Paul Hummel enlisted in the Air Force in 1949. He was surprised to learn the U.S. involvement in the Korean War, but he figured that he would soon be thrown in the middle of this war. Paul Hummel believed that the war would be quick until the Chinese joined the war to assist North Korea. As a pilot during the Korean War, he had many responsibilities protecting bomber pilots in the air. Since he was stationed at Daegu, he didn’t have many interactions with the Korean people and their culture during his time in Korea.
Always Have a Backup Plan
Paul Hummel remembered when the enemy forces figured out the weaknesses of United States' planes. Due to this, there needed to be a back up plan created to outwit the Chinese. Mosquito pilots used a variety of maneuvers while in the Hamhung area.
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Paul Hummel had many responsibilities as a pilot during the Korean War. Some of these responsibilities included protecting bombers while on missions and dog fighting just like old World War I air battles. A variety of plane tactics used, as well as new technology behind the MiG-15 fighter planes.
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Not Like the Movies
Paul Hummel was assigned a mission to bomb North Korean and Chinese troops on the ground. He saw the troops, tanks, and weapons, so he started attacking not knowing exactly which enemy troop he hit. Machine guns were attached to Paul Hummel's plane, so he could get a betters shot from the air. He believes that the real air battle was different than movie depictions of the Korean War air warfare that took place.
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Paul: My name is Paul Lesley Hummel (Spelled out name). And I was born in on June 2nd 1928
Interviewer: Where were, you born?
Paul: I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Interviewer: Can you spell it (Paul spells out Cedar like the tree, Rapids like the stream, Iowa)
Paul: I was born there on June 2nd 1928 and a lived there about six months so I don’t recall those times. I spent my early years of my memory until December 1940 on the farm in Dixon, Illinois then after high school there, I went into the Air Force.
Interviewer: When and where did you graduate from high school?
Paul: I graduated from high school on January of 1946
Interviewer: Can you tell us about other schools you went to like elementary and middle.
Paul: Well I went my first six-and-a-half years in Lisbon Iowa that was good. I was a slow learner so I’d spent two years in third grade after that I took off and did very well then tragedy hit my home my father died when I was eleven years old. In that period of time we moved to the farm, it was very traumatic to me to lose all my friends and go to a whole new world so my mother put me into a city school in Dixon Iowa. I was suffering from the loss of my father and my move so I was very unhappy for that period of time.
Interviewer: What’s the name of high school you graduated from?
Paul: Dixon High School Dixon yeah that was like going away to college because a 6my my seventh and eighth grades were in country school, Preston Country School, south my farm there. It was a little school with the teacher an about 6 students I think, all eight grades but we did not have students in all the grades. It was like tutoring we would go up to the teacher’s desk and interview the teacher or she would interview us. We would get our new assignment then go back to our desks. Then she would take another student up.
Interviewer: What school?
Interviewer: A one room school
Paul: A one room school yeah, an old country school in those days. I had a cousin at the time who taught in a country school that had like 30 or more students than her so she had a big job. In my school I had like torturing which was some of the best education I got in my life so when I graduated there I had good grades. Then I went on to high school it was like going away to college because this was a big school with hundreds of students from all over the whole area there was just one high school for the area. So when I went there I just did not know how I stacked up against the city boys and girls but I did very well there graduated in the top 10 percent in the class I got good grades in math and science I was focusing on those things English in history in you know the whole bit and so when I graduated from high school that was right at the end of World War so I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a farmer so I went off to the University of Illinois Urbana Illinois and that was in the fall of 1947 fall of 1946 I guess so I was there one year. I chose chemical engineering because I enjoy chemistry and so forth. But going to school there was a huge crowd of veterans and it was really pandemonium lots of turmoil all over the. I was so kind of felt like I was a little bit out of place and apprehensive about a lot of things so I decided to terminate my college career at that point and went back to the farm
Interviewer: Did you know anything about Korean when you were in school before you graduated from high school?
Paul: Very little after I came to Hawaii I learned a lot because a lot of Koreans came over here before the Korean War
Interviewer: Right 1905 that’s the plan Korean immigrated into Hawaii
Interviewer: Did you know anything about Korea about the time that you graduated high school?
Paul: Very little
Interviewer: Very little
Interviewer: Anything you knew, tell me about it.
