The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Paul A. Bradley [2/4/2004]

Judith J. Kent:

Today is February 4, 2004. This is Judith Kent speaking for the Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast, Florida. Joining me today is Paul A. Bradley, who has volunteered to participate in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Mr. Bradley was born on April 26, 1928, and now resides in Palm Coast, Florida. Thank you, Mr. Bradley, for agreeing to share your story of your military experience. Would you state just for the record the war during which you served?

Paul A. Bradley:

I served during the Korean Conflict.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. The branch of the military?

Paul A. Bradley:

I was in the United States Air Force.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. You mentioned also the Strategic Air Command?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. You were still in the Air Force?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes.

Judith J. Kent:

How did that work?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, when I transferred back from Korea, after the truce and they rotated me back home, I was assigned to the Strategic Air Command and flew out of Bangor, Maine, flew KB-29s. And they were -- they were B-29 bombers that had been converted into aerial tankers.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay.

Paul A. Bradley:

And our task was to rendezvous with jet aircraft, which were then the vogue, and refuel them in flight. And --

Judith J. Kent:

So you were kind of on loan to them from the Air Force?

Paul A. Bradley:

No, no. It's -- no. The Strategic Air Command is and was a part of the Air Force.

Judith J. Kent:

Part of the Air Force.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. So it was a continuation of your career?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes.

Judith J. Kent:

Once you enroll.

Paul A. Bradley:

To enroll.

Judith J. Kent:

__________ make a change. Okay. Let's go back to the beginning now and talk about where you were born and raised.

Paul A. Bradley:

I was born in Troy, New York, a city which is located maybe seven or ten miles north of Albany, New York, right in the Hudson River Valley. And the -- it's the -- the term "Uncle Sam" was generated from Troy, New York during World -- or during the Civil War.

Judith J. Kent:

Really?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. One of the oddities of life. But anyhow, my folks bought a home about four months after I was born in Watervliet, New York, which is a Dutch word meaning watershed right on the -- just south of the Mohawk River. Beautiful country, except in the wintertime.

Judith J. Kent:

Bitter cold.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. It was the Depression. And my folks struggled during the Depression just like the folks of almost all the people that are in my age group. And everybody learned to work hard.

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

Be careful with your money.

Judith J. Kent:

Right.

Paul A. Bradley:

And they did well. When World War II came along, it really jolted the country economically, and my parents began to recover from the consequences of the Depression. In fact, they both went to work in a (?water bead?) arsenal, which is a federal arsenal. It's been in existence since the Civil War. And they worked there during the war years. And as a matter of fact, when I was 16 years old, I worked there for a summer.

Judith J. Kent:

Did you?

Paul A. Bradley:

And, you know, that would be against the law now. But I worked in the breech block department, and they were making breeches for a .90 millimeter cannon. And the milling machines were -- almost, without exception, were run by women. And there were no able-bodied men working there. They were older men, although I don't remember them, but I know they were there. And I was paired up with a fellow who had -- I don't know what caused it, but he had a birth defect, I suspect. His right arm was just shriveled as if he had polio or something like that. Left arm was something Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of. And he and I worked as a team, and we would move the breech blocks to different machines. And I did that all summer long. It was great for me, and, of course, it helped the war.

Judith J. Kent:

So you're very aware of the military during World War II even though you were quite young?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, I wasn't that young. When World War II came along, I was 13 years old. And there were an enormous number of fellows that I went to school with that lived in the neighborhood, all of whom went in the service, and many of whom did not come back.

Judith J. Kent:

Right.

Paul A. Bradley:

And I can remember, you know, many of them. One of them was just four doors up the street. And he was a childhood friend of mine, and I had an opportunity to kind of commemorate him. A few years ago, the American Air Museum in Ducksbury(ph), England, was founded. And so I sent them some money, and they said, "Well, since you are one of the founding members, you can commemorate anyone you want." So this boyhood friend of mine, his name was Donald W. Lape, L-a-p-e, and his name is on a plaque there and always will be. He died in Europe. He was in the Army. He lasted about 30 days.

Judith J. Kent:

What a waste.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. And there were a lot of them like that, an awful lot of them, from the church, from the neighborhood, from school.

Judith J. Kent:

So World War II came to a close, and you went on with your education?

Paul A. Bradley:

Uh-huh. When I was a senior in high school, I had an opportunity to get into naval aviation. So I made a deal with my principal. I said, "I've got to be a high school graduate to get into this thing." And he said, "Well, if you can get into it, I'll let you graduate early, but," he said, "if you don't make it, you've got to come back." Well, I didn't make it, so I ended up spending the full four years in high school. But then I went to Siena College in Loudonville, New York, which is not far from Albany. I got out of there in three and a half years.

Judith J. Kent:

What was your major?

Paul A. Bradley:

Economics. So you can imagine the way that I view what is going on in this country economically.

Judith J. Kent:

Yes, yes.

Paul A. Bradley:

I understand it. It's terrible.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

But anyhow --

Judith J. Kent:

So then the war was heating up?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, I graduated in January of 1950. In June of 1950, the North Koreans invaded South Korea, and I knew that I was going to go in.

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

And I had gotten a job in a -- in a -- my gosh, Beermanning(ph) Sandpaper Manufacturing Company. It used to be a really big operation; now it isn't. But in any event, I still wanted to get into flying. And I became -- I was accepted for aviation cadet training while still a civilian, but they didn't have any room for me. And then the draft was getting ever closer. So a neighbor of ours who lived two doors down, and he had -- he was -- he made a career of the service. He was a pilot in the Army Air Corps. And I talked to him, and he said, "Look, the thing for you to do is to enlist, tell them what you -- what is going on." He said, "Then follow through on it and you'll get to a class." So that's pretty much the way it happened. I enlisted in January, January 8, 1951, went to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Was there only six weeks, because they were so overcrowded. There was a congressional investigation of what conditions were like there, so they transferred me out to -- and a lot of other fellows -- out to San Angelo, Texas, Goodfellow Air Force Base. I was there about three or four weeks in the air police. And then I got into an aviation cadet training class at Greenville, Mississippi, right on the edge of the Mississippi River. And I lasted there about six weeks and washed out.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, dear.

Paul A. Bradley:

So they gave me an option of where I wanted to go, and I asked them to send me to OCS in San Antonio, Texas, and I ended up back there, waited for a class, got in, went through the musical chairs and became an officer and a gentleman by act of Congress. Then I went to a navigation training and spent a year there. That was very good. We -- this was back before all the modern navigation age that they have today. And we were all trained. We learned dead reckoning a radio, selectional navigation, which was tedious, but it was really fun, because you could go anywhere in the world and know where you were. And what they called polar grid navigation, which was a special kind of navigation where when you're close to the Arctic Circle, you're close to magnetic north, and magnetic compasses don't go like that, they go "ptt" [indicating a sound]. You don't have a compass. So, but in any event, you know, they developed all kinds of navigation techniques really, and we went through it all. And I got into the B-26 program. And I went to -- let's see. We went to Houston, Texas. We were there about four months, took our fundamental navigation training -- maybe it was six months -- and then went to Mather Field in Sacramento and took low-level -- or, well, bombing.

