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Marianas Island Campaign (1944)

Marianas Island Campaign (1944)

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South Pacific
South Pacific

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Published by: CAP History Library on Sep 03, 2012
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24 5011RS At j, 8-29 FISLD


It is anot.her one of t.hoae hot. un-
costortlbia a!t.ernoons at North field on
Gua=.. Gr\r J bie-Lad clouds hang Eot,lon-
less in the sk;y thrutening t.o looae
t.orrents of nino St.retching as tar as
the ,i. can see, silvery sit se-
renely on their hard-st.ands. the field
is .a auiet as • little Southern t.own on
a SUndl;y afternoon. In the sort s!'.adow
under • wing • seal! group ot is
tl')' ing to escapo the opprell8ive heat .•
The aUence is brOt(en only by the clank-
ing o! a aut-Ie chain behind a gnollne
true... purring down the t..axhay or the
putt-putt of. Jeap with • broken muff-
ler. In the hollow or. llOW1.d o! coral
tohree ordnlnce.GrI are arranging boobs
. in rows beside an open bo::t.b-bay 1I'bUe
dCWl. crew chief wipes the 011
·froll an 'ng1ni MCGUe with lena caress-
ing strOll:lIa.
It. i8 juat. aft.er lunch and t.ha
ground crew a:en are drUt.1ns back by
ones and t.wos t.o continue work on t.heir
• airplane". Their unhurriod
give lit.tle indicat.ion of t.he at.rese un-
der ",Mch they have been wordng ever
firat. millSion. They go quiet.l.,y
t and lte.hodlca.lly about. their jobs; 1I'het
, see.:.8 like indltrerence 18 act.ually 8
sureneas devalopad by long experience
under trying conditione. They know the
fault.s and virtuea and, inner workings ot
t.heir nirplanaa as ot (I dotll'ly beloved
In a large wooden-bench-filled roar.
.!h!. f!.i8!'t. begin to gst.hor for the
brierina:. Phot.ographs of· previous
and Jap inetellat.ions cover the
walla. and on a a:r.all st.aye up tront
...udal. chlirta or fora.Lione and t.ake-oCC
data, • corporal in ratigues is finish-
ing. up ot today,'. t..arget. '!'be Colonel
enters and the brlet1n£ begins.
The intcr:r.at.ion is not. new t.o &n,)'
ot t.he Mil. The,. have bHn over all t.his
durinG a:&.V' hours at. target. st.udy clas...
es. prel1ainar-y and SP8cialb:ed bricfinr.:
sessions. In very correct.. fact.-fi.ll.ed
sentences t.he intelligence officer i8
rniewing t.he genem infoJ"llO:ltion t.hey
&Ust. dl have: the aportance of t.he
t.arget.. t.he gtography of the erea and
t.he ant.icipated opposit.ion.
"Your target. t.onight. 1.a Un Jiu.
the 1Irgut. cit.)' on t.he island ot Sh.1l<o-
ko." he sa'8. "It. used t.o be the tourth
largest but welve alread,J t.aAen caN ot
t.he ot.hers."
Good r\IIt.ured jeering greet.s t.he
weather otficer. EvoT)'one knows that. he
nearly IIl..ys says the saee thing - wea-
t.hor w1.ll be bad. This t.ice 1e no excep-
tion. With wrr huaor he describes t.he
"int.eresting" a.!..tuat1o:l in the area 8fld
concludes by aa)'ing that. bcnbing will
probably be by inatru::lent.:l.
The operat.ions officer stresses
rescue and ditching procudurtls. wat.ches
are synchronb:ed, end t.he chaplain of-
fers e prayer. The laat. speaker ia the
Ho is • tall. youngish. ensrgetic.
c1e;ar-8l:lOlcing citizen of Texa8 (and the
USA). with a brilliant. rucord u a 8-26
group cOJl1lll8nder in t.he 8uropean thoat.re.
A hard t.ulal.ast.er dur1ne; the training
period. hu insiaLs on per-

