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Interview with William Gale [undated]

Harrison Hicks:

Today is Oct. 10, I am Harrison Hicks and I am interviewing Mr. William Gale at 7612 Sylvania, Ohio Mr. Gale is my grandfather's cousin. Mr. Gale is 83 years old and was born in 1924, Sept. 21. Mr. Gale served in The Korean War and WW2 and was in the 4U air force unit and was a Lieutenant. Mr. Gale you were in what unit?

William Gale:

Uh, World War 2 I was in the 4n Air Force we had a brand new, 55 brand new silver B-24's that we checked out and calibrated the engines we were studying, in central California ready to go over seas when they dropped the atom bomb. Thank god that I didn't get shot at, [chuckles] during World War Two. I went through aviation cadet training and combat crew training.

Harrison Hicks:

And, what was your rank?

William Gale:

I was a lieutenant. I was the bombardier on the crew..

Harrison Hicks:

Did you actually drop the bomb on Hiroshima?

William Gale:

Oh no, That was a special trained squadron, the man who won the war. (tape cuts out)

Harrison Hicks:

Were you drafted or did you enlist?

William Gale:

I enlisted, nobody in my family clear back to Charles Gale who enlisted volunteered from [?] wars, a young German immigrant in the Gale family the seventh generation was just born and never been drafted, and has volunteered for every war we've been in. We're a very patriotic family and proud of it.

Harrison Hicks:

Oh absolutely, where were you living at the time:

William Gale:

I was just started my first year of college, 1942. My father was coming down for my WJ fraternity initiation, I was going to join the same fraternity my father joined and at that time they had a big swearing-in ceremony, so I volunteered for what was known at that time as the Army Air Corps hoping I would get through flying, through training. That was early December, 1942. We did as we said in those days, "I held up my hands."

Harrison Hicks:

So, why did you join?

William Gale:

Well, in the first place, because everybody was joining, there was a lot of herd instinct then, like there is now like why the kids do a lot of stupid stuff like take recreational drugs, and all of that type of stuff everyone else was doing it. Well we all felt patriotic, you know, we were all brought up hate the damn Japs and Adolph Hitler, but we never saw him before, and quite frankly I volunteered because I was a little selfish. I'd been in ROTC, I knew the difference between an officer and an enlisted man and I knew if I went through aviation cadet and passed and if I became an officer my life would be at least a lot more well-paid when I was in the military

Harrison Hicks:

so, why did you pick the service branch that you joined?

William Gale:

the Air Force?

Harrison Hicks:

yeah

William Gale:

Because I had a better chance of becoming a commissioned officer. The Air Force, had a higher percent of officers. On a crew, 40% of the ten people were officers.

Harrison Hicks:

Do you recall your first days in service?

William Gale:

My first days in service? Yes, I was called to active duty in April '43 I went to Biloxi, Mississippi it was very hot we lived in they called it the huts it was a chicken coop no windows . and just big flat doors over where the windows were. I was there for three solid weeks and I lived so far from the group shower building, that I never got one hot shower all the time I was there. I learned you can lay down in the sand, (they got you so tired), and it felt like a feather mattress, you were so happy to get stretched out.

Harrison Hicks:

Tell us about your boot camp and training experience.

William Gale:

Well, we just learned basic training, you know military courtesy and you know what we called "hup-two-three-four" marching. And then we went to classification I was classified as a bombardier navigator, so then we went, because... they were trying to make up some college, the old requirements used to be two years of college. They had what they called 'college training detachment', which they made the contract with the college, and we took things, I know I took spherical trig, first year physics, you know that type of stuff at Syracuse University. And then we went to pre-flight At Santa Anna California and then we went to advanced flight training. I was a bombardier. I went to Victorville California, which Los Angeles now knows as a used development called, for many years, Apple Valley So that's where I went. Graduated got my wings and my commission May the 20l , 1944. And then, you know you , wait a lot when your in the military, various places got formed a crew, we got gunners, engineers, pilots all that. We went up to Walla Walla, Washington to take combat crew training. We did, and then we went down to, you know like I said, the middle of California to central California to get new airplanes and we were going over as a wing. Our crew was the lead crew, I was the lead bombardier, and then we dropped the atom bomb, the Japs gave up so I just fooled around and [for] three of four months they decided what they were gonna do with all of we millions of young fellas who trained and ready to go to war, so they sent most of us home. I went home in a late October, early November of 1945 and I just passed my 21st birthday and I was in about three years. That was my experience during WWII. Cadet Training was physically and mentally very challenging. They told you when you first started out to shake hands with the fellow on each side of you. There's only gonna be one of you left 'cause the rest of you are gonna flunk out before the rest of the training is over", I was one of the fortunate one's who didn't flunk out. So that was my experience during WWII I saw the country, Boloxi, couple of places in California: Santa Anna, Victorville, I went to college training detachment at Syracuse, New York, got acquainted with a very nice university. I still have a very fond memory in my heart for Syracuse University. I met a gorgeous girl up there who we imagined we were in love at the ripe old age of eighteen. She was I saw a picture the other day going through some old stuff. She was nice looking I have to admit that. So that was my experience in Syracuse and I told you, you know, when we got out and- I felt a little bit guilty about not getting shot at during the war, like I didn't do my part. So I volunteered to go in the reserves and I volunteered to be one of the ones who got called up with a minimum of notice if they needed reserves because I was young, and didn't see combat and was not married. So in June 1950 the North Koreans attacked the South Koreans and the united states decided to stop that, so as one of the bombardiers. I had a MOS because they shut down bombardier schools between the two wars, so they had to recall reservists like myself. So we went to Sacramento, California and learned to drop bombs again and went to ground School and stuff like that, I came back home from all of that type of stuff, went off to have a couple of beers with my brother in Richmond who was teaching school there (he was in the reserves). Got introduced to a nice young lady who I had a very pleasurable couple of dates with, who is now my wife of fifty-some years, and I went overseas after that. I went to California and then overseas to Okinawa. I was assigned to the 19th Air Force which was based on Guam during WWII and never came home so we used some of the old airplane that were available. We had nose art. You know what nose art is?

Harrison Hicks:

I think I'm familiar with that

William Gale:

Well, most of the nose art was girls with a 44 D size, you know [laughs] above their midsection and skimpy clothing, So one of the first planes that we flew was called four breasts. It was a blond and a brunette standing side by side, that was the name of the plane. Another one was called Leda the hyena, old cartoon but if you ever get the old cartoon books.. Your mother or father might remember, anyhow she was one of the ugliest women you ever saw [laughs]. But anyway that's where we started flying combat missions, we were flying daylight missions, and the B-29 was not tough enough to stand up against the B-15's particularly when they are flown by the Russians or the Chinese, but Korean pilots are not very good, then we got shot up pretty bad during our daylight flight, and we went down, I was flying that mission in October 27 and we had (chuckles) the dubious distinction of being the last b-29 on the last daylight raid, And got shot down, we were bombing the Seduigu Bypass bridge about the third bridge built over the ???? to try to stop that. And we got shot up pretty bad and we were headed out to the ocean they had and Island which the allies had owned, and this was a (unclear) paylot [??] Spot and I had to go back to back part of the airplane and found out that there were to many guys shot up to land, so the aircraft pilot, commander, and myself made the decision that we were gonna try to get back because for sure if we tried to bail out half off these guys would not make it, so we headed back and our radar operator was hit with a 40mml cannon, he was all opened up. I know and I took all the sulfum powder I had and stuffed his guts back inside him and took a parachute around him and wrapped it around him like a giant band-aid, and we had another guy with his foot shot off. So we did all that good stuff and we crash landed at K-14 a fighter base which is now Kipo International Airport, the main downtown airport of Seoul, South Korea. I visited there in 1986 as a tourist. It's a huge nice city, but that's where we landed. We cut out the secretary of the army, and we went off the edge of the runway and the plane was gonna blow and the red cross and all the people ran away so I couldn't hand the wounded out, so I pulled out my gun and said I'm gonna shoot the next son-of-a-b**** that doesn't take these guys out of here (laughing).In the meantime the aircraft commander had jumped out the front end, and we handed most of the wounded to him, then we ran because the plane was gonna blow at any minute, you know, we could see that it was on fire. Well I got out there and somebody said, that's a nice landing Lieutenant, and I saw two gentlemen with all these stars on their brim and I said "Sir we're only supposed to talk to an authorized interrogating officer" he says, Gale, he says, "I'm Joe Kelly" he was General James Kelly, He says, "I'm your boss, we had a few drinks together a couple of weeks ago, and this my Boss General Evers. Do think we could have a little talk", I was so embarrassed I says "Ohh sh**". So he talks to me and says you better get that wound in your pants fixed and I says "that's not a wound, I was so scared after I got out of that plane I wet my pants." and he laughed..(laughing) but anyhow... we walked awhile and found a place where they were fixing up the, you know, eight wounded guys out of 11 on our airplane. And we saw that they were all gonna live and they brought them in on a plane old stretcher in to a little tent and that's where they did the operation......Have you seen M*A*S*H* on TV, you know the old reruns?