Paul: I can’t remember what I knew about Korea at the time. I knew where it was on the map but as far as the history of like when I graduated from high school I did not have much interest in history. My interest developed over the succeeding years that I got into it.
Interviewer: So you joined the Air force in May of 1949, right? And so you enlisted right?
Interviewer: Tell me about the day that you enlisted. Where you did it and where did you go to get the basic training and so on.
Paul: Well I did it I guess at Dixon Illinois. I forget exactly how the recruiting thing went but I got accepted and so on I went by train then down to Waco Texas and went into flight training and of course they started out with boot camp, just like any other private or any other officer candidate school. So it’s about six weeks or more of marching around and taking commands and all that kind of stuff. Then we went into flight training and the flight training in basic training was in Waco Texas. It was half the day, morning would be like ground school we learned all theory of this that and the other things the other half of the day was flight training. We would be out in the line flight and so.
Interviewer: When was that?
Paul: It was May of 49 for six months until whatever it was October or something like that.
Interviewer: Why did you enlist to the Air Force? And what is the difference between enlisting in the Air Force as just a soldier or as a pilot? What kind of differences is there?
Paul: I’ve always had interest in flying in high school I’d read these books about the Flying Tigers in China Claire Chennault and his slang Tigers and Scott or somebody wrote book my co-pilot and I’d read these books about pilots and flying and fighter planes and so forth so I was very intrigued I’d have visions of myself being a fighter pilot (laugh) so I had interest in these things and I thought well learn to be a pilot that might have some career implications afterwards and I could have went that route I had friends that went to school with in pilot training they went out of the Air Force they went into PanAm train became Pan Am pilots all kinds of commercial pilot site I didn’t go that route but anyway that opened up a new career opportunity because after high school I am was going into chemical engineering and I didn’t held off on that and so then after four years in the Air Force I I decided didn’t want to make destruction killing my career I wanted to do something constructive with my life so then I went into engineering which we can cover later.
Interviewer: So tell me about your the pilot training how was it?
Paul: Very, very, rigorous in fact it was it…
Interviewer: Was it in Waco Texas
Paul: Oh yeah because down there I had instructor pilots this is at the end of World War two and they were cutting down the Air Force some of them lost their jobs got thrown out of the Air Force or they were threatened so they weren’t all that anxious and train new people to take over their job so there was a time there when I was just barely hanging on by the skin of my teeth it that was going to be thrown out because a lot of people failed out a flight training for one reason or another and part of my reason was that I get one instructor and they’d be gone. Then the next instructor would come in so it took me a little while to get sole status because they kept changing instructors all the time, finally I passed my flight training. I could land the planes and take off and fly things went pretty well after that.
Interviewer: What aircraft did you train on?
Paul: That was called the 8T6
Paul: No, AT6 Advance T Trainer that was the plane that WW2 pilots flew in the last period of their training. They had primary trainer, basic trainers, and advanced trainers so at that point in time they kept changing the flight training program so we started right off in the advanced trainer.
Interviewer: How many hours of training?
Paul: Um..I guess is around two hundred thirty hours I forget. I forget exactly but by the time I left basic training I could fly that plane like nobody’s business I can do acrobats all kinds of things I could put it into a spin take it out again fly formation flight instruments fly cross-country and so we went to
Williams same airplane more advanced training all kinds of things so I flew that plane most of the time at Williams advanced training. And then through the F-80 at Williams for about 35 hours
Interviewer: Williams where?
Paul: That’s up just outside of a Phoenix Arizona a little town called Chandler and it’s now suburb of Phoenix I understand that it was a little town of its own. Williams Air Force Base was just outside the edge of town. Well when I graduate the Korean War hadn’t started
Paul: When I graduated in May it starting in June of 50. I went to a Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin Texas 27 Strategic Fighter Wing, 520 2nd Squadron and the word comes out that way because later on were attached to tactical air command but strategic was their whole mission was escort missions for the big bombers in Europe and so the bomber command sack Curtis LeMay had his own fighters to escort him so we had top-notch fighter pilots in our unit. And they were flying the F- 82 which is a prop plane the nickname is a Twin Mustang because the silhouette looks like a Mustang
Interviewer: I know
Paul: You know they have 52
Paul: Oh good
Interviewer: What was your rank
Paul: I graduated Second Lieutenant
Interviewer: Second Lieutenant
Paul: was second lieutenant all the way until I got into Korea they gave me a battle feet battlefield promotion to first lieutenant but after I came back out they reverted me back to second lieutenant then later on I was promoted to first lieutenant
Interviewer: But tell me about the aircraft that you were flying because to the audience how do you bomb and how many people in there and tell me about that.
