Hoyt Parmer (front) loading ammunition on Kit Carson's Nooky Booky IV
with Hoyt Parmer, 362nd FS Armorer
1. Brief Bio - Hoyt Parmer was inducted into the US Armed Forces on 11 September 1942, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was assigned as an aircraft armorer with the 362nd FS, 357th FG. Hoyt was an Armament Flight Chief of one of the 3 Armament Flights assigned to the 362nd FS. Each Flight had 9 armorers who took care of the armament requirements on their 8 assigned aircraft. After the war, Hoyt had a successful career with Como Plastics and is now retired. He and his wife Ethel love to travel and they both do volunteer work. We sincerely thank Hoyt for allowing us to do this interview.
2. Was training for your job adequate?
I received approximately 3 months training in all phases of armament such
as: For Weaponry-We studied 30 caliber machine guns, 50 caliber machine guns,
20mm cannons and 37mm cannons. For Ammunition-We were instructed on all types,
such as high explosive, tracer, incendiary and training rounds. For Gun
sights-the K14 wasn't in existence then, so we were instructed on the old cross
hair gun sight and how important it was to always remind the pilot to never use
it as a handhold when mounting or dismounting the cockpit. For Bomb Shackles-We
were instructed on the standard type used on both Fighter planes and Bombers.
For Cameras-We were instructed on the Standard Gun Sight Camera, how it worked
and how to check it out. We attended classes for 3 1/2 hours in the morning and
3 1/2 hours in the afternoon. and in order to pass thee course, we had to
be able to disassemble and assemble each of the weapons blindfolded. We
also had to pass an extensive written test. One of the toughest items was
synchronizing the nose guns on a plane to shoot between the rotating blades of
propeller. This was very hard to learn without the use of an actual plane on
which to practice. It was done by means of a solenoid on each gun and a
gear reducer ratio motor that controlled each gun, that you had to ratchet gears
and safety wire lock them to get each gun to fire at the proper time, which was
1 1/2" to 2 " past the trailing edge of the prop blade. I have
always felt that the training we received was very adequate for the ability that
was required during combat, since the weaponry on the P51 was much more simple
than the P39. We didn't have those nose guns or the cannons that the P39
had and we were sure thankful for that. We also had to learn about
the various bombs and how hang and fuse them. Then during our combat
training in the states we got to practice all the things that we had studied
about in Armament School.
3. What was involved in preparing a P51 for a mission? The Armament preflight time took approximately 30 to 45 minutes. I would like to first say that the longer work period was required after a mission. If the Pilot had used his guns or experienced any difficulty during the mission, all of this had to be checked out and the guns had to be cleaned and checked over to get ready for the next days mission. Film was removed from the camera and new film installed, the ammunition containers in the wings had to be refilled. The guns were always overnighted without a round in the chamber. At preflighting The guns had to be checked to see if the solenoids were being activated to fire the gun, when the trigger was depressed. After this was determined, the guns were then made hot (a round in each chamber), Which would allow the pilot to start firing the guns as soon as he turned the gun switch on. The camera was also checked to see if it was activating at the time of trigger depression and that there was film loaded properly in the camera. Either wing tanks or bombs were hung on the bomb shackles, after checking the release to see that they could be released OK. If bombs were hung-then the bombs had to be fused with the type fuse called for, such as delayed action or instantaneous. The armorer on each plane also helped out the crew chief to preflight the aircraft.
4. What pilots or planes did you work with? I could honestly say that at some time or the other, I had probably helped out on all of the planes of the 362nd Fighter Squadron. As I mentioned before we had three so called armament flights in each squadron and each flight chief had 9 to 10 armorers to care for the 8 planes in each flight. At preflight time I always took a quick trip around by bicycle to all of the planes in my flight to see if any help was needed and then I pitched in where needed. If all of the planes in my flight were in good shape and another flight needed help, we always would lend a hand to help each other. After a couple of instances when guns were fired accidentally during preflight, the flight chief always had to be present at each plane when the guns were tested. We always kept a strip of
masking tape over the nozzles of the guns, to keep them from picking up moisture, if not used. We also worked on a schedule of gun cleaning-once a week even if the guns had not been fired, they were pulled, cleaned and inspected, as it was very damp in England and the barrels would rust and pit quickly.
