Meeks' Marrauders- Page 1
marauders

Jim Meeks in 1943

I am a native of St. Petersburg, Florida. I turned 18 on the 29th of December 1942 and was a senior in high school. My friends and neighbors sent me a request to join the service. I was inducted at Camp Blanding, Florida on April 21, 1943 and sent to Camp Grant, IL for Infantry Medical Corps training. (I guess they decided I wasn't cut out to be a Corpsman). After that training was completed, I was suddenly transferred to the Army Air Corps for pilot training. I was sent to Miami Beach for another Basic training. My Infantry training stood me in good stead there. The Basic there was nothing as to what I had just completed.

From there I was sent to the University of Missouri at Columbia, Missouri for college training. Then on to San Antonio, TX for preflight. I didn't make it there - too many pilots they said. They offered to send me to Bombardier or Navigator school but I told them that if I couldn't be a pilot I didn't want to fly at all and that they could send me back to the Infantry. To say the least I was upset.

 
So what did they do? They sent me to Sioux Falls, SD to radio school where I graduated in the top 10% of the class. Damned if I know why, I didn't study at all, still eed off. Then they took the top 10% and sent us to B-29 school.

Photo at right: pulling props
















 

 














I was sent to Clovis, NM where I first met my crew. From there to Topeka, KS where our crew picked up the B-29 named the "William Allen White" which we flew overseas. We wound up on the Island of Tinian where we flew the WAW sometimes. At other times we had another plane to fly the missions in.
Our crew was the 3rd one of 40 crews picked to be sent back to the States for Lead Crew training for the up coming invasion of the Japanese Empire. We trained at the Muroc AFB in CA for this. A couple days after finishing training the First bomb was dropped and we didn't have to go back overseas. Thank God for the bomb. It saved my life, hundreds of thousands of GI lives and millions of Japanese lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 




Part of the Okinawa invasion fleet gathering around Tinian and Saipan. Taken from the nose of a B-29.

 

 

It looks like I spent almost three years in training for a mission that was never needed. I didn't have it near as hard as some of the others did. I wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience but wouldn't give you a nickel to have to do it again. - Jim Meeks