Korean War Legacy Project

James J. Barden

Bio

James J. Barden was born in New Jersey and grew up in Rhode Island during the Great Depression. He graduated in 1950 and enlisted in the Air Force.  His specialized training was in radio operatives, of which he quickly became an expert.  His service during the Korean War was in preparation and execution of bomb drops over the Korean Peninsula.  His flight crew made approximately thirty missions from Yokota Air Force Base in Japan.  He describes his basic job responsibilities and highlights key moments of his experience.

Clips

Sunset Missions

James J. Barden describes preparation for the thirty bombing missions his crew executed in 1952. It took much of an entire day for his squadron to prepare the planes and bombs for night missions from Yokota Air Force Base in Japan. Each mission was to bomb various locations on the Korean Peninsula.

Tags: Pyungyang,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gU9LCBLexI&start=436&end=735

Making the Drops

James J. Barden details bombing missions as they were executed over various cities on the Korean Peninsula, including the capital city of Pyongyang, during the Korean War. He describes the measures taken by his crew to assure accuracy of the bomb drops in hitting intended targets. He explains that the bombings conducted by his crew were documented by another squadron that followed behind to take photos after each mission.

Tags: Pyungyang,Front lines,Physical destruction,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gU9LCBLexI&start=975&end=1170

Making the Bomb Run

James J. Barden describes the conditions when his crew faced enemy aircraft. Each bomb run lasted about six minutes, and were three minutes apart. With the enemy hard to detect or see at night, the missions were stressful. The directives to his crew were to not fire unless they were being hit, a measure to prevent the enemy from seeing the aircraft at night.

Tags: Communists,Front lines,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gU9LCBLexI&start=1170&end=1411

Video Transcript

 [Beginning of Recorded Material]

 

0:00:00

 

James Barden:

My name is James Barden.  B-A-R-D-E-N.

 

Interviewer:

Mm-hmm.  And what is your birthday?

 

J:         My birthday is 7/8/32. July 8, 1932.

 

I:          Where were you born?

 

J:         I was born in Newark, NJ.

 

I:          Tell me about your family when you’re growing up, including your siblings.

 

J:         I didn’t have siblings, it was just myself.

 

I:          You are the only son?

 

J:         Yeah, only son.

 

I:          Oh.

 

J:         Well, it was the Depression time. It was, I grew up during the–. I grew up in South Providence. I grew up in

 

00:00:30

 

Providence, South Providence and it was, it was uneventful.  To you probably, it was very eventful to me. But, but, I went to St. Michael’s School for nine years. Then I went on to La Salle Academy. I did the normal things. Broke my arm a couple times, I did all that stuff. I mean, I was in a, hit by a car once. [laughs] But I, but I guess that’s growing up,

 

00:01:00

 

part of growing up. And, and basically, I, I, I, that was about it until I graduated from high school. I graduated from high school in 1950.

 

I:          1950?

 

J:         Yeah, that’s when the war started.  I’m sure you’re aware of it.

 

I:          What, what’s the name of high school?

 

J:         La Salle.

 

I:          Huh?

 

J:         La Salle. La Salle.

 

I:          Dasalle?

 

J:         La Salle.  L-A two words, L-A-S-A-L-L-E.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         It’s right down the road. [inaudible]

 

I:          Right here.

 

J:         Right down the road in Smitsville.

 

I:          And, did you know anything about Korea

 

J:         No.

 

I:          around the time that you graduate?

 

J:         No, I didn’t know Korea,

 

00:01:30

 

I didn’t know, I didn’t know what it was. I thought I was – I had no idea.  It didn’t ma-

 

I:          No.

 

J:         matter. It didn’t really matter. I got out of high school and I had no prospects. College wasn’t, wasn’t something you went to in 1950

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         for a kid coming outta-

 

I:          How did you come to know about the breakdown of Korean War, breakout?

 

J:         When I joined the service probably.

 

I:          When did you join?

 

J:         1950.

 

I:          Yeah, but month?

 

J:         I, I graduated, I in August, in August, August 1950.

 

I:          Uh huh.

 

J:         August

 

00:02:00

 

16, 1950 I graduated.

 

I:          You graduate and then you immediately joined the Army?

 

J:         That’s when I went into

 

I:          Or the Air Force?

 

J:         the Army.

