at the University Flying Service in Waco 10's.
I'd go out and take an hour or if I had $15.00 I'd take a
half hour. Graduating in 1930, first depression year, I
couldn't get a job. I had gone to sea during summer vacations,
first as a deck boy and then as an ordinary seaman. So after
graduation I went back to sea to eat and keep from being a
burden on my parents who were hard up. In '30, '31, '32 I
worked on my AB ticket and I thought, well, I can't afford to
fly so I'll just become a mate, make the Merchant Marine my
life. I enjoyed travel and always got along with foreign
people. I left Austin with a few logged hours before the
depression really hit. I was in Germany when Hitler came
into power. I have diaries of that period. In them I predicted WWII. I wrote a letter to my father that I had observed two German battleships coming out of Helgoland right
near Bremen. I said Hitler had kicked over the traces, that
the Versailles treaty is no more and a new war is brewing.
Of course, my Dad thought I was crazy because WI was the war
to end all wars.

H.

Maybe you were a little young for him to believe you.

In a couple of years as the depression deepened I couldn't
even get a job on a ship. Every time I got a job assignment
the ship went to the bone yard. This happened to me in San
Francisco. In Frisco I used to hand out hymnals at the Seaman's church institute so I'd get an extra snail with my
c o ff e e . Yo u k n o w w h a t a s n a i l i s , a d a n i s h . I fi n a l l y g o t

tired of starving and took up with another bum, a lad who
b u s t e d o u t o f S t a n f o r d U n i v e r s i t y. We s t a r t e d h i t c h h i k i n g
south heading for home to get some meat on my bones. We
pearl dived in churches (washing dishes) and had some very
i n t e r e s t i n g e x p e r i e n c e s . A r r i v i n g b a c k i n Te x a s I w e n t o u t
to Meacha~ Field and made friends with some of those old
barnstormers. Dutch Bartgis was gone by then. Reg Robbins,
Jess Bristow and Charlie Curry were especially encouraging.
Bowen Airlines had started up and I thought, well, why don't
I take my interest in journalism and my interest in aviation
a n d c o m b i n e t h e m ? T h e y h a d a m a g a z i n e d o w n i n Te m p l e c a l l e d
the Southern Aviator and it had folded. I figured I could put
o u t a b e t t e r b o o k a n d i n l a t e 1 9 3 3 I t e a m e d u p w i t h A . T.
B a r r e t t , J r . w h o w a s A . P. B a r r e t t ' s n e p h e w . A . P. B a r r e t t
was a wheeler-dealer who picked up C. R. Smith on the highway
a n d g a v e h i m a j o b w i t h t h e Te x a s - L o u i s i a n a P o w e r & L i g h t '
C o m p a n y a s a b o o k k e e p e r . A . P. b o u g h t Te x a s A i r T r a n s p o r t
a n d C . R . s o o n w a s r u n n i n g T. A . T. , w h i c h l a t e r b e c a m e a p a r t
of American Airways. C. R., of course, went along with the
n e w c o m p a n y, fi r s t a s v i c e - p r e s i d e n t i n c h a r g e o f t h e S o u t h e r n
Division and then went on to become one of air transportation's
g r e a t s . I n 1 9 3 3 A . T. B a r r e t t , J r . a n d I h a d m a d e u p o u r m i n d s
we were going to publish a monthly to be called Southwest
Aviation. There wasn't any money in 1933 so we began working
at different odd jobs, saving some money and finally saved enough
and sold enough ads to get out an issue of the magazine. That
was late in '33 so we decided we'd wait early '34 to get our
first edition. We made a credit deal with the printer and we
J

put up a $500 deposit. He was hard up for business. We had been
warned that next to cafes and restaurants the highest mortality
3

rate among new businesses was in publications. If we had
been convinced of that we never would have gone into it. We
were wild-eyed aviation enthusiasts. Anyhow, we started to
to to press on the January issue when something went wrong.
We had a major ad cancellation. That really upset the printer.
S o t h e n w e s a i d w e ' d w a i t t i l l F e b r u a r y. We l l , t h e n F e b r u a r y
came along and Uncle Sam cancelled the air mail contracts.
P o s t m a s t e r G e n e r a l F a r l e y, P r e s i d e n t R o o s e v e l t a n d B r o w n p u l l e d
off this disaster. Well, every ad of any national significance
was cancelled. We didn't get off the press until April of '34.
But from then on we never missed an issue.

H .

That was some 45 years wasn't it?

So that pretty much takes care of those early days.

H.

So basically you drifted toward CAP as a result of what, George?

Gil Robb Wilson was a fraternity brother of mine, not that that
made any difference, but he was a spiritually motivating man.
He had been a pilot in WWI. He was one of my heroes. Gil saw
that war was coming on. He was one of those few who didn't
agree with Lindbergh's advice to stay out of Europe's messes.
At the National Aeronautical Association convention in Louisville,
Kentucky in '41 Gil told me about New Jersey's Civil Air Defense
operation.

H.

And that was mid year '417

Most airmen knew, they had a sixth sense, about getting involved in this war. We didn't have anything, no air power,
no planning. Remember President Coolidge later courtmartialled Billy Mitchell who called on the president with
three or four of his fellow officers in the Air Corps. They
desperately needed new airplanes. Mr. Coolidge sat there with
that deadpan expression and said: "Well, men, why don't we buy
one airplane and let all the boys fly it".

H.

Real practical solution, huh?

That was the situation we were in all through the late '20's
and early '30's. We had nothing. We had airplanes we couldn't
even get into combat in WWI. None of our airplanes ever got
overseas in WWI. In '41 most airmen knew we were hell-bent for
war and we better get ready and that it would depend a lot on
the civilians. Also, I'd been active in the Civil Pilot Traini n g p r o g r a m , f o u g h t f o r i t p o l i t i c a l l y a n d e d i t o r i a l l y. Yo u
are, of course, acquainted with CPT program. It saved our butts
in WWII. It gave us pilots and instructors - a solid base for
immediate air mobilization.

H.

No question about it.

The best thing involved one of the CPT directors in the CAA
named Pop Nilson. Great man. A true believer in promoting
aviation and marketing aviation through public relations promotion. Pop and I were splitting a few drinks one night some

months before Pearl Harbor, when Hap Arnold called in a bunch
of big operators, ten or twelve of them. Gen. Arnold told
them to go home, get ready to train thousands of pilots for
the military under contract. Build hangars, shops, hire
mechanics and instructors, get ready to go. Arnold said, "I
don't have the money but I think I'll get it in this session
of congress". So off the FBO's went and started up on faith,
but they couldn't find instructors. So Pop and I broke into
s o m e W i l k i n s F a m i l y w h i s k e y o n e n i g h t i n a Te x a s h o t e l , a n d w e
came up with the idea that since I was fairly well connected
with the reporters in the Associated Press, the United Press ind
the International News Service, we had the means to find all
the old pilotswhose licenses had expired during the depression.
Some had old limited commercial or commercial licenses with any
where from 300 to 3000 hours. They were back on the farm or out
selling automobiles, vacuum cleaners, insurance or pumping gas
in filling stations. They were seasoned airmen, seasoned in
those old crates of the 1920's and 1930's. They didn't know
much about meteorology but they sure knew weather recognition.
They had crack up time and flew mostly by seat of their pants.
Pop and I said CPT should call them in and offer them refresher
training pointing to jobs as instructors. We called up Mr.
H i n c k l y w h o w a s t h e n C h a i r m a n o f t h e C i v i l A e r o n a u t i c s A u t h o r i t y,
I think they called it then, born of the old CAA and told him,
"we've got a scheme here that will probably give us all the
instructors the military wants if you will create a CPT refresher course for the physically fit older pilots whose license
expired in the last ten years. There's thousands of them out
in the boonies". Hinckly took two days to make the decision to

i

initiate the new syllabus. In three weeks we were training
the instructors in a refresher course. They came from all
over; farms, villages and cities. There was a flood of
applications. The Wire Services did the job.

