Jack at the Pair A Dice Inn
On top of the flying suit some flyers wore their survival VESTS, a garment with many pockets. Each pocket contained an item, Fish Hooks, Signaling Mirror, Compass, Saw, Knife, Toilet Paper, Sunscreen Hat, Shark Repellant, Water Tablets, etc. I usually made the judgment of taking the specific items and put them in my pockets, rather than wear the complete vest, which had over a dozen pockets.
Then I put on my shoulder holster but because the 45-colt pistol weighed so much, I improvised to make it a waist type holster.
Next came the Mae West, the inflatable water wings, or life vest.
Now I put on the parachute harness. I used a chest type, most of us did, but the 2 pilots wore backpack chutes. Attached to the bottom of the harness was the HARDEST DAMN cushion ever sat on, it was a one-man life raft. The B-29 carried several multi-man life rafts. Attached to each parachute harness was a personal First Aid Kit, which included a morphine needle.
Properly dressed, we rode in style till we approached the target area.
Now we depressurized the airplane and went on Oxygen. Put on our parachutes and then our Flak Vests. The Flak Vest looked like a catchers chest protector and had many tiny pockets, each one holding a piece of steel. Some of put on goggles, but we all topped our attire with a steel helmet. Some wore gloves and scarves to cover all exposed skin.
Now we properly dressed for combat.
On our way to the flight line we would stop at the mess hall to get food, usually a bag full of sandwiches. This day we noticed trays of cooked and ready to eat CHICKEN.
As you may remember, our flight suits had many pockets, the usual ones and sleeve and knee pockets and…
So, if the people on Guam were to have a Sunday CHICKEN dinner, us guys, the crew # 815, were going to have our Sunday CHICKEN dinner on the way to Japan, over Japan, or on the way home from Japan.
We put the flight suit pockets to good use and flew off to the wild blue yonder.
When we return from a mission, each discipline is debriefed. What did we do, how did we do it, what did we see, what were the problems, enemy action, etc.
When we returned from this particular mission, we were told that after debriefing Major Orlov wanted to talk to the crews of the 458th. Major Orlov was the Group Executive Officer, an administrative assignment. He stressed that the most serious crime in the military was STEALING. Yes, he mentioned the theft of CHICKEN and accused some of the crews as the guilty ones. Obviously there was NO proof who stole the CHICKEN. THE FACT THAT EVERY
FLIGHT SUIT HAD HUGE GREASY CHICKEN STAINS BY EVERY POCKET LOCATION could not be presented as evidence. Did we hide the stains? I don’t remember. I do remember we had CHICKEN and sandwiches and bombed Japan and returned home.
Did people back home in the US know what we had to endure to win WW II?
Iwo Jima, Navy Submarines and call signs
Iwo Jima was our refueling or rescue airfield whether for battle damage to airplanes, or wounded aircrew. And obviously it provided a fighter base, 700 miles from Japan.
Another assignment for the B-29 was to fly “Super Dumbo”. They carried extra life rafts and flew along as rescue for fighters that needed to ditch, unable to reach Iwo or the Navy Submarine.
There was a Navy sub every hundred miles between Lands End and Iwo. One sub was always within 10 miles of Lands End and each sub was required to maintain his position as a rescue vessel till our mission time expired.
Did you know there is no “L” in the Japanese language? Therefore, all our call signs were “Lovely Lady”, “Lollipops”, “Lulu”, “Lollapalooza”, etc.
14 September 1945
General Orders No 63, Section XIV
Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross
First Lieutenant JACK RODIN, (then Second Lieutenant), 458th Bombardment Squadron, 330th Bombardment Group, Air Corps, United States Army; For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight 5 June 1945. Lieutenant RODIN was Navigator on a B-29 aircraft in an incendiary strike against high priority targets in the western section of the city of Kobe, Japan. The long and hazardous over-water mission was flown through adverse and rapidly changing weather conditions. When he had passed Iwo Jima he encountered a weather front that hindered navigation, but Lieutenant RODIN successfully reached the prescribed landfall. At the initial point, enemy anti-aircraft batteries began opposition, but his aircraft remained on course. When the crew was over the target, they were unable to release their bombs in any manner due to an electrical malfunction, and fighters began making attacks on the bomber while the bomb bay doors were still open.
While at an altitude of 15,600 feet, a crew member went into the open bomb bays (note correction: crew members Jack Schade (pilot) and Jack Rodin (Navigator)) and managed to release the bombs manually. The aircraft suffered numerous hits, and one twenty-millimeter cannon shell passed through the cowling on the number four engine. Another enemy fighter attacked from the rear, but another crew member brought his guns to bear on the fighter, and it was observed to fall off in the clouds below trailing black smoke. Finally they managed to salvo their bombs and close the doors. They then dropped out of formation and escorted a crippled bomber back to Iwo Jima, and later reached their home base in the Marianas Islands. As a member of this outstanding crew, Lieutenant RODIN has struck repeatedly against high priority targets in the enemy homeland, and, by his outstanding ability, courage, and resolute devotion to duty, reflects great credit on himself and the Army Air Forces.
