I enlisted in the navy on October 23, 1943, prior to my eighteenth birthday. I was sent to San Diego, Cal. where I served my basic training. Upon terminating my training, I was selected to attend aviation ordnance school at Norman, Okla. After completing my AOM classes, I was transferred to NAS Floyd Bennnet Field in Brooklyn, NY, and stationed there for about a year. After Floyed Bennet Field, I went to NAS Jacksonville, Fla, where I attended an advanced AOM school. After completion of the advanced school, I was transferred back to San Diego,Cal., where I was assigned to PATSU 10-44 and later on to F.A.W. 14, 4, with the PB4Y-2 Privateers on Shemya, which flew bombing missions against the Northern Kuril Islands of Japan until the end of the war. I was also stationed on Attu and Kodiak Islands.Tony Suarez
5. PB4Y-2 returning from a bombing mission, the ground crews are always glad to see them come back, this one looks OK. (God, I hope my machine guns didn't malfunction, I hope he was able to fire every 50 cal. round including the tracers, and that all the bombs detonated on impact!). Shemya 1945-46.
6. Ordnance mate, getting ready to load 50 cal. machine guns on PB4Y-2 turrets. Notice the two oscillating guns on side blister turret. An ordnance man was responsible for all the armament on the plane, that is to say, all the offensive and defensive equipment. Shemya 1945-46
8. On this one, I am resting against the forward top turret between two 50 cal. machine guns on a PB4Y-2 Privateer (notice snow on plane). Usually, after we finished checking all the armed bombs, shackles, guns, turret operation etc. and generally getting the plane ready for the Kuril Islands next bombing mission, we hung around and wait for chow time (you know, "do-do” on a shingle. Shemya, 1945-46. [That would be SOS! gls]
10. Here is a rear view of a PB4Y-2 parked on Shemya, 1945 or 46. I notice some folks refer to our planes as B-24s. We called them our big ocean blue birds, our “Navy Privateers." That single tall tail fin and long body, side blister turrets, were easy to identify, and made the major difference between the two heavy bombers. Shemya 1945-46. [The PB4Y-2 is a derivative of the B-24. gls]
17. Shemya’s Chapel, where my buddies and I visit to get our spiritual strength, and pray for each other. May God bless the good ministers of all faiths, that were along side of us when we most needed them, remembering, that they also made great sacrifices for our country.
18. This photo was taken in our hut while on the Rock. Sitting on chair is; James E. Ledbetter, behind him and to his right; Walter S. Atha, and myself. Privateers Aviation Ordnance Department. Shemya 1945-46.
19. I am unable to identify the two ordnance mates behind me due to the marks and damage to the picture. We loaded a great number of bombs with this Bomb-Truck on our privateers destined for raids on northern islands of Japan. Shemya 1945-46.
20. This photo shows the ordnance department for the privateers. Its impossible for me to recall every individual’s name after 56 years. I am on top, directly behind Tim Hagerty, he is the one leaning with his elbows on the cab. Ronald Dusty Rhoads (Bottom row/center) is the only one I have managed to contact. Shemya 1945-46.
21. I am not aware as to how many B-17s were on Shemya, but I do know there was the “Searchin-Virgin.” And I managed to have my picture taken with this beautiful (Flying Fortress) lady, once upon a time on the Rock. Shemya 1945-46.
22. This is one of my friends who was on the Rock with me, William J. Weber AOM3/c (N.Y). We drank our weekly allowance of Topac beer in our hut, and listen to Charlie Barnett play Cherokee over and over again, until we ran out of beer and hit the sack.
24. Privateers Ordnance Department inside our hut, getting ready for another game of Stud Poker, while taking a break and listening to Artie Shaw, Begin the begin or Perry Como sing Till the end of time. I am in the middle of the three standing. Shemya 1945-46.
27. Three privateer ordnance men. Left to right: James E. Ledbetter, AOM 2/c, Ga. Walter S. Atha, AOM 1/c, Ark. Sorry, but I cannot recall the third mate’s name. However, I can remember he had a bunch of hash marks on his dress uniform and he was one of the older guys in our outfit. Shemya 1945-46.
29. The B-29s visit our 2 by 4 mile Island prior to the end of WW 11. After circling the "Rock", a B-29 lands on Shemya. Obviously, we were capable of accommodating the "Superfortresses" landing on our 10,000 ft. runway. We also had several huge hangers. Shemya 1945-1946.
30. One B-29 parked on Shemya. Notice other B-29s in the background to the left and right of it. The Superfortress had a range of over 3200 miles. It was the B-29s that turned the tide of the entire WW 11 and allowed us to go home sooner, (if one had the "points"). Shemya 1945-1946.
33. B-29s being refueled prior to taking off from Shemya. Unknown to us at that time; two B-29s, the "Enola Gay" and "Bocks Car," were being modified to deliver atomic bombs ("Little Boy"&"Fat Man") from the Mariana Islands to Hiroshima and Nagasaki that would eventually bring an end to WW 11. Shemya 1945-1946.
34. B-29 number 38 "Fresno" gets a final inspection by its pilots. It is said that the Army's initial plans were to use the B-29s on Shemya to bomb Japan. However, the B-29s did not remain on Shemya, and after they left, the PB4Y-2s continued bombing Japan's northern Islands. Shemya 1945-1946.