Charles Hubenthal Interview

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Interviewee: Charles Hubenthal Medium: Video Camera Date: 7 May 2011 Place: Home of Charles and Marilyn Hubenthal: 7524 North County Road 175 East, Lucerne, Indiana Interviewer: Amy Conrad

(Question not recorded: Were you enlisted, commissioned, or drafted?)

Ch: They said, if, if you wanted to, of course you had a chance to be drafted, or else you could volunteer so I kinda, well they had Bunker Hill over here that they were flyin, and you know I was shuckin corn, I thought that looked a lot easier than shuckin corn, anyway, I decided that I would try and, see what, see whether I could pass or not, so, I went to, well hello Everett.

Ec: Hi Charles

Ch: I went up to, uh, Chicago, and I had a physical, as well as a written test.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And I passed, and of course on the physical, I had kinda low blood pressure, so uh, so anyway, I didn’t pass the physical to start with because, because of that.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: Well some of the other guys didn’t pass cause their blood pressure’s to high so we stayed over night and took it again. Well, when, the next morning, they all took the elevator to where the room was, and I took the stairs (laughter) and drank coffee, and we all passed.

Ac: There you go, that’s funny

Mc: Now did you uh, did you have to get your college degree first, or did you get it?

Ch: No

Mc: No, ok, cadet program, ok

Ch: Yeah, so I don’t know what you wanna put down as the answer to that,

Ac: Ok

Ch: But that’s a long story

Ac: Ok, um, what were your service dates, do you remember like when you started and when you, got out?

Ch: O, I think, I think I started, in November 42, and that was uh, well, that was a CPT program at uh, Ball State.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: I went from there to what they called secondary, at Laramie, Wyoming.

Ac: Okay

Rc: That’s where my dad was

Ch: For the WACO, and then I went for pre-flight to St. Mary’s, California, and, and that was all either ground school, or physical.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: You know, athletics and boxing and so forth, I had some black eyes out of, out of that, runnin around the lake and so forth. Well then we went to Pasco, Washington, and flew the Yellow Peril they call it, same thing as they had over here at Bunker Hill, and uh, then I went from there to Corpus Christi, Texas, well, they had several different bases around there,

Ac: mhm

Ch: And um, I was lookin at some stuff, getting ready for this, kind of, and I run across the Volt T Vibrator, I remember that plane, it was like what they call the SNJ, except it didn’t have retractable landing gear.

Ac: Okay

Ch: And, so anyway, we ahd, we had that, and then we had to learn to fly by instruments,

Ac: Mhm

Ch: you had, of course, we had that, that uh, cant think what you call it now, but it was like uh, a simulator,

Ac: mhm

Ch: and you go in, and you, it’d tell you to do this, that, and the other, and just like flying except, you know, only it wasn’t.

Ac: mhm

Ch: and well anyway they’d put you under the hood and this is one of your finals before you got your wings, and they had a, a route for you to do, you had to fly a certain distance, and uh, change altitudes, and all that sort of thing, and navigate so that you would come out to the final point where you was supposed to,

Ac: mhm

Ch: well, when I got to where I said “well, I think this is it,” why, yeah they said “well, yeah, there it is over there,” so anyway, I got, got the pass then, and then I got my wings and got my commission in, on February of 44. That was our, my training.

Ac: mhm

Rc: wow, that was kind of long

Ac: okay, that was long training

Mc: you had to do all your training first, and then they commissioned you?

Ch: Yeah

Ac: okay, do you remember, when did you get out of it?

Ch: uh, fifteenth of November, 1945

Ac: Alright

Ch: I left Tokoyo on Sept, September the second, fort, 1945, and I went home on September the 28th 1945, and of course, I had some leave and so forth, so actually, I was home in September and I didn’t do anymore flyin or anything, well technically, it was November the 15th

Ac: Alright, what was your highest rank?

Ch: Lieutenant Junior Grade

Ac: Alright, what was your, I don’t know, unit, division, battalion, group, or anything like that?

Rc: Squadron

Ac: Like what squadron were you in?

Ch: Well I was in Air Group 3, attached to the fighter squadron which was VF 83 and that was aboard the Essex.

Ac: Aboard the what?

Rc: USS Essex

Ch: Essex, USS Essex, aircraft carrier

Rc: O, there you go, Am

Ac: O, nice, USS Essex, alright, and you were in World War II, correct?

Ch: Yes (laughter)

Ac: Where, where were you, where did you serve mostly? Like where were you stationed I guess? Were you just on the Essex the whole time?

Rc: Were you on the Essex the whole time?

Ch: Ye, well, I got, there was more training after I got my wings.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: As far as that goes, well, really I was trained for dive bombers

Rc: whoa

Ch: And uh, but I’ll fill you in a little bit from where I went after I got my wings, I went to Miami, Florida, and I flew the SBD, dive bomber, and then I went from there up to Great Lakes and checked out on the carrier up there, and Wolverine I think it was, well I could tell you but I, find it, go through my log book there, but we went from there then, uh, out to San Diego, California, and that was just kind of a holding place then they sent us to Hawaii, and there we flew the SB2C, the dive bomber, and uh I had some experiences with that, somebody crossed the rudder cables, and they’re supposed to roll ‘em, some 80 degrees right rudder, to, you know, take care of the torque. Well, they said you couldn’t, you couldn’t take off if you’re, put it clear over, well, I was doin what I was supposed to do, but the rudders was crossed and when I got up that old left wing went down like that, and so, so I just come around and landed. And um, got a on, on the way, why the tower called and said plane did this and took off, stay out of the, fa, field carrier landing practice area, and I just flew right across it you know, (laughter) didn’t have much chance where I was goin, but anyway, then I, I went out to Ulithi, and uh, kinda as a replacement pilot, cause that was, I was in VB100, which was a, nothing but a replacement pilot pool, and it was right after the Philippine Sea Battle, in other words October somewhere of forty, 45, 44. October of 44, and I don’t know uh, let’s see, yeah, they, they assigned me to VB20, and that was a group that had been in combat ready to go back to the states, well, you know, that was, that was fine, except they said we think we need more fighter planes than we do bi, dive bombers, so all you dive bombers, you have to, we’re gonna send you over here to this little island and let you check out in the F-6, and put you back on the carrier for a combat, well that didn’t sound too good (laughter), but anyway, the weather wasn’t too good and so forth, so they decided, well, we think we’ll just send you back to Hawaii, and you can get in a squadron, and that’s where I was in December 44, when I joined the VF83, but, but then, we were in Hawaii long enough, I got, I suppose 100 hours in the F-6 when I was there and they’d send us out to a jeep carrier and let us practice carrier landings, and uh, so I was out there and made, made what I was supposed to make that day, then I was supposed to stay and check out at night. Well on one of the last landings that I made in the day time, why they pushed me back on the deck and instead of being straight with the deck I was angled, about like that, and I thought, well surely they’ll straighten it up, I started down the deck and uh, got about to the island, and I decided well I’m not gonna (laughter) well, I’m gonna go over the side, anyway, that’s what I did, I didn’t have quite air speed, flight, flight speed yet, and I, I blew the left tire on the gun mount as I went over, and I think I pulled the, pulled the wheels up right away, and eased it down, and I thought, here’s where I take a swim (laughter), well, I was fortunate, and uh, I just kinda skimmed the water for a while, but anyway, I picked up, and we were supposed to go back then to, to our base on land, and uh, ship called the leader and said you better check his, his wheels, so, I had to drop the wheels, and he come and look and said, well you got a flat tire, okay then send him back to the ship, so I went back and landed and no, no problem, but it would have been a problem tryin to land on land, probably ground loop or something, so, so anyway, that’s how I got out of makin night landings.