5. What was
a typical day like? I would like to preface this by saying: Each Nissen Hut
had an appointed chief and an assistant chief, that were selected by highest
rank. In our hut, I was the hut chief and Alvin Rafferty was the assistant
hut chief. My bunk was next to the front door and his was next to the rear
door. It was our responsibility to make sure all of our hut buddies were
awake and ready
for work at a predetermined time. It was also our responsibility to handle any disagreements that could arise and this can happen when you have 14 men in close quarters. However we had very little of that, as our group worked and lived together extremely well. All of the Staff Sergeants took turns in
pulling Charge Of Quarters duty. It was that persons responsibility to present himself at the orderly room at 6 PM for his tour of duty. It was also that persons responsibility to stay awake in the Orderly Room all night long and to handle any emergencies that might arise. He was also to awake the officers and enlisted men at a predetermined time to be at the flight line for the days mission. It was at this time that the typical day started & it varied at times due to the varied times that were set for the missions. Generally the wake up call was in the 6 to 6:30 AM time period. As soon as we were awake and dressed in our fatigues, we proceeded up a 1/4 mile path from our living area to the communal site and the mess hall for morning chow. After partaking of a quick breakfast, we returned to our living area to take care of personal duties and then headed down an approximate 1/2 to 3/4 mile path to the Armament Shop and Flight Line. At this point in time it was learned which of our planes would be making the mission and the pre flight time began. Generally the preflight time took from 30 to 45 minutes and then the pilots took off on their mission. After the planes left on the mission, we then started work on the remaining planes doing repair work, gun cleaning and just overall maintenance.
At approximately noon, we broke for our walk back to the Nissen hut area and possible mail call in front of the Orderly Room and then on to the mess hall for chow. The Armament Department had three vehicles at its disposal-a jeep, a weapons carrier and a bomb loader, which were used on the flight
line only, unless there was an emergency. We were all issued bicycles to use-some rode them to and from the living area and flight line and others left them at the flight line to use down there and walked to the living area for the exercise. After eating noon chow, we returned to the flight line and continued working on the work we had begun after the mission left. Later in the afternoon, we started sweating out the return of our planes and waiting to see those victory rolls above the field. After the mission
returned, our time was spent in cleaning guns, removing camera film, adding new film and refilling ammunition containers in the wings, plus correcting any malfunction or repairing any breakage. After this was all done, we left the flight line to return to the mess hall for evening chow. After chow, we had various forms of entertainment like writing letters home, playing cards in the hut, visiting the PX, the NCO Club, see a movie at the base theater and once in awhile see a live USO show. We usually had lights out at 10 to 10:30 PM.
6. What were some of the difficulties you faced in completing your job? This is a real easy one-I can truthfully say that I really experienced very few difficulties doing my job, as everyone knew that we were all there for the same reason and the help was always there for the asking. We just had a great group of guys in our outfit and I don't believe that we had one bad apple in the bunch.
7. How well was your unit supplied? Were you short of anything? How did you
cope with all that? Again an easy one. The only time that I can say that we were short of anything was when we were in training in Tonopah and Hayward. It was at this time that it wasn't easy to get planes and those we did get were used and some not in the best condition. Our pilots sort of had to take turns to get in flight time. We experienced the same thing when we arrived in Raydon Wood, as most of the new planes were being sent to outfits already in combat and the British Air Force. After our transfer to Leiston, things started improving and we had no more problems after that.
8. Tell a few memorable moments you had in meeting pilots returning from missions. I would like to start this out by saying the ground crew was supposed to have all available vehicles out along the perimeter track ready to pick up the pilots and return them to the Operations building for debriefing and
some rest. Each time I picked up a pilot I knew by the look on his face & how he acted if he had a good or bad day. I usually gave them the chance to talk a little if they wanted, before asking questions. If he lost a person from his flight on the mission or if he saw some bombers going down, it really affected them greatly. Even if he had recorded a few victories on the mission, they seemed proud in a way, but also deep in thought. I guess I always thought that they were thinking that it could have been them that didn't return to base. The Ground Crew had total respect for the pilots, knowing that each day they were laying their life on the line. Probably my most memorable experience was when Kit Carson got five victories on one mission. All of our planes had returned from the mission one evening, except Carson and no one seemed to know what happened. We found out later that evening that he had landed behind our lines in France, as he had developed an oil leak and had to have it repaired. the next morning he came in over our field in a very steep dive and then pointed it toward the sky and rolled her 5 times. We couldn't wait to get out and pick him up and then hear about what happened. We were all very glad to see him safe and sound and he was certainly glad to be back home again in Leiston. Another time that I will forever remember was when Alvin Pyeatt was KIA. He was a very likeable fellow and a very hot pilot. He supposedly was the poster boy for the Army Air Force and really looked the part. I think he had two or three enemy planes to his credit and hadn't flown that many
combat missions. The day he didn't return was a very sad day, in fact there wasn't a dry eye in his ground crew or a lot of other buddies.