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

Because I was also bombardier, used an Oregon bomb site which all the guys in World War II used, and it was really an interesting piece of equipment. It mechanically solved the tangent function of a right triangle. That's exactly what that machine did. And it was a little more information than -- well, you needed more information than just looking at the target. But if you had all the information and you had time to look at the target for about 30 seconds, you could do pretty accurate bombing. But back then, accurate bombing was a 100-foot circular air. That was really good. Now they can pour it right down a smokestack.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

It's just incredible. But anyhow, we took our bombardier training in Sacramento, and then we were transferred to Langley Field in Virginia. Met the pilot with whom I went overseas. Got checked out on the B-26, lost a couple guys. And learned night low-level navigation, which is awfully difficult, and also bombing, low level. And then we went to Stead Air Force Base in Reno, Nevada, four weeks, escape and evasion training, how to -- if -- how to not get caught, but if you did get caught, they tried to teach you how to act. And fortunately, I managed to avoid that. One of the really bad parts about the Air Force is that if you study the POW lists and the lost in combat records, the Air Force, their percentage of loss is extremely high.

Judith J. Kent:

Is it?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah, it really is. And in Korea in particular, to the best of my knowledge, there were actually no men repatriated from the B-26 program. They were gone. A lot of men. Well, I can't say a lot of men ended up in Russia, but I know some of them did, I am sure. Some were abandoned up there. That's an aspect of Korea that many people really aren't aware of. But it really was like that.

Judith J. Kent:

So you're saying if their plane went down and they parachuted out, still they didn't survive?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, they survived, they just didn't get back. When I was on my way home from Korea, I met a fellow that had been in -- navigation training, I guess I met him. But I remet him on a ship coming back. And he said that he had been in an outfit flying out of Pusan, and their task was to drop supplies to a bomber crew that was on the ground there in North Korea. He said when they signed the truce, we had to stop the flights. That's one I know about for sure. There's a man who at least used to live in Ormond Beach. He was captured by the Koreans. He was in the Army. He spent 33 months in a POW camp on the banks of the Yalu. And it destroyed his health. It really affected his mind. But he tried to keep track of everybody he buried. And apparently, he managed to do it, and he was a great source of information for our government when they started, you know, trying to trace out where everybody was. But anyhow, when we got to Korea, we went to --

Judith J. Kent:

Where were you based?

Paul A. Bradley:

In Korea?

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

Kunsan.

Judith J. Kent:

Kunsan.

Paul A. Bradley:

It was called -- it's nomenclature was K8. And the big base was Pusan, and then there was another one somewhere, and, of course, Seoul. But Seoul really wasn't a base that we used. It was too close to the front lines. It was an emergency place, but it wasn't a place that we used. Kunsan was on the West Coast, and we flew out of there. It was -- we had -- I can't remember the words or the name for the type of runway surface that we had, but it was the temporary kind. It was metal slats that were hooked together on just a level ground. And that was our runway. We didn't have cement or anything like that. And, of course, it ended right at the rice patties. And beyond the rice patties was the ocean.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

But it was a very rough runway. It just -- it was rough. And the bombs we were using were relics of World War II. And my recollection is it was Compound B that they used, and time had taught the lesson that Compound B, over time, became unstable. So it was an exciting event. Every takeoff was an exciting event.

Judith J. Kent:

Why?

Paul A. Bradley:

Because the bombs were on board the aircraft and it was a very rough runway, you know. You know, nothing ever happened, fortunately. But it was just one of the things you worried about.

Judith J. Kent:

What would have been a typical mission? You know, you get the wake-up call, what?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, most of the missions that I flew were at night.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay.

Paul A. Bradley:

And most of the missions for all the B-26 crews were during the night. During the day, all of North Korea was covered by jet fighter bombers -- or fighter interceptors or fighter bombers. I've forgotten now what they called them. But they were -- you know, they were up there peeking over down at the ground, and when they saw something, they would go after it. We were up there at night, and we would have a 50-foot stretch of road -- or 50-mile stretch of road, and we would -- reconnoiter would fly up and down it looking for targets of opportunity. Now, the biggest problem was to find the part of the road you were to be on, because we flew out of -- we flew out of Kunsan, pretty German course in altitude and speed, to a radio station just south of the bomb line, which was roughly the 30th parallel. And we would depart the radio station, no lights, no navigational aids, and unfortunately, during that period of time, the weather was so bad that you really, for the most part, couldn't see anything. You know, nobody had their lights on. The cities had their lights off. People on the ground didn't turn them on. So it was very, very difficult to navigate, because all you could do was what's called dead reckoning, which would get you into the area, but you couldn't be absolutely sure. But we had one great aid. We could call up a ground station, and with the -- what they called Identification Friend or Foe, IDFF, I guess is what it was called. And it's nomenclature was Identification Friend or Foe. And we would ask for a fix, and they would say, "Well" -- they would use the terminology squawk, but what they were saying was push a button and they'd give us a number. They'd say Squawk 2 or Squawk 7 or whatever it was. And they would -- therefore, they would do that. And -- or we would do it, and then they would say, "Okay, you're right here." So then you had a starting point, and you would be aware at that point of where -- how far away you were from where you really wanted to be or where you thought you were and had some idea what the wind was doing to you. So you would -- you know, you would work along and you would get into your area. And if it was a nice, clear night, you know, nobody had their lights on, they would hear you, and they were very cagey. In fact, it was a big cat-and-mouse game. And I remember -- and this pilot I was with, he was really a good pilot. He was excellent, excellent. He had flown B-26s in World War II. He had even flown on D-Day. And he said it was incredible, the number of planes that were in the air. But anyhow, he flew very well. He finally figured out -- we started on a bomber -- we saw some lights on the ground, truck lights. That's normally what we did. So we started a bomb run. And you had to be very fast. I just sat up in the nose of the airplane, and I had a switch and I had the bomb site and I would try to get the crosshairs on the target and drop the bombs before they turned the lights out. And so normally they'd get the lights off before you could __________ them. So you finally decided, well, when we stop the bomb run and I push the power on and begin to climb out, all the lights come back on. So we stayed right in the bomb run, pushed the power forward, the lights came on, and "ptt" [indicating a sound] just once. And really, it was a big cat-and-mouse game. Once in a while you would run into flack, and gee, there were times when it was -- it was really, really extremely close. In fact, just __________+. Because one night we -- all of a sudden somebody opened up on us. And with their first salvo, they were on us. And I hollered to the pilot, I said, "Break to the right." Geez, he broke to the left. And that shell, I'm not exaggerating, went right by there, came right up past where I was sitting, right between the nose of the aircraft and the engine. If they had hit us, we'd have had it right there. We had a full bomb __________+, too. But it missed. And the gunner finally got into action, and I don't think he did miss. Because I sat in the nose of the airplane. I could look back, and I could see his tracers passing, on the way down, the tracers that were coming up, and all of a sudden they stopped. So he either hurt them or he made believers out of them. In any event, they didn't bother us the rest of that night. But --

Judith J. Kent:

How important was teamwork?

Paul A. Bradley:

Oh, total. The pilot -- well, the most interaction occurred between the pilot and the observer. That's what the navigator bombardier was called. Because the pilot was flying the plane and the navigator was directing the pilot what to do. And then the pilot would decide whether he really wanted to do that. But for the most part, that's where the close teamwork came. But the gunner was always important. And he always had to be alert, and he didn't get much of a chance to do what he wanted to do. In fact, our gunner one night was so gung-ho about firing his guns that we all went -- when we took off, we were armed with a .45 automatic. And he sat back of the bomb bay with his twin .50 caliber machine guns and a turret that was on top the aircraft. But there was a little leather zipped door entry into the bomb bay. So one night on a bomb run, the bomb bay doors were open, and he said, "When the bombs went," he said, "I emptied my .45 right out of the ground." And then he had to explain what happened to the ammunition. I don't remember what he told them. I guess he just told them the truth. But --

Judith J. Kent:

So how long would this mission last?