 

I:          Oh.

 

J:         I graduated, I graduated in, I graduated

 

I:          May.

 

J:         I graduated in June.

 

I:          June.

 

J:         June.  I turned 18 in July and I went into the service in August.

 

I:          August 16th?

 

J:         August 16th, yes.

 

I:          And, you, you joined the Air Force?

 

J:         I joined the Air Force.

 

I:          Why? Why Air Force?

 

J:         Well, [laughs]

 

I:          [laughs]

 

J:         it’s interesting.

 

00:02:30

 

First of all, I joined with two k-, two other fellas.

 

I:          You friend.

 

J:         Two friends.

 

I:          Uh huh.

 

J:         Two friends. I, I, I, it was my idea because I was going to go one way or the other, it didn’t really matter. My uncle had been in the Air Force in World War II.

 

I:          You un-

 

J:         That might have promoted, or he lived with us. An-, an-, Actually I, I, I called the Marine Corps recruiting office ’cause I thought the enlistment was three years, but it wasn’t. It was four years, same as the Air Force.

 

00:03:00

 

So, I went into the Air Force, everybody was in the Air Force with the intention of wanting to fly. [laughs] The chances of flying are very, very slim.

 

I:          [laughs]

 

J:         But when I did go into the Air Force, after basic training, they sent me to radio operator school. And, when I graduated from, it was a, it was a, ‘course when the war was started, everything was sort of accelerated, as far as the military is concerned. Basic training was shortened up a little bit. The radio, the radio operator

 

00:03:30

 

school was, was eight months, but we went seven days a week, six days, six days a week, six hours a day, so they, they got it done in seven months, they shortened it by a month

I:          What did you learn there?

 

J:         I learned Morse Code. I learned radio procedures. I learned how to type. [laughs] I, I, because it was a ground radio operator, so we only had one radio, but it was a ground, so I had to learn how to type and all, or I never could have used it. That was my downfall, I found, taking code, because I was learning both of them at the same time, it was very dangerous,

 

I:          Mmm.

 

J:         for the

 

00:04:00

 

fingers were going through the keys and it was, but any way. When I graduated from radio operator school, I did well, I did well, and they offered me a, an instructor position there.

 

I:          Oh.

 

J:         So, I could have stayed in Mississippi for the rest of my career. But that’s not why I joined the Air Force. I didn’t join my Air Force to teach school. I hated school. [laughs]

 

I:          [laughs]

 

J:         That was the last thing I wanted to do. So, so I, I turned that down and, and my next, next o-opportunity would, would be to fly, would be in the Air Force.

 

00:04:30

 

And the last opportunity was to be an intercept operator, which nobody, no one wanted the, that, that position anyway. So, so, that’s basically how I got where I got.

 

I:          So, you got the training for pilot?

 

J:         No, no, no, no.

 

I:          No.

 

J:         No, no. The people who were going to be pilots were being trained there.

 

I:          Right, but what did you get there?

 

J:         I got, I got to learn how to f-f-ly in an airplane. I learned, I learned, I learned, what it’s like to be in an airplane. Well, I had other po-, I had other responsibilities besides

 

00:05:00

 

being a radio operator once I got there.

 

I:          Okay.

 

J:         See?

 

I:          You were the radio oper-, operative within the f-

 

J:         Within the crew,

 

I:          Right.

 

J:         11 man crew.

 

I:          Got it.

 

J:         And that was it,

 

I:          Okay.

 

J:         I was the only one.

 

I:          Yep.

 

J:         One guy.

 

I:          Yep.

 

J:         A lot of responsibility for a kid.

 

I:          Yep.

 

J:         [laughs]

 

I:          So, mostly, what is the job description? What do you mean by radio operation within airplane?  What do you mean?

 

J:         Ma-, basic, there was a main, main, at that time, you didn’t have satellite. You didn’t have GPS.  You didn’t have even, in fact, communications was

 

00:05:30

 

rather basic.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         Rather basic.

 

I:          Had you had any hunch that you’d be end up serving, during the Korean War?

