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Oral History Interview with Richard Bennett, November 15, 2001

Description: Interview with Richard (Dick) Bennett, a pilot during World War II. He discusses his enlistment in the Army Air Corps, basic training and flight school. He then went to a base in South Carolina to learn to fly B-25s. At Fort Myers, Florida he flew B-26 bombers and trained to fly them off of aircraft carriers so they could drop torpedos on the Japanese fleet during naval battles. He traveled across the Pacific to Brisbane only to be told that they didn't have B-26s for the crews; the colonel there knew nothing about the plan to launch B-26s from aircraft carriers, so they were sent to New Guinea to fly B-17s and supplement the crews for those bombers. From there they made bombing runs or "Washing Machine Charlie"-type runs to keep people awake at night on various Japanese targets in the islands, particularly the base at Rabaul. In fall of 1943, the Army grounded the B-17s due to the damage they had incurred and replaced them with B-24s. The men received manuals and were given only a few days to familiarize themselves with the new planes. They were then sent on bombing runs. He finished his tour of duty at the end of 1943, came back to the United States, and went on a War Bond drive throughout New York. He then went to Ohio to become a B-17 instructor, and traveled to various bases and training schools, including Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he visited only a day after the first atomic bomb test.
Date: November 15, 2001
Creator: Cox, Floyd & Bennett, Richard
Partner: National Museum of the Pacific War/Admiral Nimitz Foundation

Oral History Interview with Garvin Kowalke, January 23, 2001

Description: Interview with Garvin Kowalke, a pilot during World War II. He discusses joining the Army Air Corps, going to Air Cadet training to become a pilot, and training on various aircraft (AT-17, UC-78, P-36, P-33, T-6, BT-13, B-17, B-29) before becoming a B-29 pilot; he shipped out to Guam and flew standard and fire bombing runs over Japan. He discusses having to ditch the plane on the way back to Guam once when the engines failed, seeing another B-29 crew have to bail out over Toyko Bay and get picked up by a U.S. submarine that was in the Bay, getting pulled down to the fires when they were trying to hide in the smoke to avoid Japanese fighter planes, and getting caught in a storm by Mount Fujiyama, as well as collecting data such wind direction, speed, and temperature over Hiroshima for future bombing runs, which turned out to be for the bombers who dropped the atomic bomb. He also talks about flying over Hiroshima two days after the bombing and gauging how high the radiation levels were at different altitudes. He also talks about being in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, becoming a B-57 pilot, and adopting a baby boy from Germany after the war, then a little girl while he was stationed in Hawaii after the Korean War.
Date: January 23, 2001
Creator: Cox, Floyd & Kowalke, Garvin
Partner: National Museum of the Pacific War/Admiral Nimitz Foundation