Paul A. Bradley:

The mission took around -- I guess they would be roughly 2 hours, maybe an hour and 45 minutes sometimes, maybe 2 1/2 hours. The longest flight we were ever on, we went up at night, late in the evening, flew all the way across the southwest side of Korea to the northeast side up around Wonsan, and I guess we attacked a target up there, we must have. Anyway, we came back in daylight. So that was the longest mission we were ever on. And a very nervous one, because we were totally unused to it. Darkness was wonderful when people are shooting at you.

Judith J. Kent:

Yes. So --

Paul A. Bradley:

I don't want to short the engineer either. There was a fourth man who -- there were two configurations of the B-26. One was where the observer rode in the nose, the pilot was on the left seat, the engineer was on the right seat and the gunner was in the rear. And the engineer's job really was to just be there and help the pilot as the pilot needed help. And he had some understanding of the gauges and what they meant and so forth. And one night, in extremely heavy weather, the pilot experienced vertigo. And while we were on instruments; it was terrible. And he flashed that to the engineer. He said, "Take the wheel," he said, "I've got vertigo." So the engineer flew the plane for a while, which I thought was great.

Judith J. Kent:

Very good. That is -- you were fairly tired when you got back from that kind of stress?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, it was impossible to sleep well. It was impossible to sleep before a mission, but you could sleep after. And --

Judith J. Kent:

So come home and collapse?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, yeah. You would be debriefed, take a shower, try to calm down. And it took a while. And you could get to sleep and get a decent night's sleep, but they kept training us. So we would have to get up early, even if we had been out on a late mission. __________ was information hour. You know, there were things. Well, that's the way they did it. But they kept us strayed out, which was probably good. If you had too much time to think about things, you would really, really get upset. One fellow, I don't know his name, he was a pilot, World War II pilot, and he was in our BOQ, and his bed was right next to mine. And he came over to me one day and he said, "He has a __________." He said, "I want you to read it and see what you think of it." It was a letter to the base commander. And he said -- what he said in the letter was, "I can't stand this anymore. I've got to get out of here. I cannot fly anymore." I said, "Geez, if you send that in, they will court martial you." He said, "I can't help it. I can't take this anymore." So he sent it in. And you know what they did? What the government always does, Mrs. Kent, they transferred him. I don't know where he went. I just know he left where we were. That's -- but maybe he got into a flying job. It wasn't as bad. It wasn't the flying that got him. It was the combat that got him.

Judith J. Kent:

You mentioned that flying itself was inherently dangerous?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes, it is, it is.

Judith J. Kent:

People forget that.

Paul A. Bradley:

You cannot fly over any extended period of time and not have some exciting experiences. You don't have to be in combat for it. When I came out of the service -- let's see, when was it, about 19 -- I got out in '55. '51 -- yeah. And I -- in about 1972, I got my private pilot's license. I flew for 20 years on my own. I really like it. It's a lot of fun. But gee, a lot of things are screwy, you know. Things happen and you get careless, or something happens you don't anticipate and you just -- things happen. Things happen. That's all there is to it. Gee.

Judith J. Kent:

And you said that you did -- there were casualties among your group there?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, let's see. Walda(ph) Miller -- this is when I was an OCS. We finally got some time off, and we were in San Antonio. He went down to Galveston, I think. He had family. And he was on the beach. They were selling airplane rides, and he bought one and it killed him.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, my.

Paul A. Bradley:

Isn't that awful? That's a shame, just -- just a shame. And it wasn't that there were so many, but that's the first and only military funeral that I ever attended. It was in our flight and we were in the Honor Guard, and it was about the worst experience of my life. Just, just -- it's just overwhelming. The family was there and the flag was there and the people were crying and they were playing "Taps." We were all crying, and it was just hard.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah. Okay. Thinking back to when you first arrived in Korea, what was your sense of the flights? I mean --

Paul A. Bradley:

The first thing -- well, the first thing that happened when we got off the plane was we got assigned to our quarters and our way to find out where to go, it was payday. There were all kinds of (crap) games going, which really amazed me. It wasn't undercover or anything. This is, everybody was getting it out of their system. There was always a poker game going in the area where we were billeted. And I -- poker was never my game. But I recall that within a few days of payday, two or three guys would have all the money and the gambling was over with. But the -- it was Quonset huts, and very spiffy. We flew under two flags. This was a UN operation.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay.

Paul A. Bradley:

And so we had UN inspectors there who make sure we didn't break the rules of war. At our base, they were military officers from the Polish Army, which was at that time Communist, to give you some idea of what things were like over there. Of course, they never showed up except in the club. But, you know, it always annoyed me that they were even there. They gave us an airplane and said, you know, "Go up as a crew and look over the area and get acquainted with it." So I was sitting in the nose of the aircraft with -- I'll show you what it looked like, if I could find one. It had a glass nose. That's one of them guns. They always like to show the one -- yeah, here it is. I was sitting up there, and everybody else was in the airplane. And I was -- I had a map with the local area in my lap. I kept looking out, looking, where is Kunsan? Where is Kunsan? This is a big city. And it was. But it looked like a garbage dump. That's what I was looking at, and I thought it was the garbage dump. It was just so different from what you think of -- well, what you are familiar with --

Judith J. Kent:

__________ city.

Paul A. Bradley:

-- from living in this part of the world. And, of course, the war had swept back and forth across South Korea. And after the truce was signed, we got to fly during the daylight in South Korea. Just bomb craters and shell holes. It was incredible, the damage that had been visited upon that country.

Judith J. Kent:

Did you have any contact with the local people when you were out?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes. We had -- they were employed in the PX. I don't recall whether they were employed in the mess hall or not. The people that actually served us were GIs. We had two, we called them house girls, and they came in in the morning, and they took care of our Quonset hut. And they did our laundry and they swept the place and they stole what they could. A while figuring that out. And I was very angry, but in retrospect, I realize that I can't blame them, you know. But one of them was named Itchibon(ph). She was a Korean girl. And she was kind of large, I thought. She wasn't tiny. She was probably 5 foot 4 and chunky. And she was kind of dull witted. The other woman was -- her name was Yun(ph), and she was a Japanese woman. She was a little tiny thing. And she was very intelligent, very nice. She ran the place. And she had married a Korean. I don't know quite what the circumstances of that were. But I guess there was -- over the centuries, there was a lot of traffic between Japan and Korea. But anyhow, the only other thing that happened was we were inundated periodically, especially around payday, by infiltrators. There's no other way to describe it. At that time there were two kinds of infiltrators. There were -- there were gorillas, who would come in and try to rake a little damage. And there were -- but there were mainly just citizens who were trying to steal what they could and make a living. And so our base was surrounded by fence, and we had gun emplacements and guard patrol. We had a Marine detachment there guarding the place. And the -- and at one time it was so bad that they armed us all. We all drew .45s, and then we had to create a place in the barracks where it was safe to store them. And then, of course, when payday came around and people were drinking and gambling, they started shooting, so then they picked up all the guns and __________+++ flew. I've got to believe this is a fairly typical sequence of events that military or any government organization enters into, they try something and then they try something else and then they say, "Well, that didn't work," you know.

Judith J. Kent:

Did you get out into the countryside at all?

Paul A. Bradley:

No.

Judith J. Kent:

No? You were on the base pretty much?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah, yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

When __________.