H.

That was for your refresher course?

Ye s . P o p a n d I c a l l e d i t t h e W i l k i n s F a m i l y Wa r P l a n . I t
worked. Within two years they were drafting pilots into the
w a l k i n g a r m y. We l l , t h a t ' s t h e b a c k g r o u n d o n c i v i l i a n " a i r
reserve". Of course, CAP for me meant combat. I turned down
a commission in the Air Corps for a Public Relations assignment and that's for the birds. I've never known what public
r e l a t i o n s e n t a i l e d a n y w a y. E v e r y b o d y h a s t h e i r o w n t h e o r y o f
it. Usually my own impression of Public Relations is very much
akin to prostitution and propaganda.

O k a y, y o u s a y y o u m e t w i t h G i l R o b b W i l s o n a n d c a m e h o m e f r o m
the 1941 NAA meeting with a germ of an idea.

G.

Ye s , G i l ' s C i v i l A i r D e f e n s e P r o g r a m i n N e w J e r s e y.

H.

N o w w h a t d i d y o u d o w i t h t h a t a f t e r y o u g o t b a c k t o Te x a s ?

T h e Te x a s P r i v a t e F l y e r s A s s o c i a t i o n w a s b r i e f e d ' . A m o n t h
later was Pearl Harbor and the idea spread like a prairie fire.
We had some 200 volunteers on Love Field alone, walking up and
down the ramps learning military diciplines.

Now actually your CAP got started completely on its own and
d i d n o t s p r i n g f r o m t h i s Te x a s A i r D e f e n s e G u a r d .

G.

Absolutely not.

They didn't decide to join the plans?

Colonel Joseph Snyder was in charge of the so-called Air Guard,
a n d h e w a n t e d t o k e e p h i s " s t a t e " i d e n t i t y. We t h o u g h t i t s h o u l d
be a national effort.

Yo u f o r m e d w h a t ? J u s t a c o u p l e s q u a d r o n s o r h o w d i d i n i t i a l l y
t h e y f o r m i n Te x a s ?

We spent about ten days flying into every major town where we
had Private Flyer Memberships. We got them into the CAP nucleus
and told them to choose a squadron leader, get to training and
we'd give them the directives later. At first it was a kind of
social deal, a fraternity type of thing with automatic esprit
de corps.

H.

Picked up things like the Wing Over Club in Beaumont?

G.

Ye s , t o t a l l y.

At that time you all had gotten yourself arranged with a wing
commander and that kind of thing?

G.

That took some time.

I can't remember the day but they did
8

accept D. Harold Byrd. Earl Johnson came down here and installed the wing. R. L. Bowen of Fort Worth, a great businessman, pilot who owned a Howard. Byrd would never have made it
were it not for L. R. Bowen's dedicated efforts and total
commitment. The Wing needed a seasoned pilot to get the
respect of the Squadron pilots. Bowen filled that requirement.

H.

Everybody needs a good number 2.

He just wanted to make his

And R. L. didn't want the job.
contribution.

T h e r e ' s a l o t o f p e o p l e w h o , a s t h e B r i t i s h s a y, m a k e b e t t e r
number 2's than number l's, and the number l's couldn't survive without them.

One day R. L. flew me to Beaumont shortly after we activated
the Beaumont Base. We wanted to visit the other Gulf Coast
bases and see what their modus operandi was, compare notes and
inform them of what we were doing. Flying over Lake Charles
we lost the engine. R. L. skillfully made it into the Lake
Charles Army Air Base dead stick. Out comes an Air Corps Jeep.
Remember we had flaming red shoulder straps on and they didn't
know who we were. We had the CAP insignia on the airplane.
It was the "Wing" airplane, not officially on the base.

Our

greeting from the Seargent was, "get off this runway".

I said,

" B u d d y, i f y o u w a n t u s o ff t h i s r u n w a y y o u t o w u s o ff .

We ain't

got no power".
into Operations.

So they towed us off in a huff and ordered us
He said, "this place is off limits to you
9

people". So we went into Operations, where we were ushered
i n t o t h e b o s s ' s o f fi c e . Ta l k a b o u t l u c k . T h e r e s a t M a j o r
Sidney Price, a US Air Corps Reserve from Hensley Field near
Dallas. Price, who was a doctor in civilian life, delivered
my first child and was one hell of a good friend. He asked
what the hell are we doing here? I explained the CAP and our
convoy work. Are you running that outfit over there at
Beaumont? I said, well I'm trying to. He said we were doing
a hell of a job there on the coast. Thank you. What can I
do to help you? I said two things, we need an engine mechanic
and a Link Trainer. He explained the impossibility of a Link
Trainer because bases all over the country had none. Well
I need some food stamps, we're civilians, but under the articles
of war, you figure that out. Said Price, you send a truck over
here once a week and we'll load you down with food without ration
stamps. I said, all right, now get us a Link Trainer.~ So he
scratched around and he said, I think I've located one. Three
or four days later we went to Lake Charles and he said I think
I've located a Link Trainer but I'm having to ship by rail. It
p r o b a b l y w i l l h a v e t o g o t h r o u g h H o u s t o n . Yo u ' l l h a v e t o g o
and pick it up before it arrives in Galveston. A few days later
h e c a l l e d m e u p t e a r i n g h i s h a i r o u t . G e o r g e , t h i s i s S i d n e y,
somebody has fouled your Link Trainer up. He said it's headed
for the 25th Antisubmarine wing at Galveston. I said I'll tell
you what you do. Where is it? He said it's probably going
through the Houston freight yard. Give me the whole details on
it. We got our old Army truck and grabbed one of our expert conmen. I sent him over with the regular US Army corporal assigne9
to drive the Army truck and handle our bombs. They went up and
i0

down that Houston freight yard and found the car they were
switching around. They talked their way to getting that
thing unloaded and put on our truck and hauled it over to
o u r b a s e . Yo u c a n ' t b e l i e v e w e a c t u a l l y s t o l e a L i n k Tr a i n e r.
When we came into the base with it you Ought to have heard the
cheer that went up. We gave all our pilots instrument training. That was one of the outstanding experiences of the ent i r e B a s e i 0 h i s t o r y.

Going back just a little bit George, into the establishment for
Base 10, when did you all decide and how did you go about getting
t h e a u t h o r i t y t o e s t a b l i s h a b a s e a t B e a u m o n t ? Yo u k n o w s o m e o f
them had already been established on the east coast.

Washington told us (I think it was Col. Blee) we would have one
in Corpus, one in Brownsville and one in the Houston, Beaumont,
Port Arthur area. They told us to start staffing at the best
available location, which was Beaumont.

H.

And they just tasked it to you to go ahead and establish one?

G.

Wing Headquarters in Dallas was Headquarters for the operation.

What went into the decision for Beaumont as opposed to Orange
County or someplace like that?

There was no Orange County Airport. Our major cadre was in
Beaumont. The airport had oyster shell runways and there
wasn't any better airport down there than Beaumont Municipal.

Also, the CAA Service Station was there operating on 221
f r e q u e n c y.

It was just a real good place to get yourself established.
Do you recall when that first decision was made for you all
to move~ in down there?

G.

I think it was along in January and February after Pearl Harbor.

So how quick did you all get down there after they told you to
establish it?

G.

I c a n ' t a n s w e r t h a t . I d o n ' t h a v e a d i a r y o n t h a t . T r y Te x a s
Wing records.

The reason I ask is that I have a little conflicting dare'from
talking with Jimmy Marshall in that he said there was some flying off the coast in February and March and the official first
p a t r o l s d i d n ' t o c c u r u n t i l J u l y.

Jim

is

right.