Paul: Well I flew the F-84 E and that was the current advanced model for the FAA has built by Republic Aviation there’s a straight wing aircraft with a nose intake and flow goes at the tail and we had 6 50 caliber machine guns four in the nose and two in the wing roots then we had bomb racks right underneath here on the wing tip so I had big tanks for extra fuel but usually always carry because even in combat if you had to adjust and those knew you could get more maneuverability but we never did because we didn’t need to she always carried those wing tanks to give us a fuel for longer range and then later on we had some long range missions which carry fuel tanks in the on the bomb racks to so on the bomb racks we could carry up 500-pound bombs we could carry clusters of 5 inch rockets we could carry napalm
Interviewer: How many pilots one
Interviewer: One, yeah we did everything we did the navigation we did the fighting we did the flying the whole thing.
Interviewer: Were you good at shooting?
Paul: oh yeah, but …
Interviewer: Were you a top gun
Paul: Well I don’t know we can talk about that a little bit
Interviewer: Well were there kinds of war top gun at the time too.
Paul: I think that terminology came later on.
Interviewer: Later or right yeah
Paul: Yeah because they had advanced training in California someplace where they got this title for Top Gun that kind of stuff,, but I think I was excellent but the thing is this, that at the time I graduated which was 12 months later on it went to 18 months pilot training because then they got weapon training I graduated no weapon training just piloting
Paul: They expected you to learn that when you got to your unit and so I went on some missions in Texas there where we did a few things nothing much because in one month we were over there well in one month we were transitioned into the F- 82 so it took a little time to transition into jet fighters the F-84 I’d already had jet time before any of them did but not much so they were all good pilots so anyway our first mission from Texas was to fly a whole wing 75 aircraft 25 aircraft per squadron three squadrons to Europe because they didn’t have a f-84 is over there so we flew from Texas up to Maine up to a Labrador up to Greenland Iceland up to to Europe because in in those days no in-flight refueling and so we did that came back got a new complement of aircraft did the same thing again.
Interviewer: What was your mission? Just fly over to Europe
Paul: Just take the planes over came back on cargo planes
Interviewer: Oh ok
Paul: And then you go back again and come back so then after we came back the second time then we got our assignment to go to Korea so we flew our aircraft out to California and at that time they loaded the aircraft on the baby aircraft carriers from World War two the old deck was full planes rather than disassemble and reassemble them put the whole plane on there tied them down and go so we left I think oh I forget now maybe October of 50 something like that but we were out in the ocean thanksgiving I think it was.
Interviewer: So what they have craft were you in?
Paul: I don’t know I can’t remember the name
Interviewer: Early George or
Paul: I can’t remember it was a small baby, baby aircraft care i can’t remember the name of it so anyway we’re out in the middle of the ocean when the Chinese came in because while we’re out there was when MacArthur and his troops landed in Incheon and the whole war looked like it was over we thought well it’s over before we even get there because they were going full speed north and trapped all the North Koreans in the south and so it looked like it was all done until the Chinese came in so by the time we landed over there Chinese were coming full speed so we landed there not even fired the gun yet we took off and our planes are ready growing up on a gunnery range above Tokyo someplace.
Interviewer: What do you mean landed where?
Paul: It was a big a big port outside of Tokyo Sasebo probably yeah I don’t know I can’t remember exactly anymore.
Interviewer: So when did you land in Japan
Paul: That would be December of 50 so we flew a couple of missions there to get us accustomed to shooting at targets on the ground firing our weapons while I was going across the ocean I stayed my flight manual for that aircraft intensively I knew where all the switches were for all the guns for every operational thing there was so I intentionally knew my airplane by that time and so then after a couple of missions there then we were assigned to Taegu
Paul: Taegu we were assigned their, Peers Plank runway and we had all kinds of planes F- 51 so we had F 80s we had the F-84 we take off there on our missions and we’ed line up like a big commercial airport one afternoon take off takeoff take off and come back in our plane was a little bit more long-range than the others so after a while they sent our group back to um, to um to Kazuki Air Force Base Kyushu.
Interviewer: So before when did you arrive in Kyushu l do you remember
Paul: What would be December of 50 still we’re flying missions already in December
Paul: We land in December and we were over there within a few days
Interviewer: How much were you paid as a pilot in the United States?
