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Samuel M. Findley "Tex", Engineer/Tail Gunner, 323rd BG, 453rd BS

Samuel M. Findley (Tex)
Engineer/Tail Gunner
323rd BG, 453rd BS

Samuel M. Findley

On December 7,1941 I was living at Terrell, Texas where I was employed as an aircraft mechanic for a flying school that was engaged in the training of cadets for the British Royal Airforce. On that Sunday I went with some friends to Dallas and when we arrived back that afternoon to the motel where we were staying our landlady was standing in the driveway with tears streaming down her face. We asked her what in the world was wrong and she said, "We are in war. The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor."

I don’t think that I even knew where Pearl Harbor was located then and I doubt that many Americans knew that Pearl Harbor was the name of the naval base in Hawaii. Americans were outraged against the Japanese for this sneak attack but we did not know at first the seriousness of the damage that had been done. As the Japanese swept on through Southeast Asia it became apparent that it would soon not be possible to buy automobile tires because all tires were made from natural rubber and that’s where most of our rubber came from.

My parents had a 1938 Chevrolet sedan that they let me use and I drove it to Mesa, AZ where I was re-hired by Southwest Airways (I had previously worked for this flying school prior to working at Terrell). I sold the car and sent my folks the $300.that it brought because I didn’t believe that I would be able to buy tires for it. There was already talk that tires would not be available for civilians.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., but at the time this was not of much concern to us. We didn’t think of Germany or Italy as being the enemy. It was just those "damned Japs". The people living on the West Coast were afraid that the Japs were going to invade. As a precaution all private aircraft were moved from the West Coast to airfields further inland. The Japanese attack on Hawaii united the citizens of our country like they had never been united before. Everyone wanted to avenge this attack and to do his or her part in winning the war. Industry and the whole country went in full mobilization to support the effort. National Guard units were being called to active duty and men were being drafted for military service.

I began to feel that I should be making a more meaningful contribution to the war effort and I felt that it was my duty to engage in the actual combat against our enemies. I made up my mind that I was going to enlist in the Army and if possible get in the Army Air Corps. So, I quit my job with Southwest Airways, packed what few belongings I owned in a suitcase, and began to hitchhike rides back to my parent’s home in Mt. Vernon, TX. I had to hitchhike since I didn’t give proper notice that I was quitting. Southwest Airways would not pay me immediately for past work. I had only a little pocket change but after 3 days on the road I arrived home, a little hungry and still with the resolve to join the Army. I informed my parents that I would be leaving to enlist in the Army. My father went to town and purchased a wristwatch as a" going away" present for me. After packing a small case of toilet articles and bidding my mother, dad, and younger brother Louis Ray farewell, I caught a bus on April 17th to Paris, TX and the recruitment office.

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