Saturday, April 21, 2007

Back to Sea--Guam--To Pearl on the Hollandia--Nov. Dec,1944

We spent the first twelve days of November en route to Pearl Harbor on the Hollandia. The Hollandia was a jeep carrier (a flight deck on a cargo hull) that was used to transport air groups. When we arrived at Honolulu, they sent the air group to NAS Hilo, where we spent a month in operational training. On December 10th, the entire air group was flying off the Saratoga in training flights around Hawaii. We left Hilo and went aboard the USS Nassau at Ford Island to be transported to Guam. We -spent Christmas aboard the Nassau and were entertained, among others, by one of our pilots, Ens. Hooton, who had played with Harry James band before entering the service, Our MC for the Christmas, program was Charlie Farrell, an old movie actor who was a personnel officer in the air group. It seemed that we always had plenty of talent willing to perform, who would put on a good show for any occasion. I think I forgot to mention that when I was in VT-6, we had an aircrewman by the name of Richard Boone AOM2C, who was Commander Phillips turret gunner that I flew a couple of missions with, to deliver the aerial photographs to the Pensy, the flagship of the 7th Fleet. He later became the renowned actor of screen and television, playing the role of "Paladin" [Have Gun Will Travel]. At any rate, we always had some characters that could put on a show and would entertain in their spare time.

We dropped anchor off Guam on December 28th and were taken to the Air Field at Agana. Guam had been invaded months earlier, but there were still. many Japs that had not surrendered, camping out in the woods on the north and south end of the island. Some of our Airdales would go in bunches into the woods and scare the Japs out of their camps in order to raid the camps for souvenirs. I may have lacked "guts" but the only souvenir wanted to take home was - me.

One day, when I was eating in the chow hall, I looked across the table, and there sat Eugene "Pinhead" Arnold from Harrison, Arkansas. He was in the Army Signal Corps and was temporarily stationed on Guam. It was a rare occasion to run into anyone from home and we got to visit each other for about a month. I forgot to mention that another time when I was with VT-6 and we were at Ford Island, I had heard that Travis Reddoch was with the Red Cross at Hickham Field, so I went over and visited with her once. She was meeting the planes that were bringing back the wounded soldiers and marines from Guadalcanal, at the time, The Red Cross nurses would take the wounded men off the planes and transport them to the hospitals. Another person from home that I saw later was Tommy Gray, who was a member of the band aboard the Battleship USS Indiana. When we:-Were in Ulithi, I went aboard his ship and visited with him. The only other people that I ever saw from home, were in places within the states.

During the time that we were on Guam, we would have occasional air raids. I say, air raids, although we never did actually have any enemy planes to come within sight. Two or three times there would be an enemy plane (probably a patrol plane) that would appear on radar, and the air raid alarm would sound. When this happened, everyone at Agana Air Field would go to a strip about 15 feet wide, located on the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean, a sheer drop of over a hundred feet. This strip of land was at the edge of the air field and a huge windrow of trees and rocks that had been cleared away with bulldozers by the CB's, when the air strip was made, left protection if a bomb were to hit the air strip.

Also, if a bomb fell short of the air strip, it would have fallen in the ocean, or exploded somewhere down the bluff, so a bomb would have had to make a direct hit on the narrow strip of land, between the air strip and the bluff, to have done any damage to personnel. I know it would have been the safest place on the island, if it were ever under actual attack.

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