Interview with George Freeman, March 8, 1982

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Interview with George Freeman, March 8, 1982
Freeman, George ( Interviewee )
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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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George Freeman
UF 120AB
DATE OF INTERVIEW: March 3, 1982
George Freeman was a bombadier in a B-29 "superfortress" during World War
II. He flew several bombing missions to the island of Japan, and numerous
more to surrounding Pacific islands. He also served as a bombadier
training instructor in the Pacific.
Freeman shares his experiences of ROTC at the University of Florida, and
his formal flight training at the beginning of the war. Much time is spent
on how the bombs were delivered to the target, the types of bombs and their
use, and the role of the Norden bomb sight in bombing. His thoughts about
the B-29, flying POW supply missions, and tremendous winds at high
altitudes are explored. Freeman describes the role of the eleven members
comprising a B-29 crew, and the basic characteristics of the bomber.

Richard Stauffer is interviewing George Freeman about
his experiences as a bombadier on a B.-- 29 during the Second
World War.
The interview includes: Mr. Freeman's training as a
bombadier; his subsequent duty as a instructor; and the
mechanisms of bombing.
This interview points out the patriotism that was in
evidence around the time of the Second World War.

Accuracy, 3
Airplane commander, 5
Altitude, 1, 2, 3, 5
Automatic pilot, 1
B 29, 1
Bombadier, 1
Bombers, 4, 5
Bombsight, 1, 2
Crew, 1
Climate, 3
Defensive manuever, 2
Delayed action, 6
Density, 3
Drift, 1
Driving train, 2
Fire bombs, 4, 5, 6
Formation bombing, 5
General purpose bombs, 4, 6
Gunsight, 2
Gyro, 2
Humidity, 3
Impact, 6
Initial point, 1
Intervalameter (sp?), 3
Japan, 1, 4, 6
LeMay, General Curtis, 5
Napalm, 4
Ocean, 2

Ordinance, 6
Pilot, 1
Precision, 3
Primary aiming points, 6
Squadron, 4, 6
Target, 2, 3, 5, 6
Target of opportunity, 4
Temperature, 3
Timing device, 6
Tokyo, 5
Trigger, 2
Twientieth Air Force, 5, 6
Wind, 1, 2

New Mexico
Interviewee: George Freeman
Interviewer: Richard Stauffer
Date: 03/08/82
Place: Office, 106 Mowry Road at UF campus.
Focus on Mr. Freeman's experiences as a bombardier in a B-29 in the Second World War.
S: Mr. Freeman..
F: As we start this interview or tape, Richard, I would like to make a statement
concerning my appreciation of long time knowing Dr. Sam Proctor and Dr. John Mahon,
and it is basically because of these two men that I am giving you the privilege
of taking this tape.
S: Well, thank you Mr. Freeman. To begin with, let's get some background information.
Where were you born?
F: Chattahoochee, Florida. October 30th, 1918. Just outside the fence of the insane
S: Was this a farming area?
F: Very much so. Very much rural, oriented around a state insane asylum.
S: And you went to the public schools of the area?
F: That is correct.
S: And then you came to the University of Florida?
F: That is correct. I came to the University of Florida. It was the only boy's school,
or male school in this area. FSCW (Florida State College for Women) was closer'but it was strictly ladies.
S: When did you first become involved in the Air Corps?
F: I started preparation for entering the Air Force, Air Corps, in fall of 1941.
S: And this was at the University of Florida?
F: That is correct. A traveling, recruiting team-type thing gave physicals at the
university infirmary, and there were alot of people taking physicals and applying
and I was one of the fortunate candidates that passed all of the physicals,which
qualified me to then go on to further physicals at Maxwell Field.
S: Now these were physicals for pilot training?
F: That is correct. At that time, those were physicals strictly for pilot training.
S: And you had been at the university as a student for about how many years prior to

Page 2
F: Two years.
S: It was a four-year program that you were ..
F: That is correct, that is correct.
S: Why, at that time, did you decide to enlist in the air corps rather than finish
your schooling?
F: Well, the situation was not too settled in the European theatre, and I guess it was
a challenge to see if I could pass this physical and also, I guess, a little bit of
-1r,-PI-7 that I wanted to try.
S: The war had not yet, uh, come about?
F: America was not in the war.
S: But you had reason to suspect that it would become involved..
F: I was thinking that, yes.
S: Do you imagine patriotism entered into it in ar+way?
F: A hundred percent.
S: I see. And you were totally behind America's entry into the war, when it should
F: Absolutely.
S: Now when you took the physical, it was with the understanding that you would be
a pilot.
F: That is correct.
S: What made you decide on flight?
F: Ask the question again.
S: Well, why did you decide to go into the air corps instead of the Navy or Army or
something like this?
F: Uh, I guess the main reason was that, uh, the air orpg was here giving physicals at
that time. If it had been the Navy, uh, I would've Navy air corps, Navy air training,
I would've probably gone that-a-way. I have nothing against the Navy r Armyor
~-r1anything else. In my decision
anything else. I might state that,one of\other things that helped me in my decision

Page 4
F: Richard, as I explained, uh, you get get more or less senile, and times don't
go, I did drop out after I'd been a epted here, uh, for further work, and I did
drop out of school and was at home waiting call, and in the meantime, uh, I had this
letter from the war department that stated that if the draft tries to get you,
notify us and we will put you in a deferred class. Well, my draft board up in
Gadston County, up in the panhandle, did not accept that as proper notification.
And my draft number came up out of the pickle barrel, and I had to go into the
'rootn4 ar>
-4rmeaforces, medical detachment, of the, uh, with-te outfit from Louisiana.
A national guard outfit. And I was inducted at Fort Barancas, Florida, then transferred
+h" -+l-e
to Camp Blanding, Florida. Then, I got my' help of a master sergeant,
I got my, yes?
S: Well, Mr. Freeman, uh, during this time that you had been inducted, you were in
the infantry and uh, it was just as sort of a buck private doing things that a
normal buck private would do?
F: At the lowest level. Buck private in the rear rank but it was with a medical
detachment. Uh, what I would have had to do in combat, didn't uh, I didn't realize
but I guess I, I would have been a field-medic had I not gotten out of that.
Now I will have to admit here that, uh, I was not beyond doing private work,
or anything else, but I did not want to face the war waving an arm band rather than
a gun.
S: And this feeling of yours, this was, would you say, a combination of patriotism and
um, oh just adventurism?
F: I would, I would say that part of it was patriotism, part of it was adventure, but
I was determined to get out of that medical detachment.
S: And then how, how eventually did you get out of the medical attachment, detachment,
and into the air corps?
F: I was up at Camp Blanding, and I'd established friendship with an old master
sergeant in another outfit. And I might tell you here, Richard, that anyone that's in

Page 5
F: service and dumb enough to not believe that a master sergeant carries as much weight
as a full colonel, they got some more thoughts coming. And this old master-sergeant
and I were visiting one day and I told him of my situation of having been accepted
-it pilot-training, and he said they should not be holding you. And went and carried
me to my own detachment and went into headquarters and told them that they thought
they were holding me more or less in bondage. And they said, well, when his orders
come in, we will certainly discharge go to pilot-training. I had not been
back to my barracks or my tent more than five minutes when a runner came and got
me. And they started discharge papers at that time. Discharging me to go to pilot
training. Had it not been for this sergeant, I don't know what would have happened.
S: I see.
F: Right here another little escapade.A I did not like that medical detachment. And one
night up at Camp Blanding, three of us went to the north fence, it's right along
up there now, and started to jump the fence, and go i4rt. However, cool heads did
prevail and we went back. And that's one thing that I did not do in my service, that
I came within an inch of jumping the fence,
S: Um hmmm. Okay, and you found out that you were accepted into pilot training, now
where did you reportto attend this training?
F: I had a short delay there, that's uh, uh, that was in,there in '41. I had a short
delay and went backto Chattahoochee for a few days, a few weeks, I've forgotten
on- now exactly what it is, but then I went, I was ordered to report to primary training
at the private school called Darr Darr Aero Tech which was just
4ewn-south of Albany, Georgia. It was a very lovely, small field, -he facilities
were better than anything I'd ever been accustomed to, The food wasAabsolutely
excellent. The hazing was terrific. This was during the days when they would haze
you for any little thing. I have eaten my share of square meals, I have stood at
attention, I have made beds to where a quarter would bounce on 'em. And this type
of thing. It took me a long time in my military career to find out and to understand

