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In war there is no second prize for the runner-up.
-- General Omar Bradley
Our Combat Crew's operated RB-29s prior to the Korean Conflict from Kadena AB, Okinawa. We were accomplishing border surveillance flights both electronic and visual photography of sensitive areas with some overflights of targets of concern to the defense of the United States. Unfortunately our equipment, both aircraft, photo and electronic capabilities were antiquated and derelict.
The RB-29s had been in the theater almost since the end of WW-II and suffered from extreme corrosion due to the salt air environment of the Pacific.
The determination of the ground and flight crews to "AIM HI" never wavered. We accomplished the impossible fighting the elements with the equipment at hand. At the excellent direction of our maintenance officer Capt. Mike Moffett and his maintenance personnel the mission was accomplished with a lot of sweat, blood and tears working around the clock to complete the assigned mission.
June of 1950 was not a magic month. All aircraft were in commission when the Korean outbreak occurred. We were immediately reassigned to Yokota AB, Japan for our assigned mission of armed reccon over Korea. We did pre and post bomb damage assessment of dams, power plants, airfields, bridges and targets of military importance along the Yalu River and entirety of North Korea. Targets of opportunity from the ground up.to 30,000 ft. Targets included military convoys, trains, tank farms and moving tanks scurrying from the open area to cover.
One tank farm consisting of aproximately 86 tanks was spotted and we called in fighter/bombers to work them over while we flew top cover for them. Then we worked them over with everything we had while the fighters covered for us. Munition trains were prime targets and there was ample amounts of them. Raking a target of that type from the rear to the locomotives in front were especially inviting. Soldiers would be firing at us on board the trains with rifles and machine guns as we passed. When the steam engine was hit by 50 cal. armored piercing bullets they would penetrate all the way thru and it almost looked like Old Faithful erupting. Of course when the munitions cars were hit it looked like a Fourth of July display that you've never seen.
They would scramble for a tunnel and we would seal both ends off and call Navy Dive bombers in to lob 500# bombs inside. In Wonsan and Hamhung Harbor's when Sampans were spotted and rather than to shoot them up we would blow them over by coming in at deck level and pull up just before passing over. They were loaded with munitions. That was ample and at least they would have a chance of survival.
Several weeks before Christmas 1950 our crew started collecting sundries items not available to the front line troops like new underwear,socks toothpaste/brushes,
shaving cream/razors soap etc plus 186 fifths of Booze. Another RB-29 crew commanded by 1st Lt. Earle H. Ambrose picked up on it and they also dropped the same things to another outfit along the 38th parallel where his brother was located that Christmas Day. These items were packed in surplus crates and attached parachutes.
Both drops were 100% successful and a letter of thanks was received from the 65th Engineers, Medics and Heavy Motors Group, Ammo Supply Point who were the recipients. Letter follows as best that I can read it after 50 years.
"Crew B 3 Aircraft #929, Honeybucket Honcho, Lt Earl Myers. John Becker, Willie Wilson, M/Sgt Carl Bomgardner, Sgts Pffiffer, Hiem, Gosnell, Beaton, Johnson,
Brooks and Frezza. Crew C-3, A/C #4000, Tiger Lill, Lt. Earle Ambrose, Prince, Stone, Womack, Welch, and names obliterated due to time.
The men of The 65th were the surprised and grateful men who received the gifts you dropped in our area Christmas Day. It would be hard to tell just how the men felt, what they thought when something so unusual as what you have done for them (obliterated) . To say thank you is putting it mildly, but it is hard to find the right words to say, "Thank You and God Bless You" is about the best I can think of and I do mean it. You wanted to know if anything was damaged, not a thing, not even a drop dripping. It was so round ,so firm, so fully packed.
You did a wonderful job all the way around. I'd say between 400-500 men received a share of your thoughtfulness and I say again, it was really appreciated. When the men saw the fifths coming out you would have thought all hell had broken loose. Every once in a while they would say " Why the Hell would anyone do that for us? They just couldn't understand.
I'll close now. It took me 2 days to write this much. If I was to write more it probably
would take a week. Thank you and God Bless You again. Best of luck to all of you. M/Sgt Aloysius J. Graham, Co. A, 65th Engineer Battalion APO 25 ."
Needless to say I become very emotional even to this day when I review Sgt Grahams "Letter of Thanks".
Note: by Earl E Myers, 31/91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Okinawa/Korea.
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