Paul: I can’t remember how
Interviewer: About how much
Paul: Well for me out of high school and other jobs there was good money but nothing like they’re talking about today I can’t remember the numbers
Interviewer: More than hundred more than 100
Paul: More than a hundred?
Interviewer: When you were in the United States as a pilot?
Paul: Well I do not remember, well in pilot training of 75 south after I graduated as a second lieutenant pilot it must have been 250 or 300 I forget I can’t remember the numbers.
Interviewer: Very good. And had you ever imagined ever that you’re going to be in Korea and fighting
Paul: had no idea no idea no because when I graduated from high school is no war yet.
Interviewer: And what did you think about that you are in the war?
Paul: Well I thought there
Interviewer: Was that country you didn’t know before?
Interviewer: And you are there and fighting
Paul: Well my attitude there was my whole philosophy through my whole life being a Christian is you don’t kill and on and on and on but I had to resolve that in my mind because my mission was to perform my duties because in doing that I protected my fellow combat personnel on the ground and others in the air from being damaged or killed so my whole mission in my mind was to protect myself and those around me and the enemy well they’re in there and it’s my job to kill them if I can because in doing so it protects my country protects my fellow combat people and protects all of us. So it’s us against them right
Interviewer: Um, how was Deco Airbase at the time where they go
Paul: Well at that time that was wintertime is was cold we had a little tent was about six of us in there on cots sleeping bags it had a wooden floor and the wood went up around the edges about three feet or so a tent over that right a little pot-bellied stove in the middle of the place there so keep a little bit of heat there. So we slept good we slept warm comfortable the soldiers weren’t shooting at us we were there but they were not far away they’re up there in the Hills still a few remnants around hills gorillas still fighting. And so there was still action in in your area we were there for at least two or three months we had hundred thirty combat missions and usually they considered 100 missions was the combat duty at that time but our unit went over as a unit we left all of our equipment there and pilots from the mainland we’re coming over to replaces and take over equipment keep the thing going well they were late in getting there
Interviewer: So while you still belong to 27 Strategic Fighter Wing
Paul: The whole time
Interviewer: The whole time young what was. What was your mission what was your supposed to do there?
Paul: Well our initial mission was to protect the Bombers because that’s our are calling it, Strategic Air Force
Interviewer: But the bombers were from Japan right?
Paul: Oh yeah, yeah they were B-50’s 29’s whatever there was.
Interviewer: So how do they meet you guys together in the air
Paul: oh yeah
Interviewer: Tell me about those
Paul: Well we’d be assigned mission and we go up and meet with them sometime before they got up to the combat area and they were in the 30 to 35 thousand foot altitude range somewhere in there and we were up above them about 2,000 feet doing a pattern there to protect them against the enemy it was the Mig 15 at that time and so when they go up to North Korea almost every time we’d meet the MiGs up there in the air now they’re probably Russian pilots maybe Chinese maybe some North Koreans that we don’t know exactly but they all came from Russia as they were producing that Mig-15 Chinese don’t think had the capability of manufacturing fighters at that time I’m not sure of that but they may have had pilots that were trained we’re not sure of that but they were good pilots
Interviewer: So you ended up in dog fighting
Paul: oh yeah oh yeah
Interviewer: Tell me about it any occasion that you had?
