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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Gallup, Alfred

Date: May 17, 2006

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 212772

Biographical sketch: Alfred "Al" Gallup's father was a civil engineer so the family moved around a lot while he was growing up. Al graduated from Central High School in Kansas City in 1932 and then attended a junior college for a semester. For a little over a year he worked assembling banking reports for the Tenth Federal Reserve District, then went back to junior college. In 1936 he enrolled in Kansas University's School of Business and graduated from there in 1938. For about a year after graduation he worked for Kansas Electric Power Company, and decided to volunteer for flight training, for which he was accepted. There weren't enough airfields for training so it wasn't until the day after Pearl Harbor that he got a telegram to report to Leavenworth, Kansas for flight training. He was sent to Bonham, Texas, on to Basic Flight Training at San Angelo, Texas and finally to advanced training in San Antonio at Brooks Field, Texas. After graduating he got his wings and his commission as a Second Lieutenant, and married his wife, Winifred. From 1942 to 1944 he was in the United States flying reconnaissance missions in Mississippi and Louisiana. They also did a lot of photo mapping in the state of Louisiana and they had a guy in their outfit that took pictures for Life Magazine. He and his wife were able to live together, off base and in Laurel, Mississippi they said that the people just "took them in." All a serviceman had to do was show up at church and they would have an invitation to dinner. In 1944, he heard they needed people with special instrument training to form a new group that became Combat Cargo, and he was assigned to this group. The Japanese had the road cut off between Burma and China so the only way the Chinese could get supplies was by air. His first job was to get the Japanese out of Burma and then later on they were "conscripted by the ATC, the Air Transport Command" to fly supplies from northern India and Burma into China. His favorite plane to fly was the A-20, built by Douglas, which had a tricycle landing gear and his least favorite was the B-25, "because it was so noisy." The weather was not very good flying over "the hump" and you had to be careful that you didn't run out of gas. There was a lot of turbulence, big thunderstorms, and icing conditions if they were up between sixteen to twenty thousand feet. Al described the monsoon season and said that "some of your enemies were disease and climate change, as well as getting water in your gasoline." Sometimes they would want to take some gas out of your plane because they needed it and you would barely have enough to get back, especially if "the weather would be socked in." Another problem they had in Burma were the Water Buffalo would get on the runways and they would have to chase them off in their jeeps before they could take off. When they had time off, he and his co-pilot would sit down and have tea with some of the natives of Burma and also visited the pagodas. During this time he kept in touch with his wife through V-mail and also sent color slides to her of places he had been. One of his duties as flight commander was to censor the mail of the men in his outfit and he hated doing that. In April of 1945, while flying a mission up the Arakan Coast, the radio operator came on and said, "hey, just heard, Roosevelt just died." Al knew Harry Truman because his dad had surveyed his farm and they had called on him in Washington when he was a senator. He thought, "oh, brother, we have had it now." However, he said that Truman turned out to one of the better Presidents we ever had. While waiting for a ship to be available to take him home, he started taking a course at the University of Calcutta, probably Urdu or Hindi language. Upon returning to the States he was reassigned to San Antonio for a while and then went to California. At the time he had the opportunity to get his Masters Degree for free so he got his degree in Business from Columbia. He still had to give three years of service so he was assigned to teach ROTC at KU. Al was in the insurance business in Lawrence for forty-seven years before retiring.

Summary: Gallup enlisted in the Army (Air Force) in 1941 and served until 1945 in the Combat Cargo. Interviewed by Brian Grubbs on May 17, 2006, Gallup 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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019-14-05-02  Mini DV Tape (2) 

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