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Home » George J. Laben

"Our squadron turned over in the time that I was there roughly--now this is losses from combat--we turned over about four times. (Audio Interview, Part 1, 26:07.2)

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   George J. Laben
Image of George J. Laben
George Laben while home on leave, Crown Point, Indiana [3/1945]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Cold War; Cold War
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 343rd Group, 10th Air Force
Service Location: China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater; United States
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
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In seventeen months stationed in India and Burma during World War II, George Laben flew 245 missions in a C-47 transport plane, an aircraft he still praises for its maneuverability and general ease of flying. He dodged Japanese planes by flying low enough to the ground to be mistaken for ground cover, and never lost a plane or a crew member, even though the overall losses in his squadron were enormous. Occasionally, he flew night missions undercover for the OSS, dropping off men (in parachutes) and supplies, and on one memorable flight, a half-dozen unauthorized bombs. Laben readily admits he never took off without feeling some discomfort, though he always believed he would make it back home from every flight.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview  (94 min.)

Download: audio(1) | audio(2)
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»China, Burma, India
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Assigned once he got to India to the 2nd Trooper Carrier Squadron in Dinjan; in July 1944, moved into village in Burma; his were first aircraft stationed there after U.S. retook. (09:21) Length of service in CBI; flew 245 missions; average length of mission was 3-4 hours; squadron turned over 4 times in the 17 months he was flying; extreme weather conditions, with over 400 inches of rain a year. (07:30) Depending on natives to help rescue pilots who had been shot down or had to land; in some parts of the jungle, survival was nearly impossible because the growth was so thick; aircraft have been found 50 or 60 years later. (03:51)
Danger of dropping materiel to troops surrounded by enemy; taking ground fire; lost no crew to serious wounds. (03:15) Reliability of the C-47; another close call besides the one Zero attack; recollecting his emotions about flying dangerous mission; no quota on his missions; he had accumulated enough points to come home well before he was sent home. (04:44) Reliability of the C-47; another close call besides the one Zero attack; recollecting his emotions about flying dangerous mission; no quota on his missions; he had accumulated enough points to come home well before he was sent home. (Continued) (04:24)
Flew most of his OSS missions at night; dropped off personnel (by parachute) and supplies; dropping off a couple of well-trained Burmese operatives. (02:34) Assigned to an OSS mission, stealing several 100-pound bombs; completed mission, then rolled the bombs out the door over Myitkyna; verbally reprimanded several weeks later; he was denied a Silver Star but not reprimanded for the record, either. (02:23) 
  
 
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  October 26, 2011
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