Last updated 01/07/2008

Just take a look at this gentleman on the left if you are inclined to exaggerate a little. Please relate any stories, serious, funny or otherwise that happened to you while a member of the 319th BOMB GROUP.
Please give your name, rank and squadron #..here are a couple of samples. I will use the format below to enter your tall tales. Please tell true ones if possible. These  contain about 350 words . I think we can handle that. I'm still Digging.
Send Stories to the Webmaster and put "Tall Tales" in the subject line.

From : "Charles Wolf" <wolf@texas.net
To :319th Webmaster
Subject : Here's a story Blair 
Date : Sat, 22 Mar 2003 23:33:55 -0600 

It was in the Flyer years ago, but can't locate the issue now so am rewriting it.

The war against Japan was over. Okinawa had suddenly become a very boring place to be. Nothing much to do but sit around and drink expensive whiskey if any was to be found, and of course sleep a lot. So one day in a borrowed jeep was riding along when a familiar face behind a hitch hiking thumb caught my eye. Picked him up and found out he was an old HS student from my class in Dallas. 

Took him on down to Yellow Beach and thanking me for the ride he invited me to come out to the ship and have Sunday Dinner with them and said bring a friend. Well, the only one I knew with a jeep that could go was Roger Rhodarmer, and Rog being from NC I knew loved fried chicken which I had been told they were going to serve. Something we had not had in months.

Roger was not only happy to go he was impatient to get there so we left the jeep on the beach after preparing it for our absence and got into the small boat they had sent to pick us up.

The ship we went aboard was a T-2 tanker that had just unloaded a lot of aircraft fuel but was still partially loaded. Like all T-2's the crew lived in different places, the officers amid ship where the small sick bay was, with the crew and mess and other cabins aft. 

After being shown about the ship we went aft to eat, where during the meal the engines suddenly began to go thunka thunka and the ship began to roll a bit. We could tell it was getting under way. We were quite worried about what was happening and on questioning the Captain were told that a typhoon was reported heading for Okinawa and we were putting to sea for safety. We asked to be put ashore and were shown a very excited and rough sea and told, not now friends, you are now part of the crew. So began one of the most thrilling boat trips either of us would ever take, and even more bothersome, since we had expected to be back onshore that night, no one in the squadron knew where we were. Thus began a real adventure that made a combat mission seem tame by comparison.

We were domiciled in the sick bay which was supplied with several double deck bunks secured to each other on stainless poles bolted to the deck. It was clean and very comfortable, yeah sure.. and if you believe that I have a good bargain for a bridge spanning San Francisco harbor.

The Captain flooded the empty tanks with sea water which put us very low in the water and less likely to roll over 90 degrees, but I swear there were times it rolled at least 60 to 65. To sleep we had to brace our feet on the tubes at the foot of the bed and hold on to the ones at the head and eventually fall asleep from exhaustion. 

To go aft to eat, there was a safety belt on the cat walk leading aft. You put the harness on and then holding on to the hand rails went aft and the next in line pulled it back so he could use the walk which was almost continually awash in blowing spray and wave action. The food was great and neither of us being afflicted with sea sickness we did enjoy food that we had not had for a long while. 

Now there wasn't a lot to do aboard a tanker in a typhoon, and entertainment being at a premium, we spent our days in the Gunnery Officers cabin playing hearts. If you braced yourself against a good stable leg of the table, you could see the water at one point in the roll and the sky on the next. Needless to say we really learned to play hearts under conditions not really experienced by many others.

Having the run of the ship we spent some time on the bridge which was quite an experience also watching the bow rise and crash down spraying water in all directions while rolling to unreal angles. The wind was so strong there was 18" of water on the weather bridge which was an enclosed bridge to port and starboard. 

It was Sunday when we went aboard. The following Saturday we sailed back to Okinawa and were amazed at the damage that had been done to the island, but we were also very apprehensive about what was going to happen to the two AWOL pilots. Roger never did tell me what was said by Col Randy, but he hinted and none of it was a love message I am sure. Luckily he understood why we were unable to return, but for all of that we had the most comfortable place to be during that storm. Unfortunately the jeep was gone and Roger was responsible.

That was in September 1945. In mid 1957 I was transferred to Hickham AFB but before leaving had to fly some personnel to DC and with a day to spare looked Roger up in the Pentagon finally finding him about five basements deep. I walked into his office and before even saying hello he said.. I was just thinking about you. You know that jeep we lost in 1945? I said yeah. He said well, every year since then the AF has sent me a bill for $777 and every year I have turned in a report of survey telling the story of how it was lost, and they just a week ago accepted it. It had taken only almost 12 years for him to get out from under that. 

