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The military history of
"A Boy from the Bronx"



Long May She Wave


At the age of 18, on Labor Day 1942 at Governors Island, N.Y., I enlisted in the Army, but due to insufficient vision in my right eye, I was rejected.


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In December of 1942, Congress passed a law to lower the draft age to 18. December 28th was my lucky day! This time, the lack of vision in my right eye was of no consequence. As long as I had 20/20 in one eye, I was able to pass the physical. I was sworn into the U.S. Army that same day, and given the serial number 32696559. Yeah!!


I was given one week to take care of my personal business, and told to report for active duty on the 4th of January, 1943. At Pennsylvania Station, I and several hundred others, boarded the train to Camp Upton, N.Y.





Four days later, Friday morning, found us on a troop train, bound for Miami Beach, Fl. Upon our arrival Saturday afternoon, we were taken to our hotels. These were to be our barracks during our Basic Training period. We were now in the Army Air Corps.


Miami Beach, January 1943





America Slept Tight.

I Was On Guard Duty,

That Night!


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We marched through the streets, drilled and did our Physical Training on the beaches, and used a mile long section of beachfront for the rifle range. Basic Training lasted 6 weeks.


At the completion of this period, soldiers were sent to airbases, or to various technical schools throughout the country, for further training. Every man was assigned to whatever the Air Corps felt he was best suited for.


I spent the next 6 weeks attending Drill Instructor school, there at Miami Beach. Upon graduating, I continued as an instructor on the Beach until May 23, and was then sent to a new Basic Training Center (BTC#10) in Greensboro, NC.


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During my 1 year stay there, I attained the grade of Staff Sergeant (S/Sgt). While stationed here I went home to New York on a furlough in March, married the love of my life, Harriet White, and we both went back to Greensboro. As you can guess, 6 weeks later I was on my way overseas!


March 19, 1944




The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,
and the Luckiest Guy.



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On May 23, along with 5000 other men, I boarded the Gen. George M. Randall, an army troop ship, at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, bound for unknown shores.
Two days before we landed, we were informed of our destination......India!
"Land of Mystery and Enchantment."
Better still, make that the land of,
"Misery and Entrancement."


From Virginia down to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, passing New Zealand and Tasmania, down around the bottom of Australia, right into the harbor of Fremantle, Western Australia. It was during our trip across the Pacific that we learned of the invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6,1944.


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When we docked in Fremantle, we were given permission to go ashore for a couple of days. This gave us time to visit the capital city of Perth. Then it was back aboard, as we continued on our way to India, arriving in Bombay on the 6th of July. We were now in the China, Burma, India theatre of operations, or as it was called, the CBI. This trip from Virginia to India, took a total of 44 days! Our ship had traveled without an escort, except for the last 5 days.


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Most of the time at sea was miserable. Breakfast at 5am, and dinner at 5pm. We slept in bunks that were 6 high, took salt water showers (the soap left a film of scum on your body), had to remain below deck at night. There was no air conditioning, only ventilation.
Most certainly not a 5 Star cruise!


However, we all enjoyed the initiation ceremony into the "Ancient Order of the Shellbacks".This is a ritual that is performed aboard naval and military ships whenever they cross the Equator. All those who are crossing for the first time are initiated.





(click 3 times)






Bombay, India




Me and a Friendly Cobra!



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In Bombay we stayed at a Royal Air Force Base just outside of the city. Here, we were waiting for our assignments. During the 5 days there, I went sightseeing in Bombay daily.
A real tourist...at government expense!


From Bombay I was sent to Calcutta.





In Calcutta I was assigned to the 10th Air Force headquarters, stationed at Hastings Air Base, and found myself doing electrical wiring. As this was to be a temporary assignment, I didn't mind it at all. In my free time I was able to sightsee in Calcutta.


When you visit the heart of this city, which at that time was the second largest of the Britsh Empire, you have to thank G_d that you are an American, and that you live in this great big wonderful country of ours!


During my time at Hastings, I met Lord Louis Mountbatten. He was the Supreme Commander of the South East Asia Command (SEAC). A true gentleman.


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Burma Jungle





Here I am holding a Japanese helmet and skull.


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From Calcutta to the jungles of Burma, via a short stay (5 days) at Chengtu, China, was next on my itinerary. This was a new ballgame. This was where the war was taking place. The city was Myitkyina! It was here that I picked up my prized souvenier, a Japanese rifle and bayonet, now in the possession of my nephew Eric.


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Sahmaw, Burma January 1945





~ The Red Gorillas ~

The entire 58th Fighter Squadron, posed in front of a P-38





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Finally, I was assigned to a permanent outfit. The 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Group. We were in transistion, converting from P-47's to the P-38's, Thunderbolts to Lightenings. At this time we moved to a jungle airfield, closer to the enemy lines. Our task was giving air cover to the British 14th Army and the Indian 36th Divisions. Light bombing and ground strafing was done, besides knocking the Japanese planes out of the sky.


Stationed in the jungle, the enemy was only one of our concerns. Mosquito's carrying Malaria and Dengue Fever, poisonous snakes (King Cobra's, Cobra's, Kraits) leeches in the streams, biting and stinging insects, and tigers, were all threatening factors. Early one morning, a 350 lb. tiger was shot and killed near our mess hall!







TIGER!




TIGER, TIGER, Shining Bright,
in the forest of the night.....

This tiger was shot as it came into our company area, during the early morning hours.
(I'm at the lower right.)


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The war in Europe ended in May, but in Burma the fighting was still going on. By the end of June, Japanese airplanes were a thing of the past, and their troops were practically eliminated in Burma. In July, we were sent back to Kharagpur, a large B-29 airfield in India. Here we began to train for what was to be the invasion of Japan. Dropping the atom bombs in August brought the war to an end, and V-J Day in September was the finale.


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Holding a Japanese flag




Morris Philips, British soldiers, and myself. Morris and I are holding the flag.
I am on the left.
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In October the entire 33rd fighter Group airlifted to Karachi, India. Along the way we flew over the famous Taj Mahal, circling the area several times.
That is truly a magnificent structure.


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After a short time in Karachi, we boarded the Norwegian freighter MS Torrens, and departed for the good old U. S. of A.! Unlike the Gen. Randall, this ship held only 1500 men, 1000 of them being the entire 33rd Fighter Group. (58th,59th,and 60th Fighter Squadrons)


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And now it was through the Indian Ocean, into the Red Sea through the Suez Canal, and a brief stop to refuel at Port Said, Egypt. Then it was into the Meditteranean, past the Rock of Gibraltar into the Atlantic, and straight into New York Harbor. Our arrival on Dec.7, was greeted by fireboats in the harbor, spraying red, white, and blue water into the air. Ships blasted their horns, and sirens wailed. Big signs on the shores stated, "Welcome Home, Well Done". The Empire State building, and our "lady in the harbor", the Statue of Liberty, never, ever, looked so good.


We docked in New Jersey. This 21 day voyage, Karachi to New York, was a pleasureable "cruise".

Here we boarded trucks, and were taken to Camp Shanks, Orangeburg, N.Y., where we spent the night, but not before we had our first stateside meal. That traditional steak dinner, which was served to us by German prisoners of war. The time was 1:30 a m.

The next day it was on to Fort Dix, NJ. Three days later, December 11,1945 (I LOVE THAT DATE), we were presented with that long awaited piece of paper, with those wonderful words,

"Honorable Discharge".


There is my saga, covering a period of
2 years, 11 months, and 14 days.