Flight over Hiroshima for RKO/Pathe News -December 13, 1945

Flights of a LifeTime: Hiroshima and Mt. Fuji

Before you start reading ...

This is long. I'd suggest you read it on a laptop or desktop instead of a phone.

"Topics" (menu above) jumps you between sections. "Notes" (menu above) explains how inline notes (e.g.⎾he loved journalism too⏋) work.

Warning - inline notes are rabbit holes. Once you go in, you can get lost. Keep in mind the best part is Conversation with Dad under "Hiroshima & Mt. Fuji." Everything else is context.

Too much detail? Maybe, but I enjoyed spending time again with him. Miss you Dad.

Backstory

Dad loved everything about airplanes (and rockets ... even hot-air balloons). If it flew, it had his attention.

Growing up though, I only saw him busy with work, projects around the house, or handling my mother's mental health problems. I knew that he enjoyed aviation ... I just didn't know how much. For me, the closest he came to flying was our father-son time when we'd build plastic airplane kits, fly model planes, or launch Estes model rockets.

When I was around eight or so (about 1964), I remember he'd take me to the airport in South Bend. We watched planes take off and land - but nothing more. Then as a teenager, I started to hear about when he really did go flying. It was back before he was married, had children (well ... me), and those "family years" that while rewarding, can cause dreams to slip away.

Roll ahead to December 1999.

My wife Cindy decided to ask Dad about memorable events during his life. Typical for Dad (he loved journalism too), his responses were both articulate and insightful:

"[Tell us about winning the] Spelling bee in 8th grade." Reactions, feelings, etc.?

"This you won't believe! I do not recollect any particulars of the spelling contests with the exception of two memories:

  1. the constant practice/drilling of going over and over words with my Mother and working with the dictionary; and
  2. a memory. We left real early in the morning, probably around 3:30 or so to go to the Sioux City (TriState) meet. It was pitch dark when we left, and I can even now recall very sharply the sight that unfolded as daylight began to break. It seemed the whole sky was nothing but a great blue bowl turned over us as we putted along at probably 45-50 miles an hour in a '33-'34 car on this big trip!"

Info, newspaper article, his medal

More questions & responses are in Lowell Stories: Stalled On The Tracks (& more) and Lowell Stories: Would It Still Have Happened?, others related to flying and World War II are below.

Jump ahead to November 2010.

By now I'd heard most of Dad's flying stories, but I wanted to save them - and his voice. So one afternoon I brought my audio recorder over to his apartment at Waltonwood, and we re-lived his best flying stories.

Dad passed away in June of 2015.

That was nine years ago. Dad was my best friend; and when you lose your best friend sometimes it takes a while before you can hear their voice again. But it's time. What follows are his thoughts, my memories, some research, and best of all - our recording.

Growing Up

To understand why Dad fell in love with flying, consider when he grew up.

November 11, 1918 - WW I - "The War to End All Wars" ends.Elliot (Dad's dad) served in the war

1920s - With lots of planes and pilots left after the war, barnstorming becomes the rage.

youtube-video-thumbnail
History of Barnstorming video (00:03:42)

July 5, 1922 - Dad is born in Corning, Iowa (Adams County).

1929 - Dad is 7 years old living in Corning, IA. (Did he ever see a barnstormer fly overhead? I don't know when he saw his first airplane, but he did tell me he saw crop dusters as a kid.)

When & where Dad lived.

May 27, 1930 - Howard Hughes releases the talking movie Hell's Angels about two brothers, both members of the British Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. It hadstunning aerial footage and dogfights.

 1933 - Dad is in 6th & 7th grade (11-12 years old) living in Omaha, Nebraska. Did he see Hell's Angels at the theater?

1936 - Fall - Dad is in 9th grade (14 years old) and back in Corning, IA until he graduated from high school.

Inman Brothers Flying Circus and their Ford Trimotor - about 1936

"Why the Air Force?"

"As long as I can remember, I always wanted to fly. During early high school (probably 10th grade [1937-38]), my close buddy Ed Riegel and I scrounged up 50 cents and took our first airplane ride in a Ford TriMotor which was barnstorming the area [Corning, IA] and giving rides. To this day I can still vividly recall the experience of the earth dropping away from under under us and the freedom I felt in the air! I couldn't get into Pilot Training because of my color blindness, however the AF [Air Force] came up with a program for Aircraft and Engine Mechanics andShortyand I took it."

September 1, 1939 - Germany invades Poland.