Mh: Charles, maybe they don’t understand, when you say the island, maybe they don’t understand what that is, and how you, when you landed, and why you didn’t crash into the next one, maybe they do, I don’t know.

Ch: Yeah, I don’t know how familiar you are with

Rc: I think probably, I mean you had a hook probably, was how come you landed

Mc: You had some kind of trap, is that what you’re?

Rc: How you didn’t go over with a flat tire, did you have a hook on that?

Mc: I assume you had a, some kind of cable that would grab you.

Ch: Well, yeah, you had about 6 cables stretched across, and they were flat with the deck, but when they were landing planes, they’d be raised maybe, well something like that, I don’t know

Mc: Mhm

Ch: you know, the distances change after you leave (laughter) cause that plane, I thought was small until I saw it on land a few years after I got back and it grew a lot (laughter) but any, anyway, I don’t know whether I

Mh: There was a barrier too,

Ch: Yeah

Mh: And the island was the where the officers sat and everything

Ch: Well the island was that great big tower over here

Mc: Oh, I see

Ch: And that’s where, where the bigshots stayed uh, I don’t think I've got a real good picture of the Essex, right, right here but uh, anyway the, there’s some the the, there’s one of the things, this was a prisoner of camp, and this was August the 15th of 1945, when they had decided they were gonna surrender, and our job was to fly over and see if they meant it, and they didn’t shoot at us, so, but then we were to try to, try to get the uh, prisoner of war camps and this is one of them, and we dropped candy and cigarettes and so forth, and then, I’ve got a letter here from one of the guys that was in the camp, telling us about, you know they, they appreciated that,

Mc: Oh, cool

Ch: Said the Japs were more afraid of us than they were the big boys, (laughter) but anyway,

Ev: Do you remember the, the names of the camps that you flew over or distributed stuff to?

Ch: Uh, I no, I, we didn’t know the names, but after the first time see, they come and they

Mc: Ah, I see

Ch: they put

Mc: Prisoner of War, PW on there

Ch: Prisoner of War, PF83

Ac: Mhm

Ch: Yeah, well where were we?

Ac: Ok, um,

Mc: Did you take part in any battles or something, is that what you were going to say?

Ac: Yeah, do you have um, like any specific battles that you can, battles that you were in?

Ch: Oh, yeah, see we got on the ship in March of 45

Ac: Mhm

Ch: March 10th or 11th and uh, that was the start of the Battle of Okinawa,

Ac: Okay

Ch: And we were there till I think the end of June

Ac: Mhm

Ch: Either that or the 1st of June and, and we went to the Philippines for 30 days

Mc: Did you start in Hawaii then, and then, on the Essex, in Hawaii, and then it, went up? No, or you joined it, somehow in theatre?

Hc: Yeah, uh you see there was uh, a place they called Ulithi, and all that was, was a chain of islands,

Mc: Okay

Hc: And they used it they could take, put the whole fleet in that and so the uh, different ships and so forth, task groups, would uh, they’d be in combat for a while, and then they’d come back there for, and they’d do a lot of changing, usually, the air groups will, will maybe spend a certain length of time out there, and then will change and put another air group on the ship, and uh, I think the Essex had 4 different air groups and we were the last there in the war and uh, so,

Rc: So was Ulithi, it was one of those, chain, was it protected?

Ch: Yeah, well, the islands itself try to check your,

Mc: So that’s where you joined it, at Ulithi? The somehow flew you out there, you and your guys?

Ch: Well, we did (laughter), I left that part out, but, (laughter) there, there was we went by ship

Mc: Okay, got ya

Ch: from, from Hawaii, and those ships, some of them were transports, and you know, it wasn’t just too nice to be on, but they got us there

Mc: Got ya

Ch: But yeah, yeah we had joined,

Mc: I see

Ch: Their group as a whole, but on to the ship at Ulithi.

Mc: I see, okay.

Ch: Yeah

Ac: Okay, do you have any, like special medals or service awards that you got?

Ch: Well, yeah. I’m, I’m going to give you this,

Ac: Okay

Ch: But, this is just all the people there, and different things that they got. It happened to be I got a distinguished flying cross and seven air medals.

Rc: Oh, nice

Ch: But at, at Okinawa, after we went to the Philippines, went back up to Japan and we were there until the war ended.

Ac: Okay

Ch: we started back to the states the day they sounded, signed the surrender, on the Missouri

Ac: Mhm

Ch: So anyway, I’ll show you back here, this tells you what those different,

Ac: Okay

Ch: Uh, things are back here

Ac: Okay

Ch: But, uh

Mh: You got the medals there, you could show them

Ch: O yeah

Mh: You got your wings there

Ch: Yeah, they’re here. That’s the, that’s the air medal.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And um, after you get the first one, why they give you a star for each other you get the next time.

Ac: Okay

Ch: And uh, these were awarded after 5 combat tours, or 5 combat missions

Ac: Okay

Ch: And there, there’s my wings in there, and there a little tarnished by the sea (laughter), but uh yeah, this is, this is the distinguished flying cross. My wings.

Ec: So you say you got uh, seven flying medals?

Mc: Air medals

Ac: Air medals

Rc: Air medals

Ch: Seven air medals

Rc: So thiry five

Ec: So you were on thirty five combat missions.

Ch: Yeah. See it says I, I flew 60 sorties,

Ac: Okay

Ch: In the combat area, and then, I’ve added up, and I’ve had a hundred carrier landings or a little better, and I keep, kept wonderin, if I had 60 sorties, and I got a hundred landings, how does that happen? (laughter)

Ac: That’s funny

Ch: So I went, I went back and, and did some checking, and uh, from the time I got on the ship, until the end of the war, I counted I had 73 carrier landings so, there had to be 13 they didn’t even count, and then there was others in the training, up, up at Great Lakes I was, I had 8, 8 landings there when I first checked out. Ac: Mhm

Mc: Mhm

Ch: Well then, uh, when I was in Hawaii with the SB2C, I, I think I had four carrier landings there, and then I had uh, several, uh in Hawaii, where I had that little mishap (laughter), so anyway, when I started in my check, in my log book, it says I had 26 up, up till that, till when I started, and another thing I didn’t realize until after I got home and got to lookin, when we got on the ship, there were planes there, that uh, they wanted to get rid of, and course I had a cook’s tour of every place there back in October, and I knew some guys that was up on Guam, and that’s where they were going to take these so I said okay, I’d I’ll, I’d like to go up on that, so they were in that, in Ulithi, probably wasn’t moving, and they catapulted, catapulted me off. That’s the first time I (laughter) I guess I was too dumb to realize that wasn’t a smart thing to do (laughter). They were setting still, we didn’t have any head wind or anything, anyway, we got up there and then come back, and while I was gone, while I was gone up there, the Japanese uh, had a plane that dived into one of the carriers that was tied up pretty close to where the Essex was. Oh I missed out on that.

Ac: Alright, did you have any special duties or highlights or achievements that you had?

