"I can't remember what crew we replaced, but we sure inherited a nice tent. I bought a special cot. It had all of the canvass removed and wide strips of rubber cut from some large innertube (sic), woven and attached to the cot frame. This was like my own bed at home, the best $35.00 investment I ever made. (That day). Later on we scavenged a large piece of plywood and made a round table, cut a hole in the middle for the center tent pole, covered the table with a blanket, and spent many an evening playing cards and also writing many letters home. All of chipped in and we bought a radio from some crew that was going home. Every time a crew got ready to return to the States, it was like having a garage sale. About this time, we got a parachute somehow. This was a good insulation for the heat during the day. After all, we were only 2 to 2 1/2 degrees from the Equator. We suspended the parachute about 3 inches below the tent ceiling, and you'd be surprised, it did make it cooker. After we put the parachute up, we discovered that we had a little mascot. Every night we would see something moving on the top of the parachute. One night we saw him (her). It was a little Chameleon about four inches long. I can't remember what we named it. About the radio that we bought, every Saturday night we would listen to Tokyo Rose, and it was okay if you just listened to the records. She played a lot of Miller recordings that brought back a lot of memories for me. You didn't want to listen to her chatter, because she would remind you that it was Saturday night and she wondered where your wife or girl friend was tonight, maybe out with your best friend? She was entertaining!"
"We had exactly two weeks to get acclimated, having been assigned to the 307th Bomb Sqdn. We found the mess hall, showers, Operations, Intelligence, and the PX, and we met members of other crews and sat around and talked to them."
"Our first mission was on 1/29/45 to Cavite on Canacao Point in Manila Bay. We bombed from 14,000' and carried five 1,00# bombs. Our plane number was 1544, and we flew in B-2 position. I'm sure everyone on the crew was apprehensive as the plane rolled down the steel matted runway on our first takeoff. After our lift off and the gear came up, you could almost "hear" a collective sigh of relief. We didn't know what to expect over the target. Would there be Ack-Ack? What about interception?"
"The pilot told all gunners to go to their positions and get ready to test fire their guns. We began to circle, almost before we knew what was going on, we were in Squadron Formation, then Group Formation, and then we were on our way to the target. I kept looking and looking for enemy fighters and Ack-Ack, but saw neither. All of a sudden, the plane jumped up, the wing tips were moving., and we heard "Bombs Away"! Then we made a sharp turn, and we were on our way home. After a while we left our turrets and had the first of 38 flight lunches. Guess what? The 38th lunch was just like the first! A loaf of bread, a tin of Spam, fruit cocktail and g**k juice. Al, Fred, Ward, Pressey, and I were back in the Waist on the way home, all very relaxed. Booker put "Big Bird" down like a hand going into a glove, real smooth."
"What a happy trip going back to de-briefing, knowing that the first mission was finished, and hoping that all of the rest would be exactly as this one."
"We had two days off before our next mission, so we rested and wrote letters. I'm not sure when we started getting mail, but it seems like it took about six weeks to catch up. I know I got a whole bunch the first time."
"We each got a double shot of combat whiskey after each mission, (had to go to the Dispensary to get it). Fred and I wee in line with our canteen cups, (this was after our first mission to Cavite) the Aide poured our allotted amount into our cups, and Fred and I played our John Wayne bit to the hilt. We toasted each other, bumped our canteen cups together and sorta swaggered a bit (like we just got off a big cattle roundup). We tipped those canteen cups, and it was "Bottoms Up". Both of us went cough, cough, gag, spit, gag, and spit some more. God, it was horrible, just like you would imagine varnish remover would taste. Right then and there we made a vow that combat booze would never again touch these lips. We went out and found an empty Four Roses whiskey bottle, rinsed it out a little, being very careful not to disturb the label, because we had plans for this baby. We would put our double shots in the bottle, hide it from Andy Walker, and then we would sell this sucker to some unsuspecting Infantry guy for a few Yankee Dollars!"
Next time, the second mission.