May, 24, 1940 - Dad graduates from Corning High School.

1941-42 - After high school and until he enlisted in November of 1942,  Dad lived in Des Moines, IA and worked at the Ordinance Plant in Ankeny (which later became the John Deere Des Moines (aka Ankeny) Works) He also completed a three month, condensed Mechanical Engineering course at Iowa State University in Ames.

Soldiers Qualification Card

"What was it like to be a young man when World War II broke out?"

"At the initial outbreak in 1939 when Hitler marched on Czechoslovakia, very few if any fellows my age had the slightest interest in the situation. Those days we were quite isolated from world problems. No TV, and the countries talked about were only places from our recent high school geography lessons. However, as the US began to arm and build "war plants", they quickly became good places of employment for those whose skills were limited by their young age. I recall working at the Ordnance Plant in Des Moines [making] .50 caliber machine gun bullets - for the Corps of Engineers who were building it. I worked in the payroll department making $120 per month and thought I was on top of the world. However, the unbelievable in my mind were the steamfitters, pipefitters, architect designers etc., who were making as much as $5.00-$6.00 an hour!! With overtime, they were pulling in up to $510-550 per week!! WOW."

"Did you foresee the U.S. involvement"

"No, we weren't that sophisticated - the war was clear over in Europe and we were just supplying Britain with the necessary materials etc."

Serving in the US Army Air Force

"What made you enlist?"

"Several reasons, none of which can be singled out as the prime reason. 1) it was rapidly becoming (as would be said today) 'politically incorrect' to not be in the service defending our country. Patriotism was a badge of honor in those days, not watered down and stepped on as so frequently happens today. If those that do that only had some faint idea of what it means to live in this country, we'd have a lot less of the strife that goes on; 2) and probably equally as strong if not stronger a motive, my draft number would eventually catch up with me and then I'd have no say over what branch or duty I might draw; 3) and finally, a mixture of the fact thatGin and Ihad broken up and I had no real attachment to keep me in Des Moines, plus that herUncle Shortyand I agreed to enlist together."

"What was your parents' attitude about the U.S. involvement?"

"My dad still carried memories of World War I with respect to the Germans, and was highly indignant and angry about Pearl Harbor. In addition to their US patriotism of course, was their concern for their two boys in the service."

Soldiers Qualification Card

A summary of Dad's time in the service:

November 1942-September 1943 - Dad enlisted, boot camp at Waco, TX, then Aircraft & Mechanic Training School at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, TX.

September 1943-April 1945 - Stationed at Dodge Field in Dodge City, KS as a crew chief/aerial engineer/airplane mechanic for B-26 mid-range bombers. His responsibility? When the pilot was ready to fly the plane, the plane was ready to fly.

April 1945-September 1945 - Bounced around awaiting orders to ship overseas.

September 1945-January 1946 - Crew chief/aerial engineer for General Ennis Whitehead's personal B-25 at HQ in Atsugi, Japan. Whitehead was commander of the Far East Air Forces.

February 1946 - Honorable discharge at Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth, TX.

A very detailed list of Dad's time in the service:

Detailed version - Dad's service events

Dad didn't see direct conflict like his brother Chuck (US Navy) and brother-in-law Pete McGaffin (US Army), but like them, he was one of the lucky ones that got to come home when the war was over.

Martin B-26 Marauder

"The passed up flight?"

"This would have been in 1944 when I was at Dodge City Air Force Base, flying in B-26's (twin engine medium bomber called the Martin Marauder). The Base was a transition base that trained newly commissioned pilots who had just finished their advanced training into combat type aircraft. As crew chief/aerial engineer of a particular airplane, it was our job to maintain and fly with that plane. At the end of their training with us, the new pilots, along with their instructor and we crewmen, had to take a cross-country flight to complete their training. [Curious how to fly a B-26? Check out this original training video: Martin B-26 Marauder pilot training film - 1944.]

Many times Des Moines (DSM) was chosen because of it having quite a reputation of being a "going town." You may or may not know, but before the war, because of being such a commercial insurance and banking center, Des Moines had a ratio of approximately 8-10 women to 1 man, then the military brought in the WAS [WCAC - Women's Army Auxiliary Corps] and that really made for a wild scene!

But back to the question: I had just returned to Dodge City from a trip which saw us overnight in Memphis, Minneapolis, and then a couple days in DSM. As I left the plane headed for the Operations Office, one of my buddies came up to me and said that my plane was scheduled to go right back to DSM in the morning. Was I going to take it? Ordinarily I sure would have, but for what reason unknown to this day, my mouth said, 'No, Bob, you can have it'.

