Selman Field

After leaving Nashville, I was transferred to Selman Field in Monroe, Louisiana, for pre-flight training. Selman Field had been activated on June 15, 1942. And, on August 15, 1942, Pre-Flight (Bombardier-Navigator) had been transferred from Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama, to Selman. I must have been in one of the first pre-flight classes at Selman, since I trained there for three months, in October, November, and December of 1942. We lived in dorms, ate in the cafeteria, and we were served at our tables. We weren't required to go through the serving line. Selman did not offer advanced training at the time. After finishing pre-flight training at Selman, I had to wait at Monroe for several days before being transferred to Coral Gables, Florida, and the University of Miami.

Over the years, I have never forgotten the damp and cold early November and December mornings when we arose at 5:30 am. Our morning chant was " My, it is cold in Monroe! My, it's cold in Monroe! It's as cold as the end of a witch's tit, cold as the edge of a toilet seat! My, but it's cold in Monroe."

When we left Monroe for Miami, we took a train that had no diner. So, we stopped in Jackson, Mississippi, and had to march into town for chow. Along the way, some guy began singing "Sherman Marching thru Georgia," and the platoon chimed in. A Second Looie was in charge, and really reamed us out. He was a southerner who warned us that shotguns would be blaring tout-suite if we continued to sing that song. It seems that Southerners had never forgotten Sherman's march to the sea during the civil war.

Pre-flight training was completed by the end of 1942, and I was transferred to the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, where Pan-American Airways and the University conducted our classroom instruction. And, Pan-American conducted the airborne training missions in the Atlantic and Gulf areas. We were told that all Pan Am pilots first had to have navigator ratings.

The flights were in 1931 Sikorski seaplanes, that had a cruise speed of around 100 knots. All of the take offs and landings were by sea. My early entry into the service, and by the training flights being classified as submarine patrol, earned me the American Defense and American Theatre of Operations ribbons.

On 5 June 1943, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant and awarded my navigator's wings at a ceremony in the Orange Bowl.

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