We

flew

unofficially

at

first

at

the

request

of

the Port Arthur and Galveston Port Captains. We were not armed
then but did provide a measure of air coverage over convoys.

I figured something like that must have happened.

Although we were under 1st Bomber Command (Air Corps) out of
Mitchell Field, we worked mostly with local Navy and Coast Guard.
i*

Yo u r fi r s t o f fi c i a l p a t r o l s w e r e t h e n r e c o r d e d a s J u l y t h e 7 t h .
12

That was your first official one.

Now you were assigned as

base commander initially?

No. I was down there before July though. The original base
commander just didn't work out. I thinklthe boys got up a
petition." I'm not sure about that petition but somebody said
they petitioned the Wing for a new commander.

Then Harold Byrd sent you down there for a limited period of
time?

G.

W i n g H e a d q u a r t e r s a s k e d m e t o t a k e o v e r t e m p o r a r i l y.

Alright Wing Headquarters for a limited period of time?

Ya , I w e n t d o w n t h e r e t o s t r a i g h t e n i t o u t .

It was supposed

to be in a mess.

Then you didn't stay for a limited period of time?

G.

I stayed until they mustered us out.

H.

So about when did you get down there, do you remember George?

I had been down there officially at least a month when my
first son was born around August 1942.

}{.

So, you probably got down there in May or June.

G.

Ya. I'm not sure of that, but will look it up.

It's not that significant it's just that the general area,
the recorded history date of the first flight was in July.
Yo u d o n ' t , b y a n y c h a n c e , r e c a l l w h o m a d e y o u r fi r s t o f fi c i a l
patrol do you?

R. L. Bowen made the first flight in the Howard. I made a
couple of patrols when we convoyed at therequest of the Navy
and Coast Guard.

I believe you were involved in the last one. I've seen some
records indicating that you shared the honors with somebody on
that one.

R. L. Bowen made that first one in his Howard DGA.

R. L. never

signed on the base.

He just came down to get involved in that particular flight to
set the stage.

G.

T h a t w a s b e f o r e J u l y. Wa y b e f o r e J u l y.

O k a y. We l l I w o u l d s u s p e c t , s i n c e A t l a n t i c C i t y h a d b e e n i n
operations since April on a 30 day trial basis.

G.

Yo u m e a n o f fi c i a l l y ?

H.

Well, officially July was your start date.

We probably broke all the rules, we operated without any
official designation and free of charge. It didn't cost the
g o v e r n m e n t a p e n n y. A s y o u k n o w, t h e s e a m e n w e r e n o t g o i n g
out without air cover. On those earlyconvoy flights they
t o o k o ff t h e i r s h i r t s a n d w a v e d w i l d l y, I s u p p o s e a s a g e s t u r e
of gratitude.

Well, that was part of the motivation of the time, wasn't it
George?

Oh ya, we wanted to get into the war. And, of course, you know
what the Nazi sinking records were during all those early months
after Pearl Harbor. Horrible.

E s p e c i a l l y d o w n i n t h i s p a r t o f t h e c o u n t r y, w a s n ' t i t ?

Ya . We h a d a s h i p y a r d d o w n t h e r e i n O r a n g e a n d t h e y r a n a s h i p
on its inaugural run and it was sunk 20 miles out. This was one
before we were on the "temporary', job. Things like that. They
were just like sitting ducks. Off Sabine light the waters were
black with oil.

O k a y, y o u r p e r s o n a l a r r a n g e m e n t s b a s i c a l l y, d i d y o u j u s t m o v e
lock, stock and barrel or did you commute?

No, temporarily I went down and stayed at the hotel. And when
it looked like I was going to be there for a longer spell I moved
i n t o " G a l l i n i p p e r G a b l e s "8 w h i c h w a s a t o u r i s t c o u r t w i t h l o t s
of mosquitos. I moved my wife and new born in September of '42.

/

H .

What happened to your publishing business meanwhile?

I flew to Dallas on leave of absence once a month and helped
put the magazine to bed. I had a hell of a good stringer
f r o m t h e S h r e v e p o r t J o u r n a l n a m e d To m A s h l e y. I n t h o s e d a y s
an aviati6n magazine covered the whole waterfront because
aviation was so small. I think there were 250 airliners in
operation at the time the war broke out. We covered the airl i n e s , t h e m i l i t a r y a n d ( To m A s h l e y c o v e r e d t h e G H Q A i r F o r c e
over in Barksdale Field which was the center and the Daddy of
l o n g r a n g e b o m b a r d m e n t a v i a t i o n ) . To m w a s a s c h o l a r i n m i l i tary tactics. He moved from Shreveport andbecame Editor. And
a hell of a brilliant man. Great journalist. Because he didn't
have a journalism degree, I figure. He came up under a hard
city editor, --- the best training, better than journalism
schools.

Yo u p r e t t y m u c h j u s t m o v e d d o w n t h e r e l o c k , s t o c k a n d b a r r e l
gave up your normal business all for the magnificent amount
o f $ 8 a d a y, I b e l i e v e .

Ya , I t h i n k t h a t c a r r i e d m e . O f c o u r s e , I g o t a c o u p l e h u n d r e d
dollars a month out of my business.

Well, I was just talking from the standpoint of that being a
pretty good sacrifice.

No.

I t w a s n ' t e a s y.

hard

knocks.

It was an education in the school of

Yo u r m o t i v a t i o n f o r g o i n g d o w n w a s j u s t t o g e t i n v o l v e d a n d d o
something?

I really did turn down that Captaincy in the Air Corps because
this looked like combat to me.

H.

How about your key staff, George you had yourself as CO. Who
was your operations man?

Gus Whiteman and Les Stringer, I had two or three, they were
the two outstanding ones. Gus Whiteman was a lumberman from
E a s t Te x a s , L e s S t r i n g e r w a s a c a t t l e m a n , o i l m a n a n d a f a r m e r
from Wichita Falls.

H.

T h e y h a d a l o t o f b a c k g r o u n d i n a v i a t i o n a p p a r e n t l y.

Well, not in aviation but as pilots and airplane owners of
some affluence.

H.

Well, in those days that was aviation.

H.

How about your intelligence man, who was he?

I had several. The first, I had one for one month, was E. B.
G e r m a n y, w h o w a s t h e f o u n d e r o f t h e L o n e S t a r S t e e l C o m p a n y
h e r e i n Te x a s . H e w a s i n t h e p r o c e s s o f b u i l d i n g t h a t c o r poration, so he only stayed a short time. Then we had
17

Bob Wallace, a lawyer from San Antonio who was very good. His
wife was great at charting all radio fixes on the charts in our
secret room. And looking back, I think he and Germany were the
only ones really given that designation.

Those wer4 the kind of key people for you as far as record
keeper and things like that, weren't they?

We had several man and wife teams, a Cory Roden and his wife.
She was the bookkeeper. And then the drillmaster was a hairtwister by the name of Charles Didio. And he was absolutely
a scholar in military drills, courtesy and discipline.

Okay now, was Didio the one that got you a guidon? I've never
seen a guidon anyplace except Base i0.

G.

That's right.

Did you all have that made locally or something like that?

G.

Oh, sure.

Do you recall, and this is getting real technical, but do you
recall if it was black and white or black and gold?

G.

Black and gold.

Black and gold. I've got mixed stories on it and I can't tell
from the black and white photographs. I imagine it was a

standard infantry guidon with the submarine on it.
chance recall what happened to it?

H,

I t w e n t w f t h o n e o f t h e t r o o p s . To o g o o d a s o u v e n i r t o p a s s u p .

The worst thing we lost was our base documentary film that somebody made off with. It disappeared at a convention in Galveston.
(We still have reunions). We had real esprit de corps. I don't
know whether it was automatic or just luck or what, but we had
it.

It

still

exists

40

years

later.