Later I kicked myself, but I had committed and that was that. Next evening we got word that they had landed at Lincoln NE to refuel and had crashed on takeoff. All aboard were lost."

"Did you lose a friend or family?"

"Yes. A first cousin who went into Omaha Beach on D-Day as an under-water demolitions expert (SEAL) - killed in preparatory work for the beach landings to come behind them. I also lost 4 or 5 friends I made in the military - killed during training flights, plus an old school mate (Bob Kuhl) from Corning. He was the fellow who Gin's folks said I could could take her to the prom if he didn't ask her!

B-26 & B-25 Bombers

Martin B-26 Marauder
Martin B-26 Marauder

During his stateside time (1943-1945), Dad was trained on and supported the B-26 Marauder medium bomber. With two 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines, B-26 combat missions required a crew of (5-7) - two pilots, a bombardier/navigator, radio operator, and 2-3 gunners. It was designed for maximum speed of 350 mph, a range of 1,100 nautical miles and bomb payload capacity of about 4,000 pounds. Medium bombers normally operated at an altitude of 10,000 to 15,000 feet and had a ceiling of 24,000 ft.

In Japan (1945-1946), Dad was crew chief/aerial engineer for General Whitehead's B-25J Mitchell. Like the B-26, the B-25 was also a medium bomber, but had two smaller 1,700 hp Wright R-2600 engines and could be distinguished by the twin tail design. The B-25 was similar in performance to the B-26, but was lighter, cost 25% less, and twice as many (a little less than 10,000 planes) were built.

B-25 Mitchell

Both the B-25 and B-26 have amazing histories. The B-25 was used in Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Tokyo after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and while the B-26 finished the war with the lowest loss rate of any bomber, it early-on earned the nickname "Widowmaker." Short, stubby wings on the early B-26 caused it to stall at 110 mph resulting in many fatal crashes. The safety record improved though as pilots learned to land and takeoff at higher speeds (130-140 mph) and the wings were lengthened from 65 to 71 feet.

Hiroshima & Mt. Fuji

I was a teenager when I heard Dad first mention (rather casually) to a friend of mine, that he'd flown over Hiroshima after they dropped the atomic bomb. I think it was about the same time when I also heard him tell about being in a B-25 as it rolled off the top of Mt. Fuji.

Those are once in a lifetime stories. I'm glad we recorded them back in 2010; five years later Dad was gone. If you have family members with stories to tell (who doesn't), don't let them fade away. Once they're gone, the stories are gone too.

"How did you feel about the Japanese after the war?"

"It didn't become really personal until after we landed in Japan. Up to that point, it was an impersonal thing - they were the enemy, but purely a distant perception. Once I landed i n Japan, I could not believe that a country so rural, "third world" in our terms today could have had the audacity and stupidity to attack us as they did. They totally underestimated the American people and their love of country. My feelings after arrival? I went about our business of doing my job as the Crew Chief/Engineer of General Whiteheads (C. G. of 5th Air Force) personal B-25 and maintaining direct contact only with the Japanese houseboy we had in our barracks. It was while at Atsugi Airbase outside of Tokyo that I met up with one of my old friends from Corning, Frank Keete. Frank was First Sergeant of the squadron I was assigned to! That helped life a little bit.

"Hiroshima?"

"[The] Hiroshima overflight was made in the General's B-25, carrying a pilot, copilot, Aerial Engineer (me), a cameraman and reporter from Fox Movietone News. As I recall the reporters name was Jay Bonafield, and the cameraman was ??? O'Reilly. No, we had no inkling that the place was a hotspot of radiation. Seeing the scene, it wasn't too difficult to visualize what happened to the populace. The city was totally devastated - from ground zero in the center of the city, for blocks and blocks and blocks, all was gone - vaporized - cinders and ash. Only a very few (2, 3 ?) modern stone/concrete buildings stood as shells, all inside was burned out. As you looked out towards the edge of the city, the ring of destruction became less and less, until finally way out there, all was standing upright. Picture a cross section of the area as a shallow bowl wherein the center is depressed and the sides gradually become vertical. I don't recall any particular comments, except the exclamation of total awe and the mixture of relief that this had ended the war and sadness that it took such an extreme measure to do it. However, I have never yet heard an ex-serviceman say he was really sorry, for it meant the saving of thousands and thousands of American lives which would have been lost in an invasion and the subsequent fighting within the country."