 

J:         Oh yeah, once I got assigned to a crew, that, they were replacement crews, basically.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         Some, some weren’t, some were, went to the, air, air refueling. They were using B29s and for air refueling.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         They weren’t really designed for it, but they could do it. Some went to air refueling and, and basically got, and you went, it was a bomber, so you went to a

 

00:06:00

 

bomber squadron.  Maybe a few had, were weather airplanes, but they were, the chances of that was pretty slim. Basically, you were going to go on a bomber and a bomber was only going to one place. It wasn’t going to Florida.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         You know what I mean?

 

I:          What was your aircraft?

 

J:         A B29.

 

I:          B29?

 

J:         A B29. Yeah.

 

I:          So how many crews in the B29?

 

J:         Eleven

 

I:          Eleven?

 

J:         Eleven yeah.

 

I:          Can you describe the jobs for 11 people, two pilots right?

 

J:         Two pilots.

 

I:          Uh huh.

 

J:         Bombardier.

 

I:          Uh huh.

 

J:         Bombardier up in front.

 

00:06:30

 

Navigator.

 

I:          Navigator?

 

J:         Yeah. Fli-

 

I:          Yeah. One?

 

J:         One.  Flight engineer, monitor the engines,

 

I:          Ahh.

 

J:         had to plan the refuel,

 

I:          Ahh.

 

J:         he took care of the, care of running of the airplane.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         And then you had four gunners.

 

I:          Four gunners?

 

J:         Four gunners.  And then you had a radar officer, who as basically a navigator in a sense, but he worked in the back of the plane, and, and, and.

 

I:          So, when did you leave United States

 

00:07:00

 

to Japan?

 

J:         I left in, I got there, I left in February.

 

I:          February?

 

J:         February 1952.

 

I:          And, where did you arrive in Japan?

 

J:         I arrived in Japan in the 29th of February, Leap Year.

 

I:          Where?

 

J:         I, I la-, I, I landed in Yokota Air Force Base.

 

I:          What?

 

J:         Yokota.  Yokota.

 

I:          You-

 

J:         Y-O-K-A-A-T-

 

I:          Yokota.

 

J:         Yokota.

 

00:07:30

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         Y-O-K-O-T-A, yeah, I think.

 

I:          So, your case is special. You never been in the Korean theater, right?

 

J:         No, and the war started in 1950, so initially, initially, the bombing started before I got there, and any hard targets, by that I mean, business industry

 

I:          So, you, you been

 

J:         was already bomb-

 

I:          flying to Korean Peninsula and bombed

 

J:         Yes, yes.

 

I:          As a team.

 

I:          Yes. Yeah.

 

I:          Ahh.

 

00:08:00

 

J:         Yes, 30 times.

 

I:          Yeah. Thirty times?

 

J:         Thirty times, thirty times, yes. That’s the-

 

I:          Tell me about this typical day that your take off from your Yokoto airport

 

J:         Mmm.

 

I:          and go to Korean Peninsula.

 

J:         Mm-hmm.

 

I:          Tell me those routine detail, okay?

 

J:         Mmm.

 

I:          And where did you go? And what, where did you bomb? And how did you find it out

 

J:         Mmm.

 

I:          that it’s done? And so on. Tell me the detail.

 

J:         Well, okay, I’ll tell you what I

 

00:08:30

 

know.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         I, I, you know, i-if, if you’ve ever been in the military, any classified or any information is on a need to know. And the crew members, the gunners, and the radio operator didn’t really have a need to know. So, a lot of time, we didn’t even find out what the target was

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         until the last minute, because it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter. The navigator had to know, and the pilots had to know.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         But, but if you didn’t have to know to do your job, they didn’t worry about telling you. But anyway, I’ll tell you what I know.

 

00:09:00

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         I’ll tell you what I know. A typical day?  A typical day, we, we would get up, whatever, seven, six, seven, I don’t remember the time. You know, you’d do breakfast. We’d go out to the flight line.  Always as a crew, we did everything as a crew. Always, always as a crew. Always on duty, on duty 24 hours a day.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         And if they needed an airplane, they went to the flight engineer and he had to know where everybody was. We had to be not too far way. So, we all, we all go down there, we preflight the

 

00:09:30

 

airplane. Preflight mean going through the, the, I’d, I would check all radio equipment, make sure the headsets work, and, and what I could check, you know, make sure the radio worked. ‘Til noontime, we’d come back and eat. We go to briefing in the aft-, right after that. The first briefing, the first briefing was how much fuel to put on the airplane, how many bombs you were going to carry, all those things. Then we go back and we accomplish that. We’d get the fuel put on, the bombs would be loaded. My job, my job at that

 

00:10:00

 

time was to put the fuses in the front, front bomb bay. The front bomb bay contained 20 bombs, rear bomb 20, or maybe 19 if they carried, if they were going to take pictures, they had, they had flares they would drop. So, had 20 bombs, they had two ends, two bombs, two flares, two, two, two fuses to a bomb. Bombs were big. I don’t know how big you see ’em. Very crowded in the bomb bay. B29’s not made for creature comforts.

