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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


On one of my flights my pilot was a private. He had committed some sort of "goof-up" that had caused him to be busted down from sergeant.

The gunnery range began at Port Isabel, TX on the Gulf of Mexico and extended up Padre Island towards Corpus Christi. I was consistently scoring more than 15 % hits in the Air-to-Air firing. The machine gun had a ring and post sight and I took care to fire short bursts to keep the shot pattern close to the sleeve. At 200 to 250 yards that 18-inch by 10-foot sleeve looked very small. Sometimes it would be towed at an altitude above you requiring you to squat down in the cockpit in order to aim the gun and sometime it would be towed at a lower altitude requiring you to climb up on the side of the cockpit in order to fire down. There was a strap secured to the floor of the rear cockpit that the gunner trainee could fasten to his parachute leg strap to assist in keeping him from falling out of the aircraft. After the first few flights I did not fasten myself to this strap. I had horrors of falling out and my parachute accidentally opening so I figured I would rather fall free and then open my parachute if I did fall out.

One thing that was not learned at Aerial Gunnery School was the point to aim at when firing at an enemy aircraft. Some of the instructors would say "just lead it about a city block". No one could dispute this because at this time there was no individual in the U.S. who, as a gunner, had fired on an aircraft or even seen one fired upon. Any way, it was false. In reality there were times in aerial combat when it was necessary to fire behind an attacking aircraft in order to hit it.

If my memory is right each gunner trainee was required to fire 800 rounds in the Air-to-Air phase of the course. Those of us who graduated were promoted to the Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) rank of corporal with pay of $66.00 per month. This was the first graduating class of trainees from the Harlingen Gunnery School that were promoted to NCOs upon graduation. We wasted no time in getting our corporal stripes sewed onto the sleeves of our uniform shirts. We were also now entitled to wear Gunners Wings on our uniforms.

It was the middle of summer. Our next destination was Daniel Field at Augusta GA. We were sent on a train. I never learned why we were sent to this replacement center, but we were only there for a few days until we were put on a train again and sent to MacDill Field in Tampa, FL. I do remember, however, that some Lieutenant at Daniel Field was awfully peeved because he could not require us to work on Kitchen Police (KP) duty because we were all NCOs.

MacDILL FIELD

MacDill Field was located on Tampa Bay and upon arrival there we were all billeted in tents on a section of the field called "Boom-town". There were some beautiful twin engine airplanes lined up near the flight line of a type that I had never seen before .I asked someone what they were and was told "those are B-26’s. They are medium bombers called Marauders and are made by the Glenn L. Martin Co". Boy! How I wished I could be a gunner on one of those. Some were flying around the field and they were noisy and seemed to be very fast.

After we were in "Boom-town" for a day or two we noted that no one came around and called the roll or otherwise checked on us or assigned us any duties. A few of us went up to headquarters to see what our status was. We gave an officer our names and after checking around he informed us that none of our records had arrived and that we should go back to "Boom-town" and wait for further orders.

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