posted on January 02, 2012 16:32
This VC-66 (T-1) sea story is courtesy of TBM pilot LTJG John "Jack" Dwight who passed away on 14 July 2010 at the age of 90. Jack wrote to me on 19 July 2008:
This incident happened after we had sailed into Seeadler Harbor in the Admiralty Islands in August 1944. We were on board the USS FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70). It was the rule that when we anchored in a harbor in enemy territory, all planes had to be flown to a land based strip. We always had more pilots than planes so we "drew straws" and a few of us stayed aboard. We weren't unhappy with that as the food and showers aboard were far superior to the land based variety. Later on, we acquired the Captain's gid and went ashore to the little O-club that they had there. As we sat around drinking and joking, we noticed a guy at the next table. He was one forlorn character in a dirty flying suit and with a look on his face as if he was totally lost. We invited him over to our table and he came most gladly.
It seems he was an Air Force pilot ferrying a P-38 to Sansapore which is on New Guinea - and we were told it is the end of the world. The guy had been island hopping from San Diego and hadn't had a shower in a week, nor a decent meal and only a sleeping bag for the night. We felt sorry for the guy and as we had now plenty of empty accomodations, we invited him aboard the ship. He came, most curious as to how the Navy fly boys made out. And did he ever find out! He must have stood in the fresh water, warm shower for 15 minutes literally wallowing in it. He was amazed as one of the bunks was a real bed. Then we took him down for evening chow. When he saw the long Navy linen table cloth and the heavy Navy silver on the table, he must have felt he was in paradise. But when the chicken and dumplings came on, he almost died. And then when we had ice cream for desert, he almost fainted!
Our Air Force guest asked us if he could transfer to our outfit. Then we took him up on the flight deck for a breath of air. He was shocked and asked, "Do you guys land and take off from this?!" When we assured him we did - and every day, he really backed off and decided he would stay in the Air Force. We VC-66 guys all had a big chuckle at that.