Ch: I guess the main thing was, uh, when we found the Japanese battleship Yamato.

Ac: Okay

Ch: I was flying wing on Jack Lyons and I don’t know we were about three quarter miles away I suppose, and they thought that they, Japanese fleet was heading for Okinawa, so they sent us out to see it they, if we could find them, and we were clear at the end of our search when there they were, so anyway, we radioed back their position, and, and uh, they sent out, about all the planes that was around, and they sunk it that day. And so if you look on, on this, I, I flew wing on, on Jack Lyons, and see if I can find him. See he got a, an SS on his, and that means a silver star or medal, and that’s because of finding the Jap fleet.

Rc: They should have given it to both of them.

Ch: And we had a 3,000 foot ceiling, and the clouds were thick from there on up to 12,000 feet, so after we had reported where the, the Japs were, then we went back up through that,

Ac: Okay

Ch: So I flew real, real tight with him cause I didn’t want to lose him.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And then hit him (laughter), so anyway it was, it was pretty high when we got,

Ac: Yeah

Ch: When we broke out into the sunlight, but uh, I guess that’s probably the main thing.

Mc: Was you uh, DFC, was that for a particular event or battle or was that a culmination of a lot of things or,

Ch: Well, they had it, they had it set up there that after five uh, combat missions,

Mc: Yes

Ch: What they considered a combat, they'd get an air medal, which is this

Mc: Right

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And if you got five of them I think it was then you got the distinguished flying cross

Mc: Oh, I got ya

Ac: Okay

Ch: And uh, then I got two more after that I guess.

Mc: Got ya

Ch: And well, you can pass that around too, if you want

Mc: Alright

Ch: Here’s something that might be interesting. Now that’s on one side it’s uh

Mc: Looks like the Pacific

Ch: Yeah, it’s one, and on the other side it’s, it’s some different time of the year or something, I forget just what

Mc: That is neat

Mh: Isn’t that what you carried in case you got shot down or something?

Ch: Well, yeah

Mh: Carried it with him all the time

Rc: Did you have blood chits? Did you have blood chits? Or, you know, um, what else would they be called Matt?

Mc: Mmm

Rc: Umm, uh

Mc: Pointy Talkies, or?

Rc: Yeah, if you got shot down then you would have a um, a some, probably felt like this, but it had Japanese language on it that says if, if you capture me,

Ch: No

Rc: The American government will give you money to get you back

Ch: Well no,

Mc: Nothing like that?

Ch: No, I don’t remember anything like that (laughter)

Mh: Didn’t you carry uh, a raft that would blow up or something and

Ch: Well

Mh: I thought that’s what you said

Rc: Like what was your escape, your survival? What kind of things did you have for survival?

Ch: Well, we set on the parachute

Rc: Mhm

Ch: And uh, I guess we probably wore a made vest, it’s been quite some time (laughter), and we carried a, a gun, well let me show you something here.

Mh: I guess, I guess I was thinking the raft, whenever a pilot went down and, and they uh, found them they dropped the raft.

Mc: That’s right

Ch: Well, I don’t know where we got the thing, now.

Mc: Now did you uh, encounter Japanese aircraft then, when you were flying?

Ch:  No, I didn’t, but then (laughter) some of the guys, they got, how many one day, a whole bunch of them, we lost one pilot.  What was I looking for?

Rc: Survival.

Mc: Rafts or something?

Rc: Guns.

Mc: Guns? Guns.

Ch: Now every time I look at something, there’s, there’s a fellow, name is Commander Sutherland, he was our Commanding Officer, but here a while back, I was watching, uh TV, and there was a program on there,

Mh: Secrets of the Dead

Ch: Yeah, Secrets of the Dead. Anyway, it was a story about him and his fight with a Japanese plane.

Mc: Hmm

Ch: And they’d been fighting back and forth for quite a while and, he’d received some, some hits in his plane, and this, this Jap was a real good, real good pilot

Mc: Mhm

Ch: But anyway, he was on, on his tail, and so he, he decided that he’d just, cut the throttle off, and the Jap went ahead of him and there he was behind him.

Rc: That’s a Top Gun move

Ch: But, but he didn’t shoot him down, because somewhere along the line, evidently one of the bullets from, from the Japanese plane hit and jammed his

Mc: Ah

Ch: So anyway, eventually he got shot down, and he got back, but there’s a, uh, oh, I get

Mh: You, you never knew that, Charles never knew that, and there he was,

Mc: Until the, his Commanding Officer

Ch: Yeah

Mh: He’d already went through that

Ch: Yeah, and (laughter) he, he got hit in the rear, in the rear end (laughter) with one of the bullets (laughter)

Ec: Did they ever figure out who the Japanese pilot was, Charles?

Ch: Oh, yeah, after he shot, uh, this, uh, well he called him Pug Sutherland, after he shot him down he started, on a, uh, an American dive bomber, that had a rear gunman,

Ec: Mhm

Ch: And he shot, he shot him, and the thing went through the glass and hit his eye, and just about put it out. Evidently he had to kind of hit himself and everything to keep awake, and I don’t know how many miles it was, but several miles that he flew back to his base, but he was, he was really in not too good a shape,

Ac: Mhm

Ch: But he, he survived the war

Mh: One of the things that always has kind of stuck in my mind, before they went out on missions, they always had steak for breakfast (laughter)

Mc: Protein

Mh: Yeah

Mc: You know, something to make them go all day

Rc: Make it last all day. How often did you fly a mission? Did you have a, like a rotation, or?

Ch: Well, they would, they would go out, uh, on, on a mission, and probably three or four days, not a whole lot longer than that, maybe, maybe most of a week, and then they’d go refuel, and they had a, another bunch of ships back here just for refueling, and, and uh, you may be two or three days there and you might get mail and all that stuff, and, and uh, then you’d go back for another three or four days, and so, its, well, you can look through this

Mh: I think that’s interesting. Every mission is recorded in there.

Rc: So when you were out doing your three or four days did you fly everyday on those, or?

Ch: Oh, just about yeah. Look like here’s April of 45, there’s, there’s a January, or uh, April 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 11, there’s two hops on 11th , that was 9.3 hours in the air. And then there’s 12 and then there’s two 15s and that was only 7.2 hours in the air and then there’s 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28, 29.

Ac: Oh my goodness

Ch: That, that was a

Rc: Wear’s you out doesn’t it?

Ch: (laughter) Uh, keeps you busy (laughter), yeah, and I’ve got some little notes here, the first was support and then the T-cap over Okinawa, rescue escort, relay at Omishima, sighted Jap tank force Yamato, that’s the day that I was telling you about.

Mc: Mhm

Ch: That was the 7th of April

Mh: Now that was put in there by your, whatever, whoever was in charge of you that day wasn’t it?

Ch: Well, I was, I had written that in there.

Mh: Oh, had you? Well, they were initialed weren’t they or something?

Ch: Well, yeah all they had in there was a “J” and I don’t know what that stood for, (laughter) but they had the date, and the type of machine was an F6F5, and the serial number, and the duration of the flight was 5.1, the character was a “J”, whatever that was.

Rc: Was that the model, maybe?

Ch: And uh, made a carrier landing, and then I wrote out here, sighted Jap task force Yamato, and on the 8th it was at Okinawa, 11th it was search, 17th it was support, and that’s about all, no, no dangers but yeah, that’s, that’s about,

Mc: Cool

Ch: Yeah, what were we trying to look at?