Well, not that I want to try and inflate your ego George, but
esprit de corps usually stems from the attitude of the old man.

Maybe.

I've been around, I played military for about 37 years myself
and I could tell when I was With a unit I had good esprit de
corps but when I wasn't with that unit, you know.

The only credit I'll take is that I had good luck in picking men
l i k e A s h l e y, m y e d i t o r, l i k e F r e d S t o n e s , m y b u s i n e s s m a n a g e r.
P e o p l e s a y, " H o w i n t h e h e l l d i d y o u fi n d t h o s e g u y s " ? I s a y,
"Well, I hand picked them". They were geniuses. I tried to
keep that type. When I found a guy like Wallace or Les Stringer
o r G u s W h i t e m a n I t r i e d t o k e e p t h e m , a n d I w a s f a i r l y s u c c e s s -P
ful.

H.

Well, that's one of the very strong definitions of leadership.

G. And they were the ones responsible for the esprit de corps. Because they were successful businessmen. A chap we called Trappo
was one of my most valuable assets. He was a promoter and a
wheeler-dealer, excellent but careless pilot with lots of crackup time. He moved his entire fixed base operation to Beaumont
with all of his employees.

H.

Trappo, that's Jimmy Marshall, huh?

We ran out of gas one night in a thunderstorm over "Big Thicket",
only time I thought I was going to die. We had an experience I
won't ever forget.

Jimmy said you were pretty good with the matches that night
trying to read the compass.

The compass was above and behind your head and you read it
through a rear vision mirror. The plane was an ancient Stinson
SM 7B with truck tires and wheels our welder hung on it.

O k a y, y o u r c o m m o o f fi c e r w a s a r a d i o a m a t e u r w h o w e n t d o w n t h e r e
and built everything, wasn't he?

No. Jimmy Marshall had electrical engineering background. He
was a master, we called him the "wire twister". He knew a Ham
operator named Armstrong. A native of Beaumont who gave us his
entire Ham radio and went off to war somewhere else.

l

Gave us that thing. With Red Walden and Armstrong helping
Trappo they erected that thing and made it work. Nobody from
RCA could make it work. These three guys made it work - Trappo,
Armstrong-and Red Walden.

H.

So it was pretty much a hand built operation.

Oh ya, everything. Of course, later on we got to using the
CAA radio on 221 MHz.

C A A f r e q u e n c y, b u t t h i s l i t t l e i n i t i a l o n e w a s a l o w f r e q u e n c y
they had built up. How about your aerodrome officer, the guy
who was pretty responsible for keeping your airplanes flying
and your quarters cleaned up.

Originally Jimmy Marshall was the Engineering Officer and later
Del Gallier who handled all the maintenance and we had some
damn fine mechanics. We had two brothers that Les Stringer
from Wichita Falls sent me, two professional gamblers. I had
to watch them like a hawk, but they sure did manage our inventory and they kept perfect records. No one could steal from
those two. That variety of characters we enlisted was unbelievable. The only place I ever saw it equaled was when I
was on the bum coming back home from that trip to San Francisco.
Everytime I'd get a job on a ship it would go the bone yard.
I was trying so hard to get to China. Well, I came home and
J

in Los Angeles this boy and I pearl dived in the largest
The Hope Street Methodist Church.

Methodist church in the world.
21

W e ' d e a t , m y g o o d n e s s h o w w e a t e a n d w e w e n t d o w n t o t h e W PA
o n e d a y a n d w h a t t h e y w e r e d o i n g , a n d I l a t e r r e a d t h i s s t o r y,
and it was by Eric Hoffer. Did you ever hear of Eric Hoffer?

No, afraid not.

Well, for goodness sake, go get some of his paperbound books.
He was born blind, or became blind in his youth. He was of
German extraction and some lady raised him and she kept teaching and teaching him and finally he gets part of his eyesight
back and goes to California and works like the Mexicans do picking fruit and everything. He ends up on the docks of San
Francisco as a stevedore and every night in every town he was in
when he was fruit and vegetable picking he would go to the Public
Library and read. He's probably one of the best educated men in
A m e r i c a t o d a y a n d o n e o f t h e g r e a t w r i t e r s . A t t h e W PA w o r k
office they'd come in there with a truck, and here would be this
m a s s o f u n e m p l o y e d m e n , W PA w o u l d h o l l e r f o r t w o c a r p e n t e r s , o r
two plumbers or eight laborers. It was just like the shipping
board in New Orleans, where we'd just sit there and wait for the
old captain to yell out, "two cooks, two ordinaries, five AB's,
o n e b o s u n , t w o b l a c k g a n g " . We l l t h a t ' s t h e w a y t h e W PA d i d .
And pretty soon they'd have a truck full of men. They were
building a road up around Pasadena somewhere, they'd put up a
camp, build a shower with a 55 gallon drum, put water in it,
build privies, they had a mess hall, they had tents and they were
in business. And that's where I found out, that's where Eric
Hoffer wrote this far better than I can tell: - you can get a
bunch of Americans, and you get more than 20 or 30 in one gang

you're going to find somebody that can do anything.

They're

the ones who win wars.

H.

Eric Hoffer. I'll have to follow up on that.

He said if they wanted a person to write a new constitution
t h e r e w o u l d b e a m a n t h e r e t h a t c o u l d d o i t . Yo u g o o u t t h e r e
today to the unemployment lines and you get 20 or 30 people together, you're going to find somebody that can do anything. Fix
!

things, make things work, volunteer to do anything. Run a
tractor, build a house, repair an auto.

In proper light, that your main function down there was to keep
things going and not necessarily be an aviator. Did you get involved in any flying duties at all?

I w e n t o n c h e c k r i d e s o c c a s i o n a l l y. I k n e w m y m e n w e r e a c c o m plished pilots and observers, but every now and then I'd ride in
the back seat just to let them know I was taking the risk too.
And, I also checked on their reporting procedures, condition of
equipment and got their complaints and suggestions.

What was your first impression when you got 40 or 50 miles out
in a single engine airplane?

G.

That engine ran awful rough.

Rough, huh. I've discussed that subject with some rather hairy

l

people in their own right. Some combat fighter pilots and things
of that nature, and they tell me to a man that they didn't have

enough nerve to do what you all did.

I've heard that too. But of course, they would have if they'd
b e e n t h e r e . Yo u k n o w, I d o n ' t b e l i e v e t h a t s t o r y. M o s t o f m y
men were kind of like Ken Carter, cool people. Usually those
k i n d o f g ~ y s c a m e u p t h e h a r d w a y. I f o u n d o u t t h a t t h e b e s t
pilots and the best men I had down there were not millionaires,
in fact, the millionaires didn't stay long. The best men I had
were guys who came up the hard way and had worked all their lives.
The Carters were a family of twelve and they maintained their
mother who took in washing. Four of Carter's brothers were firem e n . H e w a s t h e e n t r e p r e n e u r o f t h e f a m i l y. H e h a d a h a r d l i f e ,
but he didn't know it, he overcame obstacles. Life was a series
of overcoming obstacles. It feed into the whole motivation of
the operation.

Yo u r b a s e d i d a c o u p l e o f t h i n g s . I t d i d p a t r o l d u t y a n d c o n v o y
d u t y. W h a t d o y o u t h i n k w a s t h e m i x , y o u d i d h a l f a n d h a l f , h a l f
the time you were patroling, half the time you were doing convoy
d u t y, o r w h a t ?

N o . I n t h e b e g i n n i n g i t w a s p r a c t i c a l l y a l l c o n v o y d u t y, b e cause the Nazis were out there then. They didn't leave until
we got bombs. The last ship sunk in our area was an onion boat,
then there was a rubber boat that everyone got in on the loot
that washed ashore. Those were the last two that we knew of.
We didn't get all of the intelligence on that open field telet y p e s y s t e m . We d i d g e t a l o t o f h e a r s a y.