Paul A. Bradley:

It was -- it was -- you could not leave the base except with people who were armed. And I had seen Kunsan from the air, and I really didn't want to go in there. And the only other place we'd get to, when I flew over there once, was Pusan. And I had a friend who was stationed over there. And that was just a little bigger city. One of the most exciting landing sites that I ever ran into -- because Pusan sits in a bowl. The mountains are around on three sides, and the fourth side is the sea.

Judith J. Kent:

__________+ like it.

Paul A. Bradley:

And you always landed towards the mountains and took off toward the sea. It didn't matter which way the wind was blowing. And that could get very dicey. But I didn't leave the base then either. I just visited with some friends. It was just drudgery over there. And we were tired, we were uptight and so forth. It was pretty boring. And it was filthy. It was actually filthy. In fact, they used to spray the base with DDT.

Judith J. Kent:

Mud and rain and cold?

Paul A. Bradley:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Korea is -- they have four seasons, and they have cold winters, and it was cold when we were there, although I got out of there just before Christmas. And let's see. To the west of us, just beyond the Quonset huts and the fence were the rice patties. And, you know, they're aromatic, to say the very least, and their fertilizer is human fertilizer, which is very unhygienic and creates all kinds of problems. Of course, that's why they were using DDT and maybe other things. I don't really know. But it was very aromatic. And it was -- the wind blew from the west where the rice patties were nine days out of ten, and on the tenth day it blew from the east where the latrines were.

Judith J. Kent:

__________.

Paul A. Bradley:

So, you know, the --

Judith J. Kent:

Was there any organized entertainment, USO shows or anything?

Paul A. Bradley:

No, not that I recall. They were there, but I -- they may not have been there when I was there. Actually, my overseas tour was rather short, seven months overall.

Judith J. Kent:

Is that it?

Paul A. Bradley:

Which, gosh, I was just so delighted, you know. Boy, how lucky I am being in and out of this in seven months.

Judith J. Kent:

How many missions did you fly?

Paul A. Bradley:

I flew 23 missions.

Judith J. Kent:

Twenty-three.

Paul A. Bradley:

Scrubbed about ten more, for one reason or another.

Judith J. Kent:

Weather usually, or --

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah, yeah. Once we got rolling, we never scrubbed. We went to the target. And surprising enough, had some -- had some really outstanding work on occasion. Weather scrubbers, I can remember two or three times out at the end of runway that they just said, "Can't take off." And then right towards the end they kept scrubbing because the truce was imminent.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh.

Paul A. Bradley:

And we were scheduled for several flights right then that never took off. We had lost -- there was a particular type of mission that they flew over there with the B-26, and they flew with the -- no, that's the -- they flew with the hard nose one. I'll show it to you. Let's see. I brought one picture here. I brought one for you. You can have this if it will help you in any way. I've got two of them.

Judith J. Kent:

Wonderful. You've got a picture of Dwight Eisenhower.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

__________+++ troops.

Paul A. Bradley:

This is the -- this is the crew that I flew with. This is the pilot and reporter, this is me, and this is Don Hanson(ph), who was the gunner. See, the engineer was always a stranger. But we flew not always together, but mostly together. I thought this was one of the glass-nose jobs, but it isn't. But anyhow, they flew with the four-man crew, and they flew low level. They flew into railroad marshalling yards. They had some sort of radar equipment which they thought would work. But I guess to some extent it did. But they -- this particular flight, which was not too long before the war ended, they ran into a heavy barrage. They got hit, and they managed to get out over the ocean and they bailed out. And they all got back, as I recall it, which was a really good thing. We had pretty good air rescue, air-sea rescue there, if you could get out over the water. If you couldn't get out over the water, you were in big trouble. But the -- our squadron commander was -- essentially what had happened, he said, "Well, we'll teach them something." So he scheduled himself for a big retaliatory raid, but it never happened. And then the --

Judith J. Kent:

Truce.

Paul A. Bradley:

-- truce came along, yeah, and he was probably just as well off they didn't do it.

Judith J. Kent:

Do you remember where you were the day the truce was announced?

Paul A. Bradley:

I was right there.

Judith J. Kent:

What happened? Was there a great celebration, or just relief?

Paul A. Bradley:

Just satisfaction, I think is a fair way to say it. A certain amount of disappointment that I didn't accomplish all I wanted to. But I -- but, of course, everybody was relieved that it was over, because it meant -- it meant so much of an improvement for everybody and everything. But I tell you, it was very unsatisfactory terms that they signed under. I recall, in particular, that during the days leading up to the actual signing, there were two roads that came out of North Korea that went down to P'yongyang, which was where the -- which is the truce site, then and now. And we were not allowed to attack targets there, because that was to give safe transit to the truce teams. All the convoys that come out of North Korea were right on those roads and you couldn't touch them.

Judith J. Kent:

Frustrating.

Paul A. Bradley:

Just part of the handicaps which we always seemed to get involved in. It just -- yes, it made it much more difficult. It gave the Koreans an advantage they really weren't entitled to. And the interdiction that we did would delay an attack by the Koreans, it seemed to me, by about three months. Because we would knock off enough supplies so that they could only build up very slowly. Then they would launch a giant attack and they'd grab a couple miles of real estate, and then they'd hunker down and we'd go through the whole thing over again. That's really what the war was like when I was there. But --

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. As it ended, how soon after that did you ship?

Paul A. Bradley:

It ended in -- when did it end? In July, wasn't it?

Judith J. Kent:

I'm not sure.

Paul A. Bradley:

I think so. I rotated back the middle of December. Went to -- was sent to Yokohama, got on a troop ship, spent two weeks on the high seas going to Seattle, Washington, went through a mini hurricane.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, boy.

Paul A. Bradley:

And was one of the few people on board who didn't get sea sick. I was very proud of that. And landed in the States on January 4th, 1954.

Judith J. Kent:

Huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

Huh, yeah. We were all fortunate. I met a lot of fellows that -- who were on the ship with me that had different tales to tell. But I've got to tell you this one thing about my pilot, Reed Porter(ph). His brother-in-law, who was in the Army, his brother-in-law was a prisoner of the North Koreans. And there came a day after the truce was signed when there was going to be a prisoner exchange. And Reed went up to where the prison exchange was. His brother-in-law never showed up. But he talked with men who had been with him. His brother-in-law was one of the men who were never repatriated, but he was alive. So they did something with him. And, you know, they know now that (Hyesan) military people were turned over to the Russians and died somewhere in Russian hands. I met a man on the ship who was in an intelligence outfit, and he told me that the day they signed the truce, they had a covert operation in that area, and they observed the North Koreans emptying out prisoners of war and sending them north across the Yalu into China. Yes. This was something that just got buried. But it's something -- it was the first time that the United States really compromised and turned their back on their men. And, of course, Vietnam was the second time. Now it looks as if maybe Iraq could be the third time. Well, I guess the first time in Iraq was the third time. Maybe this will be the fourth time. I don't know. But governments don't do things on the basis of what's right. They do things on the basis of what's pragmatic at the time. That's my conclusion.

Judith J. Kent:

Spoken like an economist.

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

Our problem -- you know, our national problems are really simple. You just live within your budget. But you can't get Americans to do that. In fact, if all Americans lived within their budget, our economy would be in a shambles. Think of it. Everybody is living on a credit card.

Judith J. Kent:

Right.

Paul A. Bradley:

Much better to have the bankruptcies than it is for people to be conservative. Our generation is probably the last conservative generation.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. Let's think now about after the Korean Conflict and your service with the Strategic Air Command. How did that come about?