Paul: Well, see I was new in the wing so he fly is a flight of four this pattern was developed during World War two tactics that two planes always stayed together the flight leader in the wingman the element leader number three man and number four men two man were always afloat to you, always, no matter what so when we engage the enemy fighters the element leader was the flight leader the element leader their job is to look ahead and try to get the enemy my job as a wingman was to stay in formation no matter where they went and be looking behind to protect his tail so you didn’t have to look back there so I’m looking up here looking back there and flying all over this sky but I was real proud of myself because I never lost my flight leader I was always with him and he was real happy for that during some of our early missions some of the element
leaders lost their wing men because going all over the sky but by lost I mean they got separated so anyway we engaged the MiGs there oh maybe a half a dozen times not very not very long not very often but there were times when the MiGs would come down to at us you see the tracer is coming past and say brake too hard this way so I never got got hit by the Migs my own plane and my flight did leader never did either but some of our planes got shot up pretty badly and they came home to survive and fly again but I don’t recall it any of our aircraft were at that time lost to the MIG fighters because they came in fast and we thought we could turn inside of them because they had swept wing right straight when we thought we could turn inside of him later on when they captured Migs and flew them we realized that if they’d slow down they could have stayed right with us but they came down shot at us took off and so um they will did that a few times but then later on they realize that our straight wing couldn’t fly like this swept wing so later on they developed the tacky of coming right through our formation going
down hitting the bombers and going down we tried say ‘some and we had a mock
limitation point eight too so we go down the plane starts shaking keep pursuing him the wings and fall off so we had to back off so we were totally ineffective at that time when the Migs left us in the dust and went down hit the bombers so then the Bombers went to night raids so we were done with that so our whole wing was then transferred to the Fifth Air Force Tactical Air Command so then we flew like all other tactical fighters so as
ground support interdiction you name it the whole bit so most of our missions were that
Interviewer: At the time the US soldier were withdrawn
Paul: Hh yeah yeah full time yeah trying to get the heck out of it, they had a hard time
Interviewer: Any of your mission was regard to the chosen few?
Paul: We were up in that area I can’t remember the all the geographic locations but we were up there all over North Korea I knew North Korea like the back of my hand you get
down there and we knew where we were we didn’t have all the sophisticated navigation stuff they have nowadays but we knew the geography of the area very well I can’t remember all the towns and locations of it to
Interviewer: Any battle that you remember that you of the Air Force US Air Force was helping and supporting the withdrawal of US forces
Paul: Yeah well we did a lot of that all over the place but was it Hamhung
Interviewer: Yes, Hamhung
Paul: We were playing close supporting that area I was later on when all of our troops are trying to get the heck out of there and we’re trying to protect him and not damage our own people and try to intersect the the enemy there but we had missions way up above and we had always a secondary mission if we couldn’t find enemy directly we had alternative mission was a called “ Armed Interdiction”. We’d scout the area to find targets of opportunity and hit them and so we had complete control of the air our Air Force Navy and all the rest during the whole period of time as the MiGs were there to cause trouble that they couldn’t dominate it couldn’t hurt their Air Force I don’t think ever hit our forces on the ground not that I’m aware of
Paul: so that helped a tremendous amount right there so we did our best but you know when you’re up in the air you can’t see exactly what’s there you have to becareful of you don’t hit your with friendly fire your own people so we tried our best on that but we had an excellent technique for frontline support had what they called mosquito pilots.
Interviewer: yep yep yep
Paul: So we worked with them they had the 86 Air Force pilot up front army radio man in the back the army radio man knew what is going on the ground.
Paul: And he could talk to the pilot pilot would be back here come down as eighty six shooter 2 inch smoke rocket down it was hit off a white smoke okay your target so many yards this way or that way from the smoke. So we dive down we’d hit him with whatever we had when we first went in there you’d make pass after pass until all your amunitions were gone all your machine guns everything was gone. By the time we left there in June of 50 you made one pass you got out of there because their anti-aircraft fire really improved tremendously over those few months
Interviewer: I see can you describe the first moment occasion where you face the Mig-15 and do you remember that moment and can you describe your feeling
emotion were you scared?
Paul: Not really because the adrenaline was there and I had tremendous confidence in my own flying ability that I could do anything that was required. And I had less fear in my mind fighting the MiGs because I could see everything then when I was on ground targets the guns are down there anyplace shooting at me you know so I couldn’t see where the enemy was or who was shooting at me, so I had much more confidence flying up in the sky and I did my ground support. After the Korean War came back and then I went to school here an joined a Hawaii Air National Guard and we flew F-86 and someone so had emblems on from Korea so I’ve spent three years there was going to engineering school. I flew you know like the Air National Guard two weeks full-time the summer and then weekends from time to time. And we’d go out and shoot targets tonight I had some of the best scores on the target to shoot. I’m so I felt I was very, very top notch.
Interviewer: How many pilots were in Kyoto? You were there?
Paul: How many pilots
Paul: Oh I can’t imagine because they had 51’s F 80s we had F-84 so we had three squadrons and …
Interviewer: Each squad how many pilots?
Paul: Well we had about 25 like 25 aircraft but not every aircraft is flying every day cuz of maintenance and that sort of thing.
Interviewer: Oh so one squadron has a 25
Paul: 25 aircraft and 25 people pilots so more or less I measure
Interviewer: More than 25 because the pilot has to be always you know rotate right?