H.

Yo u s a y o n i o n b o a t a n d r u b b e r b o a t , w h e n w a s t h a t ? I n t h e f a l l
of '42 or winter?

G.

I think so.

H.

Do you have any idea, September or October?

Ya a l o n g i n t h e f a l l . B u t I ' d s a y t h a t i n t h e b e g i n n i n g w h e n
we were official we did a lot of convoy work. Sometimes just
one airplane, sometimes two airplanes. I would go down to the
Port Captain meetings held in Galveston. Captain Hambsch set
them up and all The skippers on the ships that were going to
be convoyed were there. We went through the whole routine,
everything was verbal, there were no written orders, highly
secret. When they were going to take off from the Galveston
and Houston ship channels, when they would be at Sabine light,
when they were going to be off Grand Isle and so on. We furnished daylight convoy from Galveston all the way to Grand Isle
or off of Cameron, where we turned back.

Wherever your split line was. How about miscellaneous operations,
did you all do anything down there besides patrol and convoy duty?
Things like letting people play like they were shooting at you
over around Orange and that sort of thing.

Ye s , w e w e r e c a l l e d t o e s c o r t l a u n c h i n g s o f n e w s h i p s . W e d i d n ' t
have any war games. We did teach our crews how to drop depth
charges and 250 pound demos. We had a lot of instructional traini

ing at night and sometimes skill practice when the crews were off

d u t y, e s p e c i a l l y w h e n w e g o t t h e L i n k Tr a i n e r. We w e r e h e l l
bent on excellent navigation. We were awful heavy on that.
That's how come so many of my men ended up as navigators in
the Army in the South Pacific.

Worked out pretty good for them then. Well, I was thinking in
terms that one of your pilots mentioned the fact that he got
involved in going over to Orange and flying right off the deck
and letting the gun crews play like they're shooting at you.

Oh ya. I remember that, sure.

We followed through on a lot of

those special requests.

H.

Somebody just asked you to do it?

And search and rescue, a couple of times we got called in~ One
of the worst things that happened to us concerned a hurricane.
We had a very fine hurricane dispersal system. We were going to
p u t s o m a n y p l a n e s a t L u f k i n , s o m a n y a t G r e g g C o u n t y, s o m a n y
at Jacksonville, so many at Dallas. Those that were unflyable
would stay at Beaumont and we'd tie them down or put them in
the hangar. When the hurricane came, they told us to abandon
the dispersal plan - everything goes to San Antonio. The
hurricane hit San Antonio and tore up a bunch of our airplanes.
That was some fool mistake by the Air Corps.

Actually your's and Brownsville's dispersal maps are the only two
I've been able to locate. I've got some maps that indicate your
I

patrol area and things of that nature, and you had a formal dispersal plan.
26

G.

Ya , a r e a l g o o d o n e .

I'm going to transition a little bit from the general to the
more specific so help me, George, if you can. And some of
them are going to be impressions and some of them are going
to be factual. On November Ii of 1942 you had the tragedy of
K o y m a n d Ta y l o r c r a s h a t s e a , w h a t , h o w d i d y o u g e t p e r s o n a l l y
involved in that thing? Did you run the search or was there
much of a search involved for them?

W h e n t h e y h o l l e r e d M a y d a y, o f c o u r s e , w e w e n t i n t o a c t i o n .
We cranked up the duck, the Old Sikorsky Flying boat, and I
had two of the best pilots, J. K. West and Wimpy Neel in that
duck in nothing flat. Everybody wanted to go out, but they
were the only ones sent.

H i s c o v e r p l a n e , K o y m a n d Ta y l o r ' s c o v e r p l a n s t a y e d w i t h t h e m ,
right?

O h h e l l y e s , c i r c l i n g a r o u n d . K o y m a n d Ta y l o r d i e d o f e x p o s u r e .
It was a very high North wind, low skud clouds and one of those
awful northers. Autopsy showed they died of exposure from the
cold wind blowing the water in their faces.

We didn't know as much about hypothermia in 1942 as we do these
days.

G.

And we didn't have good survival equipment.

H.

Yo u s a i d y o u h a d a g o o d n o r t h e r l y a n d i t w a s p r e t t y b a d .

It was a terrible day. However, the visibility wasn't too
bad, maybe four or five miles in mist. They were pretty far
out. They were about to the extent of their pattern. And,
of course, we sent the Coast Guard out, and stayed in constant
radio contact with their companion plane. Now, when the boys
landed the duck, they got a wing down, and shipped a little
water but it came back up. Then they couldn't restart the
engine, so there we had four men down. We had no other amphibian that was flyable. If the Fleetwings were flyable I doubt
if I would have sent it out into those mountainous waves. I
think I was glad that the Fleetwing was not flyable.

Yo u w o u l d h a v e p r o b a b l y h a d t w o c r a c k e d u p a m p h i b i a n s f r o m t h e
stories I've heard.

Now the lessons we learned from that we should have learned
before, or we should have had some guidance from the Headq u a r t e r s o r t h e A i r F o r c e o r t h e N a v y o r s o m e b o d y. We s h o u l d
have been equipped with rubber boats. And we could have hung
a rubber boat, on say that big Stinson, and dropped that thing
right in their lap. This was the great tragedyof that tragedy,
not prepared because no life rafts were available anywhere.

Now, how about support from the Navy at Corpus or someplace
like that.

T h e y s e n t o u t a P B Y, b u t i t w a s t o o l a t e .
28

I don't think those

boys lasted over an hour. When the duck got a wing down in
t h o s e w a v e s , i t w a s b e i n g p u m m e l e d . Yo u k n o w t h e p o w e r o f
storm water, I don't have to tell you that. We feared it was
going to go down. The Coast Guard had rough going too. They
p i c k e d u p t h e b o d i e s a n d t h e n h e a d e d f o r t h e S i k o r s k y. T h e y
hooked onto the duck and they started in with it. On the way
in, whoosh it just took a dive and they cut it loose as it
went to Davy Jones's Locker.

Well, the Navy PBY was just a little late then.

G.

Ya , b u t i t w a s n ' t t h e N a v y ' s f a u l t .

N o , o k a y. I ' v e g o t s o m e r e c o r d s f r o m t h e 2 6 t h W i n g t h a t i n dicate there was a pretty extensive investigation within the
military channels about the thing.

And there was no fault found, except lack of flotation gear
other than Mae Wests, despite all our efforts.

H.

And there was no fault found. They came out clean.

The only fault was that we didn't have a rubber life raft,
a n d t h e n e x t d a y, o f c o u r s e , w e s t o l e o n e . D i d y o u k n o w
that story?

H.

That was the way you all had to get it in those days.

G.

The Army had two large rafts at the 25th Wing in Galveston.

R a n d a l l D u l v e r a n d I g o t i n t o h i s S M 8 A a b o u t 11 : 3 0 o n e m o r n ing. We already observed during a surveillance flight that
everyone left the hangar at lunchtime. One of our lads who
had picked up some parts saw the rafts and drew us a picture
of the layout. Well, you couldn't get anything unless you
had a Sidney Price who steered us to the Link Trainer. So,
it's not what you know in a case like that it's who you know,
otherwise you have to steal. Well, anyway we got this layout
and old Culver and I went over there and waited till noon
right outside the hangar door. We had official access to the
base. It was the old Galveston Municipal Airport. The boats
were there and our mouths were watering. They weren't inflated,
of course. There is a guy in the hangar that ain't going to
lunch, he's in the back of the hangar making jewelry on his off
time, a hobbyist. Here it is 12:30 and they'll be coming back
from lunch before too long and we'll be SOL. I walked over and
got this guy's attention while Culver loaded the boat. I told
the jewelry maker we had a little engine trouble and that's why
we're here. Culver cranked up the motor and yelled to me that
the engine was fixed. Out I ran and Culver took off on the
ramp. Do you know they never did miss that boat? The whole
base knew what we were doing, and they were all out on the CAP
ramp when we came back. We threw the boat out, and what a
noisy welcome! They threw up the biggest yell you ever heard.
We rigged that thing up on a bomb rack so we could drop it in
a downed crew's lap. It boosted the morale of that place a
thousand percent. Just one little old rubber life raft.
J

Ya , t h a t ' s s o m e i n t e r e s t i n g s t o r i e s a b o u t w h a t e v e r y b o d y h a d t o

survive in those days.