Note: When you play Dad's interview below (or you can watch it as a Youtube video), focus on his voice. The images (one about every 45 seconds) are fun and can help you imagine what he experienced, but the real treasure is his voice and his stories.

For a few minutes, pretend you're there ... peering out the window, hearing the props roar, smelling the engines throttle-up as your wheels leave the runway ...

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After the War

The same day he was discharged, Dad enlisted for 3 years in the Air Force Reserves. When that was up, he re-enlisted again in the reserves for another 3 years and 8 months. During that time he became a licensed commercial single-engine pilot and earned his aircraft mechanic license.

February 12, 1946 - Honorable Discharge (Corporal, Aerial Engineer 2750) from US Army at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

February 12, 1946 - Re-enlist (AF-17 070 965) in Air Force Enlisted Reserve Corps at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

June 19, 1946 - Aircraft Mechanic/Aircraft Engine Mechanic certificate.

September 27, 1946 - Aircraft and Aircraft Engine Mechanic Refresher Course at American Technical School in Des Moines, IA.

October 19, 1946 - First private flight log entry "Luscombe/Cont. 65 - Local, First Solo (1.10 hrs)."

May 17, 1947 - Flight log entry "Aeronca 7AC?/Cont. 65 - Private Pilot Certificate (1.00 hrs)."

May 18, 1947 - Flight log entry "Aeronca 7AC/Cont. 65 - Sadies' [my mother - Sadie Tomes Foster] first Ride (0.35 hrs)."

September 18, 1947 - US Army Air Force becomes US Air Force.

February 1, 1949 - Honorable Discharge (AF-17 070 965) from Air Force Enlisted Reserve Corps.

February 2, 1949 - Re-enlist (AF-17 070 965) in Air Force Enlisted Reserve Corps.

February 3, 1949 - Commercial Single Engine Pilot license.

February 2, 1950 - Flight log entry (last until 2009) "Cessna 140/Cont. - Night check ride for color-vision (0.20 hrs)."

October 1, 1952 - Honorable Discharge (AF-17 070 965) from Air Force Enlisted Reserve Corps.

In 1950, Dad quit flying.

During my adult years, Dad often talked about how much he missed being up in the clouds.

As luck would have it, a close family friend had become a commercial pilot and flight instructor. So for Father's day in June of 2009, Ashish, Dad, & I went up for a couple of hours in a rented Diamond DA40.

I sat in the back seat, Dad had the stick, and Ashish re-certified him. My hands were glued to the seat. I'd never flow with Dad before. But when Ashish told him to grab the stick and take over, it was as if 60 years hadn't gone by.

We flew out to the Carolina coast, Dad did some touch-and-go landings at a small airstrip, and then he brought us back home. Smooth as silk, totally at ease, one last adventure in the clouds; Dad was back where he belonged.

June 24, 2009 - Last private flight log entry "DA-40/Lycoming IO-360-180 - PGV-EWN-PGV, Normal TD/Landings, Turns, Cruise Flight, Changes, 3 Landings (1.7 hrs)."

November 7, 2010 - Audio recording with Dad sharing his flying stories.

June 17, 2015 - Dad passed away.