UF120 AB
Page 6
F: why this was necessary. But then it did dawn on me one day and it was to teach.&-
to take orders.
S: And do you feel that this is necessary for a pilot to learn how to take orders?
F: Absolutely.
S: I see. Now, as you were taking your pilot training, did you enjoy flying, did you
seem to fit in as a pilot, could you handle the airplane adequately?
F: I, yes, I thought I could handle an airplane. The only thing, this is the only
that I told the board when I was eliminated, that I did have trouble hearing in
the steerman P T 13's. They were an open-cockpit plane and all we had wag what we
-called a goss-board where the instructor could holler back ,to youAI did have 4/-t'bL
hearing in the plane and understanding. Keep in mind that I had never been in an
airplane before until I got to primary, and uh, as I look back at it now, the chances
are that they probably saved my life by not letting me get in... go any further.
S: So you were eliminated from pilot training and did you feel that, that it was,
justifiedot-hyae 6did you accept the decision of the board?
F: Yes. Absolutely. Uh, what happened and the way it happened now, that the, I was
very close to going on cause the instructor told me one day, said I can recommend
you to go on, I could recommend you to stop. And, uh, I just, and the only thing
that was on my discharge there was failure to make the proper progress in the
.allotted time, which meant that I just was not, -not catching on to flying as fast
as possibly I-e6d And to answer you'question, yes, the board was absolutely
fair, and my instructor was absolutely fair.
S: Well, then, after pilot training, what was the next step in your career?
F: The next step, when I went before the review board at uh, uh, Darr Aero Tech there,
and they looked at my records and discussed things with me and my ground school
grades and everything were very good, and they asked me if I wanted to go on to
stay in cadet training, and go on to bombardier and/or navigation, and I said

UF120 AB
Page 7
F: certainly, I'm in it now, and I might as well stick, and so they discharged me there,
from pilot training, and told me to go home and wait, that there'd, I'd get a call/
.g4 d4ec
e orders to report to some place forA~s training. I went home, and uh, still
absolutely sure in my own mind that I would go on and finish something. Uh, and I
4h 09 k
did get a call and I went back wr Fort Barrancas. I guess I'm one of the few people
in this country that has ever been inducted twice at Fort Barrancas, which I ,;don't
believe is still there. But I was inducted again into Fort Barrancas, and sent
to Montgomery, Aabama.
S: Excuse me, Mr. Freeman, /t this time, you had been through part of pilot training,
and you had not been judged eligible to go on, now they were sending you to
bombardier or navigator school. What was going through your mind? Did you look
forward to this new training, or were you dejected in any-way?
F: In no way was I ever dejected, uh, I had a challenge, and that challenge I guess
was basically to get a commission. And, uh, and I, I didn't,uh, I still had no
hard feeling against the air corps, um, they had been absolutely square and honest
and fair with me. And, uh, I intended to fulfill or to try to, to the best of my
ability to get a commission and proceed.
S: So were you trained as a navigator and a bombardier?
F: No. After we got to Maxwell field, and we got there, and this was before the war,
before America got into the war, we were given batteries of tests in ground school
and, uh, some of us were, we all stayed in the same ground school,
we all had the same ground school} but then the, after we'd completed ground school
and after all these batteries of tests, etc... some were sent to navigation school,
that's celestial navigation, and some were sent to schedule for bombardiering
school. There was only one bombardier school at that time, that we knew of, and that
was at Kirkland Field. They had been doing alot of bombardier training at
Barksdale, uh, not a lot, but there were some advanced people down at Barksdaled

Page 8
S: So, uh, Kirkland Field, that's in Louisiana also?
F: No. Kirkland Field is in Albuquerque,.New Mexico.
S: Why do you suppose that you were selected for bombardier training rather than
navigator training?
F: I've often thought about that, Richard, and I have thought about it alot since
our first interview on this, and I guess that one of the reasons, I do not believe
that there was any difference at all in, uh, attitude about mental ability or IQ or
anything like that. I think that the, it gets down to an overriding factor as to
probably the personality. The navigators that I knew and worked with and became
to know, they were, uh,more of a detail person and that's absolutely what you need
as a navigator.
S: They paid attention to details, they were meticulous...
F: Details, and I 'm not that much of a detail person and I realize that :'ow, and
apparently this battery of tests showed it up. I, details to an effect, but I, I
believe that this must be in a more of a person of a daring-do type person for
a bombardier, because in most cases, or certainly in a f, we had guns that we could
fight back with, uh, in the 17 and 24's meant that the navigators could man the
guns too. But, uh, primarily the responsibility of a bombardier was to, to, was say
hurt people. And uh, and that definitely, and uh, most of the navigators that I came
into, or in touch with, were really fine excellent smart men in this, but the,
maybe this one thing. That's all I can say. That they're, and at this point, the
navigator on our crew when we got to combat is now a Lutheran minister, so this
uh, you can see the way... I don't know. I can't answer that question. Uh, other
than what I've just said, that's all.
S: Uh huh. Do you think the test was measuring your dep-ng-do as you say? Could that
be measured and determined?
F: Well, I believe -hat it had to there, or something, something had to have entered
into it of that nature, because, uh, academically we were all just about the

Page 9
F: same. I mean, uh, these people, most of them, had, alot of them, had already
finished college, alot of them, all of them had at least two years of college.
So, I, I think that this is one of the reasons, one of the things there that
I, I'm being no psychologist or psychiatrist or anything like that, uh, I guess
really the derri-do that, uh, more or less deep down somewhere in there, that
don't-give-a-damn attitude. I don't know, I guess, I just don't know. I've never
been able to figure out how h-s separate4 5
S: At the time, did you feel that you were, you could be Abombardier, that you had
what it took to be a bombardier?
F: Oh, sure. I felt like I could be a navigator. I felt like I could be a pilot)
had I been given more time. But they didn't have time. They, you, it, that's all
it said, failure to make proper progress, uh, had I been given, uh, just to progress
at my own pace, uh, there's no question in my mind that I could have been a pilot.
In fact, uh, after we were commissioned and flying and instructing and working
together, I've flown many an hour. It's not that-, uh, it was just something I just
didn't make the proper progress.
S: You felt though that you had the intestinal fortitude that was necessary
to be a bombardier?
F: Oh, my god yeah.
S: Uh huh. So there was really never doubt, a doubt in your mind that you could do
it when called upon, that you could drop bombs.
F: Never a doubt.
S: Okay. Could you tell us what your bombardiering training consisted of, what type
of training did you receive, what were you taught to do and so forth..
F: Uh, we left, we:were at Maxwell Field and this is an interesting thing, Richard.
We were at Maxwell Field when the war broke out, when the Japanese people attacked
Pearl Harbor. And, uh, I was downtown in Maxwell Field,, I can-'t remember, downtown
in Montgomery. I cannot remember the name of the theatre, but I was sitting in there

Page 3
F: to take the physical and all was that I had already had two years of horse-&traong
field artillery, and I liked the service-type atmosphere.
S: Well, where did you get that experience?
F: Here at the University of Florida. All of us had to take two years of ROTC.
S: Was that taken into consideration when you were accepted for flight training?
F: I cannot answer that question. I do not know. Uh, but I guess, uh, it was a
pr~-eelrrig thing. And uh, I liked the service.
S: I see. Well you eventually became a bombardier rather than a pilot. Was there any
thought in your mind at that time that you would become a bombardier or anything
but a pilot?
F: Negative. I did not, I didn't have any thoughts of, uh, being eliminated from
pilot training, but when that did happen, why, uh, I had the opportunity to go on
and receive a commission, and that's what I worked for, was getting a commission.
S: At the time that you were taking your physical and, uh, when you found out you
were accepted, did you have any apprehension as to what 4-y- ahead?
F: No. It was, it was a, to me, at the time, I was uh, I had done something which
this began real early in the thing, I had accomplished something which alot of
people that I thought were, um, much better physically than I, than I am, or was
at that time, uh, I crawled over the pack, so to speak, and was accepted, which
was to me an honor.
S: I see. And you weren't, um, let's say frightened in any way of the up-coming war
which you would participate in as a pilot.
F: No. It was a uh, I was, as I explained to you in our previous interview, uh,
I was never frightened of the challenge or anything. I felt, always felt, that uh,
I have an awful lot of self confidence that I could succeed.
S: I see. Well, how much time elapsed between your examination and your, your
notice of acceptance or however they told you you were accepted?