9. Did you have a favorite pilot or plane and why? That is a tough one-like asking a parent which of their children they liked best. However If I was forced to choose, I would probably pick a 362nd
Fighter Squadron pilot, as there was definitely a competitive spirit thing going between the squadrons. I would probably have to name the 362nd's two triple aces-Kit Carson with his Nooky Booky IV and & John England with his Missouri Armada. All of the squadrons had very brave and great pilots, but
my choices are probably due to the fact that I felt closer to them, being from the same squadron and that competitive thing again.
10. How did you travel from the U.S. to the United Kingdom and how was the journey?
The 357th Fighter Group was moved from Camp Shanks early one evening to new York Harbor to board the Queen Elizabeth I bound for the Firth Of Clyde-Glascow, Scotland. We were loaded as a part of the overload and told that we would be sleeping on the floor of the promenade deck in our sleeping bags. We sailed out late that evening past the Statue Of Liberty and were on our way to the ETO. The trip took approximately 5 1/2 days and the crossing was uneventful. We were told that it took a U Boat 5 minutes to line up and track a ship and then release a torpedo, so the ship changed
course every 4 minutes, which caused a definite lurching of the ship and which kept us alert all of the time. there were 17,000 on board and we were not allowed much time in the dining hall, as there were so many to feed three meals a day. We had plenty of food, but being a British ship and British crew the food was different. It was here that I was introduced to herring, baked beans, toast and tea for breakfast. The worst part of this trip definitely was trying to wash clean in salty water, as it left a person
feeling real sticky all over. Upon arriving in the Firth of Clyde, we were transferred by ferry to a waiting train headed for our new base near Raydon Wood. the memorable part of this midnight ride was the train stopping twice and dousing lights, due to an air raid. At this time we finally realized
that we were definitely in a combat zone.
11. Looking back on your experiences in WWII, how do you view them today? I can say that I certainly look back with pride on what the allied forces were able to accomplish and in particular what the 8th Air Force did toward obtaining a complete victory and specifically what the Yoxford Boys did by establishing a record of which they can be very proud. I really believe that those years shaped my character to be more understanding, more caring and more thankful for what we have as U.S. Citizens. We should all remember this time and never allow it to happen again.
12. Were there problems with the K14 gun sight & was it easy to maintain? The K14 gun sight was one of the most important inventions to be introduced during that period of time. It literally took the guess work out of when to fire the guns at the enemy and probably had a tremendous effect on the
advantage of our pilots over the enemy. There was an Armorer from each of the three squadrons that was sent to school in England to study the K14. John Hoefner was sent from the 362nd and I think this group of three came up with the method of how to mount it in the P51. The only problem that I
can remember having was the tendency of a person grabbing hold of it when entering or leaving the cockpit.
13. How was
gun camera film processed and how soon was it available for viewing by the
pilots? The gun camera film was removed from the camera as soon as the pilot
returned form the mission and the plane was parked on its hard stand. The
film was picked up by one of the photo shop men and registered as to the plane
from which it came. The film was taken to the photo shop and
immediately started through the processing procedure. The film was processed much the same as any film from a standard single shot camera. It generally was completed that night and was ready for viewing the next morning. If I remember correctly, the film was taken through three solutions-an activator, a wash and a rinse, then dried before storing. Each roll was again registered for identification purposes. It was determined from viewing if the pilot got a confirmed victory.
