Born Brooklyn, NY. 92 years old.
Volunteered in U.S. Army Aircorp as a B-29 bomber navigator and radar officer. Flew 27 missions.
1:50-3:50- story about horse sculpture, study for a dream about horses running from east to west side of Berlin wall.
4:00 Born October 4, 1923 in Brooklyn, was 171/2 living in NY on Pearl Harbor Day. Before Pearl Harbor, was aware of persecution of Jews, was aware of Hitler and that both Germany and Japan were aggressive enemies
20:17 FDR was “larger than life” figure, respected leader
21:00 His older brother was already in the Marines. Jack, at 19, October 1942, enlisted in Army Air Corps, assigned as a radio operator.
Basic training was in San Antonio. Madison, Wisconsin, was where he did radio school training.
24:00- “better education in service than outside”
25:17 Wanted to be an aviator cadet – felt he would be a navigator
26:25- Then sent to Boca Raton for radar training which was brand new at the time
27:00 There were two types of bombing; area bombing and pinpoint bombing which was secret.
27:03- Area bombing was at night where you just picked up images from the ground and by those images and from those images called day of reckoning and also through calculation, celestial navigation, I was able to pinpoint the position. We actually flew over the target and I would say “prepare to drop the bombs,” and then I would say “bombs away!” and then the bombs fell.
28:00 Altitudes in relation to bombing missions
There were three different altitudes, but the night missions became very common because the first one was extraordinarily successful because we took the enemy by surprise completely. They had no indication of it and the regular bombings that we come by. Every plane flew separately and met or rendezvoused off shore of Japan. They would fly in in formation and in formation. We had what was called a tight formation and the tighter the formation the better you were protected so that was in daytime when it was clear. At night you came in by yourself between five and six thousand feet, but lights out so there were a lot of in air collisions because the lights were out. That’s the way it was done when we dropped the area bombs that I described to you.
30:00- He flew 27 missions
30:30- Wife prompts about bomb keys –two min story
31:00- I wanted to keep a historic record of what I was going through. I knew I was going through a momentous moment in the history of the world.
At the beginning of every mission they took out these safety keys from the bombs and loaded the bombs in the bomb bay tanks. I took one bomb key from every mission, and I wrote the date and the mission and what the purpose was and I sent it to my mother.
What did the bomb keys do?
I put it in position, but it didn’t change anything. It was exactly the same procedure. Just like when you’re taking one piece from one place to another you remove certain extra pieces that you no longer need and that’s what they call these bomb keys.
I have always done a lot of writing, and I wanted to recall what these missions were, and as a gag line if somebody looked at me I would say, “that’s for my grandkids.”
32:58-37:48 Iwo Jima stories- 1st or 2nd ever emergency landing there to refuel Tattletail Charlie (see below in 34:38), they could try to avoid him. Crew jumped out, pistols drawn.
32:50- On the first bombing raid, after we had captured Iwo Jima, we hadn’t really captured it yet but they called it the island was secure. And it was close enough so that you could use it as an emergency landing strip. It didn’t have formal fields, but there was a strip that you could actually land the plane on and we took Iwo Jima. Because it was half way between my base, which was in Saipan which was part of the Tinian islands, and the target, which was Japan, and as I said you never knew where you were going night, day, high altitude, low altitude and so on. This was particularly planned because it was coordinated with the land forces who actually took the base. They said it was ok to make an emergency landing on Iwo Jima, because one of the big problems was the fight between the size of the bomb load and the gasoline, the more gasoline you carried, the less bombs and vice versa.
34:38 So we were all set. We knew we would be met by the squadron of P51’s out of Iwo Jima, but we would meet them off the coast of Japan. And nobody met any until we got right there, because flying formation wasted a lot of gasoline and we were saving petrol all the way. So when we got right there the Japanese were surprised. We used to have a plane that came out and met us about 25 miles out, and we called him Tattletail Charlie because he wired in our altitude and our airspeed which made our anti-aircraft guns more accurate. When Tattletale Charlie came out, boom a P51 came out. He was down and this was all the movies that you’ve seen of air fights just put them all together and that’s what we had that particular day.