 

00:10:30

 

It was hot. Hot as hell in there. Like an oven.

 

I:          Mmm.

 

J:         You go in, you take all the fu-, there was a plug on the end, both ends, covered with cosmoline, you ended up getting cosmoline all over your hands. You take that out and put the fuse in. Put the fuse in, you had, on a b-, on the, on the, on the rack, the bomb rack, there was two wires that come out. You stuck the wire through the fuse,

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         put a clip on the end so the f-, so the little propeller wouldn’t turn, you did the same on the, on the others. A fuse on the nose, a fuse on the

 

00:11:00

 

rear. So, you put forty of those fuses in, in there, and the, somebody else has already got to the aft bomb bay. Then, by that time, we got, got to be later on,  ri-, right in the after, we’d go back, maybe something else to do, because we always flew at night. Always flew at night, we’d go back. We’d have final briefing, Final briefing, was where the target was, if any, what they anticipated, how much,

 

00:11:30

 

how much anti-aircraft fire you might get, depending on where they went. And, then that was it. We’d take off, in the evening. Sunset. And, we fly-

 

I:          Wow, so taking almost whole day

 

J:         Whole day.

 

I:          to prepare.

 

J:         I’d get back at sunrise in the morning.

 

I:          Uh huh.

 

J:         I’d get back at sunrise.

 

I:          And then you take off during the sunset.

 

J:         Sunset, yeah.

 

I:          Why is that? Because it takes

 

J:         They wanted to fly at night.

 

I:          time to prepare? Or do you,

 

J:         No.

 

I:          does

 

J:         We wanted to, they timed it, they timed it basically for how, for how, how, if there was a moon factor,

 

00:12:00

 

or sky cover. We, we, we, we were very vulnerable to fighters, were very vulnerable to, to the

 

I:          So, you, you choose to fly to Korea and do operation during the night?

 

J:         Yeah.

 

I:          So that you’re not detected?

 

J:         We had a better chance. They, they lost a number of airplanes a couple months before I got there, because they were, they were flying in the day, they sent up, they sent up, I think it was nine airplanes and eight of them, three of them got shot down

 

I:          Wow

 

J:         and the other, and, and, and the other five

 

00:12:30

 

were, were, were severely damaged. Severely damaged out of it.

 

I:          Wow.

 

J:         So, then they switched all night, all night after that.

 

I:          Overnight operation.

 

J:         Yeah. Until, they, they went back to days, when around once they got, the problems was getting fighter cover. We didn’t, we couldn’t get it fighter cover to go for-, to go north. To go north. So, it, it was all, it was all, it was all night flying at that time.

 

I:          So, how long did it take to get to the Korean Peninsula from your airport, airbase?

 

J:         Well, the missions,

 

00:13:00

 

the missions over and back and, and, do what you had to do, averaged nine hours.

 

I:          Nine hours.

 

J:         Averaged nine hours. So, so depending on where you were going, you know if you’re further north, you went, actually, it was going to be slower. There were some missions we flew, the 98th, the 90, am I alright? Okay. The 98th Bomb Group we had was assigned, the, the

 

I:          What was your unit again?

 

J:         98th.

 

I:          98 Bomber Unit?

 

00:13:30

 

J:         Bomb, Bomb Wing.

 

I:          Bomb Wing?

 

J:         Bomb wing, yes.  345th Bomb Squadron.

 

I:          I’m sorry?

 

J:         345th.  3-4-5 Bomb Squadron.

 

I:          345th

 

J:         Bomb Squadron.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         Squadron. Had three squadrons, three squadrons in the wing.

 

I:          Yep.

 

J:         And, I forgot where I was going. Where were we?