Paul A. Bradley:

Can I just tell you one other thing?

Judith J. Kent:

Sure.

Paul A. Bradley:

This is about Korea. When I went in the service, I viewed it as an adventure. I never stopped viewing it as an adventure. There were times that I was really scared and worried and everything else, but it was still an adventure. When we left Stead Air Force Base for escape and evasion training, we went to Camp Stoneman in California to be sent overseas on a troop ship. They had some airplanes they needed to ferry to Japan. My pilot volunteered. We took a B-26, and there were five others, and a B-50 mother ship, and we flew, we ferried a B-26 across the Pacific to Iwakuni, Japan. The first flight from (Maclone) Air Force Base outside of Frisco to Hickam Field in Hawaii, 11 hours and 40 minutes. I remember it like it was yesterday; it was terrible. And the most fascinating part about it was when we broke off from the mother ship, they released us to land, we flew down the same valley that leads into Hickam Field and Pearl Harbor just like the Japanese did.

Judith J. Kent:

Japanese did. Oh, wow.

Paul A. Bradley:

Were there overnight, went out to Johnson Island, from there to Kwajalein, from there to Guam, 11 days on Guam, then to Iwakuni, and delivered the airplane. They needed it in Korea, but we left it in Japan. But it was a great adventure, it really was.

Judith J. Kent:

You're seeing the world, aren't you?

Paul A. Bradley:

Oh, yeah. I've seen a lot of it.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. Let's pause here for just a minute.

Paul A. Bradley:

Okay. END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE; BEGIN SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE

Judith J. Kent:

Troop ship.

Paul A. Bradley:

Uh-huh.

Judith J. Kent:

Now what?

Paul A. Bradley:

Got on a chartered airplane finally and met my wife in Washington, D.C. She had come down there with her father. This is __________+. He brought her down there, made sure she was all right. Then I got there. She was all right; he went home. We had a little honeymoon. And I wanted to see a guy in the Pentagon, because I was so unhappy with my assignment, but that was a lost cause. And we had some time at home, not too much. And drove to Bangor, Maine, then checked into Bangor. And that's cold. This was 1954. Modern America. Drove down the main street of Bangor, Maine. On the marquee of the only theater in town, in big wooden letters, "Finest talking pictures in town."

Judith J. Kent:

Not too modern.

Paul A. Bradley:

And do you want to know something? It still isn't. Back then they had the highest percentage of outdoor toilets in the country. And so far as I know, because my daughter moved out of Sanford, Maine a couple years ago, they still do. I saw a butcher shop that was set up on the back of a truck, doing business in a town near Bangor. I mean, it was just so different from the rest of the country that it was incredible. You know, it's still that way in my mind.

Judith J. Kent:

Like a time warp.

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, yes, that's right. You would go overseas to a lot of different countries today and they are all in the same -- in a time warp, but with not too many exceptions. You know, they're not in that time warp. It's just weird. They used to get really nasty winters there. Anyhow, we used KB-29s. That's what their nomenclature was. And it was a B-29 that the bomber __________ taken out, and a big -- some sort of fabric tank placed in the bomb bay. And a lot of pipes and everything. And then in the tail, they hooked -- they hung a -- they created a station for the boom operator, where he could lay down and he could fly the boom. He could extend it. It had a couple of control surfaces and he could move it around. And so -- and there were lights on the back of the aircraft that would direct -- excuse me -- the pilot who was flying up there to do what he had to do to connect with the spigot. And once they got plugged in, it would pump it into them.

Judith J. Kent:

So you were basically a tanker?

Paul A. Bradley:

Absolutely. That's exactly what it was.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay.

Paul A. Bradley:

And the problem with the KB-29 was it wasn't quite fast enough for the aircraft that we were refueling, so in order to refuel these jets, we would have to go into a descent to pick up enough airspeed so they could stay under control. So they replaced the KB-29 with a KC-97. And, of course, now they use a Jet 707, or something like that. But still, back then, you know, we're still -- that's when I really became a good selectional navigator, because that's the way we navigated.

Judith J. Kent:

This was mostly a daylight operation?

Paul A. Bradley:

No.

Judith J. Kent:

Or no?

Paul A. Bradley:

No. In fact, you always, with every flight, and they would last -- it was an airplane that was very difficult to get into the air because it was very old. It never was -- well, let's see. The last one was built in 1944, I think, and this was 1954. So the youngest it could be was ten years. And even when they were brand new, they had a terrible time with engine leaks. And that was our -- that was the main problem. You would go down, get in the airplane and you'd spend hours getting it ready to fly and getting the leaks taken care of. So anyhow, once you got in the air, they wanted you to stay in the air. So we flew long, long missions, 8, 10, 12 hours, and it was -- it was very tiring, because I was the only navigator and there was no break. And you had to simulate the end of -- they wanted you to do it X number of times. I think they wanted you to do at least three legs. They wanted you to simulate the end of an overwater mission as using only selectional navigations. And that had to be three fixers, plus some sort of a controlled procedure into your destination. So it was tedious and it was tiring and tiresome as well. But you became a good navigator.

Judith J. Kent:

I bet.

Paul A. Bradley:

You know. And selectional navigation was fun. Today, you don't even need a navigator.

Judith J. Kent:

Use a GPS.

Paul A. Bradley:

That's it, that's it. Even in general aviation aircraft, a GPS, you just plug in the coordinates and you follow the arrow and pay attention to what it's telling you. I mean, it's almost foolproof. So navigators became expendable.

Judith J. Kent:

How did that tour end?

Paul A. Bradley:

With my discharge.

Judith J. Kent:

Okay. Did you think about a career in the military?

Paul A. Bradley:

I did, but SAC -- to me, SAC was very worse. It was something that had to be done. And the men who did it, my hat was really off to them, because you were on call 24 hours a day, you would -- they would call emergency drills on a steady basis, and you had to arrive at the airfield with your bags packed, ready to go. And you -- then, on occasion that happened and you would be gone. I was gone about a week or more out of every month. And, you know, I've got a wife and we wanted a family. And I noticed that there were -- really, I never saw any navigators in a command position. And in the military, if you're going to be a career person, it's either up or out.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

So I got out. And I really didn't want (somebody) like working for the government, I really didn't.

Judith J. Kent:

All right. You had already been to college, so did you use the GI bill or --

Paul A. Bradley:

No, no. Because I went to college before.

Judith J. Kent:

Right, I know.

Paul A. Bradley:

I paid for that myself.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

Lived at home, paid the bills. And it didn't -- it didn't take me very long to realize what had occurred. My experiences in the military were that when you're flying, you're free as a bird. And although you had to do all the things they wanted you to do, it still -- it really wasn't that structured. You know, you didn't get up at 8:00 and be in the office and that stuff. And, you know, you got used to exercising independent discretion and so forth. And so I didn't find -- and I had lost five years. So men who were five years younger than I were ahead of me.

Judith J. Kent:

In business?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

And I really wasn't suited for anywhere. And I finally saw my problem. I went to work for the Prudential Insurance Company as an agent. And I stayed with them, I retired after 27 years. And I was an agent and a sales manager and a manager and I worked in the home office and I ended up back as an agent. And I made a good living, took care of my family and don't regret it a bit. I've been retired 18 years, and every month on the first of the month, that check is there.