Harrison Hicks:

you know, I don't watch a lot of TV but my neighbor is a big fan of M*A*S*H*...

William Gale:

well anyway, that was a clean up to date place compared to the place they stuck us, all the guys were in fatigues, and well anyway that's where they operated on our people when I was there, I went Back to ????, Okinawa and had 286 hours of combat 29 missions I was awarded a distinguished flag cross, and from various other times I have 20 some awards and, decorations, finished my tour, came home to the USA and stayed in the Air Force, Got discharged in June 1954,1 was in a combat-ready crew, of the Air command at that time, then I came home in June 1953, 3 years from the time that I went in, and now I have grandchildren in the military. So that's the highlights of my career. [omitted: political views] How did you stay in touch with your family. WG: Well I wrote letters, we had air mails during Korea, a week to ten days I could talk to my wife sometimes it was month to several months if you were overseas, because they didn't have airmail during WW2; a couple of times we had a guys who were hand radio operators and knew sometimes we had a ???? station guys that were into that sometimes could get a direst talk but that wasn't even 1% of the people. We just depended on the mail.

Harrison Hicks:

Okay, so at the camp, what was the food like? WG: Food? Well when we were in the main camps the food was good. It was like any restaurant food served in a cafeteria you know you got tired of it but that didn't mean that the food was bad if you're in a place up at the front. Now I wasn't a big fan of sea rations or cave Rations or all of the pelican bars and all of this type of stuff, but you can live on it. It was not very tasty, but you can live on it

Harrison Hicks:

Did you have plenty of supplies WG: occasionally there were shortages we were always having trouble getting aircraft parts into Korea because the united states were making a stupid mistake, they were afraid, we had the B- 47's and we had the Q-23's, the radar and they were afraid that if we shot a plane the Russians would find out about it. The United States had an unlimited supply of young fellows like myself, cannon fodder, that were in the reserves. They could just call in and so we had had World War two equipment, so this was the thing we were more upset with the unites states air force policies than we were with uncle Joe Stalin during the Korean war also, we didn't have first class equipment;

Harrison Hicks:

Did you feel any pressure or stress during your time in the service. Beside of course, during direst combat. WG: The combat stress? Not really I m that type of a guy I guess I had relatives talk to other type of people you know there was the stress to do a good job, nobody liked to think about you know thirty-six hours I'm going to get shot at you know that was a little stressful but that wasn't the major topic of conversations and all my experiences there in Okinawa the lights ??? Bomb group the 31st bomb squadron, you know, we never had anyone crack up you know have to go to the psyche hospital never happened to us anyway I guess we were often the best squadron we were 95% involuntarily recalled into service like myself we all wanted to do a good job, you know get a promotion I know that when I was in strategic air command we weren't getting the results from the gun camera, and the pilots would show that this was gun camera stuff, the cameras didn't world right well bring the bombardier I was the camera officer among other things so I asked the squadron commander I says," My old ordinance officer from Okinawa out at Randolph field in Denver Colorado.........If you let me take a couple of these master sergeants that work in this gunnery I think he might be able to give us some clues well he did came back and the film started to come out and everything and they were gonna explain they were good boys know all these good boys now all these colonial and lower ranking general were gonna explain this to Curtis lee may you know who Curtis Lee May is right, the founder of strategic air command and four star-general, and the toughest S.O.B. the military ever had,. He's in the Patton category well anyway nobody wanted to sit up at the front of the table so he comes walking in and lieutenant he says, you're obviously the only one who knows what he's talking about or the wouldn't have brought all these ??????? Up here to meet with me so I told him the story of what I did, and so he says good job, and he said have you ever seen strategic air command off an air force base so I said no, so he gave me a tour and he say's bring him back here so I cam e back about an hour or so later , that paper work done ????? He says to another guy, and there he did the paperwork to promote me to a full time captain. Just while I was taking a tour. So I was happy about that, that was my only experience working with top brass, except I did know Harry Truman personally but that's another story.

Harrison Hicks:

So In your spare time how did people entertain themselves. WG: Well over in Okinawa they had the ?ostrich? club and that was in the army station and everything, but quite frankly, we drank a lot (chuckles) so that was- [there was] golf, I don't play a lot of golf but there were golf courses there they could grow the grass so they that had had ???? Greens [very unclear segment] And you could knock you're golf ball up there so the golf wasn't all that great, some guys played a little golf, I don't remember tennis courts ups there, Played a lot of Softball ??? Our operations officer had a 90 mph fast ball and I could catch them so we won a lot of softball games over there I remember that, I was married so I didn't participate in much of the girl chasing from the employees over in the nurse hall. We played ball, drank a lot, OH my bridge game improved substantially. And I got to be a gin rummy champion. So I won a little money playing cards. [omitted: unusual events]

Harrison Hicks:

Did you keep a personal diary?

William Gale:

No I never kept a personal diary, I wrote [to] my wife every day when I was over there in combat well practically every day she saved all the letters ad well, that's the diary but quite frankly they talk a lot about that now but I never knew any one who kept a diary I mean maybe I was with an odd bunch of guys but we just a bunch of young fellows that worked for uncle Sam I didn't think that there was anything particularly good bad or indifferent about all of us I didn't see anybody go off the deep end that had to be sent home because they couldn't handle it. All this stuff comes from movies, did you ever see the second version of Memphis spell the movie

Harrison Hicks:

Uhh no actually I didn't WG: The B-25 the first one that flew the 25 missions when the y finally decided over the air force lets you come home after 25.well the bombardier on that plane was Vince Evans and he was the technical advisor for the movie and he was our squadron advisor

Harrison Hicks:

well that's interesting WG: We got some war stories from him and then I saw the second version of the movie with guys getting shot up and helping one another now this movie bothered me because it brought back just exactly what I had gone through at the time and I still don't like to see war stories, I've heard enough about "Saving Private Ryan" and I have no desire to see that type of thing. Band of brothers, I saw the movie and read the book... I can't handle that kind of stuff I couldn't handle it with out getting upset. The only thing that I think about the military I choke up on is Air Force Day, Fourth of July, and a little bit now just talking about it I start to choke up. So that's my remembrance of the military, positive, very positive.

Harrison Hicks:

Do you recall the day you service ended? WG: Yes I recall the day, lets see I came home sometime in the later part of October and then 10 my term to leave was over December 1st 1953 that was the day I officially went off of active duty for the air force.