14. How were your living conditions & food? I can honestly state that both were much better than all of us expected them to be. The Nissen Huts were small, but comfortably adequate. Each person
had their own space and most of the huts had room to place a table and benches in the center on one side of the stove for playing cards, writing, etc. Each person had a sort of day bed or metal bed with three cushions to serve as a mattress. It was a problem keeping the three cushions together during the night, but this was done by skillfully wrapping them tightly with an army blanket. It was also comfortably warm after we built wood stoves out of used oil drums to replace the little coke stoves and cut our own wood from trees that had been cleared away when constructing the base. We had a
large shelf above the beds that reached from one end of the hut to the other end and on both sides of the hut-this was used to store personal items and pictures. And naturally most all of the walls of the huts were filled with the standard pin up girls. The two Armament barracks joined together to purchase a radio and an extra speaker, that way both huts could listen to the news and good music from Lord Haw Haw. We also purchased a metal pot in which to heat water for making hot chocolate, coffee and tea in the evenings. We had a great group of cooks and bakers and they fixed some very good chow for us. They could even make powdered milk and powdered eggs taste almost like the real thing.
15. What are your recollections of war time in England? My strongest recollection of war time in England was the strong spirit of the British people and how glad they were to have us join them in the
struggle to defeat Hitler and the Nazi movement. The one thing that remains in my mind was the rationing that was so evident in any of the cities or villages, if you went off the base on a pass. On two separate occasions I remember ordering something to eat in a restaurant and all that was available in the meat line was either steak and kidney pie (mostly kidney) one time and ersatz sausage (mostly corn meal) the other time. Neither was very good, but the people got by OK. They all seemed to be blessed with that so called British stiff upper lip and carried on.
16. What was Germany like after the war & how did you travel from England to the new base in Germany? I will answer the last question first. I was selected to be a member of the Forward Echelon, which meant that this group was to fly to Germany in B17's and get the base ready for the Rear Echelon, which was to travel by convoy and bring all of our equipment overland. The Forward Echelon were issued 45 automatic hand guns to carry at all times and use German prisoners of war to
clean and get the base ready. My job was to spit and polish the base mess hall using about 10 or 12 POW's. We were told that we could walk into the neighboring village and have a beer in the evening, but we should carry our guns, which we did. All of the German civilians were very friendly and acted as if they didn't know why we were carrying those 45's. I think they were all very glad to see the end of the war, so we didn't carry our guns off the base anymore. I remember seeing the German farmers using mixed teams (Horses with Cattle) hitched together and pulling their plows and farm equipment. It was the end to a very bad time in history!!
Hoyt Parmer (R) and Sgt Pressgrove in Germany after the war. Destroyed German aircraft in the backgound, Neubiberg Air Field, near Munich, Germany.
17. How fast
did you receive mail from the United States and were there any other means of communicating with home? The mail service seemed to be
extremely good in spite of the era in history in which we were involved.
It speaks well of the United States and our Allies as a whole, by rallying to the cause and doing the best that was possible
at that time. Generally mail was received within two weeks, unless it was
close to a holiday and there was more volume to process. Packages from
home generally arrived within a three week time frame, but the family at home got around this by shipping very early at Christmastime. All of
the guys in the hut shared with each other-it was a common thing to enter the
hut and find a sack of goodies that some one had placed there for you. The
other means of communication was of course by wire in case of emergency and generally was accomplished by the people at home by asking the Red Cross to help
them get in touch with someone.
18. How hard was it to get news about current events and news from the United States?
We had a very good way of obtaining news-the Stars and Stripes was always available every day at the PX along with a British paper. We also had the our trusty radio and Lord Haw Haw to keep us informed, even if he was a little prejudiced at times.
19. What did you do for recreation and entertainment and did any movie stars
visit the Leiston base while you were there? We had a gymnasium up at the communal site, where we could go shoot hoops and get a pick up basketball game going at about any time. We also had a nice softball diamond near the communal site and we played a lot of softball. Movies were shown nightly in the base theater and there was always the PX, the NCO club, that we could visit. the 357th had their own good dance band that played once per week and at times we had a visiting USO
troop come to our base and put on a show. I do not remember any movie actresses coming to our base.