Ac: Oh, I don’t know, were you looking for Commander Sutherland, I don’t remember.

Rc: Oh, yeah.

Ch: Yeah, we had a guy that’d make up little poems, and if you, if you goofed somewhere along the line, why he’d make one up (laughter). When I got, by the time I got out there, they were kind of passed that stuff, you know, but I’ll read you a couple: This is the story of poor old Joe, he’s quite a legend in the fleet, though his combat fighter tactics often made the skipper weep, (laughter) but the skipper, he’s a good old Joe and a friend to all his boys, yes even to the poor old Joes, despite the Bureau’s noise, Joe stumbled and he fumbled over land and over sea, and though the admirals grumbled he is still an 83, that 83 would be a, an air group, now when the war is over and we look back on the past, we’ll all remember poor old Joe, he mmm near made it last (laughter), yes when this war is over and we raise a prayer in thanks, we’ll add these words in closing, “God – next time put Joe in tanks.” (laughter)

Ac: That’s funny

Hc: Anyway, you can take this with you.

Ac: Thank you very much.

Rc: Is that your squadron patch?

Ch: Mm?

Rc: Is that your squadron patch?

Ch: Yeah, mhm.

Ac: 83

Ch: That, this is a, well, it’s got a lot of pages in it.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: But, there’s more

Ac: Okay

Ch: I kind of picked out some

Ac: Okay

Ch: That I thought would be more interesting. And uh, who, is anybody interested in Hubenthal?

Rc: Anne Marie is.

Ch: Here’s another.

Ac: Okay, were you even a prisoner of war?

Ch: No, thank goodness.

Ac: And, yeah, and did you ever sustain um, service related injuries?

Ch: No, I don’t believe so.

Rc: No bullets to the behind.

Ch: Nope

Ac: That’s good (laughter), that’s good

Ch: No

Rc: You weren’t married when he was in the Navy?

Ch: No, no, I didn’t even know her, that she existed.

Mh: We kind of, almost, we just missed each other one time, but

Rc: How did you, how did you meet?

Mh: Down there, at that house, you, I had a friend of mine that grew up right across the road me wanted us to meet, and so they day we met he had been out in the wheat field wasn’t it? Something, anyway he was dirty, o my word (laughter), anyway, I met him and went in to see his mother, and that was the first meeting. So I guess if I, you know, got through that day, I evidently thought he was okay (laughter).

Mc: In Indiana, nice.

Ch: Here’s the four of us that flew together all the time.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: This is that guy.

Mc: Which guy?

Ch: This is him.

Mc: Is that, the lion’s helmet?

Ch: Yeah, yeah.

Mc: That’s the guy you were on his wing?

Ch: Yeah, I flew on him all the time, that’s me.

Mc: Yeah

Ac: Why did you join the Navy? Like why the Navy instead of a different branch?

Ch: Well, I guess part of it, I didn’t want to be in the Army (laughter).

Ac: That’s a good reason.

Mc: That’s a great reason (laughter).

Rc: And there was no separate Air Force then?

Ch: No

Mh: Uh, I, your mother tells us that, or tells me that you were in the Air Force, or you are or you were?

Ac: Dad, dad was, he is.

Mc: Oh, yes, I was, and am, I’m an Air Force Reservist.

Mh: You’re reserve?

Mc: Mhm, and I was out here at Grissom, um flying those KC-135’s, um

Mh: Now did you fly?

Mc: Mhm, sure did.

Mh: Oh well then you know a lot of this (laughter).

Ch: What, what kind of a plane did you fly?

Mc: Um, I flew the E-3, the AWACS, which is a basically a 707 with a radar dish, that’s what I fly right now, and I used to fly the KC-135 out here at Grissom too.

Ch: You didn’t have the fun planes?

Mc: No (laughter), mine are all boring, and that’s the way I like them (laughter). I like it good and boring (laughter).

Mh: At least you made them all back, and every, you got back every time.

Mc: That’s true, that’s true.

Mh: Now where do you fly to?

Mc: Um, just depends, when we were at Grissom we, we were all over the place and uh, we did go to Guam once for deployment, and then we deployed to uh, Turkey, um, doing some uh, active duty stuff. Let’s see, I've been Middle East.

Mh: You know, you must be one of those pilots that go over our house, ready to take the top of it off.

Mc: Could be.

Rc: Maybe he is.

Mc: Well, cause you guys have a, right out here is a, its MOA, Military Operating Area, right above you and um, they have a they used to have the guys from Fort Wayne come down, the F-16’s.

Mh: Mhm, I remember

Ac: Is that your, oh yeah, that’s your patch, wow.

Ch: We wore that on our jacket.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: That was my name plate so its pretty well worn, but see there’s a good one back here.

Ac: Wow, here’s these, and there’s that. 100 carrier arrested landings.

Rc: Nice. So this is the, this is the tailhook, comes out the back of the plane

Ac: Mhm

Ch: You see, here’s the, the uh, the battleship Yumata that, that we found, that’s about what it looked like.

Mc: Oh, look how cloudy it is that day.

Ch: Oh, yeah, yeah, we just, 3,000 foot ceiling.

Mc: That’s low, I mean you were low, I’d consider that low.

Ch: Yeah

Rc: Did you just, could you only find them visually or did you have any kind of um, any radar, or?

Ch: Mm, no that’s what we, the two of us were sent out to do was to find them.

Rc: Mhm

Ch: And uh, they thought they knew kind of where they might be, but they had, I don’t know how many different people that would take a,

Mc: Yeah, a corridor or something and go that way.

Ch: Yeah, a part of the, a part of the pie

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And cover that area. And we happened to be the ones that got where they were, but uh, but that’s just uh, just what they looked like when I, when we saw them, I, I remember.

Mc: Oh, I bet, you don’t forget that.

Ch: No

Ac: Mhm

Mh: You never, they never had any heat in their planes.

Mc: Oh, wow

Mh: They had to use oxygen when they got up so far.

Mc: Yeah, right, right. Unpressurized and,

Ch: Yeah

Rc: How long about, how long was one sortie for you?

Ch: How long?

Rc: Was it, like if you went and did that search sortie, how long about is that?

Mc: Oh, I can tell you exactly.

Ch: Oh, it’ll tell you in that log book. Uh, that would have been

Ac: April 7th

Mc: April 7th

Ch: Yeah

Mc: 5.1

Rc: 5.1

Mc: Hours

Rc: And you didn’t, you didn’t air refuel did you?

Ch: Oh, no. Not till we got back (laughter).

Rc: You just, you just had to go out as long as you had enough gas to get home.

Ch: Yeah, you kind of needed to watch that too.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: I never got low on fuel.

Mc: You, and you flew, I mean almost essentially you flew almost a different plane every time. A few repeaters

Ch: Oh yeah

Mc: But I mean you fly a different plane every time you went out there almost.

Ch: Oh, uh go to uh, that date when we, we found the Yamato.

Mc: Okay, yep, there it is, and that’s uh, 71332 was the tail number.

Ch: Okay, now look down about uh, uh two or three time, see if you find him again.

Mc: Yep, on the 11th you flew him again.