During the reunions I had occasion to ask Roger if he wanted to go out to get a bite to eat being told each time.. No Way.. every time I go out to eat with you I don't get back for a week.

Charlie Wolf
Pilot, 439th 

Joseph Connaughton <joeconna@traveller.com>
 To: brock@iapc.net
Hi Brock, Here is a tall tale about Deke Slayton that didn't make it in the "Humor in Uniform" of Reader's Digest. You may add it to our Tall Tales if you think it's worthy of including in the list. The story is true - I was there. Joe

To Ed Brockman from  Russell Powell <rpowell@alltel.net>439th Sqd.319th Bomb Group

 It was Christmas week in 1944.Several of us were allowed to go to Rome for a week of  R and R. We were flown to Rome airport and we were instructed to be back there in a week to be taken back to Corsica. I think there was six of us and we checked into a hotel ,all of us in one room. On the day we were supposed to go back to catch the plane it was raining cats and dogs, dark clouds every where. Being experts at weather, we decided the airport was closed. So we started out to enjoy another day of having fun.  As we started down the street we ran into six of our friends from the 439th Sqd. They informed us that the plane was at the airport waiting for us. We took off to the airport and was told the plane had already left and the airport was now closed, but the airport in Naples was open. It was now beginning to snow and we were out on the road trying to catch a ride to Naples. It was a long cold ride in the back of that army truck and when we got to Naples it was already dark and snowing like crazy. The airport was closed. We found an empty building and spent the night. The next day we caught a ride with a B25 that was going  to the bomb group up the road from the 319th.The pilot landed at our base, we jumped out at the end of the runway and he turned right around and took off . I went to see First Sgt. Downey to explain to him why I was a day late getting back. He said he didn't care. That is the kind of outfit we had.

THE RIGHT STUFF A small group of airmen on the island of Okinawa were observed conducting a bazaar experiment near their airfield during World War II. They wrapped a cloth around a can of beer, then tied it securely with parachute cord allowing about six feet to dangle. Next, they filled a five gallon bucket with aviation gasoline and placed it on the ground. The experiment consisted of holding the six foot length of cord, dipping the beer can into the gasoline, and whirling it about one's head at the end of the cord hoping to cool it by evaporation. The process was to be repeated until the beer can felt cold. While the airmen were engaged in this frustrating activity, Capt. Don (Deke) Slayton stepped in and immediately took charge. "Give me that beer, men," he ordered. "And wait here until I get back." He confiscated the beer and took it with him. The men were still moping around and chafing about losing their beer when Slayton returned in about an hour. To their amazement he began passing out ice cold beer to each one of them. One of the airmen in awed disbelief said, "Captain Slayton you must be a magician. There's no refrigeration in this area." "Naw, I just tossed the beer in the bomb bay of my ole A-26 Invader and took her up to about 15,000 feet and flew around for about 30 minutes - you know how cold it is at that altitude." " Cap'm. Slayton you not only brought the right stuff but you got the right stuff ."
THE WRONG STUFF  Charles Wolf <wolf@texas.net>
This is my wet but not wooley story. As everyone remembers in the A-26 there was not way of relieving oneself if one had to divest oneself of liquid buildup... but there was a cup holder and if one was very lucky a wax paper cup was supplied with a top to use in case of this type of emergency. I flew all the mainland China/Shanghai missions and this is what happened to me on one of them. We had had a bit of liquid refreshment the night before...perhaps a little too much and had not been too long in the air our of Okinawa when I found it necessary to use that infernal cup. In fact, if the truth be known, I filled the damn thing up and as luck or fate or Karma would have it I had to use it again. There was only one thing to do, empty the cup and there was only one way to empty it and that was to pour the contents out of the storm window. Now that little window in the wisdom of the manufacturer, Douglas Aircraft was not located anywhere near the pilot but on the right side of the cockpit and since we flew alone in the B models it was a relatively long reach over there to open that little window. I stretched and eventually without having a mid-air with Paul Pullen, my flight leader, I was in the number 4 slot, I reached that little window and taking that cup I gingerly cocked my arm and let the contents fly outwardly with one not particularly pleasant result...not a drop went out the window but it did fly inside the cockpit and streamed in a 360 degree route dripping from the Hyd. accumulor, all the tubes and switches, etc on the aft bulkhead and what did not land there came forward and drenched me. The remainder of the flight was very pleasant. I eventually dried out but I really did not smell much like Old Spice when I debarked on our return to Okinawa.