 

I:          So, you were about to take off now. Sunset.

 

J:         Well, yeah, we would take off at sunset. We, we’d fly, we wouldn’t

 

00:14:00

 

pressurize yet. The B29 was pressurized, you could pressurize the airplane. The prior ones in World War II they didn’t pressurize

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         B17 never pressurized.

 

I:          Right.

 

J:         And, so, we we’d stay relatively low until we got to the coast of Japan. Once we got over the coast of Japan, they would test fire the guns, once they go over the water, make sure the guns worked.

 

I:          Uh huh.

 

J:         Before they pressurized, I’d have to go out in the bomb bay. [unintelligible] I got, I got a, all those fissures got a, got a, got a coder pin,

 

00:14:30

 

a coder pin in there. So, you got, you got the propeller and, and it’s a little sh-, the little piece of metal behind it.

 

I:          Mmm.

 

J:         You wind up together and they put the, the coder pin through there so the propeller’s not going to turn. So, I had to go pull out some 40, 40 coder pins.

 

I:          Wow.

 

J:         I pu-, well they had a little tag on them, got a little tag on them. What I would do, when I put the fuse in, I bent the coder pin so that they weren’t really bent over.  They were sort of like, like, like in on an angle, so tI could pull the, grab the,

 

00:15:00

 

the, the cod and pull it out and, and the whole thing would come out, would come out.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         So, I would have to pull those 40, 40 out and then, then get back inside, and, and then they pressurize. And it pressurized.

 

I:          Yep.

 

J:         And, and then that was it, we continued on our way and as a radio operator, I’m the only one on that airplane that couldn’t see what the hell was going on, excuse my language, ’cause I was there, there was no window there, I didn’t have a window at all.

 

I:          Uh huh.

 

J:         Nothing, nothing to see. Although, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll say this because you can’t arrest me now, but

 

00:15:30

 

there was a, a, right, right where I sat like this, right here, right here was a bulkhead. The bomb bay was right here, bomb bay door, very tight squeeze. But right here was a, was a tunnel. That’s how you get to the rear of the airplane. Thirty feet long, three feet in diameter. And that’s how you got to the air-, to the rear. And right in the front of it, where you could sit at the end of the tunnel, with your feet hanging down, right there was a plastic dome that they used to, the navigator used, to shoot the stars.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         And, I would sit there, I couldn’t

 

00:16:00

 

see down, but I could see generally around. And I would get up there, especially when we’d get over the target, because, if we were going to get hit, I wanted to see it coming, I mean. [laughs]

 

I:          [laughs]

 

J:         You know, but. Basically, some of them, some of then weren’t too bad. (Machu Yaad), we bombed (Machu Yaad). We bombed Pyongyang. We bombed the capital twice.

 

I:          You did?

 

J:         Yeah

 

I:          When was it?

 

J:         Say again?

 

I:          When was it? Remember?

 

00:16:30

 

Around appro-

 

J:         I can give you dates.

 

I:          -ximately

 

J:         I got, I got them all at home, but I don’t have them with me. I got a, I got my flight record that, that all the missions I flew.

 

I:          Ahh.

 

J:         And they kept it for me, they kept it when I was there. When I got discharged, I kept taking it with me every place that I went.

 

I:          So, must be 1952, right?

 

J:         It was all 1952.

 

I:          1952. You did

 

J:         It all happened in 1952.

 

I:          Pyongyang.  Any other city name that you remember?

 

J:         I, I, I, I don’t, off hand, the, they used to write the city down, when they wrote the log, when they filled the log out. But

 

00:17:00

 

then they just stated putting Korea, Korea, Korea and I don’t remember. If I looked at a map, I, I probably could, would come to mind, come to mind.

 

I:          Okay. How accurate your bombing was? Can you tell me

 

J:         I did, I

 

I:          some

 

J:         don’t know.

 

I:          I mean, what is the height and how many?

 

J:         We, we, we bombed between, I’d say between say 23 to 28,000 feet, was in that range. That’s about as high as we could go because, because of the weight of the bombs. We would be, we would be a, ma-, ma-, we went maximum weight, most, most weight

 

00:17:30

 

we could carry. So, in the summer time when, when the air is heavy, and, and, and the c-conditions aren’t well enough for, for, for flying that good, I don’t know, we had to carry less fuel sometimes, because they weren’t going to take bombs off. So, we carried all that, so, so we really, with all that weight and the, and the weather, we couldn’t get up much higher than that,

 

I:          I see

 

J:         without, without struggling. At least with the bombs. Once we dropped the bombs we could.