Judith J. Kent:

How would you say your military experience influenced your career or your life after?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, in the fashion that I just related to you, that's really what it did. It certainly made -- helped me mature, helped me have confidence. The experiences that you have, good, bad or indifferent, in the military are -- they are priceless. You can't get it any other way. You know, it's just -- there's a lot of nasty stuff about it.

Judith J. Kent:

Sure.

Paul A. Bradley:

And a lot of terrible boredom, but there's an awful lot of good things about it. You get to see the world. And I did.

Judith J. Kent:

Do you have any residual problems?

Paul A. Bradley:

No, no. Because the experiences I had, although they scared me and worried me and a lot of other things, made me short-tempered and a lot of other things, but it wasn't like, I'm sure many men have related to you, it wasn't -- there was stress, but it wasn't stress that would break you. At least it wouldn't break the average person, which I think I am. I met guys who couldn't handle the stress of OCS. And then they got into combat, which is even worse. And it wasn't the combat, it was, unfortunately in this particular case, the man himself. He should never have been put in that position. He indicated early on that it would be a problem for him, and it was. I'm sure that he had a breakdown. However, he's had to cope with that ever since it happened. Now, this man, he solved his problem -- and he used to scare the devil out of me. He solved his problem by drinking.

Judith J. Kent:

That was your pilot?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. And that scared me a lot, badly. There were times when we would come back from the mission and I would take a shower and get into bed, and Reed would be sitting on the side of his cot drinking beer, because we had beer. We had it right in the POQ __________. And when I woke up in the morning, he'd still be there. Really bad news. You know, I really was terribly concerned about him. But -- and we discussed it, and he promised me that he would be okay when he got in the airplane, and he always was. So, but drink was not good for him. His personality changed when he drank. But he really had been through a lot, I know he had.

Judith J. Kent:

They use different ways to cope, you know.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes, yeah. Everybody responds in a different fashion.

Judith J. Kent:

Were there things you did for luck, you know, superstitious kinds of things?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, yeah, we did some silly things. See the hats we were wearing?

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

I've still got mine, but I couldn't find it. But we hooked some attachments on there so you could wear your oxygen mask, because there were times when we were up at an altitude where you needed it. And then every time after we flew a mission, we had this little felt bomb, we'd glue another one on the brim. So we wore those every time we flew.

Judith J. Kent:

Your lucky hat?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. But booze was a big thing over there, because there was all kinds of booze and there was nothing else to do. And some guys ruined their careers that way. I used to see them in the club, and man, just a bad -- but, you know, that's true in civilian life.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, sure. You mentioned on the questionnaire that you had earned a number of medals.

Paul A. Bradley:

Oh, yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

Which are you most proud?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, I'll show them to you. Let's see. The one I'm most proud of is this. That's my observer wings.

Judith J. Kent:

All right.

Paul A. Bradley:

It's not a medal, but it's mine, and -- yeah, that means a lot to me.

Judith J. Kent:

I bet.

Paul A. Bradley:

Now, I received the air medal with an oak leaf cluster, which is this. This is the actual air medal. And they had a very nice ceremony where they pin it on your chest and so forth. Medals are important to people. Napoleon figured that out way back in the 19th -- or the 18th Century really. And he probably started a fad. But these -- this is -- you know, this is just a ribbon. But it represents this. This is the first one, I think. Yeah. This is the one with the oak leaf cluster. And this is -- this, I think, is the good conduct medal. I don't remember what these are. One of them is the UN medal, one is a Korean War medal. And then I got a -- I didn't bring the medal, but I brought the -- if I can find it. Oh, this is it. This is from the Korean government, many years after the event, but it's really pretty nice, you know. They finally said, "Well, we really want to let you know that we appreciate everything you did."

Judith J. Kent:

__________ appreciation, from the Republic of Korea. How lovely.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. Isn't it?

Judith J. Kent:

In English and Korea.

Paul A. Bradley:

And there's a medal, but it isn't exactly the same kind of medal as this represents.

Judith J. Kent:

Very nice. I didn't know they did that.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah, they did. The thing about medals, the military loves to give medals, they really do, for a lot of reasons, and it makes an awful lot of sense, because it satisfies a craving that all people have for recognition. And it also represents a -- well, I can't think of the right way to express it, but a message to your peers that you are pulling your share of the load.

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

And the first air medal, if you didn't screw up, you got at the end of ten missions. The second air medal, if you didn't screw up, you got at the end of the 20 missions. On the 25th mission, you got the distinguished flying cross. Reed flew 25 missions; I flew 23.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh.

Paul A. Bradley:

But, you know, I often wished that I had managed to get through a couple more, but I might not have made it, so I'll take what comes. But -- and he never talked to me about it, but he must have had all kinds of declarations from World War II, because he had been in there a long time. He'd done a lot of screwy things.

Judith J. Kent:

You told me that the World War II veterans had a somewhat different take on the experience than your __________.

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, I think to begin with, there were an awful lot of men there who had flown in World War II. And an awful lot of them thought they had found a home in the National Guard, and that didn't work out then just like it isn't working out now. As a matter of fact, Reed was called up to active duty from the National Guard. And he said, "I was the most surprised guy in the world." He said, "I never thought they'd call me." So, you know, everybody does what they try -- you know, they just -- everybody tries to do the same thing. And you want to do what's right, but you want to not volunteer to get into the line of fire. But I met men both there and in Bangor. I met a man in Bangor who had flown with the American Volunteer Force during the Battle of Brittain, before the United States got into the war.

Judith J. Kent:

Wow.

Paul A. Bradley:

And he had been rescued from the English Channel. And I met other men and flew with some of them over there who really shouldn't have been flying anymore. There was one guy who's nickname was Shaky, and he was. I mean, I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that. He was a bundle of nerves. And there was another guy who, he was a commercial pilot.

Judith J. Kent:

Really?

Paul A. Bradley:

And he was -- I talked to his bombardier, and he said, "Geez, he flies a terrific bomb run, but," he said, "he can't land it." And he didn't _________. In fact, he put one into the rice patties. I don't know. You know, everybody has their own baggage, I guess you -- and they handle it good, bad or indifferently. If you don't get too hurt, you're fortunate. And I know that I am fortunate. I know more than anything else, I am fortunate.

Judith J. Kent:

Have you been involved in any veterans organizations since your _________?

Paul A. Bradley:

No.

Judith J. Kent:

Kept up with anybody?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. A friend -- yeah. We had some real good friends. Let me show you this picture. We were together at navigation training in Pasadena, Texas. And one fellow's name was Jim Gore(ph). Let's see. I was looking at him the other day.

Judith J. Kent:

He's looking at a yearbook from his --

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

-- class.

Paul A. Bradley:

And Jim, he's the guy I went over to see in Pusan. And he was flying as a navigator then. When he came back from overseas, he applied for flight training, pilot training, became a pilot, and was working his way through the musical chairs, and he was a lieutenant colonel finally. We exchanged Christmas cards and we'd write once in a while. He had been passed over for promotion, and he said, "Geez," he said, "I am looking for a job ." Bad time, you know, early 40s, flying airplanes. But anyhow, he made -- the last go-around, he was voted a bird colonel, and then fate struck him a terrible blow. He came down with cancer. Within a few months, he was dead.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, my.

Paul A. Bradley:

Now, Mark Wickerist(ph), he -- let's see. We still keep in touch with them. He was all over. He went up to Alaska, got hurt in a car accident. A car hit him when he was a pedestrian. Damaged his legs. And they took him off flight status. But he worked out well in the administration end of it, and he went through at least 20 years. They're living out in Salt Lake City now, and we exchange Christmas cards. There were an awful lot of sharp guys.

