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Interview on experiences in World War II

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View at Kansas Memory

Creator: McLaughlin, Joseph

Date: June 5, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 212312

Biographical sketch: After Joe McLaughlin graduated from high school he enlisted in the Army Air Force, shortly after the war broke out. He went to Miami Beach for a few months, then to Lincoln, Nebraska for mechanics school and on to Glenn L. Martin's B-26 school in Baltimore, Maryland. This is where he got his indoctrination in flying the Army's way. One of the pilots he talks about was named John Fortner, and he describes him as one of the nicest ones he ever knew. Because he (Joe) had a dentist appointment they took another flight engineer on an early morning mission and the plane blew up and killed the entire crew. He ended up with a B-29 outfit in Great Bend, Kansas and after he got to working on it and flying in it, says it was "a beautiful airplane." As flight engineer his duty was to "keep the four engines synchronized while in flight" and "try to maintain a certain air speed." He talks about the importance of "The Battle of Kansas", the 54 major modifications that had to be made on the B-29 and how the airmen on bases at Great Bend, Pratt, Salina, and Walker completed them on March 26th, 1944 in less than three weeks time. The work was performed in sub-zero weather and howling snowstorms, and "these airmen and the B-29 Super Fortress would be one of the deciding factors in the victory of our Allies over Japan." He talks about flying out of North Field in Guam, it was known as the "Little Leap" because as soon as you get off the runway all you see is water. They bombed "anything Japanese," their industries, and also sowed land mines in their waterways. Their missions were carried on in both bad weather and good weather because they didn't want to give the Japanese a flight pattern. After V-J Day the B-29's were flown back to the States and dismantled because it was too expensive to keep them flying. When he was discharged he returned to Great Bend, Kansas, got married and raised a family, working as the postmaster for over thirty years. He also joined the Reserves, the National Guard, retiring at the rank of Major.

Summary: McLaughlin enlisted in the Army (Air Force) and served in the Nineteenth Bomb Group. Interviewed by Deborah Pye on Jun 5, 2007, McLaughlin 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 community institutions receiving grants. The transcript of the interview is presented here; the original video copy of the interview is available through the Watkins Community Museum of History (Lawrence) 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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019-14-05-04  Mini DV Tape 

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