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Interview on experiences in World War II

View at Kansas Memory

Creator: Dryden, Laurence A.

Date: August 25, 2006

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 211331

Biographical sketch: Laurence Dryden wanted to contribute to the war effort before he went into the service at eighteen. He helped his father put in the Spring crop in 1942 and then went to work for a month helping to build Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Indiana and from there to a welding school in Indianapolis, Indiana. A recruiter from Kaiser Company stopped by the school and recruited the instructor and all of the students to work for Kaiser in Vancouver, Washington building Landing Ship Tank (LST) landing craft. He worked in Vancouver for three months and then went across the river to Portland, Oregon to enlist in the Army Air Corp (he'd turned eighteen in the months he'd been in Vancouver). He was shipped by train to Fort Lewis, Washington the same day for a physical examination and aptitude testing. He was sent to the West coast assembly point at Meadows Field at Bakersfield, California and from there to Hobbs, New Mexico. He stayed at Hobbs from November 1942 to August 1944. He was assigned as a B-17 line mechanic to the 960th Bomb Squadron and eventually became an aerial engineer who flew with new classes of recruits being trained to fly the B-17s. Dryden describes flying with the recruits during their training flights, of seeing his first B-29 while on one such flight over Clovis, New Mexico, and of co-piloting a B-17 G bomber. The squadrons were reorganized and he was transferred to the 915th Bomb Squadron and the 958th Bomb Squadron. He was transferred to the B-29 program as a flight engineer and was sent to Amarillo, Texas for training and to Denver, Colorado to learn to calculate fuel consumption. After graduation, he was sent to Clovis, New Mexico and assigned to an eleven-man crew. Dryden describes the crew members and their flight training. They picked up a brand new B-29 in Topeka, Kansas that had been built with funds raised by Topeka citizens. It was named "City of Topeka" and Dryden's crew flew it from Topeka to Saipan by way of Californa, Hawaii, Quadulene Island, and Westfultinnia (sp). At Saipan, Dryden's crew were transferred as replacements to the 888th Bomb Squadron, 500th Bomb Group, 73rd Wing. He describes the fifteen hour B-29 bombing flights over targets in Japan and the necessity for the pilots, radio operator, and flight engineer (Dryden's position) to remain awake for the entire flight. He describes hitting a thermal area on the southern edge of Honshu, Japan that took the airplane straight up 3,000 feet as they entered it and then dropped them 3,000 fee straight down as they exited it ("it was just like hitting a thunderstorm").

Summary: Technical Sergeant Dryden entered the Army (Air Force) in 1942 and served in the 960th Squadron, 915th Squadron, 882nd Squadron, 500th Bomb Group, 73rd Wing. Interviewed by Erin Hammer on Aug 25, 2006, Dryden talked about military experiences in the Second World War. The 2005 Kansas Legislature passed a bill funding the WWII Veterans Oral History grant program. This transcript is from one of the nine community institutions that received these grants. The transcript from the interview is presented here; the original video copy of the interview is available through the Ellis County Historical Society (Hays) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Space Required/Quantity: Video

Title (Main title): Interview on experiences in World War II

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019-14-03-03  DVD 

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