|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|
|The fateful day of December 7
occurred and the change was dramatic. I happened to be on duty in the
squadron area that weekend. First Sergeant Gangarelli was also on the
base and in typical First Sergeant fashion attempted to get every thing
organized. He had all available personnel to fall out for roll call and
attempted to get his troops ready for the invasion. After much lining
up, shouting, ordering and obvious disorganization, he shouted, "Thank
God we still have a Navy!" If he had only known! Finally we did get
issued weapons with very little ammunition and a guard line was
established around the perimeter of Mitchell. One instruction he gave
was really needed: "Get dressed very warmly for you are going to be on
duty for a long time." I put on so much winter clothing I could hardly
move. The pistol belt had to be adjusted to the maximum length to fit
around the overcoat. So in this bundled-up condition, I began walking
the last post inside the chain-link fence along a parkway bordering
Mitchell. We were required to call out our post number and indicate the
status every time you made a complete tour of your post. This was
passed on from post to post until the Corporal of the Guard got the
After many hours and quite late at night, an eighteen wheel fuel tanker truck, one of those big 6000 gallon jobs, pulled up on the parkway next to my post. The driver got out and started across the parkway lanes when I hollered, "What are you doing?" He replied that he was going to the service station in the median to ask for directions. I poked the muzzle of that old .45 ACP through the fence and said, "Like Hell you are!" You can't believe how fast that guy got in the truck and was on his way. I had the total of seven rounds of ammunition for the upcoming invasion!
It as numbing cold and the Sergeant was right. It was a long, long tour of guard duty without relief. Things at Mitchell became very different. We began assembling P-40s that had been scheduled for shipment to England and security became very obvious. Panic drills became common. Fox holes were dug around all of the barracks and there were practice air raids!
Squads of 12 men were established and would rush to various areas for some suspected problem. I became the BAR man in my squad and, as such, always brought up the rear of a column. A funny thing occurred on one of our dashes. As we started across the parade ground, the Corporal ordered double time. In order to do double time, I had to get that 16 pound BAR into port position. In so doing I had my head down. Every one in front of me ran around the tree. I hit that tree dead center and if it had not been for the gun and the old WWI flat helmet I would have been knocked out. All I suffered was embarrassment and much ragging.
Weekend passes became limited, but I did get to Norwalk a few more times. The last time I visited Kaye was the first weekend of February 1942. After getting back very late Sunday night, Monday morning roll call greeted many of us with the news that we were transferring to the 43rd Bomb Group in Bangor, Maine. We packed, departed Mitchell and arrived at the Bangor air base on February 10. The Bangor people had not seen the ground in six months due to the ice and snow! I spent most of the time on my butt trying to get to places for any function. I was assigned to the 63rd Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group (Heavy). We departed Bangor by train, in a very heavy snow storm, at 5:30 AM, February 17, and arrived at the Boston Harbor at 2:30 that afternoon. The train pulled into the dock alongside of a very large ship. All we could see, as we left the train and approached the gang plank, was the opening where we would enter the ship.