|K e n s m e n : 4 3 r d B o m b G r o u p (H), 5 t h A A F|
|T/Sgt Loren C. "Red" Bates
(I had very red hair and many called me "Red")
Squadron: The 403rd Bomb Squadron.
My MOS was 757, Radio Operator/Mechanic/Aerial Gunner. I flew as a Radio Operator on B-24's and also manned the rear belly guns. These guns were installed in place of the Ball Turret.
I served from April 1944 until June 1945.
The state of Iowa drafted me the 14th of January, 1943. I received the famous greetings from Pres. Rosevelt. I processed at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Ia. and I could have been placed in any branch of the service but I wanted to fly and get overseas as quickly as possible so the only work experience I gave them was working at Rohr Aircraft, Chula Vista, CA and Martin Bomber at Omaha, Nebraska. I had worked as a fry cook but I didn't let them know that.
I had basic training at Clearwater, Fl and was promoted to PFC. Radio Operators & Mechanics school at Souix Falls, SD and was promoted to Cpl. Since I wanted to fly I took Aerial Gunnery school at Loredo, TX and was promoted to Sgt. Then to Hill AFB, Utah to be crewed up on Lt. Bauers crew and promoted to S/Sgt. We took Combat training at Tonopah, NV amd received overseas orders at Fairchild Susan (now Travis) AFB, shipped out and promoted to T/Sgt.
I received the Air medal with 3 OLC's, Asiatic Pac Theater Medal with 8 battle stars, Philippine Liberation ribbon with 1 star and the other usual ribbons given out.
We flew whatever aircraft was available for us. I know most of them were named and had nose art, but off hand I can not remember to many names. I do remember "Sack Time Bound" with a picture of a beautiful gal about ready to turn in, and "Golden Gate or Bust" with a picture of the Golden Gate and a beautiful gal with almost fully exposed breasts.
Number of Missions: I flew 53 combat missions on the B-24.
Description of Missions:
We started flying our missions out of Nadzap, New Guinea, moving on to Owi, Tacloban, Philippine Islands, and then to Clark Field, Philippines Islands. We bombed targets in New Guinea, Bismark Arch, So. Phil, Luzon, China, West Pacific, E Mandates, and No. Solomons. For this I received 8 battle stars. We did a lot of bombing in Formosa. I'm not sure what battle this was but it was the hottest. I think the hottest target in Formosa was Tainan where we bombed Japanese Suicidal Aircraft on the ground. We bombed the harbors of Hong Kong, China with fire bombs consisting of 50 gallon barrels filled with a fire solution. I remember my greatest fears were getting off the ground, weather and Anti Aircraft Fire. We didn't see many fighters although we did pick up bullet holes on four of our missions. I'll never forget one mission where we picked up bullet holes. We were all alone coming home from a night mission to Formosa and I received a CW message from one of our Naval Vessels and it read, "You have a bogie on your tail". Lt. Bauer alerted the gunners and although it was a very dark night some passes were made and we had bullet holes when we landed. On many missions we flew through heavy Anti Aircraft fire (Ack Ack). We had planes shot down around us and came home from thirteen missions with Ack Ack holes in the plane.
Most poignant, sad or touching memory of the war:
I have seen planes hit over the target. I have seen some shot down and I saw one take a hit in the Bomb Bay, as we always said when they just blew to smithereens. I can remember the plane just literally being blown apart with pieces all over the sky and no piece seemed to be any larger than six feet. But the saddest memory I have is losing our two wing aircraft by accident during a mission over Luzon. Perhaps this is because our Navigator and Co-Pilot were aboard the one lost on our left wing. Our target was Belete Pass and we were bombing Japanese Soldiers on the ground. We had a heavy load of anti personnel bombs. There were six aircraft on the mission stacked in two elements of three each. We were lead aircraft of the back element. I can remember very clearly that we were specifically warned at the briefing about the 6000 feet mountain peaks we would have to climb over after leaving the target. On the first pass we found the target overcast so we were ordered to make another go around and let down lower. Still not being able to find the target on the second pass the lead aircraft ordered another go around and to let down still lower. Lt. Bauer radioed the lead aircraft warning about being to low because we in the back were stacked still lower. On the third pass we found the target still overcast and attempted another go around. I was in the back with the gunners observing out of the hatch as we climbed out and saw the B-24 on our right wing stall out, spirling to the ground. About that time the left gunner said look over here; there we say the B-24 on our left wing hit the mountain top. The plane literally busted in half with one half rolling down one side of the mountain and the other half down the other side. Now you can imagine how close we came to hitting the mountain. Our nose gunner said he braced for impact. Our Navigator and Co-Pilot both survied the crash and excaped through enemy lines and our own m!ine fields to find our Infantry. Both returned to fly with us again. Three others also survived the crash of that plane but all were lost on the crash of the B-24 that stalled out off our right wing.