Judith J. Kent:

An elite group?

Paul A. Bradley:

No, not really. We were just normal for the time. But we were all pretty gung-ho. There were just so many interesting people. You can't keep up with everybody.

Judith J. Kent:

No.

Paul A. Bradley:

I suspect the impression you get from talking with guys who were in the Army, they were in a unit. The unit became everything.

Judith J. Kent:

Right.

Paul A. Bradley:

And the men that were there were very stable, and so they were with the same men for months and months and months. The Air Force isn't like that, or at least it wasn't when I was in. It was just here for a while, then somewhere else, here for a while, then somewhere else. With these guys, and then somewhere else. And it just goes on and on and on.

Judith J. Kent:

Different socialization --

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

-- problems.

Paul A. Bradley:

It's just an entirely different thing.

Judith J. Kent:

You mentioned that you have quite a family history of military service.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes, that I know of, that I know of. My -- I told you about my Great-Grandfather John Bradley. He was born in Troy, New York around 1840. And he ended up in Stillwater, New York, and he enlisted in the Union Army, served a tour, came out, spent some time as a civilian, enlisted again, went back in and survived it all and raised a family. My Great-Grandfather Harcourt(ph) immigrated from Wolverhampton, England in 1860, '62, came over here, joined the Union Army, fought with General Sheridan's forces in the Shenandoah Valley. Came back -- somehow got up into Stillwater and married my great-grandmother. And they had seven children. My Grandmother Bradley was the only one who survived more than two years.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, my.

Paul A. Bradley:

That's the way it was back then. On my mother's side, my -- I guess he would be my great-uncle, or my great-granduncle, I'm not sure which. He was my mother's father's uncle, I think. And he joined, I think, the calvary. Farm boy right off the farm. Was captured within three months. Spent two weeks in Libby Prison. Spent 90 days in Andersonville, and that's where he resides today. I have a tintype, and nice, handsome young man. Green as grass. So was I when I went in, but I was lucky. But, yeah, my father's brother served in the Navy during World War I. When World War II came along, they were so desperate for people, he had been in 16 years and retired. They called him back for a while to help with training. And then Louise's uncle was in the -- two uncles were in the Army during World War II. My son joined the Navy in 19 -- God, what was it? 19 -- I don't read on there. I've forgotten. Let's see. He was 18 and he was born in 1960, so it was around 1968. He joined the Navy and took the nuclear power training course, became an electrician on a nuclear submarine. Got a great education in nuclear power.

Judith J. Kent:

Wow.

Paul A. Bradley:

Smart enough to get out. Went to work for a power plant in Palos Verdes, as a matter of fact, near Phoenix, Arizona. He's been there for almost 20 years now. Really understands nuclear power. Yeah. But, you know, it's really hard to be in America and not have rubbed shoulders with the military in one form or another. Because in spite of our protestations that we're peace-loving, we really are nasty people. Well, I don't know as we are nasty. That's not the right word. But we are willing to defend our position. Let's put it that way. And now, we're the king of the hill and we have no choice but to defend our position, until they knock us down, which they're busy working at.

Judith J. Kent:

What have we missed that we should talk about?

Paul A. Bradley:

I don't know, but I am having a good time.

Judith J. Kent:

You said when you arrived that we'd take a walk down memory lane.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. Remember I told you that flying is dangerous.

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

I can cite a number of examples. And, of course, to talk about things that happened in Korea as being dangerous, you would expect them to be.

Judith J. Kent:

Sure.

Paul A. Bradley:

But sometimes the circumstances were our own fault. The only time that the aircraft was hit by military weapons occurred on a mission where we were flying in heavy weather and the bombs that we had that night were antipersonnel bombs. They were 260-pound hand grenades, is what they were. And they were carried in the bomb bay. And they had a -- they had a radio altimeter fuse in the nose of the bomb and they had a contact fuse in the back. And there was somebody that was shooting at us. All of a sudden I looked down and I could see all these little pinpricks of light, and there were so many of them, I realized, that's rifle fire. They must be shooting at us. So I turned the plane -- I had the pilot make a bomb run and I dropped two bombs. And geez, they went off right under the airplane, because there were clouds under us. I could hear that shrapnel hit the airplane.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, boy.

Paul A. Bradley:

It rattled like stones on a roof. And when we got back that night, we all got out and looked the airplane over, not a scratch on it, just right at the extreme end of the range. But truthfully, we nearly blew ourselves out of the sky. And then, another time, when we were flying out of Bangor, Maine in a KB-29, we flew into a thunderstorm. We flew into a thunderhead. Do you know what a thunderstorm really is? Do you know those big anvil-headed clouds you see once in a while?

Judith J. Kent:

Right.

Paul A. Bradley:

They're an individual cell. And in one cell, there will be air rushing straight up with enormous speeds, and in the cell next to it, there will be -- the same thing is happening in reverse. And we flew into one of those in weather one time on a flight -- we were headed down south somewhere down into Virginia, and the radar operator picked it up just as we started into it, and he hollered at the pilot and said, "Turn." The pilot got into the turn and we hit the cell, and we went down like an elevator. And I thought -- I just sat there looking at the altimeter and thinking, oh, boy, at some point, if he doesn't get this coming back up, we've got to get out of here. And he finally got it coming back up. And it was one of the wildest rides I've ever been in. The airplane was only flown once after that to the junkyard. It had been so stressed. We popped rivets and twisted the tail. We were extremely fortunate to have survived it. Peace time. But the most interesting part of it all was, when we finally got the aircraft back under control, nobody had the slightest idea, me least of all, where we were.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, boy.

Paul A. Bradley:

We were on an IFR clearance, which means you have a track you're supposed to run on, you can't deviate from it, and this and so forth. Not only that, we were -- as it turned out, we had gotten off course far, and there was no way to get -- there was -- you know, (sletcher) was out. We were IFR. The (?flex gate?) compass was tumbled. Everything was gone. The pilot was flying on a partial panel. The plane was okay, but we didn't know where we were. Now, there are two places in the United States where you are really not supposed to fly. Not only now, but then. Not only then, but now. One of them is Fort Knox. You can't fly over Fort Knox, period. You can't fly over the White House either. Guess where we were heading. We were heading on a course for the White House. And we were intercepted by two F-86s, which were the frontline aircraft at that time. We finally broke out into the clear. I looked out the window. There was an F-86 out on the right wing, there was an F-86 out on the left wing. They established radio contact and said, "Turn left."

Judith J. Kent:

They led you home.

Paul A. Bradley:

We're lucky they didn't shoot at us, really, because that was their job. You know, when they tell you on the news where there's a big alert on and that they're escorting an airplane, you know what that airplane is going to -- what that escort is going to do if he has to, don't you?

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

__________+.

Paul A. Bradley:

They never -- they never -- that's right. They had no other choice. And they will do it.

Judith J. Kent:

It's their job.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. Fun, huh?

Judith J. Kent:

You've led an exciting life so far. What do you do for fun these days?

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, not much really. Geez, you know. We visit with the kids and we've done a lot of traveling. We've traveled all over the country. And I mean that literally. We've been in all 50 states. One time --

Judith J. Kent:

Have you been back to Korea?