Page 10
F: watching a film about Sergeant York of World War I, and uh, they flashed the news
on the screen for all of us to report back to the base, and this type of thing,
that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Now, I must say at that time, whether
it's patriotism or what, uh, every last one of us were ready to tackle and tram .
I have an expression -iat you cautioned me not to use any words like that, but
I'm sure that Sam will understand why it was KA. We were ready to get busy and
go at it. And, uh, and that did our adrenaline got dc ef Te We were, we were
ready. We were trained then in ground school completely, and we were ready to get on
with our actual flying and get-on into... I don't know a single person in our class
that was not ready to face combat.
S: Well, Mr. Freeman. Can we get a little technical here, but in layman's terms,
can you explain to us how a person goes about dropping bombs? What must be done
technically, in an airplane in order for the bomb to hit the target?
F: Allright, first we were back there, Richard, at, uh, when we, about what we were
supposed to do, uh, in training. Like out at, uh, when we got there, we left there
and went out to Kirkland Field, and we were at Kirkland Field training there. We
had ground school there also. And the technical details of the Norden bomb sight ,
which at that time was top secret...
S: Excuse me, Mr. Freeman, could you please spell the name of that bomb sight?
F: NORDEN. It was a very highly classified piece of equipment at that time. And, uh,
they had others,too. They had some Sperrys and an old D-8, I think is the number of
the thing we used to use. And uh, you also had marks on your plexiglass, and you'd
kick them out sometimes. But uh..
S: Just kick the bomb out with your foot you mean?
F: No. Kick it out with a toggle switch whiru y-u aim over your foot, just take
Windale and go, but you had to be mighty low when you're doing that so,
uh, we laugh about it. But, uh, we had a ground school training there and then
uh, also in preparation to going in the air, you had to take, had a three-wheeled

Page 11
F: cart in a big hangar, and you trained on that thing. It simulated flight is basically
0 /I
what it was. It was similar to a link-trainer, and this is, the name link is
for, by the person who developed trainers. I don't think these were link trainers
but you would chase a bug around on the floor and it would similate studying of
drift in an airplane. And that, and uh, you'd synchronize you would in
the air, but then we, after we had qualified, and some of the cadets were not
coordinated enough to even get off the trainers. And they were eliminated. It, if
they could, if they weee nervous or this type of thing, why, they didn't let them
get through, even get off the trainers and get in the air because, uh, they just
couldn't do it. Uh, and later when I was an instructor, I had to eliminate alot of

Page 12 (this section of the interview was taped on a later date--March **8th, 1982
this is the second part of the interview.
S: I would like you, if you would, to respond, follow up a little bit on what we were
talking about last time, uh, you mentioned that some of the students did not make
it through training, you observed this as a student yourself, and later as an
instructor. I'm wondering why it was that some students couldn't make it. What were
the problems as you saw them?
F: Well, Richard, the primary problem, uh, I guess that when a person got into the first
training part of it, maybe the regimentation was one of the things that he couldn't
handle, but it came across as more to me of a nervous problem. Maybe the fear of
really facing the air and flying, and was, the cadet was concentrating so much on.
that, that he couldn't get off the trainer and could not get ittthrbugh his head, or
anything, and it was just, more or less, rote, basic things that you had to do to get
the bomb 5'1w lined up and this type of thing, and some of them just could not
go through step by step. They were so nervous they, you just had to take them down
off the... (tape ends.)
F: There were some of these cadets that were, keep in mind that this was a three-wheeled
thing,and one cadet was on the bomb sirHT, another cadet was back in right behind him
steering this thing across the floor, just simulating exactly what a pilot would have
to do, and these cadets just could not coordinate, or would just, just could not
get the basic steps through and we, it's better to get rid of them here than it
was to take them up in an airplane where they could hurt themselves or hurt someone
else. And that was it.
S: I see. Uh, you mention regimentation. A lot of times the cadets didn't fit into
the regimentation, and you also mentioned that when you were undergoing pilot training,
there was a certain amount of regimentation.and discipline involved in that. Was
it comparable to bombardier training?
F: No. Before the war, when I was in pilot training, the regimentation was very severe
which I could accept, and did accept and uh, arr' this, but uh, time we got
in the war, and after we got up to bombardier school, thing's eased up quite a bit.

Page 13
F: But, um,,regimentation of being on time, uh, class attendance and that was,
that was uhftAegimentation. You had schedules, if you were scheduled to take off
on a mission, a training mission even, at 10:42, that did not mean 10:48, 10:49,
you had to be there on time. There was absolutely certain pieces of equipment
that you had to check out and take with you on a mission because if you didn't have
14.|< ha<
them up there, the entire flight hea4to be cancelled, and all those man-hours wasted.
And that type of thing, so you positively did have regimentationand some could not
take this.
S: You mentioned the Norden bomb t-ffgr, and how it was classified as secret, were there
any precautions that were taken in training sa regard to this classification?
F: There were many precautions taken to insure the secrecy of the Norden bomb5/ff..
First thing they did before we ever touched the thing was that they had us in, uh
the theatreewhich acted as an auditorium and they brought the bombs~6& out and put
it on a case in a canvas case. Ittwasr.the normal way that you carried them around in.
And, they swore us all to secrecy at that time. Anyone that did not want to maintain
this secrecy could have left, could have dropped right out of the cadet training,
and that would have been all there was to it. We all swore to this secrecy and uh,
we maintained it to my knowledge, Until such time as it was taken off the secrecy
list. And we had to carry, we would go to the bomb6/6'97, fault, with a slip for our
mission and check out a bomb &Cfr. Two cadets would be there with it. Now this was
early in the war now... Later on, the bomb St1fWr were in the planes when we got to
the planes, but I'm talking about real early in the, after World War II was started.
Uh, we would take our drone 45s and escort that bomb 6/ifr, and uh, I to this day,
believe that if anyone would have tried to mess with it, why, we would have, uh, anyo that had anything to do with it would have defended it with our lives if
S: What was it about the bomb 6S1T that made it classification so necessary?
How was it advanced over other bomb 5/6fiS?

Page 14
F: As far as I know, the Russians and any of the other 'uns, uh, Russians, they were
our allies, but the Germans of those people did not have, had not started on this
type of sight. And it was a very accurate piece of equipment and a fine, it was
a series of discs driven at a certain rate of speed in there, and another roller
that you move back and forth onto that disc which in turn would made the speed of
closure of the airplane and the target, it would make them where the cross hairs
would remain right on the target if you had the speed absolutely synchronized and
the pilot maintained that speed that you had. Any change in speed would cause
any (h{^l" i(H-ri-. f's.-rSS 7-IB m'CJ -I(te hl^rS 40 CrsOe e-,S-',
those hairs to move offi so it was a coordinated training program between pilot
and bombardier at this time.
S: Were you kept under fairly close surveillance in the barracks?
F: Well, yes. I believe that we were under very close surveillance. We did not know
this as such, and we, in our barracks, amongst ourselves, when you get to know
everyone around you and in the room and everything else, not room but in the barracks
there, and certainly we discussed it and we also studied our notes and uh, classroom
notes and talked, but if a stranger came around that we didn't know, everything
was shut-up in a hurry. And, uh, there was one episode that happened in my career
there at Kirkland Field, that, uh, I believe now that one of our own classmates that
had been with us from Maxwell Field, uh, over to Alburquerque, at Kirkland field,
was always late coming out of the barracks,'always seeming to have something to do
after the rest of us were lined up to go to formation, go to lunch, or whatever we
happened to be, you went by class and by flight to your meals and just marched to
the mess halls and then went in and that type of thing. And, uh, after, way down
at the end of training there one day, he was late getting out to formation and I
made a very derrogatory remarto him, and uh, he being of a foreign extraction, I
believe at that time that he might have been Iranian or something, but I made the
remark to him that possibly I should not have made, and he came right overhand with
his satchel that we always all carried and knocked me cold as a turkey. Um,, later on
after it was all over, the commanding officer called us in and asked me why I didn't

