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A Short Time in a Small War

by Charles Hinton
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I finished my 50th and last mission on June 6th - another beautiful night to fly. We had bright clear weather and a full moon. A non-aviator wouldn't believe how bright it can be. The moon made it near daylight. We were flying in a glass nosed airplane and I was in the nose. Charlie
"Charlie"

Our assigned route was Green 8 West from Pyongyang to Chinampo - an area without a railroad. We searched the roads and there was nothing - it was like the war had ended. Then we found a truck hurrying down the road but passed him before getting a chance to attack. Braly made a 90 degree and a 270 degree turn to come back down the road to get him. He was gone. How could he disappear from that road? We searched up and down the road and he was gone. Then I found him. One smart driver. He was parked in the shade of a tree and nearly invisible. Parked in the shade at night! We didn't get him. I don't remember why. On the way home we had some bombs remaining and we made another attempt to bring down the smokestack at Chinampo. The stack must have been 500 foot tall and everybody tried to get it. The smokestack was still standing when I left.

Don Mathews
"Don Mathews"
Don Mathews tells a story about the Chinampo smokestack. He tells about the navigator who had misplaced the wafer switch on his communications box and had it on Command. A radar operator on the island of Chodo - just southwest of Chinampo - was treated to the navigators running commentary on the war. As they headed south they decide to drop their last bombs on the smokestack. The navigator tells the pilot, "Pull up you son-of-a-bitch - you're going to hit the smokestack." Then he discovers his wafer switch on command and switches back to intercom. Noting the silence - the radar operator comes on and says, "Did you make it?"

I finished my 50th mission and turned Jim Braly over to the care of a new navigator, Jim Petree. On Braly's first mission with Petree he insisted on attacking a target that the rest of the crew thought was suspicious. It was a flak trap and the plane was riddled. Jim nursed the B-26 to Chodo Island off the west coast for bailout. They couldn't open the belly doors for the gunner, Stan Brown, to bail out and Stan went out the top hatch, over the radio compass dome and off the horizontal stabilizers. I think he was the only gunner to ever succeed as this. Braly and Petree also survived the bailout.

Late May and early June were bad days. May 30th the Group lost two crews in one night. The 90th lost Major Wilson and his crew and the 13th lost Ray Wells, navigator Robert Ramsey and gunner Clarence Wheelright.

Robert Ramsey
"Robert Ramsey"
Ray Wells
"Ray Wells"
David Dell
"David Dell"

On June 6th Archie Tranthan, Jack Burrel and Jim Cave went down. The word went around they had reported they were on fire and bailing our over the island south of Purple 11 - probably gotten by a fighter. On the 7th Howard Schoenover, David Dell and Fred Ward's crew crashed on takeoff - again a 13th plane. Then on June 23rd another airplane crashed at the end of the runway killing gunner Don Hart. From the end of May through the July period there were 7 consecutive losses from the 13th. I left Korea on June 28th.

Sometime not long after that the Group stood down for training and new rules were put in effect about the use of the hardnoses and other mission procedures. I heard the hard noses were redistributed back among the 8th and 90th Squadrons. Someone discovered we were flying the airplanes overgrossed (big surprise!) and the loads were cut down. Who could imagine a slick winged B-26 departing on a combat mission.

Fox
"Fox"
I look back at my service in Korea with great pride. Although I could not have said it so eloquently, I felt as Captain Byron Dobbs, who said, "...I did feel that the United Nations would live or die on the basis of what happened on this peninsula. I felt that I should do my part." Captain Dobbs and Jim Stanley, who was a navigator classmate of mine, stood up to the germ warfare torture and came home with their pride.

People have forgotten there was another war with fuzzy aims in which people fought and died and came home without brass bands and welcome home parades. I am proud that I did my part.

-- Charles Hinton, 13th Navigator
Charles Hinton
"Charles Hinton"

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