Ch: Okay, after I got home, just not too many years ago, I got a, uh an email from somebody wanting to know about his relation uh, who had been, well he thought on the Essex and in, in our air group. Well, uh I hadn’t remembered him but evidently he must have been a replacement pilot,

Mc: Right

Ch: And he hadn't been there very long, and he was to take that plane, um back to uh, a jeep carrier, and bring a good one back. Well, he was low and he was slow and he, he caught the wire, but he got a wave off.

Mc: Okay

Ch: Anyway, the fact that he caught the wire and he had, you know, he was going to go, it slammed him down and broke the plane in two right behind the cockpit, and he, and the engine and everything went in the drink.

Mc: Aw

Ch: And he, that, they never got him, never got him, so, but anyway, that’s what happened to the plane I flew when I was, when we found,

Mc: Well there you go.

Rc: Holy cow

Mh: You had one more, I don’t know whether you want to tell them about it, when you and the other fellow landed on the wrong ship.

Bc: Oh, no (laughter)

Ch: You, you mean uh

Mh: Well, when Spotty

Ch: Spotty?

Mh: Yeah, it’s kind of a sad ending, but it was

Ch: Yeah, that’s one of the first flights that I had and I got mixed emotions about that, because this fellows name was uh, Spotts, and he and I were to go out and, uh circle the downed pilot and drop the raft.

Mc: Right

Ch: So, and this was one of the first days that we had been in combat, we, we just got on the ship and really just got out there you might say, so we were all pretty green. But anyway, uh, we, we found this fellow that was in the water and I think if I’d had more experience out there it would’ve probably been better, but anyway I was the one that had the raft and I was flying wing on this, uh Spotts, and we found the fellow that was in the water, he’d been shot down in, in the water, and I was the one that had the raft, and I don’t know yet why we were that high, it wasn’t, you know it wasn’t real high,

Mc: Right

Ch: But he could’ve got down and, quite a bit lower, and uh dropped the raft, but anyway, when I dropped it, evidently it went ahead of him. I should have dropped it back here instead of here and so I don’t think he ever got into the raft, so that’s one of the things that I've never just,

Mc: Right, right

Ch: You know, been, not a, nothing I’m proud of but um,

Mh: Yeah but then you landed on, you two landed on the wrong ship

Ch: Oh yeah, when we come back, there was groups of ships and I think maybe three or four that would have maybe four carriers in each one and anyway uh, we land, uh we went on this one and I don’t know, he started to land on this one ship instead of that he went over and he landed on the Wasp. Well, of course I was flying wing on him so I landed there too.

Mc: Sure, that’s right

Ch: Well, that was okay, but then the next morning, well I gotta go down and get my plotting board out of the pl, out of the plane. And I said, well I’ll stay up here in the ready room and, do what I need to do, I had my plotting board. So anyway, he was on his way down and, the Japs dropped a bomb on, on the ship, and uh, he was on the ladder coming down and uh, evidently there was enough fire and everything that, I called down to sick bay after a while and asked about him and they said yeah, he’s here, he’s burned to a crisp.

Mc: Aw, man

Ch: So anyway, that, that was one of my first experiences, and that wasn’t one of the ones, (laughter)

Mh: We uh, Charles contacted his mother and for years we exchanged, we went to see her one time. She always felt kind of close to him cause he was the last one to see her son.

Rc: Mhm, so then the area of the ship that you were on, it wasn’t, no damage or?

Ch: Well, it filled with smoke I remember, uh, but you see,

Mc: And that was on the Wasp you say?

Ch: Yeah, and you see uh, the ready rooms were just right under the flight deck.

Mc: Mhm

Ch: And uh, course the bomb hit over here, and I was in this ready room. Well there was a lot of smoke and everything, but you were right there you could almost open the door and get fresh air you know.

Mc: Mhm

Ch: But, and it wasn’t too long until they were, they had a, had the fires out and so forth, but

Ac: Mhm

Ch: Well, I think there was over a hundred killed.

Mc: Oh, my

Ch: Probably, and uh, so that was

Ac: Yeah

Rc: Scary

Ch: Not one of the (laughter) better things

Rc: That’s not a good thing to start with is it?

Ch: No (laughter), then, then, there I was in this other air, other outfit, and my ship was way over somewhere else, and then when I went to get to there I don’t know whether the fire had damaged some of the equipment that tell, that would tell them I was friendly or not, but they made me do a lot of turning this way and that way to make sure I was friendly.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: After we got to flying, well, we was flying most of the time, except uh, California, but uh, after we got to flying, why, we had ground, ground school, usually a half, half, half a day of ground school and half a day of flying. And we’d have different things to do and whatever.

Ac: Mhm, did you like write, did you write letters a lot, to, back home?

Ch: Oh, yeah, I wrote, I wrote to my folks and to my sister.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And, I don’t know, I might have wrote to a few other people, but not too much.

Ac: Okay, was the

Rc: Did you get very much mail?

Ch: Well, just from them mainly.

Ac: Yeah

Ch: Oh, some people that I knew, we had, up here at Metea, which is not a very big school you know

Rc: We know (laughter)

Ch: There was uh, uh, me and another fellow in my grade that were pilots and he flew the B-17, but then he got changed over to the P-47 and when he was over in England, why he had a landing and he got burnt pretty bad, but uh, then the other one was Joe Dade, he was a grade behind me in school.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: So I think the three of us is the only ones that were pilots out on the

Ec: Was that Estel?

Ch: Yeah, mhm

Ec: Did, did he ever fly again after he got burned so bad?

Ch: I don’t know, I doubt it.

Ec: Yeah, I, I, I didn’t

Ch: He, he might have after he got better, I don’t know

Ec: But he really his, his hands, I know were really badly burned.

Ch: Yeah, yeah

Ec: Charles do you know what, what did Dwight fly? Was he in the 7, B-17’s? Or do you know?

Ch: Uh, I don’t think so, I, I think maybe B-24’s but I'm not sure.

Ec: I, I just, I just couldn’t remember. I didn’t think it was the 24 but I'm not sure.

Ch: I kind of think it was

Ec: Did they use those over, uh Italy?

Ch: Yeah

Ec: Okay

Mh: Charles, maybe they’d like to know we have still connection over there. Grandpa knows about it.

Ec: Amy, the one, the one boy that he’s talking about, was my step daddy’s, well it’d be my step brother,

Ac: Okay

Ec: Estel Ulrich

Ac: Okay

Ec: He flew the P, what you say, 24?

Ch: Uh, I think

Ec: What they call them, P?

Ch: P-47 I think.

Ec: 47, okay.

Ch: Yeah, he flew the uh, the bomber, B, B-17 wasn’t it?

Ec: That’s what you were saying, yeah, yeah.

Mh: Is Carl 6 foot 3 or 4?

Ac: Oh my goodness

Mc: Who was telling me about, who was telling me, was it Uncle Don, saying that he

Ec: Who was it?

Mc: Your son, he’s still over there, in Tokyo and

Mh: Yeah, that’s what I was saying, the connection, and they live right where he bombed.

Mc: Well, how ‘bout that.

Mh: Mhm

Rc: So this is your son and now your daughter-in-law, and your grandchildren.

Ch: Yeah

Mc: Are they back to normal sort of?

Mh: Well, their economy’s not very good, and there still worried about the nuclear part of it.

Mc: Mhm

Ch: Well he was on a train coming home, and when that, that hit, and uh, so the train stopped and stayed there for the, till the you know, it kind of was over, or, quit or whatever.