At the end of the session we were so riddled with bullets we didn’t know how badly hurt we were. We were like we have to make an emergency landing on Iwo Jima. I knew immediately that we didn’t have enough fuel to get back to Saipan, and I called the pilot and advised some of that. I said, ”I’m charting a course for Iwo Jima and we have to make an emergency landing on Iwo Jima.” And we did exactly that. We flew, I reset the course, we flew directly to Iwo Jima and when we came in, I don’t remember if we were the first or the second plane that came in there, but the crew came out to refuel us to get us refueled and out. That was the whole mission, but in the meantime they were still fighting for the island. So the crew came off the plane, surrounded the plane and stood with pistols drawn, because we could be attacked at any time. And now we’re protecting the plane and there were bushes to the side there. And I swear I saw movement in the bushes and then I had the mental problem, do I fire into the bush or do I ignore it? Because once I fire I’m going to get return fire, and we have to bring that plane back. This was really the mission, so we did not fire and they didn’t fire at us. We refueled and took off for Saipan and we were very, very low…
38:30- then they had a mic problem
40:33- wife tells a story about Reagan
41:18- back to Iwo Jima story, he was 22, he has survivor guilt
41:52 We took off safely and we knew that we were leaking a lot. By the time we landed we were tapped out. We actually had to feather one engine because it was all gone, and we landed. Afterwards they stalked the plane and they said there were over one hundred holes in it. There was a shell in one of the tanks that never exploded so…
One of the big things most of us had to contend with was survivor guilt, which was part of what followed.
We came through our missions and we all survived.
22 when he landed in Iwo Jima
44:00 I had a tough upbringing but I’ll put it this way. I didn’t know that we were that poor, because everybody around us was poor so everybody was pretty much the same. But survival on the streets of New York, you just learn to think of survival skills.
44:33 I was fortunate because I can’t say anything about my skills. If I’m sitting in one plane and some plane to the left of me is flying and I wave and the copilot waves back at me. Suddenly that plane fills with smoke and it’s gone, there’s no explaining it. There’s no saying, “why me why them?” I got in the habit of when questions get too big for me, I have learned to let it go, it’s not going to make any difference anyway.
45:57 He always had a sense of what he was fighting for “the last Noble War” what folks called WWII
45:26 I have always had a sense of what I was fighting for, because as a kid I was very knowledgeable politically so I knew what we were fighting for. And I’m sure I didn’t coin the phrase it was called “the last noble war” where we actually knew what we were fighting for. We actually knew what we were defending; we were defending our lives.
46:39 As Jews, the next step was lamp shades. It just didn’t make sense. We had to fight with all the skill that we had and all the courage we could muster.
47:40 Preston Sturgess “Why we fight series”
48:20 Inspection before getting paid
Ever think about not surviving the war?
48:59 “I thought of it constantly, particularly after the first mission. We were all very much aware and all had varying degrees of fear. You just did it and you face it. I saw people crack up that they couldn’t take the strain. I saw people falling down on the floor when they announced what the next mission was, as a matter of fact. We were well aware of the dangers. If we were captured, because you were being captured by people who you just destroyed their homes so they weren’t too friendly, and as a matter of fact, I heard after the war that there were 1,500 B-29 prisoners of war taken. We learned that there were three alive. They were very brutal.
51:40- 52:44 Poison pill instructions.
1:05:25 Got on troop ship to get home, it was a ten-day trip home.
1:06:30- 3 years 3 months in uniform
1:07:28 Some people liked to be in the military, because you are told what to eat what to drink, what to wear every day. There’s a uniform of the day and
1:08:30 I could not wait to be a civilian, I did not take advantage of any of the GI bill of rights because I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to learn anymore. I did subsequently, a number of years later, I did buy a house under the GI bill but going directly into business I never worked for anybody again. I went directly into business, called my own shots. I was happy as can be. Whether I’m right wrong or indifferent, no matter how it came out, I was a happy camper.
1:11:00 The war left him fearless in business, disciplined and no fear of failure in a business way.
1:14:25 Working for RFK
1:14:50 Sense of tolerance, relationship with Japanese after war
1:16:00- Tokyo Rose
Tokyo Rose would welcome you. She’d say, Welcome aircraft B-29” and so and so and she’d say, “Well, how are you doing Jack?” She seemed to have all the facts, but I think the most significant part of it was that I hated the Japanese and they hated me. I saw men bail out and as they were floating down the fighter planes would come by and strafe them and kill them in the air, and then we did the same thing to them.
I saw pilots who had bailed from planes being killed mid-air and we did the same to them. But in 1957 I got the idea about sending flatware sets to Japan to see if they could replicate it for cheaper.
1:20:10- “ishi-bui” means a good feeling, like how I became friends with Japanese and blended it with my Iwo Jima moment of sensing someone in the bushes.
1:22:50- 1988 I got a call from Reagan about expanding trade with Japan- he and others went there on trade mission to negotiate.