 

I:          Right.

 

J:         So, sometimes we had to stay on target, stay on course,

 

00:18:00

 

after we dropped, because they had cameras on board. And, and, and the cam-, we, we would drop flares, the last, the last, station was flares and they would set off the cameras, so we had to stay for another minute and change. So, sometimes if you would getting somebody firing at you, we, we, we still couldn’t move, stay there, but we could go up higher, see we could go up almost 30,000 feet to get away from some of that sometimes.

 

I:          Were there any way to verify your bombing?

 

J:         Yeah, oh, they, they had another squadron who went out and took pictures.

 

00:18:30

 

Oh yeah, see that wouldn’t work out, they were there, there

 

I:          So, they could see the accuracy there, right?

 

J:         Oh yeah. They had, they, they had o-, they had other, other, another, another squadron that went out and that was their job, take pictures, take pictures, see. I mean, when we flew a, when we flew a, a, a, a normal night, a normal bomb run, we would put up, we had three, three units. Three bomb units. One in Japan, two in Okinawa. And they rotated, rotated, rotated, rotated. We had three

 

00:19:00

 

squadrons, in, in, in the wing. So, w-when our turn to fly, each squadron put up three airplanes, we put up nine airplanes. So, if you wanted to see the results, you had to go in after. And the whole nine dropped, actually, so you take individual pictures, well, maybe, well, when it’s kinda hard to pull and get them all together, so it’s easier to let them drop, come in whenever they came in, I don’t know how they did it, maybe in daylight they’d maybe come in. But they’d come in at a higher altitude, ’cause they didn’t have any weight, so and took pictures. Yeah.

 

I:          Mmm.

 

J:         So, they found a way to

 

00:19:30

 

do that way, so I don’t [unintelligible]

 

I:          Were there any enemy aircrafts

 

J:         Yeah.

 

I:          attacking yours?

 

J:         Yeah.

 

I:          Tell me.

 

J:         If, if a ma-, if you were in co-, a mig encountered you, you, you didn’t have much of a chance. The B29 w-wasn’t made for f-fighting jet air-,

 

I:          Right.

 

J:         jet airplanes, jet airplanes. So, we were fortunate. That was the stress factor. The stress factor was you didn’t know where they were. You didn’t kn-, nobody, there was no way, nobody warned that there was airplanes in the area

 

00:20:00

 

I:          Right.

 

J:         then. You didn’t know they were there until they started hitting you, see?  So, fortunately, we were never got hit by a maj-, we had, we had a the prop ribbon, I guess they were yaks

 

I:          Yaks, yeah.

 

J:         Yaks.

 

I:          The Russians.

 

J:         Russians. What they did is, we never, we were told never to fire unless you were being hit. Because when you fired a 50 caliber, you got a flame that come out of the, the end of the barrel. And that’s what they wanted you to do, they tried to draw your fire so they, they could get close to you. Radar could,

 

00:20:30

 

radar could get them close to you, but their radar wasn’t that good, for when it was explained to me. It wasn’t that good so the, the little radical in the center, the very center where that identifies you

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         was large. It was actually, in real world, a two mile radius.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         So, they could get within a two mile radius of you. But what they would do is, they would sit out there and, and put on search lights. You wouldn’t even see

 

00:21:00

 

them, you wouldn’t know they were there. We had one gunner who had excellent eyes, and he would see these things in the, in the pitch black, and he’d say, something’s there, something’s there. They would put the search lights on to draw your fire. We wouldn’t fire on them, see, ’cause it, ’cause it wasn’t bothering us really. We knew they were there. And they would fire, fire some rockets a couple of times. They’d fire parallel to us, but they were, they were, maybe, maybe half a mile away, half a mile, I don’t know, it’s hard to judge distance at that. So,

 

00:21:30

 

yeah, that, that was the encounter, of fighters, basically, but we never really, really, anti-aircraft was, was basic. The ant-, the bomb run, let me explain the bomb run. The bomb run was the, the, the, the, the tense part of the whole thing, the whole thing. That’s what you were there for. And, the initial point is, is where you started your bottom run, which was place that’s picked. Once you flew, once you flew on your bomb run, you stayed on your altitude,