tection and strict. cUscip1ine "'in the
air. The ICen respect. and like hie; tor
hie fr1encl,y uruMr. and because of
a ..... Uut.lon t.hat their t1e;ht air dis...
cipline haa been responsible for saving
ItOra than a te1l' lives.
Flourishing a half-=Oll:ed cigar, he
rall'1ews their ..nts.· rit.h
pride but. without. boastfulness. re=.:1nda
the: ot t.heir part in t.he llhole B-29
program t.oward .inning the war and B0ing
hOlr.e, and concludoa wit.h a fe. words a-
bout corale. )lorale, he t.eUs t.b_. ie a
tunny t.hing. He has it on good aut.hority
tor instAnce, t.hat aorale is closelJ."
asaoeiated .ith sex. Oh,yes. It has de-
tinUely been proven t.hat. the ottspring
of cell. ot an outfit whoae c.orale is I1ieh
ue invariably boya. and the lower the
EOrale Lhe g..... ter the pftrcentage of
girls! The t.an 1.Iough. It will be a COlt-
parat,ively o&s.)' .cluion - t.he Colonel is
never flippant. before a. one.
With clOCK work precision each
speaker uses hla allot.ed t.1I:e end pre'"
a8MS the tacts tully and clearly. "he
operational data is t.oe auch for any one
brain to hold, so the men break up into
8.%&11 groups for sp4l:c1.al1zad briefing ot
20 minutes each for pilota. navigators.
bcx'.bardiers. rader .en, gunners and
radio operet.ors. They taka not.es, ask
quoaLions and list.en attent.ively. There
10 no tonr.alit.)' and no ,,'ut.ed t1.lll.e. The
aesaione over, t.he Clen dash over to the
Il:e5S hall for a tull, heavy t::oal and
Lhen Lo relax or write a lott.ar.
In the un hall t.h.e c.on est heart.-
ily. There ore a pract.ical jokeaLars
but. llloat. ot t.he ll:f:In just tolk about ex-
periencea on previous lfl1seio:ls. tho
vie last. night. or final detAil:! of
today's strike.
time 1.s approaching. !)own
along the runw.y the ground cre. lI:;en
have done their Jobs well. EYen now
ginas are bd."1B start.ed, eoughing great
clouds or blue "OfIe out of the ex-
hausts. As flight crews begin to arrive
and the airplanes are roadled for
off the field bursts into a Curious act-
ivity. Out in front oC the nose of a
8-29 the crew chief raises four fingers
of his left hand and nu.=bor four engine
sputters and roars awayJ throwing a
ahonr oC gravel behind it. He rahea
The litt.le group of grotL"td cre. and
dint.enance lten who have been patiently
st.anding at. the end of the field swing
their head. onee again frOl:l left. to
right. The last plane haa by.
It has been a littIc over an hour and a
M f since t.he firat of the 1)0
planes took ofr. Ever)·thing is silent
again. Darkness has settled over the
Held and the taxiways are deserted. The
Colonel ccc:.es do'lll'l frCllll the tower •
cl1d:Js into his Jeep and drivea of! to
hie quarters. The spect.ators begin t.o
disperse and with nasbl1ghts ew1:l&ing
at t.heir sides t.he IUIn r.8.it.e their way
slowly toward the barracka area. There
will be 11 lot of airplanes over Japan
There gee:! the "City of Spr1.r.gfield"
her pUot. on his 34th l:Iiulon a.nd a Lech
sergeant of a radio operator on his
3Sth. And there is n\ldler 13. Ctlrrying a
of • radio on his
31on. Next 1, the ReiLy of ,ueens" I
going up tor the 34th tke, wings w0b-
bling up and dOlffi in toho ot
t.he airplAne ahead. That boiWardier who
Just thia ..omina asked tor a leave to
go hce. Lo be with his cother who is
srave},y ill - he is in nwtber it1 Just
getting his wheels off Lhe ground. s.nd
thare b nwcl>er 9 - no t.M) J::en in her
erew frOlll tho 5&l:le atat.••
'MIey lourn.. corr.er wherl;l a sign is
nailed to a troe. It raads "NO llOVIE TO-
fUCHT". 'l'e11, thl;lre will be no Uwa J1..":lO
in th.e :eming.
The Colonel and llQl;e oC his st.srr
are in the tower. Their work is dono for
t.he time being - now they watch the re-
sults of their planninp: and training.
hia hands slowl,y upward and t.he boltb-bay
doors =ia1c his and close. He
givea the pilot the "high signll and the
"City of Ft. Gibson" Goye:l glngl:lrly but
sajestlc.l11y dO\lln the t.axbrsy. The roar-
ing 8n,;ines ot 8-29' II flanldng her route
lend LhWldfU'OUS applause LO her journey"
In • lIo1e::n proceell1on the ponderous
gu.nLs follow one another do.,..n t.he t.axi-
way. Two, tour, su. elgt1t .... t.hey 'Wait.
at t.he head ot the run.., tor the signal
to start.
In rapid succeuion they roar down
the runwa,a all obllervers wit.h stop
.... tchile tae ever»' operation. Sltocthly
ar.d gracefully they llft their gr-ea.t
Jl6ight int.o t.he air - 130.000 Ibs. of
alrplan(l full oC fiary death into the
air evary fift.y secDflds frCllll each run-

