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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c h a p t e r t h i r t y ........................................................... salina, kansas My tour at Smoky Hill Army Airfield was short but busy. The days were about 48 hours long. New assignees would walk in each day, and they would be greeted and put to work. Our job was to get combat ready in B-29s while they were still inventing the airplanes. We had one B-29 per squadron, most of the time. The majority of our training was done in B-17s and B-26s. During our months in Salina, I checked out all 15 of my pilots in B-29s, myself. It was a cold and snowy winter, and we lived in temporary barracks, heated with coal stoves. On November 30, I received a phone call from Lee’s mother, telling me that Lee had just given birth to a healthy baby boy. We had agreed on the name, Edwin James, after my B-17 navigator, Edwin J. Lannigan, who was killed in the South Pacific. I got to talk to Lee a couple of days later, and she sounded happy. She had located a house to rent, not too far from her folks, and she had found a lady to come in and help with Ed. I was extremely proud of her. I took a few days off over Christmas and flew out to see her and to meet Ed. It was quite an event. It really wasn’t a fancy Christmas, but it was pretty wonderful for Lee and me. It ended all too quickly. I went back to Kansas to continue getting ready to take the B-29s into combat, and Lee went back to the job of being the best little mother in the world and waiting for the war to be over. Letter to Mom and Dad, September 27, 1943 I hope you both don’t feel too bad about my getting into a combat outfit again and preparing to move out once more. Please understand that I’m just not able to stay in the States and take it easy as long as this war is still going on. We have much to do before it is all over for good, and I just have to be in there swinging. I wish it could be otherwise, but it can’t be. I am now the Squadron Commander of the 792nd Squadron. I have a swell bunch of kids, all PAGE 140 ................. 17575$ CH30 10-14-09 12:24:52 PS eager and good pilots. I’m as happy as I can be with the job. I feel sure that in the next few months, I’ll be able to teach them some tricks that I wish someone had taught me before I went out the first time, and I feel sure that we’ll be able to do a real job with this airplane of ours. It’s a pilot’s dream ship. I’ve never flown anything like it before. It’s a big relief to me to know that Lee has found herself a home and will be able to settle down for a while. Without a family, she could have followed me around over the country, living in hotel rooms and eating in restaurants as some of the wives are doing, but we wanted a family enough to make the sacrifices that are necessary. I’m glad she’s back there where she can be near you and where I can fly out and see you all every month or so. This is sure the wrong way to have a child. I should be around to help her over the rough spots, but it’s this way or not at all. She is sure a swell little soldier about it all. Not many people would be able to understand how I feel about this war and be able to put up with all it brings forth the way she does. One of these days it will all be over, and then we will be able to live the way we want to again. That’s the one bright spot—it can’t last forever. Letter to Mom and Dad, October 7, 1943 Lee tells me you are taking good care of her in the way of baby equipment. She sure is a brick to carry on the way she is, ands she sure appreciates all the help you are giving her...


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