Funniest or most fun memory of the war:
I'm sorry to say but I don't remember anything very funny happening. The most fun we had was in Sidney on R&R. What a pleasure it was to find civilization again, good food, drinks and beautiful women. We thought we were in Heaven.
Any odd or strange memories from the war:
I was taken sick on Owi with Scrub Typhus ( slang name ). I can not recall the real name of the disease. It was a high feverish disease caused by the bite of a mite in the jungle almost invisable to the human eye. The disease was only contacted on Owi and Biak. I had a flight physical years later in the Air Force and after looking at my records the Flight Surgeon said, I can tell you where you were in WWII. He said if now they could easily cure the disease. I contacted it after helping to clear the jungle to make room for our tent. There was no cure for this disease and the only treatment we received was asprin and cold pacts. The fatality rate was very high. I was taken to a field hospital consisting of all tents. I'm not sure where this hospital was, but I know I was taken there aboard a hospital ship and I believe this ship was the Queen Mary. Was the Queen Mary used in the area as a hospital ship? The ship was very large and well staffed with nurses and doctors. I was lucky enough to get fresh eggs while aboard but they warned me that the eggs were tainted with refrigerant gas and wouldn't taste good. Sure enough they tasted terrible. Lt. Baurer also contracted the same disease. We were both very fortunate to survive the illness. I say men in the tent hospital I was in die from it. The high body temperature would cause paralysis to sit in and death would follow. It was discouraging that nothing could be done. When a doctor came to patient next to me the patient asked very emphatically, "Are you a doctor?". The doctor said yes, and his reply was, "Then why in hell don't you do something!" The doctor was hurt and just didn't have a reply.
Most heroic thing I saw or did:
In my opinion every pilot who made the decision to take off in those overloaded B-24's, flying through weather where no forcasts were available, and then through the heavy flak fields over the targets were real heroes. The rest of the crew didn't have the decisions to make and I think I can speak for all when I say we were scared to death a lot of the time. We learned to cope with fear and work through it, trusting your life with your leader, the pilot. I had a great deal of respect for Lt. Bauer, knowing that he was a highly skilled man, under strict orders and carrying out the orders very efficiently. I took a lot of pride in our accomplishments as a crew, that of getting the bombs on the target and distroying an enemy we all hated. I also realize that each member of the crew was a hero by performing his job. Our lives depended on each other doing his job in a proficient manner, but our pilot was the leader and he had that assume job of making the final decision. In many cases Lt. Bauer's decisions and professional abilities saved our lives.
Where I was and how I celebrated when I learned the warwas over:
I had my points in and was coming home aboard a Kaiser troop ship when the atomic bomb was dropped. I realized then that I would not have to go back and I was very happy about this. We were thirty days sailing from Manila to San Francisco, and I was in San Francisco when peace was declared. We six enlisted men were together coming home and celebrated in San Francisco.
How having gone to war has affected me, what comes to mindwhen I think of the war:
Going through the war has made me more thankful for this great nation of ours and for how fortunate we are to be Americans. I think of the very dedicated soldiers I was with and how the efforts of so many soldiers like them made this all possible. One of the first things I done when I got stateside was to take a discharge. I was shipped from San Francisco to Santa Ana, CA for processing. I was offered a commission as a Communications Officer to stay in, but I had enough and turned it down. Sometimes I wished I had taken it after I was recalled for the Korean War and worked for Captain and Major Communicatins Officers. But I can also say about this decision if I had stayed in I would not have met my beautiful wife and be the father of five wonderful children.
To future generations:
To the younger generations I say live your life fully committed to your family, your religion, and your country. Your family means everything to you. Give them the right start in life by passing on your love, religious commitment and good moral training. You are very fortunate to be a citizen of the most free and greatest country in the world. Never take this lightly and always remember that many soldiers in the past have given their lives to make this possible. You should pay your respects to them by always displaying and honoring the Flag on all special occasion, by voting and taking an interest in the leadership of our country, and by never turning down an opportunity to serve your country when the need is there.