A n d

w e

j u s t

o ff

they'd

t r a i n e d
t h e

w i t h

s h o r e

swim

out

t h o s e .

a n d

and

We ' d

w e ' d

climb

in.

fl i g h t

c r e w s

t h a t

p u t

p u t

t h i n g

r i g h t

had

some

brandy,

We

i n

w a t e r

t h e i r

i n

t h e

l a p ,

some

fish-

ing gear and some SPAM and different kinds of rations, emergency
stuff

and

we

every

crew

l a p s .

T h e

brandy

had

had

to

fi r s t

bill

sun

cream

practice,

t h i n g

was

lotion. And
we'd

t h e y ' d

paid

out

of

d o

drop

w a s

my

own

everytime

that

d r i n k

boat
u p

pocket,

right

t h e

but

we'd

I

practice,

in

their

b r a n d y.

T h e

insisted

that

they have brandy in the boat.

That

was

and

you

Then

a
as

real
a

bad

time

commander

followed

about

five

I'm

sure

losing
days

for

your

later,

the
first

you

morale
two

of

the

people

base

like

that.

had

another

situation

disorientation

problem

or

with Dean, Ward and Gallier, right?

G.

I've

Ya,

given

you

basically

thing

of

that

that.

that

was

a

pilot

some-

nature.

Dean was flying the Rearwin and was shooting the water tank at
Mexia

H.

to

get

oriented.

Now they were going home on leave or something.

He

was

going

to

drop

these

two

boys

off

in

Dallas,

Fort Worth and then he was going to Washington.

then

on

to

To d o s o m e p o l i t i c k i n g o r s o m e t h i n g .

What kind of effect did

this have on the morale of the base.

Pretty bad?

N o , n o . I t w a s t h e K o y m - Ta y l o r t h i n g t h a t w a s b a d , b e c a u s e
their accident happened over the water and that's where everybody had the fear.

H.

It was spooky to start off with.

i

But you take a bunch of old pilots, and this is off the record,
who sit around when the weather is bad and nobody is taking off
and they have been based on a place more than three to six or
eight months, home p0rt or anything they usually know all the
pilots on the field. Those old-timers can tell you who's going
t o g e t i t . A n d , f r a n k l y, D e a n w a s n o t a g o o d e n o u g h p i l o t t o
make right turns close to the ground. He spun in.

H.

This is the kind of story I got on that particular thing.

So, that's why the morale wasn't shot to hell.

They knew what

happened.

Pilots seem to know each other pretty well. They don't write
down an evaluation but they write down who the good ones are.
Back then, it is not necessarily a finite thing, but either
K o y m o r Ta y l o r w a s a p p r e h e n s i v e a b o u t t h e fl i g h t t h a t d a y.

I heard a lot about that, but that I can't verify. I do know
that if I had known Koym couldn't swim I wouldn't have had him

in an airplane. So we never did ask that, can you swim?
Every damn boy I ever saw could swim. And it was just a
false assumption.

Not to continue along a morbid line, but there are some things
I'm tryin~ to establish records on, safety records and records
of all crashes and things like that. I can't really seem to
get to the bottom of one that I have the details on of a crash
that occurred February 26 of '43 of the airplane 10-23. I
haven't been able to trace down which was 10-23. Apparently
you were on a search mission down around Cameron someplace for
a bomber and this airplane went in, spotted a bomber and decided to land on the beach to see what he could do and flipped
and burned. Do you recall anything about that instance? Who
was that?

G.

I'd have to look at the records.

H.

Yo u m e n t i o n r e c o r d s , d o y o u h a v e a n y r e c o r d s l i k e t h a t ?

I did have, but I sure as hell don't know where to look. First
of all, all of the records I had I brought back home with me
and put them in the Flight Magazine files and all the Flight
M a g a z i n e fi l e s a r e o u t t h e r e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f Te x a s L i b r a r y.

O u t s t a n d i n g . Yo u m e a n t h e r e ' s a p o s s i b i l i t y t h e B a s e I 0 r e c o r d s
are out there.

I'll see if I can find them.

I'll look for them.

H.

I'd sure appreciate it. What I'm having to work for, the
official disposition of records when one of the bases closed
down was to ship them to National. Fortunately several bases
didn't, because the stuff that got shipped to National is nonexistent.

G.

We complied with that request to send it in.

But a lot of people had second copies, personal notes and
things of that nature. The only thing I can really work with,
and I need to get a little better understanding of the setup,
is you consistently refer to the 25th Wing being at Galveston.

G.

That was the Army Air Corps.

H.

Are you sure it wasn't the 26th?

G.

No, I'm not. Now, I think it may have been the 26th.

H.

O k a y, fi n e , t h a t s t r a i g h t e n s t h a t o u t .

G.

We were under the 25th antisubmarine wing.

G.

We were.

H.

Oh, you were?

G.

But it was the 26th. I'm pretty sure.

C a u s e b a s i c a l l y, t h e a n t i s u b m a r i n e c o m m a n d i s t h e o l d b o m b e r
command.

G.

Ya , t h a t " s w h e r e I u s e d t o g o .

H.

Ya , i n N e w Yo r k , M i t c h e l l F i e l d .

G.

Twice I went for briefings.

They had the 25th Wing and the 26th Wing. The 25th Wing had
the responsibility of the East Coast and the 26th the Gulf.
I got into the hierarchy that explained the only records I
had available to me, and they're real fine records if I was
doing a research project on the 26th Wing, all the records of
the Air Traffic Controllers, the A2 Journals, the G2 Journals,
the A3 Report the whole nine yards of the 26th Wing. But,
t h e y w e r e n o t p r i m a r i l y i n t e r e s t e d i n C A P.

G.

No, we had very little to do with them.

H.

There was random stuff.

G.

The only thing we did was steal from them.

There were random entries like this crash that I can't pin
down. Definitely I know a crash occurred because it was
described what happened to the point where they said it was

airplane 10-23.

G.

Now, somewhere I have those records.

Nobody I've talked to so far, George, has recollected it.
They all. recollect the guy who went down and landed on the
beach to pick up the bales of rubber and over grossed himself you know, put a wing in the water, as a result of it.

G.

D i d i t a l l w r o n g , t h e y r e m e m b e r ? To a d F i t c h w a s t h e p i l o t .

Ya , t h e y r e m e m b e r t h o s e t h i n g s . Ta l k i n g a g a i n d o w n t h e l i n e
of some specifics, you had six, eight, ten people who joined
the thing called the "Duck Club", you know crashing and surviving at sea. Did you all have some kind of award ceremony
when a guy did that?

H.

What did you do?

Well, the first thing we did, these guys would come in and
we'd put them in warm clothes. Then we'd debrief them right
there. We'd ask questions and everything about it, and then
w e ' d h a v e a l i t t l e p a r t y. I d o n ' t k n o w, I t h i n k w e g a v e t h e m
some kind of a certificate.

The Duck Club initiation, you know, dried off, debriefed them
had a little party for them.
36

G.

H o n o r e d t h e m , i n t h e K o y m - Ta y l o r H a l l .

H .

K o y m - Ta y l o r H a l l . I s t h a t w h a t y o u n a m e d y o u r o f fi c e r s
club?