20. Was the Leiston base ever under attack while you were there and did you have any firearms training for base defense? We had a considerable amount of training on the firing range on handling and usage of various weapons, but very little instruction concerning base defense. And yes, The Leiston base was attacked by a single German Night Fighter/Bomber, that had apparently been in on a raid at the nearby Bomber base and saw a light in our mess hall. We were very lucky in not getting
attacked more often, as the AF 373 was a so called forward base and was very close to the North Sea and German held territory. I can remember crawling on top of our Nissen hut to get a better view of the explosions on the Bomber base during Air Raids at their base.
21. How were the guns on the P-51 Bore Sighted? I will have to speak here in generalities, as we bore sighted both the P39's in training and the P51's in combat and I am a little fuzzy on that. If my memory serves me correctly, we towed the plane to the bore sight range, placed the plane in level line of flight and then using an instrument sighted each gun in to the target using an instrument that fit in the chamber and allowed one to site through the barrel of the gun. I think that the pattern was supposed to converge at around 100yds, which would also allow for numerous hits at shorter and much longer distances. I do know that we would fire practice rounds at the target after bore sighting to double check for accuracy. And I remember dropping the front wheel of the P39 tricycle landing gear in a hole to obtain level line of flight and then firing the 37mm cannon, which actually backed the plane up and out of the hole - the recoil was tremendous. I do know that some of the pilots didn't like to fire the cannon in flight. The P51B and P51D had 50 caliber machine guns in their wings..
22. Painting on the
P51's - did
you help paint them? I remember getting planes in that were olive drab in
color and also some in bright aluminum. If I remember correctly most all
of the British planes
that I saw had a sort of tan and green camouflage paint pattern. I think that it was thought at first that our planes should be painted the olive drab and they more or less would blend in with the grass and shrubbery when parked on the air fields. then later on as we gained superiority and the Germans were no longer coming over in daylight, it was decided to leave them bright aluminum. The only time that I took part in painting the planes was when we added the black and white invasion stripes-and all available hands helped in doing that during that one evening before the invasion the following morning. As I remember it, the stripes were black and white and a definite width and pattern had been established as to how and where they would be painted. This was to be strictly adhered to and measurements were taken to get them as close as possible. I also can remember using masking tape to get the lines straight and the use of brushes to apply it. I am not sure if they were all painted with brushes or if possibly some used the spray equipment that we had. I really can not remember at any time originally painting the base color of the planes, unless it was after a repair job of a patch or something like that. My memory tells me that we used the planes as they arrived at our base. The numbers and victory swastikas were stenciled on and the nose art pictures were all free hand painted, as I remember it. However, some of the pilots & crews would actually glue pictures to the nose and then put a clear lacquer over the top to protect them. I can remember my mother sending me a magazine page size picture of a little baby wearing a diaper. Major Broadhead's wife had a small baby and George Reid, a 362nd armorer, asked me if he could have the picture to glue on Broadhead's plane
"Baby Mike". This was done and then, If my memory serves me correctly Major Broadhead's next plane was named "Master Mike". The basic color of Nooky Booky II-this one I can not remember, but the earlier models were all of the olive drab color, as I remember them. Generally the names on the olive drab planes were a white color and were black on the later model silver basic colored planes.
23. How much effort went into preparing and
keeping the P51's maintained to a combat ready status and did the Armorers help
out the Crew Chiefs? All of the crews looked upon themselves as teams and
worked together to keep the planes ready to the best of their combined
abilities. They were very proud of their plane and their pilot and I do
think that the competitive thing also played a part in their thinking-I guess
you could say that each crew was like a family. A very large amount of
time was spent on working on the plane, even small things, just like a person
taking care of his first automobile. It really hurt the crew when a pilot
had to abort a mission and return, due to a mechanical malfunction or had a
complaint about something upon returning from a mission. I can honestly say that
in most all cases all of the extra time possible was spent on keeping their
plane in the best condition possible.
24. Was your unit undermanned or about right as for the amount of personnel? I definitely believe that our unit was about as close to being manned proportionately correct to the amount of work needing to be done as possible. Of course there were times that were less hectic and we had less work to do and other times we were totally covered, but both of these situations were infrequent.