Paul A. Bradley:

No. I was always going to go, but that's really impossible for a number of reasons. I always wanted to go back to Japan, because I was in Japan also. Not for very long. But I went shopping. I did my Christmas shopping in 1954 in Japan. In Tokyo, as a matter of fact. Yeah, it was interesting. But people were interesting. They were very industrious. Of course, they were dirt poor then. They were still just beginning to dig themselves out from World War II. But they were -- people, excuse me, you could admire, but not trust, to this day. They just don't operate on the same basis that we do. I've met too many people that explained that to me in great detail. But Tokyo would be a great place to visit, but it's the most expensive city in the world.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

It's about a 25-hour flight.

Judith J. Kent:

__________+.

Paul A. Bradley:

My son-in-law just recently was sent to China by his company, and they flew over and flew back and it was terrible. He said it was just so tedious. We had an RV, and we hooked my truck up behind it and went all over the West. You name it, we've been there. And it's just more fun than a barrel of monkeys. And it's such an incredible country. People that don't have an opportunity to see it, it's just a shame. And there are parts of it that are more desolate and there are parts of it that are just beautiful. Both in the East Coast and the West Coast. One of the most -- one of the most beautiful areas in the country is the Hudson River Valley and Lake George and Lake Champlain. There's nothing like it.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah, it is beautiful.

Paul A. Bradley:

It's just beautiful. Have you ever gotten there?

Judith J. Kent:

Yes.

Paul A. Bradley:

Have you ever -- did you ever take the tour on Lake George at night on the tour walk?

Judith J. Kent:

No.

Paul A. Bradley:

You know, on the east side of Lake George is the part of the Adirondack Forest that has never had anybody in it. It's virgin timber. It's just a forest. And it has always been maintained that way. The rest of the Adirondacks, you know, there's roads, there's people, there's houses and lots of other things. But there, it's the forest prime evil. And it's just, you know -- we parked our RV in Seattle one time and got on a ferryboat, a working ferryboat that went up the inland waterway all the way to, I think it was Saskatchewan, yeah. And we had a cabin, and, you know, they drove big trucks on and people were camping on the deck because it was the only way to get -- you either have to go by water or air in Alaska. And so -- parts of Alaska, Sitka and so forth. Boy, that was just great, really. I've been all over Europe. I've been in East Europe. The biggest shock of my life, we landed in Frankfurt, got on a tour bus, drove to Berlin, West Berlin. Went the route that used to be controlled by the Russians.

Judith J. Kent:

Charlie.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

Checkpoint Charlie?

Paul A. Bradley:

Went to Checkpoint Charlie. Have you been there?

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

Have they fixed the bullet holes yet?

Judith J. Kent:

They hadn't when I was there.

Paul A. Bradley:

They hadn't when I was there.

Judith J. Kent:

But that was a while ago. Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

They hadn't when I was there. I was flabbergasted, you know. The rest of the world has been moving along, and here we are, almost 50 years later, the Russians never fixed anything, they just took it and used it. We went into Poland and Slovakia. It was sad to see, those people are living back 50 years ago.

Judith J. Kent:

Yeah.

Paul A. Bradley:

Anybody that thinks Communism is something that works is nuts, because it doesn't work. __________ Korean, the North Koreans _________ are starving, literally. And they hate us.

Judith J. Kent:

That, too. The Japanese don't seem to hate us, or the Germans anymore. We've gotten those mended pretty well.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah. Well, yeah. It seems to me we've got two things going in our relationships with them. We saved them from desolation. We will create it, but we saved them from it nevertheless. And we've also spared them the task of defending themselves. We have shouldered that burden. So sure, they like us for that. But there will come a day when that won't be enough. And we're probably getting close to that. You know, above all else, when Bush went to the UN and asked for their concurrence in doing what he wanted to do in Iraq and both Germany and Japan -- or Germany and France, just wouldn't go along with it, I just thought that was wrong because they owed us. You know, even if we were wrong -- and I don't think we were -- they owed us. And I don't know.

Judith J. Kent:

Well, we've come to the end of our time, and I want to thank you for sharing your story.

Paul A. Bradley:

Well, it really -- it's my pleasure, believe me. And I am delighted if what I provided can somehow or other give some insight or something to people somewhere along the line. I was fascinated by history. When I was a little kid, as soon as I learned to read, I was reading history. And I just -- I just find it fascinating. I've read the (Feathers) papers. I've read the journals of Lewis and Clark. I've read Sandburg's biography of Lincoln. Did you ever see -- have you been to Paris?

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

You've seen Napoleon's tomb, right?

Judith J. Kent:

Yes.

Paul A. Bradley:

Isn't it impressive?

Judith J. Kent:

Uh-huh.

Paul A. Bradley:

Have you ever seen Lincoln's tomb?

Judith J. Kent:

I've seen the Lincoln Memorial.

Paul A. Bradley:

No, Lincoln's tomb. It's in Springfield, Illinois.

Judith J. Kent:

No, I've not seen that.

Paul A. Bradley:

It's incredible. It makes you proud of Mr. Lincoln and America. It's -- we, in our visit -- in our travels, we visited there, and the thing that amazed me the most about -- you know, it was a beautiful mausoleum and all the states are represented, even the confederacy. Fresh flowers there every day from governments all around the world.

Judith J. Kent:

Is that right?

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes. I never realized how important Lincoln was to the world. I understand how important he was to us, but to the world, I never did until we visited there. And it was almost shocking to realize the esteem in which he was held. He was a great man.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, yes.

Paul A. Bradley:

Self-taught. And he really had a command of the English language.

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, yes.

Paul A. Bradley:

__________ came along with Winston Churchill on that.

Judith J. Kent:

Yes.

Paul A. Bradley:

Oh, gosh.

Judith J. Kent:

Didn't have a speech writer either, did he

Paul A. Bradley:

No. He did it all himself. He did it all himself. I met a woman years ago up in Carthage, New York, a Prudential policyholder. She was -- she was like my age now. I'm 75. And I was back in my 30s then. And we went into our house, and went into the front room, and there up over a doorway was a sword, a military sword, and I recognized -- or I thought I recognized it for what it was. And so I commented on it. She said, "That sword was given to my father." And she took it down and handed it to me and I pulled it out of the scabbard, out of the scabbard, and on the blade, there was -- it was inscribed to -- I don't remember his name now, but it was, you know, to commemorate all that he did to save the union and so forth. And it was just interesting. And she said, "I'll tell you a story." She said, "When I was a little girl, my father took me aside one day and he said, 'I want you to know something.' He said, 'When I was in the Union Army, I was stationed in Washington, D.C. for a while. And one day we were inspected by President Lincoln,' and he said, 'President Lincoln walked down to inspect the troops, and when he came to me, he stuck out his hand and he shook hands with me,' and he said, 'I'" -- and this is what he did. He took her hand and he said, "I am shaking your hand now, and remember that you have shaken a hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln. And before I left that day, she told me the story and she said, "Now, you are shaking the hand that shook the hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln, and now I pass it along to you." Isn't that a nice story?

Judith J. Kent:

That's a great story.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yeah.

Judith J. Kent:

A lot of heritage.

Paul A. Bradley:

Yes, yeah. And it just -- well, that stuff fascinates me. You know, I could go on like this for hours.

Judith J. Kent:

Well, we would like to include some of these pictures with your story, if we make some copies.

Paul A. Bradley:

Can you make copies here?

Judith J. Kent:

No, no. I'll have to take them to -- I'll have to take them home.

Paul A. Bradley:

Oh.

Judith J. Kent:

And scan them on the computer.

Paul A. Bradley:

Oh, okay, okay. Let me do this for you then. You'll give them back to me?

Judith J. Kent:

Oh, yes.

 
Home » Text Transcript
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us