Paul: Not really I mean…
Interviewer: So if you have a 25 aircraft and there are 25 or more pilots?
Paul: No the thing is that 25 aircraft were not all functional every day.
Paul: So we had between a half and two thirds or three fourths that were functional in one time and so there were many many days I’d fly two missions in one day they fly one in the morning one in the afternoon
Interviewer: Must be very hard
Paul: It was very intense
Interviewer: How many squadron in Kyoto at the time?
Paul: How many squadrons I really don’t know because they had three different groups
Paul: And if there are three different wings than 75 each so when you multiply it out so we’d have 450 or so. So
Interviewer: Were you able to write letter back to your family
Paul: oh yeah
Interviewer: How often did you do it?
Paul: Oh not every day but as frequently as i could but at that time I was not married that came later so I write home to my family in Illinois mostly to my mother and I give credit for a surviving that old thing to my mother’s prayers she kept me alive.
Interviewer: Did you yeah also did you send some money back to your family?
Paul: I’m not really cuz they they had enough money and what little money I had whatever it was went into savings and so my left The airforce what i consider be a significant amount by that time but i was very frugal my whole life was raised in Depression years and I squeezed every penny so.
Interviewer: Exactly depression really was 1930s
Paul: But I was lived in a small , this is digressing now, lived in small-town Iowa and we had a home…
Paul: a warm bed to sleep in with food to eat and my father mother knew how to survive a big garden and two cows and pigs and chickens and stuff so we had food eat. A lot of people were starving but I was very blessed my whole life.
Interviewer: Very good, ah tell me about the life there at the Teague what did you
Paul: Nothing much but fly I didn’t go into town there we
Interviewer: Didn’t go?
Paul: No no because we’re at the air base there and we were flying all the time. Ok so it was mostly get up and eat and sleep and fly that’s about what I did there in Teague.
Interviewer: You were not curious about the Korean society the Korean people?
Paul: Well I didn’t have time to really think a lot about it and at that time a lot of the Korea was pretty well devastated from from the war from the North Koreans coming down. And South Koreans trying to survive and you know the city of Seoul was pretty much in ruins we flew over the number of times and looked like it’s mostly ruins at that time. So it’s amazing how it’s developed over these years.
Interviewer: yeah how was food and life there?
Paul: It was fine we had good food eat at the airbase they gave us what we wanted we had to like a buffet we could chose what we wanted to eat.
Paul: It was fine we had you know as much as we wanted to eat the variety of things so it wasn’t like a lot of K rations for the troops on the front line someplace.
Interviewer: Pilots been really well treated right?
Paul: Oh yeah
Interviewer: Always yeah
Paul: Yeah so a lot of people are kind of envious of the Air Force and the pilots because of our are privileged living conditions
Paul: But we did our duty as best we could.
Interviewer: Any dangerous moment during your service in Korea
Paul: Ah, almost every mission is a apprehensive but I got to the point where I was so confident that I had no problem going down and doing my job and
sometimes I was a Second Lieutenant we’d have other pilots they were full-time
duty supply officers but they were pilots they’d have to fly from time to time so
there are times when I had a wingman it was a Major and they followed me down. I
was the leader so when your flight leader your flight leader no matter what their rank is. Like I said it’s a almost no interaction with the Korean people
Interviewer: Got it
Paul: If there were some Koreans working on the airbase it was you would see them or something but you didn’t have time to visit with them and and inner relate to them so it was just that they were there and we were there and they were doing their thing we’re doing our thing. So well there’s one one time I got a black eye that’s my major wound was flying his uh Def 84 we take it off and pick up maybe 15,000 feet or so all sudden the canopy just exploded
Interviewer: Oh really
Paul: The whole thing went off in pieces
Interviewer: Why was that?