 

00:22:00

 

course, airspeed. Nothing changed, nothing changed. We flew, we went over there in, three minutes apart. So, we used to fly in trail, three minutes apart. Once the first plane went over, they knew what the target was. So, everybody behind them was, was, was more or less fair game, because you know, if you’re the last guy, they been, they been shooting at these guys at the same track, same track, same track, so, you know, you know, the chances are worse than if you’re the first one. But it, but,

 

00:22:30

 

I:          So,

 

J:         y-y-you flew, you flew, and tha-, that’s usually where the anti-, anti-aircraft went. No matter what it was, [unintelligible] may be only a few guns, but you, it was all aimed at you. There was only one airplane up there they were trying to get. Then the search lights, they had search lights also. Search lights were, were, if they caught you in the search lights, you were bad hurting, because then they could zero in on you, you know. But, the bomb run ran about six minutes, I guess, six, seven minutes.

 

I:          Have you been ever hit?

 

00:23:00

 

J:         We got hit, c- a couple of times. Nothing serious,

 

I:          Nothing serious.

 

J:         nothing serious. We got, we got, we got damage, but, oh, and the, the, the scary part of the whole thing was, it only takes one hit because when you had, besides the ammunition and fuel, we had oxygen on board because we were pressurized, so we had oxygen, oxygen, which, which, which explodes also pretty good. So, that, that was the bomb run. And then once you get out of there, then you, then, then you, then you repeat it back. [unintelligible]

 

00:23:30

 

I:          Very stressful, right.

 

J:         It was very stressful. Yeah, when I

 

I:          You don’t know when and where, how you going to hit, by the enemies unknown, and you

 

J:         Well,

 

I:          had to deal with that.

 

J:         When I, when I, when I left Japan, when I was flying, I got a rash. I got a rash in this area here, wasn’t on the private parts, but it was right here, and it itched.  And it started to leak, I w-, I, I, it was terrible. I went to sick call, I went on sick call, and they gave me,

 

00:24:00

 

they gave me foot powder or something. It, they said it was the heat.

 

I:          Foot powder?

 

J:         They said it was the heat. Yeah, yeah, it made cement, because the things were leaking, it was terrible. And, I come home, I come home on leave, when I got out of there, they had to give me like, like 15 days, I couldn’t wait to go back, because I wanted to go to the, I went to the, I went to an, when I, when I come back I, went to a new base that had just opened up in Tex-, in Kansas. They had closed it after the war, didn’t have a hospital, it had a, had a little like dispensary. So I went there, the guy saw what I got,

 

00:24:30

 

he said, oh man, he says, I’m gonna, sent me down to a, an Army hospital, Fort Riley, in Kansas. And they kept me in there six weeks, and gave me penicillin, large doses of penicillin, and, and, and, so-, there was soap, so-, soap. And finally, the doc-, [laughs] finally after the six weeks, the doctor says, I didn’t know what, I don’t know what you, he says, I finally read up on this disease. Here I thought I was being treated,

 

00:25:00

 

right? He says, I finally, I read up on it. He says it’s from stress.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         Flight surgeon,

 

I:          Mmm.

 

J:         yeah, that’s what you hear of that.

 

I:          Mmm.  Let’s talk about the life in Japan.

 

J:         Yeah, yeah.

 

I:          How was it? How much were, what was your rank and how much were you paid?

 

J:         My rank was, in-initially, I got promoted when I was over there, I got promoted to staff sergeant when I

 

I:          Staff sergeant.

 

J:         Staff sergeant.

 

I:          And?

 

J:         My pay, I don’t, I don’t remember. It wasn’t very much. When I got-

 

00:25:30

 

 

I:          $200?

 

J:         No.

 

I:          Less than $200?

 

J:         Well, maybe I g-, may-, no, yeah, it was less than $200. $200 a month.

 

I:          More than $100.

 

J:         Yeah, yeah, yeah, more than. I was getting flight pay. When I did, well let me put it this way, I’m trying to give you a pic-

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         When I got discharged, [unintelligible]

 

I:          Yeah.

