(This is another installment in a series recounting flight training experiences during WWII)
When I last left offÂ pilot training had ended andÂ the members of class 44-C had been awarded pilot wings and 2nd Lieutenant bars. We kissed La Junta Colorado goodbye.Â Our next stop would be Bergstrom Air Base in Austin Texas, where we would be assigned to troop carriers and fly C-47â€™s.
I had hoped that we would be flying the B-25 Mitchell, but that was not to be.
After graduation we were given a ten day delay en route which gave us time to make a short visit home.
From La Junta to Lincolnton was about a two day trip via train, so I had about eight days at home.
I planned to fly from Lincolnton to Texas so the last day would be a short trip by air.
It had been fourteen months since I had left Lincolnton. I had traveled far and wide.Â Â First to Florida for basic, then to Illinois for eight weeks of study at James Milliken University. Then hopped a train west to California and classification, where forty percent of the class washed out. Fortunately I made it through and classified as a pilot so then it was on up the San Joaquin valley for primary and basic training, and finally on to La Junta for advanced training and graduation.
Finally we were ready for transitional training in the C-47 after which we would go overseas for combat. I did not know at the time, but I suspected that we would go to the European Theater. IfÂ I had my choice, which I didnâ€™t,Â Europe would be it.
But before all that I was going home.Â Finally I was with my family in Lincolnton, and what a joy it was to be back.
I had never been away for more than a few nights before this and now I had been gone for over a year. I had looked forward to this time and hoped to make good use of it.
Of course things had changed dramatically back home. So many things: gas, sugar, coffee and many other items were now being rationed. Some items were no longer available at all. The civilian population had really had to tighten their belts and do without a lot of things. Not only that, but they were being urged to save used grease, tires and aluminum and other materials for use in the war effort.
When the United States entered WWII it changed all of our lives in ways we could never have imagined. Millions of Americans were inducted into the Armed Services and those left back home found their lives turned topsy turvy in so many ways.
The war was dragging on.Â The invasion of Europe was still to come.Â Â We knew that would be the big one, and we were holding our breath and waiting, waiting, waiting.
But life was still going on.Â Soon I would be heading to Texas for a little more training and then overseas.Â Even though it was only for a short timeÂ I was finally home.Â Home sweet home.
Thatâ€™s just the way it was … in the good old days.
Charles Eurey is a Lincoln Times-News guest columnist.