More comments on the Bomb Bay Adventure:
I cannot recall the mission, but we could not drop the bombs nor close the doors of the front bomb bay. Jack Schade and I went into the bomb bay. We were low enough so we did not need oxygen masks. There was too little space between the inside skin of the airplane and the bomb racks so we could not wear parachutes. We had trouble finding space to put our feet on anything, not wanting to step on the bombs themselves. Not that wearing chutes would help if we went down with the bombs. We wiggled each bomb, looked for open shackles, looked to see whatever could be the clue preventing the bombs to drop. Finally we re-entered the cabin, not
knowing if we did anything to fix the problem. Rich (Knipp) and (Bill) Dolan decided to push SALVO and we had BOMBS AWAY and the doors could now close.
Drift Meter vs. Relief Tube
Long flights do test a person’s endurance – especially if they are combat missions that are 14 to 16 hours and most of the time is spent over water – the Pacific Ocean.
Our B-29 had a commode (potty) in the back section. The support cylinder was riveted to the floor and there was a portable pail that fit inside. Rule #1, first man to use the potty was to remove it upon landing. Rule #2, constipation was your own fault so don’t complain.
For less stressful needs, there were relief tubes, a funnel attached thru a hose into a canister that contained overflow hydraulic fluid. No problem, the fluids were compatible and the canisters were large enough to satisfy the requirements of our long flights. Recognizing the anatomical arrangement, one hand held the funnel and the other hand should have provided guidance. I am trying to be discreet.
On one mission I bent over to place my eye over the rubber cup that sat atop of my drift meter. The rubber cup was wet – very wet – and the funnel to the nearby relief tube was very nearby.
Using my throat mike, I asked, “Who pee’d on my drift meter?” No response. Again, “Who the hell pissed on my Drift Meter?” Still no response, “This is Jack Rodin, the GD navigator on this plane, who the Hell pissed all over my Drift Meter?” “And the Deck?” “And everywhere else?” Still no response! But I was mad, even more than mad - maybe even furious. War makes men mean and vicious.
It was 1946 or 1947 when I got a phone call from Bill Dolan. Bill was in a bar, of course, near Yankee Stadium. He came to see the Army vs. Notre Dame football game, and knowing I lived in the Bronx, not far from the Stadium, he called. After he told me which bar, I told him to wait there, I would meet him, and we would do the NYC thing.
We did our NYC thing, a bit of bar hopping and a lot of boozing. When we had maybe one too many, or maybe we needed one more, Bill confessed.
“I was the guy who pee’d on the Drift Meter, but you sounded so GD angry I was afraid to admit it. I don’t know what you would have done to me so I kept quiet.”
Although the Drift Meter and Relief Tube were reasonably close, there was no excuse for mistaking one for the other. Their functions were very different, but after all the booze what could I do to Bill Dolan. Have him buy me the next drink!
Navy goes for a B-29 ride
We ferried a few crews to Iwo for them to fly repaired B-29s back to Guam. While there, a Navy Lt Commander asked if he could get a ride with us back to Guam. He was on leave, but had to make his own arrangements to get to the U.S. He assumed travel from Guam was easier than Iwo to the U.S.
I told him he should ask the Airplane Commander – Richard Knipp. The Lt C humbly asked Knipp for a ride on our B-29 and if his request to take with him 2 pieces of luggage were excess, he would leave one piece behind.
Knipp assured the Lt C taking him was no problem, but the 2 pieces of luggage –that was something else. Knipp told him we would someway be able to compensate for the luggage. I had a tough time avoiding laughing out loud.
We boarded the B-29; the luggage was already thrown in the back. We allowed the Lt C to ride up front in the Bombardier seat. We were a ferry crew, no bombs or ammunition aboard, not even the usual 11 man crew and we were as light a B-29 as I ever flew. The Navy guy did not know or understand this.
On the trip back to Guam Knipp occasionally told Jack Schade, the co pilot, the plane was not properly trimmed. On his microphone, Knipp was called “nobody” to insist if the luggage was properly stowed and secured. With every complaint Knipp and Schade made sure the Navy guy heard the conversation. “Landing would be a problem because the plane was tail heavy.” But we made it!
A thoroughly shaken Lt C thanked Knipp and et al for the scary ride to Guam. We bought him a drink at the Officers Club and revealed the TRUTH. I don’t remember if he wanted to kill us, or laugh with us.
We integrated the Navy with the AF.