Page 15
F: fight back. And my remark to Captain Bareki was that he got in the first lick and
I didn't have any chance to fight back. He knocked me cold. And so, uh, Captain
Barecki accepted my explaination and they did not eliminate me but they did
eliminate this other cadet and it was only about several months later on down there
that while we were instructing there, I did not see the man, but some of them told
me that he did come back through there, and was at that time a captain in the
intelligence service, so it was our belief that this man was in our midst watching
us at every move that we made, uh, and then when we, at the end of the thing there
it was a perfect out for him to knock hell odt of me, so to speak, and I apparently
was one he was waiting on to do it to, and got himself dismissed this way, and that
gave a clean bill of health to 'em. Now this is just my opinion, my feeling on this
thing, but I do believe that that, I know it's a true story, but, uh, I do believe
that this was the way it happened.
e;ehqtr au jfo y j f Orals t raSc-
S: Did you ever come in contact with any potential bombardier that expressed hesitancy
about dropping bombs on people?
F: None. By that time, uh, we were in the war, and uh, the Japanese had started this
thing, and you just never had any hesitancy what so ever about it. At least I never
found that did.
S: Mr. Freeman, could you take us through the steps that you had to go through in
your progression between student and instructor?
F: Well, the way it happened on the, the way that I was, happened to be instructing on
this, Richard, was that there were I believe maybe twenty of us in the class that
when we were commissioned as second lieutenants in the army air corps, uh when we
got the orders there, and we had all had an opportunity to volunteer for where we
wanted to go and I put-in to go to Fort Meyers, Florida, or someplace, I believe
it was Fort Meyers down in there,ofor B-17 training. And we were, there was about
twenty of us that were put on orders call gymnast That's G-y-m-n-a-s-t. We didn't

Page 16
F:. know what gymnast was. It was a kind of secret quiet word or something there, and
we were sitting there waiting on gymnast. And bombing still everyday, working on our,
we were officers by then and we were still able to get some flights in and do some
bombing, and we stayed around there for maybe two or three weeks or more, I don't
remember the exact time, and then all of a sudden orders came in and said well, you
might as well go on over there and start instructing, and it was only after the war,
that I found out in reading some history of it, that gymnast was the code name for
the low-level attack on Casablanca, which would have been B-254 B-26s, A-20s, or this
type of thing. We, I look back now and most of us that I remember that were selected
were young men that had probably done a little better at low-level flying than some
tre. And this is the only reason that I can figure that we were selected above the
oth4rs. Out of my cadets and my, that had the same instructor that I did, two of us
were selected for gymnast. And, uh, we went on and pursued a long military career.
S: You did not participate in the bombing of Casablanc:t
F: I did not go to Casablanca. I stayed there instructing until such times as I had
made up my mind that I had better get on to combat and get it over with.
S: As an instructor, do any particular experiences come to your mind? I understand
you had a fairly famous pilot working with you.
F: Well, yes I did. I had, uh, when I was instructing there, I did have the very good
fortune of flying and instructing some with, uh, it was captain then, Captain Jimmy
Stewart, and we lived in the same BOQ, and I remember the number vividly. It was
T204 up at the north end of Kirkland Field, and you moved into this T204 by rank
or by seniority of having lived on the base long enough. It was a very find, plush
BOQ at that time.
S: I see. And this was Jimmy Stewart, the movie star?

F: Correct. And he went on to become a brigadier general, I believe was the highest
rank that he has. I have not had contact with him since then, but we did fly and
hunt and live together.
S: I see. Did it take a special type of pilot to train bombardiers?
F: Yes. It took a pilot that was willing to accept the fact that he was flying students
and cadets and not one that was gung-ho to get on into combat and this type of thing,
cause the pilots flying for the cadets had to be very dedicated and try to keep
that airplane under control as to course and altitude and this because if you did
not, then the, especially after the cadets had soloed, then it could really mess them
up. But most of the pilots, in fact the greater majority of the pilots that we had
there at Kirkland Field, uh, were dedicated to help these young men in every way that
they could.
S: Well, what do you mean by eeoor?
F: Solo means that when the instructor, it was just like in pilot training, that after
you had trained up to a certain point and dropped a certain number of bombs, the
decision at that time was on the instructor as to whether kesi that you thought that
cadet was capable of handling the bomb, the Norden bomb sight, or the area, and you
would then make the decision whether you would let him solo. That was without an
instructor in the plane. There would only be the pilot and the two cadets and it
was up to them. Now, Richard, alot of these pilots were so dedicated and were trained
to, that they could help these cadets an awful lot when they were up there alone.
Uh, and the pilots were very, very capable, and would help these young men any way
they could.
S: Was there much danger involved in a cadet soloing?
F: Well, yes. There was danger to the fact that New Mexico is nbt the most heavily
populated place in the United States, but, uh, there was always the possibility
of a cadet dropping bombs on a populated area because now these were rDt, these
were M-38A2s which I think was 96 lb of sand and 4 lb of black powder, but I don't
believe anyone ould have loved o have one come in their living roomand uh, or
believe anyone would have loved to have one come in their living roomyand uh, or

Page 18
F: some windmill, this type of thing, bombed. Or war towers, war tanks or this, or
a mountain cabin or this, so yes, there was danger to it, but that was basically
what it was. Hitting something on the ground that they were not supposed to.
S: I see. How did you become involved with B-29s? Was it a voluntary action on your
F: Yes. I had moved from Albuquerque down to Close, New Mexico. Not to GC-se, but
to Carlsbad, New Mexico, and was working instructing down there, and I had made
up my mind, uh, by the end of that that I had to get combat behind me. That if I
was going to, there just not any, I don't know why, any desire, I'd married then
and no problems whatsoever, but I just knew that sooner or later I had to do it.
S: Well, Mr. Freeman, was this a way of furthering your military career or just something
that you felt you had to do?
F: Richard, I guess it was both. I thought about this quite a bit and certainly I wanted
to further my military career, and wasn't anxious for combat oR anything, but I did
feel like that I had to do it. And the opportunity came through for me to be in
B-29s, and they were the latest fighting machine and uh, so, I volunteered for
combat. For training. And then proceeded into combat.
S: Could you describe a B-29 to us as best you can with your memory?
F: Yes, I, I believe I can on that, on a B-29, uh Richardts ow we were, we had to go
through phase training, and everything else with these B-29s.`efore you ever took
one into combat, you had to train quite a bit in the states, drop all numbers of
bombs, at all different altitudes and this is the first time that you were put
in a crew. You have to remember this, that the entire time that we were going
through bombardier training, there were also gunners going through training. Also
at other gunnery schools, there were navigators at other schools, there were pilots
at other schools. There were engineers at other schools, so you were brought together
as a crew, a combat crew, and trained together as that, and went overseas as a crew
that had trained together here in the states.

Page 19
S: So your crew consisted of the pilot, the co-pilot, navigator, bombardier,
engineer, and gunners?
F: That's correct. I believe you've covered most...
S: How many gunners were there?
F: Well, in B-29, there was a tail gunner, a top-turret gunner, and two blS5 e gunners,
one on either side. But the bombardier in the nose of the plane, had six fifty-
caliber machine guns. They were the bombardiers responsibility to fire. However,
in case the bombardier was injured or knocked off the bomb sight, for any reason,
we had what we called dead man switches. That when you were firing your gun, you kept
your, the heel of your hands on these dead man switches. And working this way, to quite
a bit of dexterity to handle all of these things. And if you were knocked off the
sight, why, the bomb,-the gun sight, they would automatically, your gun switch
were behind you in mounted turrets, would automatically fall into control of the
central fire control man in the middle of the plane in the back. And that was an
enlisted man.
4he 9gur
S: I see. But if you as a bombardier, were going to fire a- a -g d you could just
aim one central gun or control or whatever and fire all six of them that way?
F: That is correct. You had four in the top turret and two in the bottom turret that
you could fire dead ahead. Now, they were so tricky that you couldn't easp-shoot
your own plane down. This es automatically, and all you had to do, the first thing
that you had to do was identify the type of plane that was attacking and put the
wing spread in to the best of your ability, of that plane,and then you kept
a reticle closed in as it came to you, you kept that and would hit your triggers
to fire and that type of thing so... I guess I'm telling it about like it was. It's
been so long ago.
S: Okay. What do you mean put the wing spread in? ... .
F: You would he. L^. L'--t like a Zero a certain wing spread, uh, or whatever
it happened to be. You had to remember all these things. It wasn't any, you couldn't

Page 20
F: call a committee meeting up there to, uh, ask anyone, and then you would set that
into your gun sight, and then there was a reticle right in the middle and you kept
that right on that plane as best that you could, and then the angles and all that
was figured out by the gun sight, and you just had to track him and shoot.
S: Okay. I believe I might have interrupted you. You were explaining a little bit about
the make up of the B-29.
F: Well, you co, I believe that you covered them there, that the, we had the bombardier
was right out in the front, in the plexi-glass nose, the next two on the plane were
the pilot and the co-pilot. Behind them sat the, kind of in little cubicles, was the
engineer. To his, now engineer rode backwards on a B-29. On the left side of the plane
as it was moving forward was the navigator. Then behind the turret, kind of in a
cramped position, was the radio operator. Then, to get to the back of the plane,
you had to crawl down a long tunnel, I've forgotten how long it was, but it was over
both bomb bays, and you could crawl back there to there, and then the two people
right close to it there were the, the radar operator was back there, two blister
gunners, and central fire control gunner up at the top. Then you had a tail gunner
that was way back out in the most lonesome position in the plane. I just don't
believe I'd have had nerve enough to be back there by myself.
S: I see. I probably left out a few members of the crew when I was relating ...
F: I don't know, but we covered them again there.
S: Okay.
F: I believe that's it.
S: Uh, this was our primary plane used against Japan?
F: Yes. Especially, certainly the bomber and the, and all the fire raids and that type
of thing wasAB-29. Now there were other big four engine planes there that I'm,
was something like a B-24 with a bigger tail and all... I don't remember the name of
them, but it, to my knowledge, didn't get in many missions of this against Japan.