Paul: Well because they analyzed it and it was kind of not a circular it was a elliptical and so like from time to time the air pressure would expand it out and come down so the flexing of it I guess we can the plastic
Paul: Where it got destroyed so they quickly modified that they put strips reinforcing longitudinal and transverse and so looked like you look out little windows all over the place where before he had clear open view. So when that thing blew off, I lost mine, you always had the viser the piece that comes down your oxygen mask is there, my oxygen mask was still there so I could still talk to people but the noise that air going past was like huge noise
Interviewer: So noisy
Paul: Ya, so I had to abort the mission I had a full load of 5 inch rockets I think and so I called my flight leader my problem and so they went on their mission I went back to the base and they have a place for that kind of emergency so you go to the dump and dump your munitions and fly around the world to lower your fuel load so you can land on that little strip so I did all those things I knew the procedures so I landed and went in and and pieces someplace hit me in the forehead here a little bit here so I ended up with a black eye. But I didn’t go forward with a to get a Purple Heart for a black eye so it’s not on the official record anywhere but that’s was my only wound. But on other missions later on the war close support we’d come down we’d wing over to come down and I came back sometimes with a bullet hole through the top of my wing as we’re coming down the bullet would come up that way and other times there was a bullet came in the front of fuselage ahead of me but it wasn’t you know it was close to me but it wasn’t in my cockpit with me so I didn’t get wounded from enemy fire.
Interviewer: When did you leave Korea
Paul: In June of 51
Interviewer: What were you feeling what were you thinking when you were departing Korea?
Paul: Well it’s happy to be gone because I didn’t have to face the enemy for another time but see after i had a hundred combat missions our squadron commander told us you don’t have to fly anymore but we have missions but we need to do and our relief is not yet here so it’s all voluntary. So I stayed on said I’ll keep flying and so then of course it is is competition some pilots what too have the most missions so one of our pilots gotta maybe 100 forty one hundred forty five missions but I got a hundred and 30 they said that’s enough. I said that’s fine with me. I don’t mind and so by that time we had relief pilots coming in and so it was just a matter of time until we flew out of there. Then…
Interviewer: So what did you do after you come back from Korea?
Paul: Well I ,I came back and went back to Texas and by that time we were just flying training flights and so forth we flew a lot of missions out of Burkshum them up for Kansas and we had interceptor flights on B-29s to train their Gunners. We’d make
pass after pass after pass while they shot cameras at us so forth so I did a number of times I must have been a dozen or two dozen times that went up on those missions but i was young then and single we had a lot of married pilots in our outfit from World War Two so there weren’t too many of us that were single and so we got all these other missions and that was fine with me because we’d stay up there for a while got TDY so we stayed up there and make a few extra bucks so a lot of times in the Air Force I was able to send my whole paycheck back to the bank and Dixon for savings because I could live off of my per diem but it was there so I was very frugal through my whole life on everything had opportunity to go to school so I went to Squadra Officer Training School Maxwell Air Force Base Alabama so there was six I don’t know what was eight weeks or ten weeks whatever it was I stayed with the family there because they didn’t have room on the base and it’s kind of interesting because the family stayed with they had a room there for people like me and paid a modest amount for the room rent and they were with a religious group called the Primitive Baptist and so that was new to me so there’s like Hellfire and damnation you go to the sermon gone for hours you know talking about all the stuff they talked about so I didn’t really quite fit in with my background but when I was a Protestant back in Iowa and Illinois and the Grace Evangelical Church would have a I forget what they called it temperance a week or something that’d be a guest preacher come in for a couple of weeks and speak every night on same type of thing Hellfire and damnation if you don’t live right you’re going to go the wrong way so I was familiar with that sort of thing they were very nice people I learned a lot there went back to Texas and had an opportunity for another school there, Intelligence Officers School so I went up to Lowry Air Force Base Denver and went for a class up there forever long it was a number of weeks and part of that training there was survival training so you end up in the mountains above. Where is the Air Force Academy?
Interviewer: Colorado Springs,
Paul: Yah, Colorado Springs we went down there we went through a little bit of
ground train and went up in the mountains with backpacks and to survive in the mountains and of course so they didn’t have a place for fighter pilots is mostly like long-range bombers and they’d have a crew so to assemble a half a dozen of us together to go as a unit so we went up there and and learned how to survive in the mountains so that was interesting period of time you have to evade two people so you can’t go in the roads you’d be picked up and hold back and start over again and interrogated and so forth so that was interesting a period of time here and so we lived off these little K rations and you weren’t allowed to bring along candy bars or
other supplemental things you’re supposed to live off the land
Interviewer: Was a survival Training
Paul: Survival training and so the first night I was cold all night as we were up there and you have a sleeping bag and had your little parachute that was for a tent you know and so it was cold up there and so after the first night they had a lot of pine trees around so I gather up big arms full of these pine needles make a mattress put my sleeping bag on top of that because you sleep on the bare ground bag
Paul: that’s right down against that frozen ground you’re freezing so I slept good after that it’s like a like mummy you slipping this thing put a zipper up it’s all around you all the lines just your face sticking out I slept real good after that but we got long enough and then you come to the point where you have to cross the enemy lines or something so I went down and I tried to hide till I got down there watch the patrols coming and
going I was kind of down in the snow there behind some bushes and things I
thought is clear so I went across the line
Interviewer: When you left korea in june of 1951..