Well, it'was the base recreation hall. We had no officers,
enlisted men, they were all one. We did have rank but we
didn't pay any attention to it.

Didn't pay any attention to it. Most people didn't. At
that time did you give them the little red duck on a cloth
patch?

I don't think so.

H.

Or did they ever get you any cloth patches?

G.

No, I don't think, whatever we had we made ourselves.

Well, there was an official emblem, I've actuallyonly seen
one. There's a guy who ducked in out of Base 3 on the east
coast, who sent me a picture of his. There was also supposed
to have been a metallic device that I have never been able to
locate. There's a lot of CAP stuff I think we had good intentions to issue and never did get produced in those periods
of time, primarily because they just couldn't get it done.
But do you know the location of any of these guys, any of those
still around that were Duck Club members, because from your
papers I've been able to get a list of them.

G.

T h r e e o f t h e m I k n o w a r e d e a d : D r . To m C o n n o r f r o m D a l l a s ,
Winfield from Forest, Arkansas, also of Dallas Koym and
Ta y l o r p o s t h u m o u s l y. W e h a d a v e r y i m p r e s s i v e m e m o r i a l s e r vice for them. Earl Johnson came down and dedicated the hall
with a Colonel Harry Blee.

H.

H a r r y B l e e w a s m y h e r o i n C A P, b e c a u s e I ' m a n o p e r a t i o n s t y p e
a n d H a r r y w a s t h e o p e r a t i o n s m a n f o r C A P.

He went right down the line and I really appreciated it, that's
one reason why I had military discipline.

He was a pro, I can see from his papers and the way he put his
operation together that he knewhis job.

G.

Now let me think about

Well, that was a question, I got a list of them thanks to your
people. I just wandered if any of them were still floating
around.

G.

The three Duck Club members that I recall are dead.

The next one is air medals. What was the criteria for air
medals at that time? I know the Army had a cri£eria that was
considerably more liberal.

We kept very accurate records.

Air medals came from 300 hours
i

over the drink.

H. over the drink.

That was our requirement. We had one and that was 290 something and, this is off the record, I ran him up to 300. That
was a big gap between the 200 and the 300 hour pilots, and
this guy'was really crying.

How many did you award?

G.

We must have had 30, I'm not sure.

I've seen varying accounts.

We must have had 20 or 30.

I saw a picture of the plaque of

your 300 club.

G.

I've got one in my briefcase.

It listed about 30 of them or so, and I've heard different
accounts. Anywhere from 20 to 50.

I don't know. I'd have to again go to the records.

Do you remember when those were actually awarded? A year or
so later? Right away?

G.

It was some time later, a year or so later.

H.

Wa s t h a t d o n e l o c a l l y, o r d i d y o u g o t o H o u s t o n ?

G.

Three places I think, Beaumont and Galveston I remember. We

had ceremonies, and some here at Hensley Field.

I attended

all three.

H.

Is that when you got your distinguished service cross? Was it
in connection with that or what?

G.

It was the distinguished service medal, it wasn't a cross.

T h e D S M , o k a y. ( S u b s e q u e n t r e v i e w s h o w e d t h i s t o b e t h e e x ceptional civilian service medal.)

I got that from the War Department. The only thing I've got
on my wall, I've lost my medals I gave them to my son. It
was a beautiful medal, blue and gold. The only thing I've
got on the wall with my medal is a placard that says I was a
"belligerent".

H.

That's a very interesting thing.

G.

That's the only thing I saved.

O k a y, W i l e y R e y n o l d s f r o m P a n a m a C i t y s e n t m e a p h o t o s t a t o f
his belligerency certificate. I had never seen one before
that.

G.

Yo u w o n ' t n e e d m i n e t h e n .

I found it rather amusing, we all carried in the active
military a Geneva convention card. That wasn't really worth
a h o o t a n y w a y. T h e n i t w a s a d i s t i n g u i s h e d s e r v i c e m e d a l a n d
4O

it was for your performance down there at Beaumont.

Well, I think whoever nominated me was partly due to the
CPT program. I don't know if the citation had anything to
do with that, I think it did. There was a publication in
Washington that had a hell of a lot of political clout
named American Aviation. The editor came out in print
calling the CPT program a boondoggle.

H.

Oh, gosh.

Man, I hit this idea in my paper, in the public prints and
in the halls of Congress, and I don't know but what it had
a lot of affect in stopping that kind of talk about the Civil
Pilot Training program. And, of course, I helped set up one
of the first nine programs. We got some money from the
N a t i o n a l Yo u t h A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , W PA o r s o m e t h i n g f o r t h e s e
nine experimental programs.

DSM was for both CPT and CAP duty? One of the reasons I ask
about this specific area is that some of us later people are
pretty much disgruntled that you all did not receive the
recognition you should have.

We didn't have time. Later, ya. There was a move on foot to
become CAP veterans and to get veterans benefits. I didn't
fight it, but I wasn't for it. We went down there to give and
not to take. Survivors of those who gave their lives should
have had pensions.

George, I'm so glad to hear you say that, because there is
a situation right now on the committee, I'm the lone voice
in the back that says I don't want to insult those people
by fighting for veterans benefits.

There was a lot of pressure put on me when I came back and
s t a r t e d p u b l i s h i n g m y m a g a z i n e a g a i n , a n d I s a i d n o w a y.
We w e n t i n t h e r e t o s e r v e o u r c o u n t r y, p e r i o d , a n d t h e r e w a s
no self interest at all. Most of my men felt that way about
it.

Well, there is a current parallel, I'm one of the voices in
the dark opposed to full payment by the Air Force for search
missions. Fine, I'll relax if you want to pay me for my gas
and maintenance, that's good, but you're not going to pay me
a p e r d i e m t o d o C i v i c d u t y. A n d t h a t ' s n o t r e a l p o p u l a r,
b y t h e w a y.

Well, then too the WASPS finally after four years got veterans
status. Better late than never. But that was a different
operation.

That happens to be another one of my sidelight interests. When
we get off tape I'm going to pick your brains about WASPS. I'm
g o i n g t o s t i c k w i t h C A P r i g h t n o w. O k a y, y o u s k y y o u r p a s s i n g
in review movies disappeared at one of the reunions.

It would

be a real boon if we could find who disappeared it.

Let's be honest about it.

They brought it over (we kept it in

Beaumont). Dub Jackson brought it over from Beaumont, we
showed it at the reunion and frankly we threw some pretty
good parties at these reunions. We probably went home and
left it in the machine or took it off and left it there in
t h e h o t e l r o o m . S o m e c l e a n e r c o u l d h a v e t h r o w n i t a w a y. I t
was carelessness.

H.

There was very little if any contemporary film.

Suspicion is a terrible thing. Everybody was suspicious of
one guy but nobody could prove it. He lived in Galveston
and was the one that wanted me to pad his time. He was that
t y p e o f g u y. H e w a s a C o u n t y C o m m i s s i o n e r a n d a l l t h a t , y o u
know the type. Size 3 head and Size 42 jumper. Ha! Ha!
Anyhow, we suspicioned him, but, I put him in charge of a
committee to find it.

H.

He didn't find it?

G.

I fi g u r e i t w a s t h r o w n a w a y.

It's a shame because there is only one other piece of contemporary film that I've heard of.

G.

This was in color.

Oh, gosh. Oh, that would have been great. Stuff that I've
got a lead on was in Manteo in North Carolina, and I've been
promised that the guy is going to come with several thousand

feet of film that he shot during that period of time. That
will be a real find for us if we can ever get that. One of
my many programs, and I don't want to get off on tangents,
is trying to get film of the period. I noticed in these reunions that you had in 1959 you had a sign with some type of
logo on ~t. I don't know if it was Louisiana, I'd call it a
flying crawfish.

