Morrison Field, Borinquen Field, & Waller Field
20 November 1942, we flew to Morrison Field,
West Palm Beach, FL. We were given shots
for overseas duty and had complete physicals.
The planes were thoroughly tested and any
needed repairs were made (I wish I had picked
up extra brake valves). We flew to Borinquen
Field, Puerto Rico (it took 5 hours), then
on to Waller Field, Trinidad. We stayed
long enough to see the city and go to the
USO where we danced with the local girls,
one of whom proposed to me. Fortunately,
the Air Corps required that we stay single
(as well as be in perfect health). I also
was introduced to rum & cokes in Trinidad.
a few days, we flew to Atkinson Field, Georgetown,
British Guiana. At this time my pilot contracted
pneumonia and was sent back to Florida for
treatment. Because the air was so sultry
and humid, it took a lot of work to keep
the planes in good flying condition. Propellers
were cleaned with oil, but the next morning
they would have rust all over and had to
be cleaned again. Brake valves had to be
continually removed for cleaning or they
would not work. In some cases, we had to
part out old planes just to keep our planes
in shape. One day while learning to shoot
out on the firing range, the tail gunner
accused me of never having shot a gun. When
I pulled out a photo of me holding a shotgun
in one hand and a dead prairie dog in the
other, he thought that was so funny, he
threw himself on the ground laughing! Finally,
after three weeks, our pilot returned, and
we took a test flight over the river to
Georgetown and back. On the return trip,
he flew so low that the deck of a river
boat was above us, and we had to look up
to see the people on the boat. The whole
area was infested with snakes and crocodiles,
as well as parrots and monkeys. Some native
people had a disease called Elephantitis
that swelled a leg 4 times larger than normal!
Val-de-Caes Field & Parnamirim Field
next trip was to Val-de-Caes Field in Belém,
Brazil. There was heavy fog rising up from
the forest below when we arrived. While
there, I bought a pocketbook made of crocodile
skin for my Mother and bought myself a
ruby ring that I still wear.
next flight was to Parnamirim Field in Natal,
Brazil. The brakes failed when we came in
for landing and we had to use the emergency
air bottle to stop. Evidence indicated that
the hydraulic system had been sabotaged.
The pilot dared the engineering officer
to fly on the plane. When he refused, the
Commanding Officer declared the plane unsafe.
Since we had to wait five days for other
transportation, one day we hired a taxi
to tour Natal. We went to a dance hall.
We were warned that the local men
were very jealous of the local girls. We
decided to leave before any trouble started.
So we went to the seashore and swam in the
ocean. After drinking green coconut juice,
my stomach was upset and has been sensitive
ever since. At this time, I also found out
I had athletes foot. Meanwhile, Capt. Himmereich,
the co-pilot, went to a dance with other
officers and their wives. He had too much
to drink and when one of the ladies refused
his offer to dance, he thumbed his nose
at her whole group. Unfortunately, he had
insulted the Governor's wife! The MP's were
called and the judge wanted to send him
to jail, but Lt. Col. Simms, our pilot,
said he would confine him to quarters so
he couldn't bother anybody else. No more
promotions for Capt. Himmereich! Then, in
the middle of the night, they came &
got us up, saying we have to leave immediately.
The affair had caused an international incident.
Ascension Island & Accra, Gold Coast Africa
flew to Ascension Island on an Army transport
plane. When we landed, three jeeps came
rumbling up hoping we had brought the mail.
The soldiers told us there was only one
girl on the island, the mayor's daughter.
I felt sorry for those troops! We then flew
to Africa's Gold Coast to a village named
Accra. Those who needed medical attention
received it at the time, including me for
athlete's foot. The young natives who served
us meals were very glad to see us and served
us well. We next flew north over the desert.
Looking down I saw camels and a sandstorm.
We landed at Roberts Field, Liberia where
tangerine trees grew. Women had to cover
their faces with veils and they rode on donkey
carts. If a father noticed us looking at a
girl, he beat the donkey and sped away.
A soldier from another group made the mistake
of taking the veil off a girl; he was
later found dead with his head on his chest!