Page 21 (tape interrupted- start again later)
S: How many engines did the B-29 have?
F: Had four.
S: And they were propeller?
F: Right.
S: And how many bomb bays did it have?
F: Two, two bomb bays. Let me right here, and I will quote from a book, and this will
be for the record here, this is from a book by Martin Caiden, and I'll read off with
the size and this type of thing, Richard, so you'll have it correctly. "The airplane
-Arfy -dot
was big by anyone's standards. A wing span of a hundred and fortytwo feet and in
length just under a hundred feet. Under full combat weight, it lifted from the
ground at a hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds, carrying as much gasoline as
a railroad tanker with its heavy bomb load in two large separate bays. The bomb
load was bearble+ andAcould include for example as many as forty 500Tb. bombs.
Despite this weight, the airplane's four engineseach of twenty-two hundred horsepower
and driven by a four bladed propeller gave it a combat loaded top speed of 361 miles
per hour. With its 15,000 ft of electric wiring, and electrically operated
accessories, the B-29 was accepted with open arms by ground crews as an electrical
engineer's dream. Although it could easily have been a maintenance man's nightmare.
It required one hundred and twenty-nine electric motors, twenty-nine .. :-
motor generators, and seven generators just to keep the B-29 flying. And each of
these had to be designed for a specific job and built to stand up under varying
conditions of climate and temperature. With a minimum of care and replacement, there
were more than fifty-five thousand numbered parts in every super fortress."
S.: Okay. Um, these two bomb bays, they each had their own doors.
F: That's correct.
S: And did you as the bombardier open the doors both at one time or did you open
one bomb bay ...
F: You could open and close them separately or both. But normally, normally they were

Page 22
F: both open.
S: I see. AMd you mentioned forty-five hundred pound bombs as a possibility, uh, were,
were, how did you go about dropping these forty bombs?
Uh, did you drop them all at one time, or..;
F: No. You could handle it any number of ways, Richard. Primarily you would take and
you would set them what we called an inner balameter that would let these bombs go
out at a predetermined footage, and this was primarily when you wanted to train a
series of bombs through a target, why you would always synchronize right dead on your
aiming point, you always had a aiming point that you would synchronize on. Then what
you would do, uh, the experienced people would do it, we would move cross hairs maybe
half a mile short or something like that the track through the target would remain the
same and then you would start your inner balameter so that you would get a good
tracking pattern through the target, and in theory half the bomb on one side and
half on the other. Uh, but if you were going for a specific target, then you would
try to get more than that out at one time and you could even, uh, according to the
size bomb load and what you were going after. But most of the bombing was train
S: And sometimes bombs were dropped in clusters, weren't they?
F: We could alte e-the bombs and get them all out of the plane at one time, but, uh, you
.cal oed -
didn't do that much because in theory they were salvo safe. That was for protection,
but, uh, they would go off.
520ve -
S: Could you explain what that means, the salvo safe?
F: Salvo-safe was that you had shackles that held these planes and each plane, each bomb
had an arming wire going from the nose fin to the tail fin. And, uh, as, if you were
dropping them individually, these wires would hang to the shackle and then when the
bomb would drop out of the shackle, those wires keep in mind would hold, and it would
pull these wires out of the pins, and as the plane dropped out of the airplane, there
was propellers on thisLand the propellers would spin off when they'd get out of

Page 23
F: in the slip stream of this type of thing, and uh, they would pull off and spin off,
and at that time, the bomb was armed, but it would be far enough below the plane or
this type of thing in case two of them did hit together, why it weud knock you out
of the air too. 4 vIJ4< t -hc ,!, ^
S: So was that what you called saJbeei-g safe.
F: iiboee- safe was just getting them out of that airplane where that wire would
go with the bomb, you see, and uh, and then for it to explode when it hit the ground
it had to shear the pins and this type of things, but it could happen.
S: I see.
F: Or else, even then, they'd have to digging around messing with a bunch of wicked
S: So as the bombs dropped, and they were armed, was it common practice for them to
detonate when they hit the ground?
F: You could set them. You could, and this was all done by ord&ance, uh, when you got
in the plane, uh, they could be set by the ordtnance people as to
(end tape A)
F: right. As these bombs were put in the plane by the or gace people, and incidentally,
the crew and all, if they were not ready when we got to the airplane, why wu would
pitch in and help load these bombs ourselves. Up in the bomb bays. They had hoists
but you had to work with them to get them up. But, uh, they had a safety pin in them.
Just was nothing but a little (otter-key. And you would have to, after you were
airborne and away from the base, you would put these pins in. Now if you had to
abort your mission, why you didn't go back there and fool with those pins anymore.
'/- V
You sa]oed the bombs and tried to get them out because you would not land that
aircraft, or tried not to, with a wild bomb in it or that type of thing. And we,
it was very difficult, when you were airborne and getting cold and all of this, to get
back in there, in the bomb bays, pulling pins, and saving the pins and then putting
them back in the bombs after you got around and they are so...believe it or not,

Page 24
F: there were, we got to the place to where we would pull the pins on the ground, uh, and
put them in our pocket and take off with them that a way, cause if you crashed, you
were not coming out of it anyway, and if the bombs wcron't all fly, it would justj
you knew you had bought the farm without the bombs going on, so we would pull them
on the ground and put them in our pocket which was against the SOP, but then we did
it, and I still have one of my old flight jackets that I've saved all these years,
and for many, many years, I did have some cotter keys in my pocket.
S: Well, when you found yourself attached to a B-29, you, I suppose, reasonably
expected you would be going to Japan?
F: At that time it was the only place that they were being operated against and being
used, and uh, yes, we knew that we would be going to the Pacific theatre of operations.
Maybe not all of it a Japan, but to the Pacific theatre of operations.
S: Well, could you, could you tell us how you got to the Pacific?
F: After we left Carlsbad, New Mexico, we moved on up to, well, we went first to
LincolnlNebraska, and there, just er random choice, not knowing anything, there was
just thousands of officers and enlisted men there, and uh, we were crewed-up there.
We didn't even know these people until we started moving from Lincoln down to
C6UVI, New Mexico. Then they moved us down to Clovis, New Mexico where we trained
as a B-29 crew there, and did an awful lot of flying, cross country flying,
navigational work, bombing work, high altitude work, gunnery work, uh, both low level
and high altitude gunnery work with simulated attacks on us by pursuit ships. Uh, at
that time we were, we didn't, we would fire the guns and point it right at them, but
there was a picture was taken, to tell how accurate you were, and um, this type of
thing. But now in the bombing, we actually bombed with live ammunition on -targets,
say, or live bombs on targets. And we moved from, after we'd reached proficiency
there, we were moved out of there to a little town called Harrington, Kansas where
they had B-2s stockpiled or they would bring them in there, and you would pick up
your B-29. We picked ours up there, and then to Sacramento and then on overseas

