I clean up pretty well.
14, 1944 was one of my lucky days. That afternoon while
we were enjoying some coffee in our house, Headquarters
sent word down for me to be prepared to leave for Naples.
After completing 64 missions, I was scheduled to be
sent back to the US. I was the first in the 444th squadron
to have that many missions except for some 444th squadron
officers at Headquarters. When I first arrived pilots
were sent home after 40 missions, then the Air Force
changed the requirements and left it open-ended. They
would not tell you how many missions you had to fly.
This made the older pilots very mad so they sometimes
just took it easy and let the younger pilots fly instead.
I asked the operations officer to put me down to fly,
because I wanted to get the missions in.
visiting captain who was in our house when I received
my orders asked me how much I would take for my area
of the House. He was tired of living in a tent. The
house cost about $1200 to build so we all thought $300
was a fair price. The captain showed up the next day
with the money. The squadron moved to Corsica two months
later so he got a good deal for his money.
was not much to do at the 7th Repell Center in Naples
where we waited to be sent home except to check the
board every day to see if we were on order to go home.
My last day there I visited The University of Naples.
It sits on a high bluff where you can see the Isle of
Capri. I could see hundreds of boats of every kind.
I was sure that they were ready to invade Southern France.
We learned two days later that they were landing in
boarded one of five boats set to take us back to the
USA. They assigned us a nice stateroom. The only problem
was there were 12 officers in one room. All the bottom
bunks were taken so I had a top bunk. That first night
they served a very fine meal, but it was too rich for
me and gave me some trouble. After that the meals were
ok. We visited the PX during the day and if you were
there at the right time you could get some good candy
trip home took fourteen boring days, but the weather
was pretty good. No one that I know of became seasick.
On the last day we saw the Statue of Liberty. Two tugboats
came out to meet us and opened the submarine gates so
we could get into the harbor. We boarded a truck that
took us over to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. A night and
a day later a train took us Camp Shelby at Hattiesburg,
Mississippi. We were given a 10-day pass at Camp Selby
and coupons for new shoes. By midnight I was on a bus
to Jackson, Mississippi. I was able to get on the second
section bus to Tallulah, Louisiana where I could change
busses for Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Unfortunately at Tallulah,
the bus for Pine Bluff did not wait for the second section
and there were not any more busses or trains for Pine
Bluff for fifteen hours so I tried hitchhiking. Luckily
an Army major on his way to Pine Bluff picked me up.(Continued)