Gene P. Ryan" <generyan@cot.net>To:  brock@iapc.net 

Hi Brock, Here is a tall tale if your want to use it.
  On returning home from our annual trip to Death Valley we spotted this little fixer upper over looking greater metropolitan Goldfield, NV.  We decided it would be an ideal stop-over spot for 319th snowbirds enroute to warmer climes.  The house is furnished and has all the necessary amenities.  It is neatly wallpapered with old issues of the Goldfield Weekly and carpeted with old canvas tent material.  It has lights (candle holders in each of the two rooms) and there is water in the kitchen (a hand pump to the cistern that catches rain water).  There is a pathway to the outdoor facilities. In the family/guest room there are two wicker chairs, and old milking stool, and a sofa made from an old WWI army cot.  It is really great.  I would appreciate comments from 319th snowbirds before I give the realtor the go ahead. GENE I would say BUY IT!!!!, It looks a Helluva lot better since you fixed  it up. For a good view click HERE

Gene Ryan
 Gene Ryan and I bought a 1937 Studebaker, when we checked in at Columbia Army Air Base in early 1945.  That "Stud Maker," used more oil than gas, but, fortunately, oil wasn't rationed and smog control was an unheard of concept.  The car would lay a smoke screen all the way from the base into town.  We usually hauled a gang of the troops with us on our frequent sorties into town. I learned in those days what a con artist Gene was. I was so naive and gullible that I bought his line that I should drive because he didn't have a driver's license. (He could drive an A-26 but not a car?!) Of course, his real motive was to be in the back seat romancing one of the two southern belles we dated in Columbia. As it turned out, Columbia Army Air Base was a great duty station.  We had a lot of free time when we were not flying.  As two young bucks, we spent most of that free time chasing girls.  That old Studebaker played an important role in our adventures.  
Joe Connaughton, Bombardier/Navigator,438th. Squadron
  While we were regrouping at Bellows Field, Hawaii, before island hopping to Okinawa we got word that the medium of exchange on Oki was booze. Since most of us had been boy scouts, we naturally loaded cases of booze into our bomb bays before taking off. We weren't disappointed when we got there. You will notice that the background of the officer group picture is a wooden building. That building as you might guess was an officers club -constructed by those very officers in the photo. I, myself, rode shotgun with a fifth of whisky on a GI truck at midnight to a storage area to purchase one load of lumber (from the GI guard) that went into that building. This medium also provided us other luxurious amenities such as wooden floors for our tents and a wooden outhouse. The outhouse was on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean. I think it was a four holer and I don't recall seeing any officers building it - probably saved that job for the enlisted men to keep them out of trouble. One day I was sitting up there beside a pilot - don't remember who he was. He took a roll of paper and unrolled about six feet of it and gazed out towards the ocean and began to talk. "You know what bothers me," he said. "I've got all these tickets and there's no ball game." I don't know why, but for some reason, that day, I thought what he had said was hilarious. He and I laughed ourselves silly all the way back to the squadron area.  
Charlie Wolf, Pilot 439th. Squadron  
When my mother died  we had the job of course of plowing through everything weeding an eliminating. In all of that I came across a shoe box full of old letters, Victory Mail and stuff I had written over many years 

ago. In that box was this poem I had written from Okinawa when we were sent there and thought you might get a kick out of my early attempt at poetry. 

Ryukus the name of this blasted place, An island of reddish hell,
But its known by a more specific name, The which I can not tell.
Its not that I don't know the name Of this lush tropic isle,
But the censors say its not to be So them I will not rile.
Now this lsland is set in the midst of violent tropic seas,
And is studded with hills, and rocks and rills And stunted runty trees.
It rains half the time in this lousy clime And the muddy waters rush,
Down the sides of the hills to level ground Where it quickly turns to mush.
When it doesn't rain its hot as hell And the dust flies thick and free,
Till it coats your hair, and lungs, and nose And you lose your sense of smell.
What God thought when he made this place I'll probably never know,
But for all I wait is the day they say, "My boy, you're free to go."
I know now why Japs fight so hard, I know damn well its from fear,
They're afraid if we win, we'll make them move And transport all of them here.
Then they'll live on this isle The name of which I can not tell to you,
And we'll make them write letters at night, From somewhere in Ryuku.

Pfc E.J. Brockman, Armorer. 439th.Squadron.