 

I:          after I’m back

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         and I’m in a while, as a staff sergeant, I was making I was less tha-, I think I was making like 190, $190 a month, with flight pay, with flight pay, after being

 

00:26:00

 

four year, a month, $190 a month, yeah. I was living good, don’t get me wrong, but. [laughs]

 

I:          Life was good,

 

J:         Life was bet-

 

I:          must be good,

 

J:         Life was good,

 

I:          right, in Japan?

 

J:         it was man, it was manageable. Well, being in the military, you know, I’d pay $1 for a carton of cigarettes, and stuff like that, you know.

 

I:          Right.

 

J:         So, it, it was manageable, it was manageable, yeah. Life in Japan, I, I don’t know much about it, because we were restricted to the base the whole time.  Only time, only time we got off the base was when we got regular r, r, r, an R & R, rest leave.

 

I:          R & R, yeah.

 

J:         Oh, and I went to Tokyo

 

00:26:30

 

Once. I don’t remember To- [laughs] I don’t remember Tokyo too much, but I, I, I went down to southern Japan to a rest resort, they had a rest-, resort set up for us down there, which was nice. It was down by the water there. I, I don’t know where it was, I don’t remember where it was.

 

I:          How long it take from your airbase to the Tokyo.

 

J:         Oh, we were close to Tokyo.

 

I:          Right?

 

J:         Yeah, yeah.

 

I:          Very close, right?

 

J:         We were close to Tokyo, yeah.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         Yeah.  We were 30, 40 miles from Tokyo.

 

I:          Okay, what did you like about Japan

 

00:27:00

 

at the time?

J:         I-

 

I:          Beer?

 

J:         Yeah, the what?

 

I:          Beer?

 

J:         The beer? The beer, the beer, Nippon Beer, yeah. [laughs] The beer was, [unintelligible] the beer was alright. I don’t know, but I liked Japan. I don’t, I didn’t have any problems with Japan.

 

I:          You know, I look at, I saw the poster, Victory Japan, V-J Day

 

J:         Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

I:          is still observed in, in

 

J:         in Rhode Island.

 

I:          Rhode Island. Why is that?

 

J:         Well, wait a minute now, see you, you, you, you, you, you’re distorting it in the sense that, that’s what it was initially called.

 

00:27:30

 

Anyway, because when the war ended, they had V-E day, which was Victory in Europe.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         Then, when, when, finally when we come over, they say V-J day. But in essence, it’s Victory Day

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         which celebrating the victory of the war, not just in J-Japan, the war in general. We fought Germany, we fought Germany for a long time over there. And, and, and, so it was, it was, it was a celebration of victory. We celebrate Fourth of July and nobody in England complains about it.

 

I:          [laughs]

 

J:         See.

 

I:          Yeah,

 

00:28:00

 

nobody, yes.

 

J:         Nobody. So, so I don’t understand, it, it’s just victory day, you know.

 

I:          Ever go back to Korea?

 

J:         Do I want to go back?

 

I:          Yeah.

 

J:         Not really. I, I don’t know why, I, I mean, I like to go anywhere, but I mean,

 

I:          [laughs]

 

J:         If there’s veterans that would rather go back because they served in there, then, then they should go back perhaps, you know.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         I don’t know.

 

I:          Why do you think that the Korean War be known as forgotten?

 

00:28:30

 

J:         Because I think it was too soon after the second World War. People didn’t want to hear the word war. They didn’t call it a war, they called it a police action.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

J:         I mean, let’s face it, it was 36,000 Americans, 50-some thousand U.N. forces, and that’s what you should count, not just the Americans.

 

I:          Right.

 

J:         You had Turks, Greeks, English, Canadians.

 

I:          Twenty-one countries.

 

J:         Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, that, the, it should, the whole thing should be counted when they say lives lost.  But what’ll the-, and those were lost in three

 

00:29:00

 

years, see.  Vietnam was lost 50-some thousand, in nine years.

 

I:          Any other message that you want to leave to this interview?

 

J:         I’m proud I served there. I, I’m, I’m very, I’m very, very very, very, I think it was an ac-, it was something that I did that was worthwhile, it was something that i-if, i-if I was, i-if it, the same opportunities, if the same conditions existed today, and I was a young man, I, I, I wouldn’t hesitate to do some, some of that.

[End of Recorded Material]