'!'he second hand of t.he eloclt
reaches sixty and the Plan begins to
wort(. At a sienal frCll"l the tc.er
eng1nu of the tint airplAne begin to
race, she starts roll1.n.g, reaehes fl,rL'18
speed, leaves the ground, retracts land-
ing gear and clears the end ot the run-
_y; aU in accordance with a schedule
that accounta for every fraction of a
aecond or t.his operation. Before one
airplane hu covered ball the runwa, the
next. hollS .oved into poaltion and lI'hen
the whoob of tho Urat have left the
ground the second b already rolling.
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111e1 are ;YOUl'lg, t.hen 8-29'er5 _
the old t1A:ers are In their m1ddle or
lata henties. Since February t.heir
outtit hIS been over eve:-y t.wo
and a half days. J.!any of t.hos. frca t.he
early days hIVe ccapleted -their thirty
nYe abdona and gone hOE:e tor a leave
and ot.her Jobs. Scz.e are dead and will
never go hoce. But &ACne those _n lIlho
will £0 out t.onight tew have lella than
or 20 dulons to their credit. and
all are struggllng t.o l<eep trem Utltall1'
cnaldll8 up anoihar one betore t.he 21s-
don is cOIIplet.ed. They .enOol that ..Uhin
another MO:'lth the ..ss hall _ill bc fil-
led with new faces - fresh
rl"Olll Ute schoch of Kansas, TeDS and
!lebru.c.a. and upperoaoat. in the a1nd of
each:DBn 18 the nlJcl)er )5. a private es-
tiat.e on Lhe end 01' the "1' and dis-
charge free the ar"CY'

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Central F1r. Control Radio Operator


Karl&ator Co-pllot



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5637 •






The Clen on t.he ground were learn-
ing too - developing new techniques.
discoverln8 short. cuts and perfect.ing
t.he akill of handline Clore airplanes in
2 hours than La Guardia !ield does in a