Page 25
|/4,JA4,fi~LT (47XLj T11A-,
F: going down through Hawaii, QuaduleR Guam, and then up to Ta-eeia
S: I see. What are some of the things that a bombardier must keep in mind in order to
get the bomb from the plane to the target?
F: Well, what you do on that, Richard, the, uh, after you leave the initial point on a
target, and in most cases, uh, in the B-29, we had it set up on automatic pilot, and
which the pilot could be concentrating Ren, more or less, on keeping that aircraft
flying and this type of thing, and the bombardier controlled the, uh, the direction
of the airplane. Now that is only in, uh, drift or the type of thing. It was the
pilots place through his flying skill, uh, to keep the engines and everything set,
which that and the controls also kept the altitude at a proper level that you had
already set into your bomb sight. You had to figure all these settings to go into
the bomb sight long before you hit the initial point, you had to have it in there
for altitude, at which you were briefed to fly. We were given an altitude at the
target that we had to approach the target from. But also from the initial point in
they would, there was places that if you hit the initial point at ten o'clock, you
would go in let's see at twelve thousand feet. If you hit it there at ten fifteen
for some reason, you would change the altitude up or down,_._ Predetermined that
you were told what to do in briefings, and these are the data and things that you had
to keep with you because you didn't want to be bombed, or you didn't want to bomb
someone else underneath you. And so, uh, this was what it was when you went from the
initial point. All of this was predetermined and this is where your coordination
between a good crew and all came in. Uh, but you would set up your drift onto the
target, turn the plane into the wind, and incidentally, some of the winds over
Japan were, we're learning about now how they were, but they were extremely high,
well over a hundred miles an hour and above that at the altitudes and so it made
it awfully hard, but you would set everything in, and uh, into your bomb sight, and
just hope and pray that you could get it on the target.

Page 26
S: I see. So you had to pay attention to your altitude, you had to pay attention to
the wind. Were there any other variables?
F: Yeah. Shooting that gun sight if somebody got after you. You had to make up your
mind whether you were going to keep bombing or go to shooting.But most of the time,
you got the bombs out first.
S: I see. And this was a problem.Sometimes you didn't know whether you should drop the
bombs or shoot at the enemy planes.
F: I'm sure it was a problem at some times, but uh, you'd concentrate on this and most
of the time, you had plenty of time to get the bombs out and this type of thing.
You had one little thing there that you would get the bombs out of the airplane and
then cage your gyro in a hurry, and tell the pilot- let's get the hell out of here.
And we would go into what we called a defensive maneuver then. And that was bout a
ninety or ninety degree turn, stick the nose down and run like hell. That's what was
known as a defensive maneuver. And head just as fast to the open ocean as you could
get there.
S: Could you set the bombs to, to leave the planes sort of automatically while you
paid attention to the guns?
F: Yes, if you had everything coordinated and you had the bomb sight completely set.
Uh, and if you knew what you were doing, you would very well have it synchronized so
that everything was straight and level and going along. You could lock up your trigger
and the bomb -ee would automatically drive through the driving train, and get the
bombs out of the plane. The inner balameter would be set and everthing else, but you
had to know what you were doing to have all this set. Then if need be, you could
get back on the bomb, and on the guns.
S: I see. Now as far as the variables went, was climate a problem? Did you have a factor
in that?
F: Climbing?
S: No. Excuse me. Climate.

Page 27
F: Climate?
S: Like or humidity of the air...
F: Well, you would take care, you would... to my knowledge, I never worried about
density or humidity but you did have to figure out--your altitude and your temperatures
through which the bomb would have to pass to get it to the, uh, actually on target.
As to the what it would make, what difference it would make if you were off a little
bit in your temperature figuring, uh, I really don't ever remember, and never did
know, how much that would make. I know for precision that it would make a difference
S: You say it would or wouldn't?
F: It would, absolutely. And uh, you would have to set these things in. But then as to
far it would make the bomb go per say degree of temperature that you misfigured, uh
I don't know that I ever knew that figure, but I don't think it was too terribly
great, but for pinpoint accuracy, you had to have it. Say you were coming to
Gainesville and were aiming at the O'Connell Center, uh, you might hit the
stadium... So, uh, that's just the difference.
S: Was pin point accuracy required v y-many times in war?
F: Oh, absolutely. You were praying for it every time, especially in the high altitude
work. And uh, if you were going for a bridge, and hit a building in the middle of
town, why it didn't do much good. If you were going for a railroad marshalling yard
and you hit a farm two miles away, so yes. Uh, Accuracy was very much of a key
S: What sort of bombs were used against Japan?
F: Fire bombs. Uh, is all that I, well we used)against the islands alot of times, we
used general purpose bombs, uh but up against, when we went to Japan, we were using
I've forgotten the number of it, but they were fire bombs that will, uh, five hundred
pound fire bomb, and uh, they would then separate into clusters of, I guess, liquid
gel bom.... uh fire bombs. I forgotten now whether they were napalm or what, but they
would create quite a fire.

Page 28
S: So you say primarily fire bombs were used?
F: That's-what I used, fire bombs.
S: Would you use a fire bomb to knock out a bridge?
F: Oh no. Oh, no. You.would use a general purpose bomb for that. And, uh, the
detonation. Now another thing that we did, in the use of the fire bombs, they
would also have every now and then, some, uh, -h, general purpose bombs in there
so that when you did run out to fight the fire, they would have these other bombs
to contend with exploding too. And keep in mind that there would be, I don't know,
thirty or forty of us going after the same city, or more than that. Going after
the same city.
S: Thirty or forty bombers?
F: Yes. You wouldn't, uh, you wouldn't take, they would send each group, I don't
ever remember it broken down to squadron, they could swing em but there would be
more than one bomber going after a city. They would be a big number of us going
after one city. And, you would all go right to that city unless you had engine
trouble or problems, then you did have the privilege of going to what we called
a target of opportunity. Now you had to get pictures and all this to show that you
did go for a target of opportunity, and that would be a smaller city or whatever
you could.
S: Who picked the targets of opportunity?
F: It would be up to the airplane commander to pick the target of opportunity.
S: Did he pick from a list, or whatever presented itself?
F: The closest one possible,
S: I -see.
F: That would classify as a target of opportunity. You wouldn't go after a small
fishing village or something like that. You would take
S: Well, why would you have to go after a target of opportunity instead of your
primary objective?

Page 29
F: That's what I said. If you were having engine troubles or had been hit or
something like that, you would just try to, try to make your trip up there count,
cause if you turned around and came back and didn't put those bombs on something
up there that counted, you had to do it again.
S: Now the bombers that would go after a target, would they go after a target
in a group?
F: No. At, earlier in the war, they were trying some formation bombingAon Tokoyo and
those places, but it was not satisfactory and General Curtis LMay made the decision
to go in and work on the targets with stripped down bombers at a lower altitude and
use some fire bombs. And history will bear it out as one of the greatest military
w'lHk T ,err/ lo/e '/ j,
decisions that's ever been made to pull us down from high altitudes and pull us down
-co- sb atJer) when-
closer, when anyone knows 4 4ga- bombing, that your accuracy would be that
much better. And uh, this was, we all were hesitant about it, but then, uh, we did
our job. And General Curtis I May, as history will say, did a fantastic job in that
S: What was L@ May's position in the war?
F: He was the commanding general of the 20th Air Force.
S: And you were in the 20th Air Force. Now I imagine.thategeneral purpose bombs
exploded when they hit the ground.
F: Yes. General purpose bombs would, basically, they would, upon impact on something,
they would go off. However, you could set any type of things in there. You could
set them for delayed action. They could be set where they would go off two days later
or anything else like that. They had all kinds of bombs that you could use, and uh,
this would, this was basically what it was. General purpose bombs were made to blow
down buildings and destroy people like that. And uh, fire bomb was meant to burn
S: Who set the bombs for delayed action?