25.. What other duties did you have? As a Staff Sergeant, I had to take turns in pulling CQ (Charge Of Quarters) and Sergeant Of The Guard. Charge Of Quarters duty was presenting yourself at the Orderly Room at 6 PM and staying awake in the Orderly Room all night long and handling any emergencies or unforeseen things that would arise. At a pre determined time you were to awake all of the officers and enlisted men, so they could eat breakfast and get to the flight line for getting ready for the daily mission. After this was done and generally around 6:30PM you were relieved by the Orderly room crew. The Sergeant Of The Guard was in charge of placing guards on their posts and then relieving them and replacing them with another guard at specified times. If I remember guard duty was on a 4 hour shift basis and the shifts would start at 6PM, 10PM and 2AM or during the darkness hours. The Sergeant Of The Guard was issued a Jeep for transporting the guards to and from their posts and their Nissen Huts. Once each evening or night the Officer Of the Day would accompany the Sergeant Of the Guard to make an inspection of all guard posts. Passwords were used and all of the military procedures and commands were always adhered to. Such as Halt, Who Goes There, and Advance & Be Recognized, etc.
26. What were the differences in the armament of the P51B and the P51D/K? I touched on this in one previously. As I said this is a little vague in my mind, as we bore sighted both the P39's in training and the P51's in combat and I tend to get them mixed up sometime in thinking about how we did each one. The P51B had only two 50 caliber guns per wing and a third one was added on the later models P-51D/K. I do know that I bore sighted 30 and 50 caliber machine guns plus 20 and 37mm cannons and I am sure that the P51's had only 50 caliber machine guns.
27. How reliable were the guns on a P51? -
I know my father experienced guns
jamming in combat! The guns were reliable, unless fired in an extended burst or in a very tight
maneuver. We were told that this had been tested and that in a reasonably straight line of flight or also in less tight maneuvers, the guns were very dependable. It was determined that when using this criteria, the guns would seldom malfunction. However in tight turns and lengthy bursts the guns would malfunction. In order for a gun to shoot and repeat and to afford continuous uninterrupted firing, the rounds had to continue feeding into the chamber and at times the pull of gravity and the forces exerted upon the belt of ammunition would prevent this from happening. In extended bursts, the rifling in the barrels would actually erode away from getting too hot, causing the rounds to sort of lob out of the ends of the barrels. I also know that possibly in the heat of combat, there would definitely be a instinct in the pilot to get his enemy and a possible freeze on the trigger could happen. The designers started laying the guns on the side to help in preventing this kind of stoppage from happening. Of course in some cases, something could unexpectedly break on the gun and cause it to malfunction and just stop firing, but this happened very rarely.
28. Did you prepare any planes for air to
ground missions, such as dropping bombs? Yes, We did this quite a few times,
although the much greater percentage of our scheduled missions were of the long
range escort type with a possible deck strafing job on the return.
The planes were readied with a full load of ammunition in the wing guns and with
the fuel wing tanks loaded on the bomb shackles. On certain bombing
missions we had to attach various types of bombs to the wing bomb shackles.
The Armorers would take the bomb loader to the ordinance department ammo and
bomb storage dump and with the help of the Ordnance Department Crew would pick
up the bombs needed and then using
a sort of lift would attach them to the shackles. After this was done a fuse was placed in the nose of each bomb and a safety wire was also installed in the fuse to prevent the fuse from being activated unless released from the wing shackle by the pilot touching the bomb release inside the cockpit. We were instructed to always handle the fuses by our finger tips instead of the full palm of the hand, as some were so sensitive that body heat could accidentally set off the fuse. This was closely adhered to as a definite precautionary measure.
29. Do you have any stories about Bud
Anderson or any of the other pilots? Probably the one picture that is most
vivid in my memory is the day that a 362nd pilot and one swell guy, Jenkins had
just completed a successful tour of duty, was an ace and had a few Jerries to
his credit. All he had to do
was land his plane, walk away and be on his way back to the states for some R & R. He surely was so happy that he wanted to buzz his hard stand as a show of appreciation to his ground crew, when everything went wrong. His plane started mushing in almost directly over the 362nd Hangar and the
engine started loading up and coughing and he never pulled out of it. There was a horrible crash and all of us just stood there in disbelief. This certainly brought home the fact that the pilots were constantly putting their life on the line and it certainly increased our total respect for them and what they were doing. Another picture that will always stick out in my memory were the victory rolls done by the pilots upon their return from a successful mission. One roll was great, but when they came in and did 2, 3 , 4 and 5 rolls in succession, that was really a show. I can remember seeing a lot of them including your father, Bud Anderson. This was a show to behold!!!