Interviewer: Did you have any hope about the future of Korea that Korea could be
developed like this today?
Paul: I had no idea it’d be like it is today, I had no idea because there’s so much it’s, kind of like Europe you know Germany today isn’t like it was after World War Two you know big cities all bombed out so it’s just amazing, power of freedom that people have in Korea, South Korea and in Taiwan and other places that are away from all that dictatorship business. You know so it’s just amazing to me what South Korea has done and is doing produce automobiles I mean they’re competitive of everybody in the world on everything. So it’s a hard-working intelligent people. But my wife went to school with people from Korean ancestry all the Korean ancestry people here we’re constantly trying to find ways and means to help their countrymen that was underneath the Japan Japanese control the Japanese army was terrible I read something about the Japanese Navy which picked up some survivors from some of our Navy ships that were sunk they would receive much better treatment than the Bataan Death March when they surrendered in Philippines there at the beginning of the war and what the Japanese Army did what the Japanese Army did in any place that they controlled in the South Pacific or in China Seas a little bit about this Nanking Massacre the Japanese did against China so some of that still a sore point between Japan and Korea and China so the barbarism is innate in the Middle East right now and it’s a part of human nature
Interviewer: Have you been back to Korea?
Interviewer: No, how do you know about all this developed aspect of the Korean society?
Paul: Well, National Geographic the newspaper the the whole media I am aware of all these things so I, I just try to keep up to date with what’s going on all over the world so
Interviewer: So are you proud of your service during the war?
Paul: Well I am but, um um in that my pride is that I did the best I could for my country my fellow soldiers and airmen and all the rest of it and trying to be a benefit to the Korean people too and so I had all these idealistic motivations to do what I did but at the same time I have colleagues that were in service with me they ended up in Vietnam and other places and some ended up this way or that way and something else you know so the stories of John McCain and some of the others in their prisons in Hanoi for years and I could have been there but stayed in got shot down so i’m glad i left because when I left I had no idea there was going to be more wars and when I left it was pretty much a stalemate but not quite but it was headed that way I know these things happen I just don’t need to have it right now front of my face I don’t need to have to relive it this one mission we’ve been flying missions sometimes they’re always sometimes late so this one came in the late evening it was almost dark but not quite
Paul: Yeah i’m not sure what month of be but the enemy Chinese North Koreans whoever they were we came into this close support area and we had a mission to check this one area out and this was a few miles above our front lines so our troops are behind us little ways we came down this one Valley and I couldn’t believe my eyes coming out of the hills big lines of troops coming down coming down the road or tanks and trucks wow
Interviewer: What happened?
Paul: Well we came in to knock him out and we did
Interviewer: That’s a Chinese or North Koreans?
Paul: Well I don’t know who was down but the enemy so anyway we came down there by that time I had lots of experience so I came down and we had radar-controlled gunsights wasn’t like the old World War Two kind so we had ranging it set the thing on the target there you know a lot of these movies are so just dishonest because he shows our fighter planes coming down all the bullets going along like a totally an effective like hit something might not well that’s not the way it was with us you come down you get that target right in the bullseye squeeze it off and you hit it you didn’t spray bullets all over the place
Paul: squeeze off a burst came down to this one truck lined it up at the proper range threw you off a burst and 6 50 caliber machine guns and they were rapid-fire than we have any rounds per minute but they were extremely effective when they’re all focused in on one point you just squeeze that off the whole thing blew up
Paul: All over the place so we went there and after we got done with that, because they didn’t have any aircraft fire against us because they weren’t prepared for us coming in. So we heard later that our ground troops never met them so we totally disrupted their operation, because they were going to come down and engage our troops at night. And so we had a very effective interdiction so that was impressive to me that we did something that was beneficial to our cause. So a lot of time targets are hard to find you find something, armed interdiction we had some missions with extra fuel tanks you might clear up into the far northeast corner of Korea right across the boundary there with the Soviet Union.
Tape cuts out