Page 30
F: Ordinance would set them before, you, all this was briefed to you when you would
go up to the briefing room beforeAmission, you would get together up there in the
briefing room and they would all call, they would, you'd sit down as a squadron or
a group in this briefing room and they would brief you as to the targetSthat
you were going to that night, and then you would break up into your individual
units and be briefed again there as just exactly what type of bombs and this
type of thing that you were carrying, and what your primary aiming points were.
S: How did fire bombs go off? Did they go off on impact?
F: No. They would separate above the target and spread out, um before they ever reached
the ground, so that they would spread and cover more territory. They would burn
very fiercely.
S: Now, I'm not sure I follow you. By spread out you mean that they would just liquify
in the air?
F: No, no, no, no. They would, what they would do that, again with the timing device,
that would, if I remember correctly, they would go off maybe a thousand feet and
separate. They were in, keep in mind they were in big bands and big clusters, cannister
type arrangement. Then when they would get maybe a thousand feet above the ground
something like that, the bands would fly off, and then each one of these would be
an armed smaller bomb, and they would just cover miles, acres and acres rather than
one little spot. And that's what it was, to, I've forgotten the number of bombs that
they would, what they would spread out into, but it looked like you were throwing
chaff out down there.
S: I see. Well you'vesaid a lot about coordination between the crew and bombardier, and
that was very important. Who was in charge when you were in the air?
F: The airplane commander was in charge of the entire mission. Now when you turned f$om
the initial point into the target, then the bombardier as to the altitude and the
direction of flight. The pilot had to fly what you called the PDI is you were doing
it manually. He had to follow the pilot's directional indicator from the bombardier

Page 31
F: up there. He had to maintain the other. But as far as actual command of the aircraft
as to the safety of the aircraft or whether that mission was going to abort or this
type of thing was strictly the airplane commander.
S: And the airplane commander was always the pilot?
F: That is correct.
S: I see. Okay. Um, so where in the Pacific were you stationed?
F: I was on Tinian in the Marianas in the First Squadron which by its name was the
oldest bomber squadron we had at that time. First Squadron, Ninth Group, 313th
wing, 20th Air Force.
S: I see. And how much time did you spend in the Pacific.
F: I was there six months in the Pacific. Incidentally right there, one of the same
outfits in our, in the 313th wing was the 509th bomb group that dropped the
atomic bombs. And a classmate of mine, uh, Tom Farriby, that we had trained with
at Maxwell field, Albuquerque and all, was the bombardier on the Anola Gay with
Colonel Tibitz.
S: Um, how many missions did you go on?
to the islands
F: Five missions to the empire and untold missionsYthat were Jap held around there.
There were two to Marcas Island that I remember very vividly that werei-arcas Island
4fter they got ~ewe Jima was the last island that was within distance of where the
Japanese could hit us, as I understand it.
S: Well, being there six months, did you, did you normally go on one mission a day?
F: No, you wouldn't go on that. You had different kirTs~f-Tmissions, or I would have
probably gotten in a lot more missions than that, Richard, but uh, shortly after we
had gotten there and I think it was maybe two missions that we had, we were pulled
out of the line and sent to what they call lead crew school. Why, again, I don't
know, except that we did have a good crew, we had a very fine crew. The radar
operator had trained with me, or had instructed with me at Albuquerque, I was a
captain at the time, and then promoted to Major later on, and why I don't know, except
we were a good crew and I could hit the ground with a bomb.

Page 32
S: Um hmmm. What did you and the other airmen do with your free time on Tinian?
F: Well, what, you did, you did practically fly everyday. If you were not flying,
your first thing was to keep that airplane clean, and although you had ground crewS
to do it, there were a lot of little things that you had to do yourself. You had to
be sure that it was ready and flying. You practiced an awful lot. This is one of
the things that alot of people didn't realize, that uh, we were flying and bombing
practically the entire time. But when you were not there flying, why you had soft
ball games if you could concentrate on them. Uh, you write your letters to home, your
dear John letters and this type of thing, and uh, try to keep your clothes washed up
a little bit, cause we didn't have those niceties over there, um, I r some pretty
flowers and this type of thing. You would go down to the, jump off the cliff and
swim around a little bit and this type of thing. But as I remember it, uh, there
were, I don't remember any free time. Aid at.. nights, alot of the nights they did
have picture shows, open air theatre type thing, and the Japs would, so history shows
us now and is written up that they would come in there and sit down and, and enjoy
the movie with us. It was hard to tell a gook from an American at night.
S: Did you have a USO shows or any big name retrtainment?
F: Yes. We did. Uh, the USO shows did come through and some of them were very, very
good. I don't remember but a couple of them that I got the opportunity to go
see. Usually you were so tired til you didn't go. But I did go see a tennis match
one time, and I remember Bitsy Grant played in that.
S: I see. In addition to dropping bombs on Japan and the islands, did you drop anything
else? I believe there was some episode of dropping POW supplies?
F: Oh, yes. Yes. This was, this was before the surrender in Tokoyo Bay or wherever it
was that they had it, the first thing that the Japanese brought out when they, after
the second bomb went off, uh, they came out and/landed in a little place called
g Shima, and that's where..
S: Excuse me Mr. Freeman, by the second bomb, you mean the second atomic bomb?

Page 33
F: The first one was on Hiroshima, the second one was Nageoal-i. Um, then I guess they
figured they'd had enough and they brought out and landed at B Shima, and incidentally
that's where Ernie Pyle was killed. And uh, they left the coordinates, and that's
the coordinates of where every prisoner of war camp was in Japan. And, uh, we took
these coordinates and worked all night and day and everything else getting
prisoner of war supplies ready to go back up there. We painted big signs underneath
the planes called P W supplies. Andvwe took off, and again, you were briefed, and you
knew where you were going and where approximate... now this is where your navigation
came in so wellicause your navigator had to get you to that location and you were
looking for a particular spotd and I have a lot of pictures of the bomb drops on tha
not bombs, excuse me, but the PW supply drops that were made to these people.
Usually it was in just one building, and nothing to identify it as a PW camp. Uh,
in one, later on in some of them, and then for the next few days, .after they realized
FED WVt~lfhft^ *(./M-
what was happening, they had taken rocks and white washtand put on top of their
buildingSand around how many PWs were in that camp. Now we went in there, and this
was very dangerous work, very dangerous, we went in at five hundred feet, looking
Sl./ '\e ,fi'- /oc. y /4 fit; '<p
for these PW camps and, but we didn't mind this Richard ,we did not mind this
at all because all we had to think and say was there but for the grace of God am I.
And so, we uh, we searched and searched and finally we found the one in-Keb+, and I
94^/M~fiNIrKea, adfthre a nudWo
went to another one down at, uh, oh, Shimona-Seki area, and there, and
dropped these PW supplies and what you would do was try to skid them in as close
to the buildings as possible, because we figured that if they got half of what we
put down there, that they could survive long enough to take care of em. These were
very good supplies, ten and one rations, and charms and all of this, and medical
supplies and that, in fact, uh, they were better than what we'd been eating, so when
one would break open or something like that, why we lived pretty good for a while.
S: Were these supplies sent special to you for th$ purpose?

Page 34
F: I don't know where they came from. I, I have no idea. They almost miraculously..
they were there when the surrender came. And this is one of things, Richard, that
people do not realize. There were only about eleven hundred and ninety crews of us
or something like that when the war was over, and that, multiply that by, uh, your
number of eleven on a crew, and there's something like twenty thousand flying crew
members were all there were in B-29s. And that's not even enough to fill up one
corner of Florida field. So, but where these supplies, how they came from, the
logistics of keeping an airplane or a crew supplied that is acgally going to a
target, it'd just stagger your imagination to think about the Navy people that had
to haul it there. The distribution systems.. and this is where it is really something.
But the supplies and the parachutes just seemed to almost overnight, they were there.
And I am sure that someone, some person, some responsibility, had them shipped on
in there ahead of time. It had to be that.
S: How many B-29s were involved in dropping these supplies?
F: Oh, I don't know. There not as many as were doing the bombing raids, but we, uh
certainly, everyone took a turn at it, unless they had something else to be doing
that you dropped them. We had, so the story goes, the charts were not too good in
some instances there, and B-29s were, our maps showed that down there around
ShimonCLCeki straits, that one of the mountains, uh, showed that it was a thousand
feet, fifteen-hundred feet high, and the crew allowed a little, so they cleared and
was overcast and that and they, it was really on up in there maybe twenty-five
hundred feet and we lost two crews there, around Shimona eki on the side of a
mountain dropping PW supplies. You were down there ive-hundred Iet,
(tape stops.)
F: Richard, one thing that happened on this dropping PW supplies and you've asked me
(ea '
several times was I frightened, and I uh, can't answer that question ,I think that
yourtrained to such an edge JS a key that you do things that, uh, you just really
don't think about being frightened about them because it has to be done. One thing

Page 35
F: that happened, we were dropping Prisoner of yar supplies and the bomb bays, the
pallet dropped out but some of the shackles didn't release, and these parachutes
were tied to it with a static line, uh, to the bomb shackles and it didn't release
properly and we were severely damaged, and uh, the bomb, I mean the five hundred
pound or whatever the weight of the prisoner of war supplies were, they tore the
plane up in the back, the and fins and this type of thing, were torn up
very severely. We were able to fly. We could not close the bomb bay doors and we
had been up there searching a long time, and we figured that our gas supply was not
enough to get us back to Iwo Jima if we couldn't close those bomb bay doors
Now keep in mind, the airplan commander had to stay at the controls and I was the
only other person, the rarking person there, so I went into the bomb bays and
it being in the bomb bays, which was my jurisdiction type thing, and had to get
the, if I remember correctly, it was the engineer to, uh, it was the engineer or
the, um, radio operator to hold me by my feet and I was hanging out over those bomb
bay doors, cutting off part of the bomb bay door with a hatchet, an emergency hatchet
that we had there, so that we could get them closed and get back to Tinian.
Now, no, get back to Iwo Jima. We knew we'd never get to Tinian, so we'd get to
Iwo Jima safely. And frightened? I don't know. Whether I was or not, it was a job
that had to be done, and I did it.
S: I see. Did the Japaness respect the POW signs on the plane? Did they fire at you
or anything?
F: We were fired on out there one time. We were told not to press an attack unless we
were really forced into it. And, uh, yes, we were fired on by a cna trlboat, but
Ko be
they didn't hit us and we did not fire back. That was out east of KIb4 that we
were fired on. And not, it didn't hurt us so we didn't fire back. And, uh, that
was it.
S: But on a typical bombing route, other than a POW run, were you normally fired on?