Harrison Hicks:

What did you do in the days and the weeks afterward? WG: I was married when I came back from Korea so I got a job, I worked as an engineer that's what I was trained to do and I worked for to Indianapolis companies, Stewart Warner and western electric when I was working for western Electric I took a leave of absence then we went back to Bloomington and I finished the last two hours of my advanced degree and I worked full time for the university I was lecture management and the associate director of business school placement bureau. Then I went work up here in Ohio scoring fiberglass until 1946.

Harrison Hicks:

Was your education supported by the G.I. bill? WG: Well I got a scholarship for having good grades in high school, well when I came back you couldn't buy any beer or nothing but you got $45 per month worth of student loans, you can say it was a big help, but It didn't pay all the bills.

Harrison Hicks:

Did your military experience at all influence you thinking about war or about the military in general? My military experience influenced me in two things, about the military basically is good but its so big and there is so much beaurocracy and so many rules set by people who have never seen a shot fired in there life time. It just made it that even today I am furious at the government plutocracy, and if you want that right up to date, umm the made up there mind that [the united states] had to go to war , but for whatever reason we're over there and I think that there is that should have to pay that 2 million dollars a month for there schools and there electrical bills and their oil wells We should have to hire out soldiers because they can't keep peace on the streets, and I- If you want something screwed up, have the government run it. There are two things the 11 government does well one they did a good job with the post office and two, they're the only ones that can run the military and take us to war, there would be no other way to do that. But outside of that keep the government out. That's what I feel as far as what was the other question you asked-- My son was a Lieutenant Colonial in the air force so I didn't turn my children against that. Got a granddaughter who wants to be in the air force she's picking her college right now she wants to go someplace here they for sure have the Air force ROTC. So our family is very patriotic we celebrate 4th of July and Veteran's Day and that kind of thing. So our family has a decent military history, and I think, well I'll put it bluntly, I think that every young man should have the experience of working for a sergeant for a year so we wouldn't have all the problems that we have with teenagers, but I'm not upset with teenagers, I know that when push comes to shove the American teenagers no matter if he has dumb pants and a dumb haircut, when the chips are down they have to go to war just like I do, and they" do the good job because they're Americans and I believe that.

Harrison Hicks:

So is there anything else I should ask you? WG: No I think you've covered most of the things, like my grandson had this the teacher wants...???... The only thing I want to emphasize is that I didn't bump into any, outside of guys that were overly overt and fanatical wanted to see what kind of training we had you can get them in a series of four or five films called "Why we Fight" this was supposed to have upset the Germans and Japanese and they show the Germans pulling a flamethrower and somebody coming out of a tank trying to make us mad I don't know,...I dated a girl during the last part of WW2 whose father was a colonial in the army and the military had a ???? to the King of Thailand you know, the King and I, he was right over there and he went on hat death march and died of some kind of disease as a fairly young man. So there was a lot of crap like, that but don't believe all the stories you hear about our troops shooting unarmed civilians and that type of stuff. We don't do that.

Harrison Hicks:

So is there anything else you'd like to add? WG: No I think that you've got short of a summary of all my feelings like I said I saw as a young kid 18 years old, the war, you know, WW2 was over before my 21st birthday. And I got called back in the Korean war and I was separated from my wife so I know what that's like, and I'm not bitter about the military, outside the beaurocracy, why, I like the military It did a lot more good than it did bad. It was just too big and it was a beaurocracy, those are my only complaints about the military I mean War is War I haven't said this,(I get in trouble with a lot of people in church today) they talk about how terrible the military is and how terrible war is and everything, and I say this from my own personal experience I remember heavily the great depression with over half the men in the united states didn't have a job, how poor everybody was and I was poor. I've been to war two times. I've been shot at If I had to make my choice of the two things, I'd rather go to war again than I would be poor. And I try to help people who don't have enough to eat or can't make it on their own. End of formal interview

 
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