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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Meyer, Harley

Date: October 1, 1999

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 211418

Biographical sketch: Harley Meyer enlisted in the Army Air Corp in January 1943 and entered the aviation cadet program for testing. He was accepted into the pilot training program. Meyer describes the progression of training from preflight, primary at El Reno, and basic and advanced flight training at Garden City, Kansas. Approximately 75% of the cadet candidates in Meyer?s class were either washed out or killed during flight training. He graduated with wings as an officer and pilot and was given a furlough (his first in the twenty months since his enlistment). He was assigned to the instructor?s school at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas and, when graduated, immediately sent to Greenville, South Carolina for three months of B-25 training. Meyer explains that B-25s, used in Doolittle?s Raid on Tokyo in April 1942, were twin engine medium bombers used extensively in the Pacific. After training, Meyer was sent to California for overseas processing and then flew to New Guinea by way of Hawaii, Johnson Island, Palawan, Pelelui, Guam, and Leyte, Philippines. He flew three combat missions in New Guinea and was then assigned to the 38th Bomb Group, 71st Squadron based in Leyte, Philippines. He was there three or four months, until July 1945, flying combat missions over Formosa to knock out alcohol plants and airfields with parafrag bombs. Meyer describes flying in support of Army Infantry advancing against Japanese troops in northern Luzon, Philippines. When Okinawa had been secured by the Americans, the 71st Squadron was transferred there. He describes living in tents that were overrun with rats at night and going through a big typhoon there in August 1945. Missions flown from Okinawa were usually 3-4 hours to Japan and then along the China coast for shipping. The B-25s had 10.5 hours of fuel and many of the crews returned to Okinawa close to their fuel limit. Meyer?s last mission was a dangerous bombing run against railroad bridges at Oita in northern Kyushu. He describes how very close they came to being killed as they came in low for the bombing run. This was the same day that the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, and Meyer describes seeing smoke over the city (they?d been warned to stay at least fifty miles away and they did) and heard about the bomb that night on the radio broadcast from Guam. That was the last time Meyer?s crew flew a combat mission. He returned to the States and was discharged from the service in March 1946.

Summary: Captain Meyer enlisted in the Army (Air Force) in 1943 and served until 1946 in the 38th Bomb Group, 71st Squadron. Interviewed by James Johnston on Oct 1, 1999, Meyer 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 Greater Barber County Historical Action Assn 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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019-14-03-06  DVD 

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