Page 36
F: Oh, yes. If you were fired on, you'd play Molly darling right back with them.
If you, uh, keep in mind that you had a terrible time stopping them, because they
were, alot of them were kamiCka type things and, uh, their main thought was to
die for the emperor and take as many of them, as many of you with them as you could,
and yes, you were fired on, and uh, you didn't, I didn't, I personally did not
mind the fighters, I didn't dread them as much as I did the anti-aircraft fire
because you couldn't fight back at the anti-aircraft fire except to burn em, and that
was, I guess, -part of your reason there. Well, I get those, and so you bombed them.
That's the only way I can figure it.
S: When the anti-aircraft fire came up, uh, did it have to hit the plane directly to
take it down?
F: Oh, no. No. They would explode and what you would do there, they, that's why you
changed your altitudes every now and then, to keep them from getting your level,
and uh, they did not have the sophisticated radar at that time. Uh, to undercut their
fuses on their shells to get there, and so you would change your altitude. But it
did not have to hit you directly to bring you down. All it had to do was knock you
out of, more or less into a trailing situation where you were not with the regular
bomber pack, and uh, when you fell out as a straggler, then they'd jump on you like
flies on a syrup kettle.. Uh, so they, you tried to stay with a pack, and we were
briefed an awful lot to not get in their hands. Uh, and I'd like to read you a little
transcript of the way we were briefed in this thing here, Richard. Uh, this is, again,
uh, quoting from Martin Caiden which expresses it so well. "If you're shot up over
the mainland and you've got to come down, always, repeat, always go to the water. Try
to avoid a crash landing on the islands is at all possible. The Japanese army and the
^Ivy don't like each other. They are mad at each other. And their navy will treat
you much better than the army. The navy blames these bombing you are giving Japan
on the army, and is doing its best to discredit the local opposition. There's even a
chance that they'll refuse to turn you over to the army for some time. In the meantime,

Page 37
F: you'll be a lot better off, better fed and housed. Now if you are taken prisoner,
never, repeat, never call a Jap a Jap. It is always Japanese, and say it with respect.
Give him some lip or call him a Jap and he'll take your head right off. The Japanese
have killed prisoners and they won't hesitate to kill more of them. Many of the
people who were killed were the ram rod, stiff-necked West Point types who fell into
their hands earlier in the war. They got nasty and the Japanese very calmly either
shot them or cut off their heads. Don't ever get nasty with a Jap. Don't ever forget
that rule. They thrive on politeness in their personal relationships, and you simply
got to be even more polite. Odds are you'll be interrogated by a sergeant. Treat him
as if he were God, and if he is, under those conditions, your infinite superior/
_Xt like itland you improve your chance for living, which aint very goddamn good to
begin with if youtre a prisoner, interrupted a gunner in the briefing audience. Amen.
said a few hundred airmen.'; Well, that's, we were briefed on this practically every
mission to get to the water if at all possible. That was your only chance of surviving.
Uh, Japanese, I mean, uh, submarines were on picket. If you could get out to the water,
your chances of survival were better. Not good, but better.
S: Now what you read, um, is that indicative of your thinking on the subject when you
were flying against Japan?
F: Absolutely. They, it was uh, let's get to the water if at all possible. You were
briefed that, you were told that, and you believed it. That uh, now that is, if you
could get that aircraft to the water. If you had to bail out, you had no choice, but
the one thingfwe were also briefed and told1 if you drop- out-and keep in mind that
we had our forty-fives with us at all times. Now they were loaded with, uh, you carried
some ball ammunition, and you also carried other things, but they were used for
signaling, more or less, tracers or this type of thing. If you got on the water, you
could shoot and get someone's attention. And you also had small pellets in the forty-
five which you could use for small game if you were to get onto an island, or that
type of thing.

Page 38
S: I see. Now I know you've already talked about fear with regard to dropping the
POW supplies, but from what you described to me just now, it seems like an awful
frightening situation for a person to be in.. Now, if, was it fear that was going
through your mind, or if it wasn't fear, can you describe what was going through
your mind as you were flying over Japan in preparation to drop bombs and you came
in contact with fighters and anti-aircraft fire?
F: Richard, I didn't major in psychology. That's my wife's field. I, I still can't
answer.... uh, fear. It was a job I had to do, I was there. I had been trained to
a razor's edge for it, uh, I knew everything I had to do. Reticence of that, but
uh, you never, the thought never crossed any of our minds about turning back
or this. I cannot answer that question truthfully whether it was fear, or what, I just
don't know. To my knowledge, I was never frightened over the target. Other than that,
your frightening experience was getting that dam, excuse me, that thing off the ground.
And the answer to the fear, the area that was the most critical, and we all dreaded the
most, uh, of any of it, was the take-off. The B-29, again this is from Martin Caiden,
and he summarized it so well, but this is so true, the B-29 weighs a hundred and
thirty-eight thousand pounds, combat loaded. And it demands alot of flying. Every
take-off is an exacting, nerve teasing stretch of forty seconds that often seems
like forty minutes. It is the longest leg of a mission that may run from twelve
to fourteen hours. During those forty seconds, every man is at a razor edge alertness,
listening for a miss in the thundering beat of the four engines. For anything that
may interfere with that ponderous acceleration down the long runway. The sixty five
ton monster jerks forward when the pilot releases the brakes. The engines have been
pounding under their maximum of eighty-eight"horse power, and they are eager to move.
to bite into the air, that swirls them to and then back from the blades. She's heavy,
loggy, despite the power. The rush is not wild, it is more stately. A mountain on
wheels that by its own sheer mass resists movement, yet a mountain of wings and
engines that 5W made to fly. Finally, she is fast enough for the wheels to spin into

Page 39
F: a blur and 4l e5 to kick up streamers of dust. Acceleration increases with speed.
It is a cycle that lends even more speed to the enormous machine as it rushes head
long toward the end of the runway A point on the earth that approaches with alarming
spedd. Now the airplane is moving too fast to stop. It must either fly or crash. The
super fortress is beyond the point of no return. The speed is past a hundred miles
per hour and the bomber rocks lightly on her wheels. The wings bite into the air. They
try to grasp the viscous flow, but there is not yet enough speed. The B-29 wings are
wide, but they are comparatively thin. Behind the wings drop enormous flaps. If an
engine falters now, disaster is certain. Absolute. A flaming, exploding death for the
men inside. Sometimes it is not the engine that fail, but something else. Unpredictable
unexpected. On this afternoon it does not happen, but every man on the bomber remembers
one night." So.
S: That was true for you too. You were fully cognizant of this fear upon take-off?
F: Oh yes, this was your critical time of getting it in the air, and you, it was very
loaded and you had, we had stripes painted in the middle of the runway, and when you
hit that stripe, if you were not going at a certain speed or not having the certain
inches of mercury, you chopped the throttles, got on the brakes and prayed like hell
that you could get it stopped before you got into the ocean or the coral at the
end of the runway. Because you knew that you did not stand a chance if it crashedrand
exploded, you'd bought the farm, and that they would take a bull dozer and push your
plane out of the way so that the next planes could get over you and go on.
S: Well, Mr. Freeman, I have no more questions and I would like to thank you very much
for your time and for a very enlightening interview.