Mc: Right, right

Ch: And then he went for uh, I forgot what I was going to say (laughter).

Mc: Well somebody was telling me, it was Uncle Don or somebody was told me that he could’ve walked home or something, or maybe did he walk home from that train? Or said it took him, he only had to go a couple miles or something, and, I don’t remember the story

Ch: Well, let’s see

Mc: That he wished he would’ve walked home

Ch: Well, after a while then, the train proceeded to the station, and then he got off and walked

Mc: And then he walked home.

Ch: And then he walked home.

Mc: That’s what I heard.

Ch: How far did he say that was Marilyn, do you remember?

Mh: I don’t know what you're talking about, I guess I missed that.

Ch: Oh, when, when the,

Mh: Oh, Chuck, when he

Ch: Yeah,

Mh: He was, he was on the train and the train stopped and waited till the worst was over, and then they went to the first train station, and he walked 5 miles home.

Mc: Uncle Don told me that

Mh: Yeah, yeah, everybody was worried about Chuck, which is nice

Mc: Oh, yeah, I bet

Ch: Well then, he started writing what’s, what was going on, I probably, it’s probably on our computer, I don’t know.

Mc: Yeah, yeah

Ch: But, every, every day he gives an update

Rc: Well you're pretty tech-savvy for being a, you're pretty tech-savvy for being 90 (laughter), email and all that

Ch: Well, I'm no hot shot, that’s for sure (laughter)

Mc: Did you get all your questions hun?

Ac: Uh, I have a couple more, um, what was the food like? Was it very good?

Rc: On the Essex?

Ac: Mhm

Ch: Well, I’ll tell you about the food, no matter what base you went, when you first got there it was really good (laughter), but by the time you left it wasn’t so good (laughter), so that’s, that’s the story of the food.

Mc: That’s about right.

Rc: That’s true, yeah (laughter).

Mc: That is exactly right.

Ec: You just stay too long in one spot didn’t ya?

Ch: Yeah, and we did have steak for breakfast on the second tour you might say,

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And uh, it’s quite, quite interesting about the second part, you know after, after Okinawa, then it was Japan, I don’t, that got to be August and uh, um they were trying to decide whether or not they ought to quite or not, so they dropped the atomic bomb on two of them,

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And, course before that they fire bombed them and I think they lost more in that than what they did in the, the atomic bomb, but uh, anyway they didn’t want to give up

Ac: Mhm

Ch: So we, and then after they decided to give up, we were supposed to come home you know, well, they kept putting it off, putting it off, putting it off, so we ended up flying over Japan and making sure, you know finding the prisoner of war camps and making sure they decided they were going to give up and,

Ac: Yeah

Ec: Was that the test, you flew over to see if they’d shoot at you, if they didn’t shoot, well (laughter)

Ch: No, the main, the main thing was to find the prisoner of war camps

Ec: Yeah

Ch: Cause, those were terrible

Ac: Mhm

Ec: Do you, do you read about those, or would you want to read about those? At, at this point in your life?

Ch: Oh, I do sometimes, but uh, I don’t, I don’t really look them up, you know.

Ec: Yeah, Charles I just, about a, oh it’s been 3 or 4 weeks ago now, there was a doctor of our house who talked about a book he had just read um, by uh, it, it’s the story of the life of uh, Santorini I think, he was an Olympic runner in, he ran in Hitler’s Olympics in ‘36

Ch: Mhm

Ec: and he ended up in the Air Force, or the Army Air Force, and then he was uh, lost at sea on a rescue mission, and he spent 37 days on the Pacific, and drifted into some of the Japanese occupied islands and it’s the story of his, of his time in uh, in the Japanese camps and it’s, it’s just heart rending really.

Amc: Oh, there’s a book about that

Mh: I don’t see how men lived through that

Ec: Yeah, many many of them didn’t, he managed to somehow, but it, it affected him greatly, but I was told there was going to be a movie made about his life, but uh

Ch: Yeah, I really don’t want to look at that

Ec: Yeah, well I wondered because I could, I can understand that, I was, you know, I, I, think it was good though because you know, people kind of uh, they kind of talk kind of different about the ending of the war you know, now then we looked at it, you know back in those days. Even as a kid I remember, you know they, it seemed like that was a good thing to have ended, you know, but now people are criticized you know for what we did and so forth, and if this book is, is real, and it sounds true to me, just to what I remember as a, as a young person, they did not want to quit and they were not going to, they were not going to give up until, this yeah

Ch: That’s right, down in Okinawa, they just, almost had to kill all of them,

Mh: Our son, the one down in Japan took that one time and framed it for us, doesn’t that look just like them? (laughter)

Ac: Okay, I have one more question and then I’ll be done, what did you do like, in your free time?

Rc: Sleep

Ch: Yeah, that’s a good answer (laughter), now what do you mean in my free time?

Ac: In your free time like while you were on the ship that you weren’t flying? How did you entertain yourself?

Ch: Well, I did sleep a lot

Rc: Did you have to mission plan?

Ch: What?

Rc: Did you have to mission plan?

Ch: No, I didn’t have, I was just one of the pee-ons, I was tail-end Charlie (laughter)

Rc: Did they have cards or games?

Ch: yeah, they had some, they had some games, actually for, I was in the bunk room where all the ensigns were, and ships thumping in and air group coming in and everything, why you know, if you're an ensign that’s where you ended up. Well it wasn’t too bad cause you know, at that time, well you got the flight deck up here, and down here you got the bow, and right back here is our bunk room, bout three, three or four high right close together, and then they made a place out here where you could keep, keep a locker where you could keep your stuff in, but uh

Rc: What did you think about hot bunking? Sharing, did you share your bunk?

Ch: No, no we, each had our own bunk. I was on the lower one, cause I remember there was only about that much room between

Rc: Mhm

Ch: Between them you know, you roll. But the nice part of it was, where we were, they had a little, I don’t know, kind of an open space I’d say, and maybe you’d have a table or something in there or some games of some sort, and uh, and then you could go right out, on the on the bow of the ship, and you could set on the, well, the place where the anchor chain went through.

Rc: Mhm

Ch: And watch the fish and find fish if there were any then, but

Rc: Did you um, how was your shower? Was it hot, cold? Did you have hot showers?

Ch: Yeah, but you also had salt water shower.

Rc: All the time?

Ch: No, you could use it if you wanted to, and you didn’t after one time, you never used it anymore (laughter)

Ec: Is dirt softer than salt? (laughter)

Ch: Yeah (laughter) you got anything else you want to ask me?

Ac: Um,

Ch: And did I answer that one?

Ac: Yeah,

Mh: Tell them about this book you just got. Chuck sent it to him from

Mc: Oh, okay

Ch: Yeah, Twilight Waters it says

Mh: But it’s about tail-end Charlie’s

Mc: Oh

Ch: Yeah, that’s right

Mh: And it’s about the Yamato, he hasn’t got it all read, but Chuck was telling us about it, and it’s got the Yamato when they found it and,

Ch: See this, this sheet right here, I went ahead and that’s probably beginning to start to tell about the sinking of the Yamato. I don’t know, I don’t know whether you want to look at this or not.

Ec: Now what is that book there Charles?