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, of -Honor -8CKlI'Ig the B-2:9 .Een.
!lot every mon in the Group is a he-
ro or superman, but the)· all do give the
1mpNlsaion of knolling their Joba lind do-
1."Ig their work "ell. The aaost super-
e1i,f'lc1ency of B--29 operations did not. f
ccne about over night. There _re mi3-
takes, learn1n£ 8S sc:cet:1=es cost.ly,
and tra11!.1n,g -.-tIS long and arduous. Col.
• St.orrie, who devolo?Od tight... fonr.ation \
flying t.o a h1Eh clegree with his "hot"
B-26'a, aould CIllke his men fl.,}· the B-
29's the $aU ....Y. T1mB after t1a.e he
lIOU.1d taKe thu for practice bo::.bing
miaaiona.Over Jap held PoOta island (60
Ildlea away). Por four hours would
fly the giant boltbera .c.anually with
wingtips a1.clOst. t()l,lchlllg. tinley used to
COM back wringing vet .1.tb persp1.ration
but t.hey have leamed that tight fon:;a-
tions ere the best. defen8<;l against. figh-
Thirt.een hours have elapsed since
the airplanea took off. At !lort.h Field
/ten have just. fin1l5hed breakfast. and
wander out to tho field to wat.ch for tho
first airplane t.o ret.urn. At about ten
ndnutea t.o eight t.ho faint black spot.s
loft to the nort.h ""'st becOllle di3tin¢-
Iahable 88 airplanll13. Stand1ng on no ce-
rClllon,)' t.hey begin to make directly for
the field.
The first one looks like he 1s coo-
ing in too high, but the pilot. pulls her
want off prwture1,y. Bllrided and:Sutf-
ering intense 8g0ny fTO«l bums, he nev-
ertheless carried the blazing a-
gainst his body all the way to tho fli-
ght deck and threw it out of the Pil-I
ot's window. His act aavud th6 airpLene
and the lives of the crew, but almost
cost him his olin. Sgt. Indo b now re-
covering in a hospital in the atatell. He
received th(l first Congressional Uedal
The mission of 13 July. 1945
In talking about 'Wounded and
i841 t.he :nan invar1ably bring. up the.
name of S/Sst Henry Irwin. A radio op-
erator, ha had the additional duty of
releaaing phoephorus bombs thru & chute
in the airplana. \;'hUe over the target
one of the bombs stuck in the chute and
The 29th bas already been over
an 54 tid.. The first a1u!on, a day-
llght. incendiary attack on Toldo, na on
the 25th or February. The Iten have been
'bac", regularly ever since. Bet.ween lo!ar-
eh tenth and nineteenth t.hey took part.
in t.he r..oull bUtf. tha t burned out 51S
of Toldo, 22S or nagoya :and 26$ or Coaka-.
To.nb:ht.. each or t.he JO or the
Group 18 carrying 40 or t.he
pound "fire bor:bs" to be dropPed on a
city of 52.COO, 1Qportant. !HI an inter-
island port and the center ot a large
t.extile indust.ry converted t.o war pro-
There ant fin iVings of 9-29" in
t.he JrlarUn85: lho 7Jrd on Salpan. t.he
58th and '13th on Tinan and the 314t.h.
and )15th on Guam. All or LhelD..(:omprb..
ina: 1Il0" than 500 airplanes are beading
tor Japan tonight.
The,. will strLo:o at. Civc cities:
Utsincxa1ya. Ichincadya. tsuruga J and an
oU ronnery at. ICawasakl in addit.ion to
U_ Jia, taroat tor tohe 29th Group of
the )lAt.h Uing.
The Group haa It good record for
bombe over the target and total area
destroyed. But there have been lossl!IlI
too. Of tho 2<)1 B-2<)'a lost up to June
16th a falr ahare have been frOl!l the 29
tho There been wounded alao -
twelve purple hearts. But in the words
of 3. lll8dical officer, "That. figure does-
n't =uch. In this racket t.here ar-
en't many wounded. The w.en oit.her come
back in one piece or not at all." That
wal!l more truo in old days than it 18
nO'lt'. "Super Duttbo" rescue planes (B-
29's) and our sub.'I'.arin8! !\ave helped
bring baci< both Itlln "in one piece" and
wou-"lded who "ould otherwise have lost
their Uves.

