Mr. Jack Rodin enlisted on December 3, 1942 as an Aviation Cadet and was honorably discharged from the Army of the United States, June 30, 1944.  He was then immediately re-enlisted on July 1, 1944 as an Officer (Aerial Navigator) and eventually received an Honorable Discharge from the USAAF, December 17, 1945. 

Jack Rodin served on Guam with the 458th Bomb Squadron, 330th Bomb Group (VH), 314th Bomb Wing.  He completed 23 missions over Japan and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with 2 clusters.  Rodin is grateful to the B29 ground crews for their efforts, the Marines for capturing IWO JIMA - which allowed him to land there on those occasions when they could not reach Guam, the Navy for stationing submarines along their return path from Japan to provide necessary rescue service (Rodin did not need that service, but guided another plane to a sub); he thanks everybody that helped him survive the war.   

That’s me soon after I won my WINGS in the summer of 1944.  I was not yet 20 years old.

Officers who wore their caps while flying had to remove the ring that kept the top of the cap flat and round.  Why?  So the earphones could rest against the side of the head.  I never wore my cap while flying, nor did I ever see any of my team do so, BUT we all removed the ring and distinguished ourselves as 50 Mission Hot Shot Aircrew.

I was very highly trained over several months learning Pilotage, Dead Reckoning, Radio, Radar, Celestial and Loran Navigation techniques.  I was good at what I did, modestly speaking.  And today I am no longer needed, replaced by a small GPS system that is faster and more accurate than I ever could be.

The Pima Air Museum in Tucson Arizona is the permanent location for K-40, Sentimental Journey.  The airplane is in mint condition; it looks like it could fly away.  Rodin’s crew, #815, flew that airplane, K-40, one time.  They flew K-40 to OSAKA and back on June 7, 1945.  As the Navigator on that mission Rodin wrote the log identifying the airplane’s location and recorded other significant events – “0051 GCT, heading 317° at 9000’, the formation started to climb – also 32 fighters at 3 o’clock (to our right)” and “0247 Bombs Away from 21,200 feet at 194 mph with 9 bursts of flak”.  Rodin’s original logs of the event of that mission are in a glass case under the right wing of K-40 at Pima.

Crew 815, 458th Bomb Squadron, 330th Bomb Group; original crew assembled September 1944 at Walker Army Air Field, Walker Kansas

  Airplane Commander Richard Knipp
  Pilot Jack Schade
  Navigator Jack Rodin
  Bombardier William Dolan
  Flight Engineer George Leslie
  Radio Operator Joseph Rogocki
  Radar Navigator Irwin Blocker
  Central Fire Control Harold Sams
  Left Gunner James Baskins
  Right Gunner James Hawkins
  Tail Gunner Francis Cichocki

Why Rodin balks at being called a “hero”:

As Tom Brokaw wrote, those were different times with much different attitudes.  There was confidence in our leadership, a strong belief in our purpose and total support from the population. Just think how women changed.  They wore pants, removed all jewelry except wedding rings, cut their hair short or wore a cap, went to work in a factory and made the tanks, guns, planes, ships but waited till 1946 to make babies.  When FDR said he wanted 50,000 airplanes, who thought it to be possible. IT HAPPENED thanks to heroes like Rosie the Riveter.  And that’s the truth.........JR

Bomb Safety Pins

We were flying a B-29 on a training mission over Oklahoma and Texas.  We were carrying 100-pound practice bombs.  When in flight, Bill Dolan, the Bombardier, and I went into the Bomb Bay to remove the cotter pins that safety the fuse on each bomb.  Remember I told you, never land with a bomb that is armed.

The airplane lost an engine (it was still on the wing where we left it) and we landed at Love Field, Dallas Texas.  It was 1944 and Love Field was the only place that had runways that could handle a B-29.  The airplane was new and secret so we had it protected by MPs before we could leave the area.
Dolan and I went to the coffee shop and guess what we found in our pockets besides cigarettes?  Did you guess Bomb Cotter Pins?  We went back to the plane, identified ourselves to the MPs, sneaked into the Bomb Bay and inserted all the Cotter Pins.

We now had to decide what to do with the airplane.  Takeoff on 3 engines; fix the engine here at Love by getting help from Walker or – all of a sudden Richard Knipp (a/c) yelled, “Are the Bombs safteyed?”  “Of course”, was the reply from Dolan and Rodin.
And so we waited for Walker to send airplane rescue – I don’t remember if they fixed or replaced the engine.
But we slept well, knowing that the bombs were safe!

Getting to and Life on Guam

We had a crew party in Kearney Nebraska hotel before we left for our Port of Embarkation (POE).  Please note that our party included all the crew of #815, Enlisted Men and Officers.