Ch: Well, this is the book they, they gave us after we got out. Somebody put it together you know and, and uh it’s got a lot of combat pictures and uh, some of them don’t apply to us too much, course there’s the Kamakaze, of course, and here’s the results of his

Mh: That book our kids took to school, and they’d show it for show and tell you know

Rc: Mhm

Mh: That and his log, not the log book but the other

Ch: There’s, this is what they call Ulithi I was telling you about

Ac: Yeah

Ch: Where they, it’s a chain of islands, and they could put the whole fleet in, see there

Mc: Yeah,

Ch: And there was, there was one opening, they had everything except this one and thy let the ships in there and I was there just that one time and they had uh, a ship would come in and apparently a mini sub, Japanese sub had come in underneath that ship, and then they sunk a, a tanker while it was in there, and I happened to be on the ship they thought maybe had came in under our ship to, to the submarine, but I don’t know if he did or not, and I don’t know if they ever got him. But anyway, I figured if he was under there, I was alright.

Rc: Yeah (laughter)

Ec: Now how, how did they protect this place or, is this where the Yamato was headed for, when they

Ch: No

Ec: Did they know about this place, I presume they, they did

Ch: Oh yeah, they, they knew about it, but no, uh, the Yamato was headed for Okinawa

Ec: Okay

Mc: Now is this your uh, is that your patch too, VBF10?

Ch: No,

Rc: Here it is

Ch: See this is, we were, we were attached to air group 83.

Mc: 83, okay

Ch: And uh,

Mh: He put that on his jacket

Mc: Okay, nice

Ac: Okay, well I just have to read this for the, please don’t point that at me, I just have to read this for the interview

Mc: Hurry up Amy

Ac: Okay, um okay it is May 7th and we are at the house of Charles Hubenthal, and it is at 7425 North County Road 175 East in Lucern, Indiana, and I'm interviewing Charles Hubenthal, and he was born on November 15, 1945, and

Ch: September 25

Rc: September

Ac: September, or November?

Rc: September

Mc: See, 1945 is the end of the war, my dear

Ac: Oh, I’m sorry, I looked at the wrong date, September 25, 1920

Ch: Yeah, that’s better (laughter)

Ac: And then, okay and all the people attending this interview are myself and Charles Hubenthal and his wife Marilyn Hubenthal, Beverly Conrad, Matt Conrad, Anne Marie Conrad, Sarah Conrad, Everett Conrad, and Rhonda Conrad, she is the camera operator (laughter), and I am doing this interview for a school project for Mr. Munn, and that’s it.

(Question not recorded)

Ch: And everybody stopped, soon as they got to the right note they knew what was going on they’d either take off,

Mc: Or go back to what

Ch: Or go back to what they were doing

Ac: That’s funny, okay, can you sign this for me? We are doing this like for Mr. Munn my history teacher and he’s going to like put these interviews um, for the Library of Congress and stuff like that as well as the class project.

Ch: Well I don’t know whether I want to be (laughter)

Bc: Anne Marie, or Amy get your picture taken with

Ac: Oh, okay, Sarah did you bring the camera in? And it got a little bit wet and wrinkled but,

Ch: What do you want me to do, sign that?

Ac: Mhm

Ch: Don’t you know I can’t write? (laughter)

Rc: If you can fly an airplane, you can write,

Mc: Yeah, I would say something like, he was in the Navy you know, (laughter) but I wont say anything like that

Ch: What was that song they used to sing? I cant think of it, but it wasn’t, too, too polite maybe (laughter). Today is

Ac: May 7th

Ch: Now I’ve forgotten what year

Ac: 2011 (laughter)

Mc: Dad you're going to have to get that book there,

Ch: I’ll let you print my name

Ac: Okay thank you

Ch: Cause you can print better than I can, but I’ll let you look at this

Ac: Can I take a couple pictures with that camera, of these pictures in here?

Ch: Sure, what would you like to see?

Rc: Ulithi for sure

Ac: yeah

Ch: Ulithi replenished,

Mc: I mean that makes sense that they would have such a place Ive just never even

Rc: I’ve never even heard of that

Mc: But it does make sense, you have a

Ch: Pretty hard to find it on a map either

Rc: is it in, its in the Pacific is it in like the Aluetians or Marianas,

Ch: MMM, its south of the Marianas

Rc: South of the Marianas

Ec: Charles what did Joe fly, he flew, he flew bomber didn’t he? Did he fly big, big planes,

Ch: yeah, I think he and uh Dwight flew kind of the same thing but for some reason Joe didn’t get through as quick and he didn’t, he didn’t really get into combat in WWII. He was right at the tail end you know

Ec: I see, was he younger than you, you say?

Ch: Well, not much but he would have, he was behind me in school, but see I’d been out of school awhile.

Mh: He did go on to Viet Nam you know, you're talking about Joe Dague?

Ch: yeah,

Bc: Amy get your picture with

Ac: Okay, do you have a picture of the, of the um, the Yamato ship that you saw,

Ec: There, Amy there’s a picture in here too that shows them droppin, I mean it looks like its under attack

Mc: here’s a picture of um George Bush

Amc: HW

Ch: Okay, here’s a picture of the Franklin,

Ac: Okay,

Ch: Now that happened the same day that I was on the Wasp, and I was telling you about, 19th of March, 1945. There’s Okinawa

Ac: Mom lived there

Mc: her dad was in the Air Force and station there, I guess that would be 74,

Rc: That was um, 77 to 80

Mc: She was born on Guam

Ac: Can I take a picture of this,

Ch: Sure, yeah, and that’s the place where I remember, I was tail-end Charlie of course, and I had thought they were getting ready to dive on this airport, and so we were on uh, what was it, whatever you call, the water goes into the fuel, anyway, the water was supposed to give you more power or something, yeah

Mc: makes the air more dense so it gives you more power

Ch: Yeah now here is the Yamato before we sunk it, yeah that uh, they uh, well, he was uh, uh in training at the time and they had thought about sending these trainees on that battle ship, the Yamato, but then they decided it was going to be kind of a dangerous mission so they didn’t, so he’s kind of, he’s enough younger that he didn’t quite get in it too much but. Well here’s, this is a landing signal officer we liked better than this one, and this is a SB2C which I was trained in but then I flew the F-6.

Mh: Uh, you might show her the one when you were, uh beside the plane with the others

Ch: You,

Mc: you and uh, your three buddies

Mh: How many minutes apart did you planes come in, on the carrier?

Ch: Well, when I got the carrier it was only 17 seconds after Jack, but usually

Rc: Holy cow, 17 seconds, that’s too close for comfort

Mc: I’ll say

Ch: But, after we’d been out there a little while, we could land three a minute.

Rc: Three a minute, every 20 seconds

Mc: That’s pretty good, that’s crazy

Mh: Are those all in one part of it or are you looking for something for her?

Ch: Oh, I just kind of looking, see what was here, now, now here’s a place, that’s, that’s the battle ship Yamato or Nigato, which was about like the Yamato, and it was in port, and they sent it, I think they told us how many guns there was for every plane that we’re going to dive on, but they got the, got the job pretty well done

Mh: Here’s something you might be interested in, he was on a flight to Tokyo the day the war was ended, and they had him turn around and go back.

Rc: Oh, what was your mission, was that still to look at prisoner of war camps, or what was that for?

Ch: Mm, no, no, they hadn’t surrendered at that time,

Rc: Mhm

Ch: But they surrendered while I was in the air heading for Tokyo

Mc: What was your mission that day? Going to Tokyo, what were you going to do, was that a bombing thing or?