30. How many planes came back with battle
damage, what type of damage and how easy or difficult was it to repair?
Generally speaking, a very small percentage of our planes came back with
battle damage, although a few did return with bullet or flack holes. If the hole was large enough to affect the flight and operation of the plane, the repair was accomplished with a metal skin patch and rivets. I think that the worst damage we experienced on a couple of our planes was when they could not get the landing gear to lower and lock in position upon returning from a mission. Of course, in this case a belly landing was called for and considerable damage occurred when this was attempted. When this happened, the field was always cleared and the ambulance and fire truck were placed near the attempted landing area and everyone waited with their fingers crossed and possibly a silent prayer on their lips. This sort of thing generally happened when the hydraulic system had been damaged by enemy gun fire or flack.
31. What was D-Day like? D Day was
a very emotional time for all of us, as I remember it. We had been going
about our every day duties, doing the same things day after day and then D Day
just sort of happened out of the blue. We had done the painting of the
black and white stripes on the planes and that was the only indication that we
had that something big might be about to happen, but we weren't sure. I
can remember waking up very very early that morning when it was still very dark
hearing the sound of many airplanes overhead. I can remember jumping out
of bed, running outside to take a look. I ran back in and yelled
"This is it". I think everyone in the squadron seemed to go
outside to take a look and it was shortly thereafter that the CQ came by and
said that we were to report to the flight line. I heard that the plan was
for the bombers to take off and get in the air first and then the fighters
were to join them in an all out concentrated effort to soften the German fortifications along the coast of France where the invasion forces were supposed to land, plus some key spots, bridges, etc, behind the German fortifications. I had never seen so many planes in the air at one time-it was really awesome and quite a sight to see. We finally knew that the invasion was happening right before our eyes and that it would only be a matter of time until the war would end and we would be returning home. I firmly believe that this one act helped more to pick up our spirits than anything else that happened to our group. Then the real impact hit us when the planes started returning from this first all out mission and it literally looked like the mass of planes were in the shape of a funnel returning across the North Sea-the ski was covered with bomber and fighter planes. From that first mission and for a few weeks we sort of lived on the flight line, as we seemed to have planes in the air practically all day long.
32. How do you remember VE-Day? The VE
Day event was a different kind of feeling-at this time a lot of celebrating took
place, hangar parties and possibly an extra visit to the NCO club for a beer and
more passes to visit the nearby towns and London. It was just a very happy time
and we knew that it wouldn't be long until we would be moving somewhere.
We just didn't know where, as there was talk of three different destinations;
#1-Being sent to the U S for a 30 day furlough and then sent to the South
Pacific as a group. #2-Being sent to Germany as a part of the Air Force Of
Occupation and #3-Being dissolved and each eligible person to be mustered out
using the point system. I think that most of us
wanted it to be #3, but we got #2, so we resolved ourselves that it would be a few more months until we would be sent home.
33. Please list the names of Armorers you
can remember in the 362nd FS: The names I do remember are: Herbert Adolphson,
John Armstrong, Harry Bailey, Henry Barela, Benjamin Bean, Edward Beaver,
Beeson, John Blom, Bob Bonus, Ted Bowen, George Buckheit, Tony Camillo, Lamar
Christenson, Mike Churmage, Earl Deiter, Amos Decker, Charles Dunne, Al Foelgner,
James Gist, Bob Hamilton, John Hoefner, Ernest Huckleberry, Hugh Keenen, James
Morford, Joe Moores, Ed Morrissey, Vincent Napoli, Hoyt Parmer, Donald Polastri,
George Pressgrove, Ed Prince, Pulver, Alvin Rafferty, George Reid, Ernest
Seeley, John Simpson, Dick Sorenson, Al Tobin, Whitey Viland, Jewell Williams
& Walter Zuremba.
Hoyt Parmer in Eisenhower style jacket dress uniform.
We would like to thank Hoyt for graciously agreeing to participate in this interview and for sharing some of his experiences during WWII with us. He and all the members of the 357th FG deserve our respect and gratitude for their service on our behalf. Click here to visit Hoyt's 357th FG web site. A sincere Thank You Hoyt! Respectfully, Jim Anderson