At our POE, Mather Field, Sacramento, CA, our airplane developed a landing gear leak, which delayed our departure for several weeks.  Not having a fixed date for the repair, every night we “hit the town” - could be our last.  We spent our money, knowing that the Air Force owed us so much per day.  After many trips to the Paymaster, we were summoned before a Colonel who asked if we expected him to be our personal “Loan Officer”.  He was reminded we were not being paid-in-advance – only collecting what was due us.  We had a swagger, knowing we were going to combat, and could not be distressed by his comments.

We finally got our repaired B-29 and flew it to Oahu, John Rogers Field.  As Navigator, I took advantage of impressing the crew, and confirming my confidence to find an island in the Pacific, by announcing our Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA), well in advance.  We met my ETA and we all felt better.  Especially me.
Next stop was Kwajalein, a tiny coral reef that looked like an aircraft carrier runway, but without a Landing Signal Officer to guide Knipp & Schade to touch down.  Obviously we made it.

Jack Rodin        

Now to Tinian and learn upon arriving that we had to leave the B-29 and fly a C-47 to Guam where the 330th was awaiting us.

We were shown where the Officers Quonset Hut was partially completed and told to midnight requisition the remaining parts needed.  We crowned our Quonset “Pair-A-Dice Inn” and spread cigarette tobacco all over; the rats would not eat the stuff nor often times not even cross the borders.
We bent the sheet metal corners of our Quonset to channel the rainwater into the now empty 50-gallon fuel drums.  While there was an open air shower room with water supplied by the Army, using our collected rainwater was really more dependable.  It rained every day, but only briefly, but if lucky, we could get a shower from the rain shower and use our collected water for the final rinse – if needed.
Guam was a Navy managed island but we were supplied by the Army.  The Navy had everything, we were rationed.  There were still pockets of Japanese hiding in the jungles and the Marines kept up their patrolling.
One day some Marines came by as door-to-door salesmen.  They were selling Japanese weapons, swords, helmets, etc.  None of us were interested in that stuff but one of our residents asked if the Marines could get us a Radio.  Would you believe they came back a few days later with an unopened carton containing a PHILCO RADIO/PHONOGRAPH?  How much?  $200.  Barter price, 10 bottles of whiskey.
We were now living in style.  We had an Air Conditioned Quonset via screened doors, private showers courtesy of the daily rain showers, nearby outhouses and water trough with Lister Bag water (Chlorinated), few rats by using our 5¢ a pack cigarettes and a Radio.  Every night, when we were there, we listened to the Sad Sack Serenade, advised to remove our GI boots, scratch our athlete’s feet, hear the Star Spangled Banner and turn the lights out when the radio station went off the air at 10 PM.

Navigator’s tools:
I had a magnetic compass in case the Gyro Stabilized Flux Gate Compass did not work. Someday I'll tell the story about who pee'd on my drift meter.  I also had a Bubble Sextant and the books necessary to calculate the sub-stellar star location.  However, in the B-29, there were 2 gun turrets next to me.  The Top Turret had 4- 50 calibre machine guns and the Bottom Turret had only 2- 50 calibre guns.  When all 6 were being fired, which happened too often, there was quite a noisy shake, rattle and roll, just like the dance step.

Explanation of Manifold Pressure:
Manifold Pressure is the level of pressure of the air before entering the engine cylinders.  The higher the pressure, the more power the engine will generate.  With superchargers, the air pressure can be increased.  On the B-29, each engine had its own Turbo Supercharger, a rotating bladed wheel that compressed the air, raising the air pressure.  When we had very heavy bomb loads and maximum take-off weight, many pilots would exceed the usual limits and push the Turbos to War Emergency Power of 50 inches, and hope and pray that the engines would produce enough power to be airborne by the end of the runway.  Even then, we used most of the 500 foot drop over the cliff at the end of the runway to get more flying speed.  50 inches, if I remember, was 50 inches of Mercury and since 30 inches of Mercury is about 15 pounds per square inch of air pressure, 50 is equivalent to about 25 pounds per square inch. These engines, Wright 3350s, did not take kindly to high inlet pressure, so War Emergency Power was used sparingly and briefly.

Pair-A-Dice Inn

Jack at the Pair A Dice Inn

Combat Gear:
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.

Sunday Chicken:

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.

Click on the above to read Jack's Flight Log

June 5, 1945, K-36 Incendiary Raid, Kobe

June 15, 1945, Osaka,
K-30 Mission


June 7, 1945, Osaka Mission

June 15, K-30 Mission, Osaka

Rodin’s Disclaimer:

Any story I pass on to you is not to compare with what others have done in WW II.  My stories, for whatever they may be worth, are only to recite what I did during my years in service.  Anyone interested?  I don’t know.

I know I won WW II, but I am modest enough to admit I had help from 12 million others, many who would laugh at my comfortable experiences. - Jack Rodin

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