Ch: We had some bombs, but I don’t know for sure what it was now, but there's a, there’s a prisoner of war camp that we found and uh, see they got the big PW up there, and then over here is the, we told them we dropped some cigarettes and so forth and they put 83 up there, that was our, and this is a letter from one of the fellows that was in the camp. I thought that was a pretty nice letter.

Rc: When you did that reconnaissance did you just have a camera on your airplane or how did you do that?

Ch: What do you mean?

Rc: I mean how did those pictures get taken?

Mh: Those weren’t his, those weren’t his that he took

Rc: Yeah, I just wondered was there

Ch: I don’t know, I, of course we had gun cameras but I don’t know whether that was from, I don’t know

Ec: Charles we had a, a girl at church that tells an interesting story about uh, a fellow who was apparently the head of, of the crew that bombed uh, Pearl Harbor, he was, had something to do high up in that, in that bombing mission, and uh, she became acquainted with this family through the uh, through the missionaries that she knew there and, and then she became acquainted with the Japanese people and I think it was uh, uh, I'm not sure exact relation but it was very close family and on the 8th of, of a, December, and she, she’s kind of a reporter, by, by profession, and so they told her that, they were going to, they had a place they had to go and she, they made her feel like, you know, it uh, they really didn’t want her to accompany the family, but the family was going to visit the cemetery I think but they never explained to her who they were going to go see or what it was about and of course she kept questioning and questioning and questioning and finally they, uh her friend told her, I guess you may as well just tell her, cause you, she’s just gonna keep probing until you tell her. And then they, the story came out that they were visiting the fellow who was uh, you know the commander in charge of that mission and he was part of this family and she said I don’t understand it was the 8th of December, and of course apparently they’re on the other side of the dateline and that’s, the way she explained it, the Japanese look upon that bombing of, of uh Pearl Harbor as a highlight of, of their national history, and this, but this was this family that the commander of that mission was part of, but they I don’t, I guess it was like, they make a big deal of every day, or every year celebrating the anniversary of his death I guess. But I thought that’s kind of interesting.

Mh: Some of those movies are some of the real footage of the Pearl Harbor

Ch: Well you see here’s what we did when we, wasn’t in combat see, you had plenty of, plenty of room

Ac: Mhm

Ec: Amy, I want you to see, see that picture, this is, this is the Yamato under attack

Ch: See here’s pictures of the, the surrender

Mh: he was just telling me the other day that they were in ships out in the, they hadn’t turned around yet and they were, the surrender was going on

Ch: Okay, there’s the Imperial Palace

Ec: Charles was this Yamato, was it any way comparable to, to the Missouri or that class of ships or

Mc: It was a carrier wasn’t it?

Ec: Well they called it a battleship

Ch: no, Yamato was a battleship, it was the biggest battleship that they had, the biggest, and it was quite a, quite a ship

Mh: When we were in Japan some of them, they didn’t know the history at all, and Chuck’s landlords, they rented a house and we visited and they said have you ever been to Japan, been to Japan and Charles said well, not since the war (laughter), it got kind of quiet in there for a minute

Ch: Homeward bound, that was, that was kind of a nice day

Rc: Mhm

Ch: But, we missed all the celebration back in the states

Mc: Sure

Ch: That’s our air group commander, we had four squadrons

Ac: Mhm

Ch: There was the fighter squadron was the F-6F, and the fighter bomber squadron was corsairs and then the dive bombers was the SB-2C, torpedo bombers was the TBM and the

Rc: When you went to do your missions were you, to um, was it a combat sortie or uh, patrol, to protect the bombers. Were you going out to fight other fighters or were you protecting the bombers?

Ch: Oh, we had all kinds of different missions, uh, sometime we would have what they called CAP, that’s Combat Air Patrol, and you might just go up to 20,000 or 30,000 and circle for four hours or 8 hours of whatever and then come back down and you may or may not run into anything. Then you might have TCAP, Target CAP, so there you're flying over the target, its, you know, more or less its high cover I suppose itd be called, and so we had a lot of different, different types of missions, uh, but like, like the one there on uh, Tachikawa that was a a bombing, and sometimes we had rockets and of course by flying the F-6F, that was a fighter plane, the one day they got I don’t know 67 or 68 and we lost one pilot, and I was out there just as long as they were, and I only saw one bunch in the air so, you know, that’s

Mh: where was it you were that you,that the bullets were coming on either side of the plane and you figured the next one was for you? Was that Tokyo?

Ch: That’s uh, that was at Tachikawa I think but yeah, there was a black puff here, black puff here, black puff down here, and that’s about when I started to dive and I looked awhile ago and run acrossed a deal that said I dropped two bombs, I’d forgotten about that part, I got, remember them shooting at me, I’d forgotten about dropping the two bombs (laughter). Well here’s the corsair squadron, and when I was a, in training right after I got my wings I was out at Miami, Florida, and flying the SBD which was a dive bomber and this was a skipper there at, at that time, and, and my instructor was, was in the squadron too. This is just pictures of their, of different ones but,

Mh: I think she’s waiting for you to get your picture, to yours

Ch: Oh, there’s a fellow by the name of Papper, and he wrote a book that I’ve got, why don’t you get that book? Now I get over into the Hellcats,

Ec: That’s more than they did when from being shot down and being in combat, I just wondered if it was true, of the Navy planes,

Ch: Well, the F-6 was a, a real good plane, they called it Grandpa’s plane that’s the reason I chose it I guess,

Mh: Do they know the nickname of that plane? I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say it, Hellcats

Ch: Oh yeah,

Mh: I don’t know whether you talk about it or not

Ch: the there’s the fellow that wrote the book you’re looking at, and uh, that’s the G suit, they’d just come out with it, that’s the first we’d seen it

Rc: Did you wear one?

Ch: no, I think, I don’t know that they even uh, had more than one there, I think that was just to show you what it was (laughter), and here’s the statistics of

Rc: If your airplane went down over the ocean, how did you um, did you have a beacon or something, for them to find you? How were you found?

Ch: Well, if, if you had control of the plane, and you could make a water landing, you, you could make, make that with your wheels in your wings and land on, on the belly and make a pretty good safe landing, course the plane didn’t stay up very long, but it was long enough you could get out and get your raft or whatever and get it inflated and get in that before it sank, you can be surprised in what you can do in that minute or two

Rc: Mhm

Ec: Yeah

Rc: So then somebody just had to come and find you, you didn’t have, did you have flares or anything to?

Ch: Yeah, we had different things, but its been so long now, I don’t remember what all the things were. (laughter) There’s the, there’s the plane I flew, there’s the Sutherland I was talking about while ago.

Ac: Mhm

Ch: And they were just trying to, or just getting secured on the, if I, if I remember right, on the west side of, of uh, Okinawa, and uh, they tried to land there, and they started shooting at him, and so he went across and he landed on the other side of the island and we think the sharks got him. But he was shot up pretty bad. This, I think this one was the one that got on a, that was shooting a Jap down, he followed him down and evidently they picked up too much speed and he couldn’t pull out, and this one, he was kind of a night fighter, and I think he was too, but uh, anyway, he disappeared one time and we don’t know what happened to him, he evidently got shot down, this is the statistics of the VF-83,