My World War II Experiences In The Pacific

Here is a map of part of the Pacific Ocean.

The distance from Oahu (of the Hawaiian Islands) to Saipan is in excess of 2000 miles.

Map of South Pacific

I was assigned to a crew (pictured at right):

The officers, standing, are (left to right): Col. Julian Hodges, John B. Paine, James C. Rimmer, and Donald L. Thomas

The enlisted men, in front, are: William H. Marsh, Vader Pennington, Bob Parmigiani, Bob LaFara, James B. Moss, and Joe Shemitz

Bob LaFara and Crew in WWII

I was the tail gunner, shown here inside a tail turret.

Bob LaFara inside B24 tail turret gun

Here is an outside view of a tail turret (no, I didn’t ride on the outside.)

Bob sitting on B-24 tail turret

We were sent to Saipan and assigned to the 819th Bombardment Squadron of the 30th Air Group.

819th Bombardment Squadron sign

We lived in a Quonset hut.

Quonset Huts during WWII in South Pacific

Our squadron had a mess hall and an outdoor movie theater.

Theater at Kobler Field, Saipan during WWII

We flew from an airfield called Kobler Field. Here is a picture of the control tower.

Kobler Field Control Tower

The planes in our squadron were B-24’s, the stripe on the tail identified our squadron.

B24 of 819th Bombardment Squad over the South Pacific

Here is part of our squadron flying in formation.

B-24's in Formation over South Pacific

The plane that I flew the most missions in was, Jeeter Bug.

B-24 Jeeter Bug

Most of our missions were flown to bomb Iwo Jima.

At the far left, the Southernmost tip of the island, is Mount Suribachi. Note the runways for fighter planes.

Aerial of Iwo Jima in WWII

After the American invasion of Iwo Jima, we flew the plane Evasive Action.

B-24 Evasive Action

to Kwajalein Atoll to conduct a sea search. Before the American landing on Kwajalein Island, the island had a significant stand of palm trees. Due to heavy bombardment, very few trees were left as shown in this picture.

WWII Kwajalei

Later, myself, and other crew members, were awarded the Air Medal for our combat missions.

Bob LaFara receiving the Air Medal
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