We had a flying longhorn and I've still got one of those somewhere.

H.

Now, did you use that on Base 10, because

G. Base i0.

H.

Base 10, I mean.

G.

It was on every airplane. A decal.

That's fine. One of the things I'm trying to do is to get
established some of the old patches and things.

G.

Do you want one of those?

H.

I w o u l d l o v e a c o p y.

We had them made here in Dallas. Great big thing.
out there at the library somewhere.

H.

Well, if I can get a copy of it or anything else.

It was a decal.

Oh, it's a decal? That would be interesting.

It's a steer diving on a Nazi submarine with smoke coming out
of

it's

nostrils.
!

If you can find that I'd really love to see it, because I could
h a v e i t r e d r a w n t h a t ' s n o p r o b l e m . Ta l k i n g a b o u t l o g o s a n d
things of that nature did you have any base publications, you
know, like a newspaper or anything like that. This boy Fisher
that was down there, he kind of kept up with what you did quite
a b i t , d i d n ' t h e ? P h o t o g r a p h i c a l l y a n y w a y.

Lary Fisher was an interesting fellow. He was a very strange
g u y, b u t w a s t h o r o u g h l y d e d i c a t e d t o p h o t o g r a p h y a n d w r i t i n g .
We can thank him for a lot of our records.

The reason I ask, I didn't know of his existence until Bob
N e p r u d . I m a y h a v e m e n t i o n e d h i m t o y o u t h e o t h e r d a y. H e
donated his manuscript material to us about a month ago, and
he's sending it to me in installments so he doesn't overload
my little peanut brain. And the only material on Base i0 is
written by Fisher, and correspondence with him, so you must
have turned it over to Fisher when Neprud wrote the inquiries
o u t . A n d p o s s i b l y y o u s e n t h i m o u t s o m e t o o b u t i t j u s t w a s n P' t
in the batch I got. He has some interesting little anecdotes,

that's where I found out about "Dead Dog" Long and a few other
pet nicknames. Ha.' Ha.' It was real interesting.

But those pictures were done by Fisher. All that whole album,
of course, mine has been used so many times it's no longer in
album form. We didn't have time for those kind of things.
We were too busy to keep historical files, damn it.

H.

Wasn't much recreation time.

No, no, except for the off duty pilots. They had a ball over
i n K o y m - Ta y l o r H a l l . T h e g o o d l a d i e s o f B e a u m o n t f u r n i s h e d
i t c o m p l e t e l y. We h e l d c h u r c h s e r v i c e s i n i t .

Well, that goes with the turf for airplane drivers, doesn't it?
When they're not flying, they're boozing.

Well, no they didn't, we didn't allow that over there but they
played a lot of cards. We let them gamble all they wanted.

Yo u w e r e , i f y o u w i l l , r e s p o n s i b l e f o r c l o s i n g t h e t h i n g u p a n d
I've seen in some records that you were the liquidation officer
and all those fancy titles. How long did you all stay down
there after the last flight on August 31 of 1943?

G.

About three weeks.

H.

T h r e e w e e k s . To c l o s e i t u p ?

Most of the boys that wanted to stay in, I sent them out to
California on tow target.-

H.

G.

To w t a r g e t 7 , u h ?

Ya , I s e n t o n e u p t o F o r e s t S e r v i c e , F o r e s t P a t r o l .

Yo u a p p a r e n t l y h a d s o m e a d v a n c e n o t i c e a b o u t s h u t d o w n a n d h a d
made some special arrangements for some of your people.

Well, we wanted as many could pass muster and go on to other
f o r m s o f m i l i t a r y s e r v i c e . A l o t o f t h e m w e n t t o AT C , a n d t h e n
that navigation school that we started down in New Orleans. We
got them trained and Ken Carter got them out to the South Pacific.

I'm losing names now too. We met him down at Beaumont went on
over to Europe with that Army transportation thing. Jack Shell.
Yo u g o t s o m e o f t h e m p l a c e d o v e r t h e r e a n d y o u g o t s o m e p l a c e d
at Base 7. And the rest of them probably went military like
y o u s a y i n AT C a n d t h i n g s l i k e t h a t .

Those that could pass the physical. I had a lot of physically
handicapped and aged too. They referred to me as young. I
wasn't, just look and act young.

Ya , w e m e t t h e p i n k c h e e k e d y o u n g k i d t h e o t h e r d a y o v e r t h e r e
in Beaumont.

Poeple still don't believe I'm 74 years old.

i
I kind of resent it.

Well, I don't know. When I make 74 I'm going to be proud
of it, I'm not going to resent it if they think I'm younger.

G.

O k a y, w h a t ' s t h e n e x t q u e s t i o n .

That's k~nd of the core. Well, I guess the best way to close
one of these things off is to get sort of a philosophical
statement from you as to relative worth of what you did down
there in that period.

Well, I haven't given that much thought in the later days, but
we knew that the end was coming because there weren't any submarines in the Gulf. We were all ready to go do something
else. We did not think the blimps could handle it as well as
we did, because they're such big targets themselves. We were
disappointed that the Air Corps didn't take more of our men
into the antisubmarine service, but they looked down upon us a
little bit. As far as the assessment of the value, the
national defense value, I am convinced Les, that it was the
only way we could have minimized the effect of submarines
under the conditions of the times.

H.

I'm convinced of that fact.

Somebody had enough faith and confidence in the civilian
aviation to turn the job over to them and it was a loose
operation, but you have to put it in the context of the time.
We couldn't fight our way out of a wet paper sack. I couldn't

get

guns

to

train

my

men

in

the

local

squadron.

We

used

wooden guns. We had a hell of a time with paperwork we had
t o

fi l l

o u t .

always
o n

We

late

t h e i r

$ 8

in

h a d

a

their

p e r

h e l l
pay

d i e m .

o f

and

I ' d

a

t i m e

most

s a y

a t

w i t h

of

my

l e a s t

n o

p a y,

people
h a l f

o f

t h e y

had

to

t h e m

w e r e
live

h a d

t o

have it to sustain them, so we went to the bank and borrowed
money. R. L. Bowen came down and he and I and Harold signed
t h e

n o t e s .

tough

as

B u t

t h o s e

things

k i n d

were,

o f

t h i n g s

and

as

m e r e l y

difficult

as

r e fl e c t

the

t h a t

operations

a s
were,

and as bad as our airplanes were and our engines and our sorry
radio communications, we still had a tremendous effect on submarines along our coastal waters.

H.

T h a t ' s

s t a t i s t i c a l l y

So,

nobody

f a r

a s

o u r

is

ever

a

f a c t .

going

e ff e c t i v e n e s s

to

take

g o e s

that

l a t e r

away
o n ,

from

a f t e r

us.

o u r

Now

as

m i l i t a r y

buildup, remember we were thrown in the breach and like the
b o y

t h a t

that.

s t u c k

Under

h i s

very

fi n g e r

difficult

i n

t h e

D i k e

i n

circumstances

H o l l a n d ,
as

you

w e

d i d

know.

Now from your own personal viewpoint, after you closed down
Base

i0,

did

you

pretty

much

disassociate

yourself

with

happened

was

the

CAP program.

Ye s ,
put

I
on

was

almost

rationing

of

broke

financially.

printing

paper

What

and

these

big

they

corporations

and octopus publishing houses killed off their sex magazines

and their movie magazines and took that paper quota and
threw it into the trade magazines. But they cut me, I had
one magazine, they gave me the 30% cut. I had to go to
Washington and fight like hell for my existence for two
months before the war production board to get enough paper,
a n d t h e r e a g a i n I r a n i n t o a n o l d p i l o t b u d d y, J a c k M i t c h i n e r,
and he took me to the right places and they finally saw this
was a clear case of discrimination. I got myquota and
a v o i d e d b a n k r u p t c y.