In Sardinia we had an enlisted man by the name of Silverman (a character), his job at the time was to just take care of things, kind of a maintenance person. One day the exec. approached him out in the area and said" Silverman the Officers latrine stinks" Silverman replied "well some Enlisted man must have snuck over and took a crap in it"

Pfc E.J. Brockman, Armorer. 439th. Squadron
My buddy in Sardinia and Corsica was Charles W. Pfeiffer (Fifi) (the guy who fell out of the airplane?). One time in Corsica "Fifi" and I hopped on our motor cycles and I went up to Corte, one of our favorite places. We were having fun so we over stayed our leave, if we had one. When we got back the exec. decided to punish us. So he took us out in the area, pointed to a spot and said "dig it right here" and walked away. I hollered Sir! and ask "dig what Sir?" He said " a hole for the Officers latrine". We moved over a little and started digging in the path to the Officers tent. we dug and dug and dug. Had to build a crude ladder to get up and down; got a bucket and a rope and got down about ten ft. but never hit water. Our Armament Officer Capt. Knutson "Knute" came by and ask " how deep are you going"? we said "until somebody tells us to stop" He asks " Why didn't you stop"? We told him that it was easier than getting up at 2:00 am and loading bombs. He went to the orderly room and told Capt. ?(I do remember his name but won't tell) "my boys don't think much of your punishment, they do not want to stop. So that ended that and we went back to the old routine. This may explain why you see that pfc. up there. 
Charlie Wolf, Pilot 439th. 
Squadron Columbia was a deluxe version of Corsica without the pleasures of the Isle of Capri of course and as I remember, the co-eds of Univ. of SC were a match for the girls of Italy, minus the search for nylons and chocolate and cigarettes of course. Then again, we all had work to do since as a lot of us had been informed officially that we had volunteered to carry our expertise gained from Europe to the Pacific and show them how to win the rest of the war, which we did of course and not too long after getting there. There were many interesting little side trips around the South Carolina country side that could be seen from the air and at times after a sojourn at the "O" Club the night before, flying practice or local transition became somewhat hot and a little tiresome. A short distance out of Columbia was a small auxiallry field that was long enough for an A-26 and as I happened to notice there was a small tavern just a hop from the fence. Being of unsound mind and weak body one morning while flying I decided to shoot a landing there and when near the fence decided to stop and rest for a little while, and having secured permission from Chet Walkup, my gunner did so. I climbed the fence, wandered to the Tav and brought back a few beers and Chet and I were taking our liesure when another A-26 decided to visit. Well, after a couple of days of this type of relaxation, we would have a combat operational conference there and one day as I remembered there were about 5 A=26's sitting there, all of us leaving our Form 5's running while out engines were stopped of course. As I recall, Joe Bartholomew, Joe Bradley, Reg Jones, Gene Ryan, myself, and I think Casteel and Ray Stephens were there, but for sure there were enough planes there to attract attention which they did in the form of one Col. R. Holzeapple who upon deplaning asked if anyone had a beer for him? Who there would deny the good Col. a beer and he drank it and carried on a very nice conversation and then suggested we all climb aboard our aircraft and return to our previous scheduled flights, which we decided wereas much of an order as they were a suggestion. Needless to say, soon thereafter the flights to the "Tav by the Aux" ended and luckily not too much more was said of the incident. Thank goodness
for the understanding Co;. Randy who knew for a fact that his Flying Circus was still intact and operative even amongst the natives of the homeland. A good story Charlie; he should have made "You Guys" dig a hole for the Enlisted mens latrine! Brock

RIP COLLINS 438th. Pilot
Raunchy!!!! the bombdropper. He was a real character, you could put him in a beautiful taylor made uniform and an hour later he would look like he had been sleeping in it. Leaving the target in the Po valley and doing the slow let-down on return to Corsica Raunchy comes up to the cockpit and says "Rip, I've got to s---!" I said I'm sorry Raunchy but as you know this airplane doesn't have facilities for that purpose. He said "I don't give a damn I've got to go!" Well I said when we got on board I think I saw a "Stars & Stripes" on the Navigators table spred that out on the bombbay floor and when your finished will salvo the whole load (pardon the pun) Well Raunchy never did anything in a normal way he put the paper down, put on a headset and throat mike squatted over the bulkhead doorway and did it!! He stood up turned around put his head in the bombbay and said "Bombs Away!!" We hit the switch, the bombbay doors flew open and two hundred miles an hour slip stream hit that newspaper and it looked like somebody put it in a giant blender! Raunchy came screaming up into the cockpit with a new set of freckles and said "Damn you guys you knew that would happen, didn't you" I said Raunchy you're the bomb dropper, know all about that stuff don't blame us. After we got back I heard a Master Sergeant named Perry (the line chief) had one 2nd. Lt. with bucket and mop headed out to clean up a bombbay. (It's a true story) Rip