Hidden Content

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  • The spelling bee was the Adams County annual spelling contest, held in Corning, Iowa probably on Friday March 13, 1936. With 94 contestants competing in two categories (oral & written) - Dad won 1st place for the written category.
  • Here's a copy of the article his Mom must have torn from the paper (image of the front page) and a photo of his medal. He kept both the article and medal all these years; one day they'll pass on to his granddaughters.
  • Elliot (Lowell's Dad) served in the US Army Field Artillery from September 21, 1917 to February 6, 1919.
  • Cromwell, IA - Union County
    1905 - Elliot Foster (Lowell's Dad - age 17) listed in the 1905 IA Census.
  • MT - Chouteau County
    1910 - Elliot Foster (age 22) listed in the 1910 US Census.
  • Latah, WA - Spokane County
    1917 - Elliot Foster (29) had been a sheep shearer until he entered the U.S Army in Latah and served (September 21, 1917 - February 6, 1919) during the war in Battery E, 346 Field Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces. Latah, SW of Spokane, was a town of 339 people in 1910.
  • Quincy, IA - Adams County
    1920 - Elliot Foster (31) listed in the 1920 US Census.
    "I believe it was before they were married that he [Elliot] worked for a man named John Marr at the City Laundry.
  • Prescott, IA - Adams County
    January 20, 1921 from Ancestry.com - Elliott Foster married Velda Harper.
  • Corning, IA - Adams County
    July 5, 1922 - Lowell Elliot Foster born.
    Fall 1923 - Age: 1 [Corning, maybe Omaha?]
    "Then after marriage in 1920 and my coming along in 1922, he [Elliot] worked for Nevius Grocery [Corning] in the store and delivering."
  • Omaha, NE
    "At some time during my very early life, we moved to Omaha, Nebraska - this was before Chuck and Ellie were born - but I don't know what his work was there. I vaguely have a recollection of conversations regarding him working with an old war buddy - a Bud Powers - who had to do with livestock and the Omaha Stockyards, which was a huge operation in those days. For whatever reason, we came back to Corning, where Chuck and Ellie were born, and I started to Kindergarten in the brand new school building."
    Fall 1924 - Age: 2 [in Omaha or Corning?]
  • Corning, IA - 1013 8th Street #6
    January 1, 1925 - Elliot (age 37), Velda (36), Lowell (2) listed in Corning in 1925 IA Census.
    June 10, 1925 - Charles Ellis Foster (Chuck) born.
    Fall 1925 - Age: 3
    Fall 1926 - Age: 4
    April 23, 1927 - Corning, Iowa - Eleanor Jeanne Foster (Ellie) born.
    1927-1928 [Dad's guess] - "1013 8th Street #6, Corning, Iowa" on back of photo with Chuck & Dad in the donkey cart.
    Fall 1927 - Age: 5, Grade: K
    Fall 1928 - Age: 6, Grade: 1
    Fall 1929 - Age: 7, Grade: 2
  • Prescott, IA
    "Probably in 1931 we moved to Prescott where he had the Standard Oil Bulk Plant that supplied the northeastern part of Adams County. As the Depression really settled in in 32 and 33, when banks were closed and companies and farms were going bankrupt, too many customers couldn't pay him their bills, he couldn't pay Standard Oil, thus the business was lost."
    April 4, 1930 - John (age 80), Elliot (42) - operator oil truck, Velda (41), Lowell (7), Chuck (4), Eleanor (2) listed in 1930 US Census
    Fall 1930 - Age: 8, Grade: 3
    Fall 1931 - Age: 9, Grade: 4
    Fall 1932 - Age: 10, Grade: 5
  • Omaha, NE
    "After that he landed a job with Armour Meat Packing Company in Omaha, Nebraska and back we went! I went through 6th and 7th grades there at Windsor School. That job ended when Armour shut their plant down."
    Fall 1933 - Age: 11, Grade: 6
    Fall 1934 - Age: 12, Grade: 7
  • Prescott, IA
    "... because my Granddad owned a house in Prescott, Iowa we went back there where I went through 8th grade.
    Fall 1935 - Age: 13, Grade: 8
    March 19, 1936 - Council Buffs newspaper - Lowell was the written winner for Adams County spelling contest, listed as from Prescott IA.
  • Corning, IA - 1010 8th St.
    "In 1936 we moved back to Corning and I went through all high school there without interruption!"
    Fall 1936 - Age: 14, Grade: 9 (During the summers of 1936 & 1937, Lowell helped his dad Elliot shear sheep in the western US.)
    August 21, 1937 - post card from Maud to Chuck - "1010 8th St. Corning, Iowa"
    Fall 1937 - Age: 15, Grade: 10
    October 5, 1937 - post card from Maud to Chuck - "1010 8th St. Corning, Iowa"
    February 24, 1938 - Council Buffs Newspaper - Article "Corning Scouts Mark 2nd Anniversary" with photo & caption of Chuck
    Fall 1938 - Age: 16, Grade: 11
    Fall 1939 - Age: 17, Grade: 12
    April 5, 1940 - Elliot (age 52) - sheep sheerer, Velda (51), Lowell (17), Chuck (14), Eleanor (12) listed in 1940 US Census
    May 24, 1940 - Corning, Iowa - Dad graduated high school
    July 5, 1940 - Lowell turned 18
  • Herrold [Des Moines], IA - Polk County
    November 4, 1942 - Lowell enlisted in US Army Air Force at Camp Dodge
  • Richland, WA - Benton County
    April 5, 1950 - Elliot Foster (age 62) - Hanford Works stock room attendant, Velda Foster (age 61) listed in 1950 US Census

Detailed Timeline

Included below are not only Dad's dates & events, but also some others (and a link to hide the extra ones). When both sets are taken together, they help give a better context to the whole time period.

