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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


Most of us had somewhat of a fatalistic attitude about flying. The crashes in the B-26’s continued at such a high rate that a congressional investigation by Senator Harry S. Truman’s Investigating Committee was made and it was recommended that no more Martin Marauders be manufactured. Jimmy Doolittle, who had flown the Marauder appreciated the aircraft’s qualities and was probably instrumental in causing Truman’s recommendation not to be carried out. Most of the crashes were due to pilot’s inexperience and some were due to faulty design problems that were soon corrected. Our training at MacDill was completed in late summer of 1942. I was promoted to buck Sergeant while stationed at MacDill and my pay was increased to $78.00 per month. We were about to begin another phase of training in simulated war zone battle conditions at the Myrtle Beach Bombing and Gunnery Range, Myrtle Beach, SC. This time I didn’t have to ride the train to our new destination. I flew up in one of our Marauders.

MYRTLE BEACH

The airfield at Myrtle Beach consisted of two asphalt runways carved out of a pine forest. Our quarters were tarpaper barracks scattered out among the trees. Here we slept on canvas cots and ate standing up at tables in the mess hall.. This is where the flight personnel were organized in to crews and began flying together as a crew and where specific stations were assigned to the gunners. It was decided that all of the flight engineers would be the tail gunner, so I became the tail gunner on our crew. The other two enlisted men on our crew were Sgt.Bryce Ramey who, when not required at his station in the aircraft’s radio compartment, would man the waist guns and Sgt.James M.Smith was the top turret gunner. Smith was from Mississippi, Ramey was from West Virginia and of course I was from Texas. No one in the squadron called me Sam. Everyone knew me as "Tex". The officers on our crew were Lt. Roscoe R. Haller from New York, pilot and Lt. Wayne Kachner, bombardier who I believe was from Arkansas. The Martin Marauder was equipped with dual controls for a co-pilot, but none of the flight crews in the 323rd Bomb Group had co-pilots. We were the only Marauder group that did not have them.

Our training at Myrtle Beach was somewhat different than what we had done at Mac Dill. We were flying at really low altitude. As we progressed in our training all personnel were being granted furloughs on a rotational basis. In November I got my furlough and came back to Mt.Vernon, TX where my parents resided. My brother came home on leave at the same time and we spent a joyous time together with parents, relatives, and friends. This was the last time we were to see Louis Ray alive.

Thanksgiving and Christmas came and passed. This was the first Christmas that I had ever spent away from home. By this time I had been promoted to the rank of staff sergeant with pay of $96.00 per month. I also received an additional $48.00 per month flying pay. This was the highest grade that I was to attain while in service.

Our training continued by making long over water navigational flights. On one occasion the squadron flew to Bermuda and return with out landing there…In January 1943 the aircrews with their airplanes were sent to Eglin Field in Panama City, FL where we were trained to drop torpedoes against naval vessels. One of the instructors was a captain Muri who had made a torpedo run against a Japanese aircraft carrier during the battle of Midway.

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