It is a1&ost noon again. In the
quonset huts t.hat. aerve as living quar-
ters the heat. beats down tlercely frOlll
the ceilings. A warm breeze wiggles the
pin-up girls tacked on the ..alla and
bangs B acresn door down tho street.
)lothars, sweethurts and babies s=1le
da.n from their dime store picture fram-
ell. And in the cots placed side b)'
aide Along the walls of the huts the
tired are asleap.
nnth the cloud,. Flack and tight.er op-
position was very light. - no =en hurt.
and no airplanes 3eVtlrely da.c.aged.
Ta:.orrcnr • pllotoUaph1c plane will
bring back pietures ot' the the
weather peMllits.
The brie!1ng roc. graduallr beCCl:W15
deserted. The Red Cross girls pick up
their eti1pty corree cups and t.he i.ntelli-
gence officers f,ilther up their
All the inlorcation will nOlf have to be
and digested and lessons learn-
ed will be applied on the next .!ll1ssion.
Statistical cent.rol will draw another
colored line on a graph and tho head-
lines bec", hoa:.e w1ll 15cre8.lC. nSUPKRFORTS
HIT JAPAN AGHfl". but to the IWn
off to their ilIa just a
of one mission done is 0tIe: less to EO.
It seems to have been a successful
lIl1ssion and all aircraft. are accounted
for. Of t.he thirt.y t.wo airplanes that
st.rted out. all but two were over the
target. ()je skidded on take-off but. no
da:.age was done. Anot.her developed en-
gine t.rouble on the wa)' out and landed
sat'ely at. Iwo J1na. Bombi.ng was ent.ire-
ly by radar due to clouds over t.hl:l tar-
set (t.he weather AS bad). For the same I
reason it WAa impmible t.o aee t.he d8l!l-
age done and no pictures could be taken
but. a greet. red glow was observed be-
The cen arrive and take posslIssion
ot Ute place. They are !.n vel")' good
spirits (itla a good feeling t.o be back
again). Congregating around the coffee
counter they £ostlculate with hol-
ding dfaret.tes and talk excitedly nth
ItDULha full ot doughnuts. Thts is t.he
first. opportunity t.he t. .!te:'! or or.e air-
plane have t.o t.alk t.o t.heir friends
in anot.her. Gener&l PowerJ COl:IHnding
oIt1eor or the w1r.S. has also arrived to
get first mnd infor:Dlltion. Cre.. by
crew the :en :lit down and t.he business
of interrogation begins. The boalbard-
iers and radar are int.errogated sep-
number ot the alrplano
names ot crew
m.em.bers, type end load of bClllbs. g1150-
line load. take oCt t1=o and other such
deL. has already been entered.
nO$6 down and the wheels touch the
STound no core t.han a hundred feet. from
t.he end of the run...)'. Kere cac:;es one
ritn an engine dead. The Ittitl -.:at-ching
read the tac1l.iar nu:es and nw:berll and
unconsciously check each one in. Here
cor:.e the "elLy of l;:uoenll" and nur.ber
t.hirteen lind all the others. Soon both
runways erG busy with the roaring of M1-
tuminl; aircraft..
As each plane ca:.es to rest on the
sue hardstand fl"OQ which it. start.ed,t.he
enginea let. go one ltOre burst. of powllr
t.hen alow do-n and stop - with one last
Dirty, sleepy, and JXlr-
spiring the Qfln cl.1Jr:b out of their air-
planes. They chat.ter incessantly as
they drag t.heir gear after t.hem and go
ort t.o t.he wa1t1n6 tnacks. It. ha3 been
a long grind. 1.4 too 16 houra in the a1r
but. they cannot rest yet.. Firat. they
go to the supply rOOlll to tum in
their parachutes, flack suita and ot.her
paraphemalUi and than t.o be interroga-
ted whUe the IOiss1on is still fresh in
their .c1nda.
In t.he briefing rooa the woodtin
benches have been arranged into U-ahaped
bootha so that each craw r..ay be int.erro-
gated aeparately.and off in one corner
the Red Cross haa cortea and doughnuts
relldy. The intelligence officers are
equipped with prep81'ed (omll listing
qu.estiona fo! thtl crews to an!l1l'er. The

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