For example, I always assumed Dad's flight (from Atsugi Airfield) to fly over Hiroshima with the newsreel reporters took place weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped. Dad often said it was the first flight back over Hiroshima. Studying his flight log book, I found instead that it happened four months after the bomb. Why so long?

First, the Allies had bombed Atsugi (outside Tokyo) in early August 1945. Runways cratered, planes exploded; it was a mess. On August 6, 1945 the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. On August 23, 1945 the last of Japan's Air Force finally abandoned the Atsugi Aerodrome. One week later, on August 30, 1945 General McArthur arrived at Atsugi; and on September 2nd Japan surrendered there to McArthur. That's one of the four months.

On September 27, 1945 Dad arrived at Atsugi. The first flight he logged there was October 2, 1945. As Dad's log book entry confirms, I've read where minimal flight operations were restored by October 1945. This allowed the 49th Fighter Group (P-38 Lightnings) and the 418th Night Fighter Squadron (P-61 Black Widows) to provide air defense over the area from the field. That's two of the four months.

Also keep in mind:

  1. The airfield needed major reconstruction.
  2. The top priority was securing mainland Japan.
  3. The war was over. Operations were winding down; it was time to go home.
  4. Documenting destruction was not a priority for the US Air Force.

So it makes sense where those four months went - from August 6 to Dad's flight on December 13 - if you keep the other dates (and the bigger picture) in mind.



  • 1938 - Atsugi Learn more Airdrome & Naval Air Base built.
  • August 19, 1940 - North American B-25 Mitchell Learn more maiden test flight.
  • September 27, 1940 - Nazi Germany, Kingdom of Italy, and Empire of Japan ally under the Tripartite Coalition as the Axis powers.
  • November 25, 1940 - Martin B-26 Marauder Learn more maiden test flight.
  • February 1941 - US Army Air Corps begins flying both the B-26 & B-25 bombers.
  • June 20, 1941 - United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) becomes the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF).
  • October 17, 1941 - Sheppard Field Army Air Force Base Learn more in Wichita Falls, TX activated as aircraft mechanic training school.
  • December 7, 1941 - Japan bombs Pearl Harbor.
  • December 8, 1941 - Nine hours after attacking Pearl Harbor, Japan attacks the Philippines Commonwealth.
  • February 24, 1942 - Sheppard Field graduates first class of 219 aviation mechanics.
  • April 18, 1942 - Doolittle Raiders bomb Tokyo, Japan.
  • May 5, 1942 - Frederick Army Airfield Learn more in Frederick, OK activated as pilot training school.
  • September 23, 1942 - Waco Army Airfield School Learn more in Waco, TX activated as basic pilot training school.
  • November 4, 1942 - Dad enlists at Camp Dodge Learn more in Des Moines, IA.
  • November 9, 1942 - Private Foster arrives at Waco Army Airfield School.
  • December 11, 1942 - Dodge City Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School Learn more in Dodge City, KS activated as advanced pilot training school.
  • March 5, 1943 - Dad arrives at Sheppard Field for Aircraft and Mechanic School.
  • March 14, 1943 - Dad at Sheppard Field, promoted to Private First Class (PFC) under Aircraft and Mechanic School order.
  • May 27, 1943 - Dodge City re-designated to "Army Air Forces Pilot School (Specialized 2-Engine), Dodge City Army Airfield, Dodge City, Kansas".
  • August 11, 1943 - Dad at Sheppard Field, completes 19 week "Aircraft Mechanic (747) B-25, B-26" training at Sheppard Field.
  • September 1, 1943 - Dad arrives at Dodge City with 12 buddies from Sheppard Field.
  • October 10, 1943 - Dad at Dodge City - first USAAF flight log entry - "B-26C/R-2800 - local (3.35 hrs)."
  • Feb 14, 1944 - Dad at Dodge City, receives Carbine Marksman award.
  • May 1, 1944 - Dad at Dodge City, promoted to "Crew Chief/AP Mechanic".
  • June 6, 1944 - D-Day in Normandy, France.
  • July 25, 1944 - Dad at Dodge City (destination of Kelly Field Learn more in San Antonio, TX), flight log entry - "AT-18/R1820 - Dodge City to San Antonio - High alt. oxygen (3.15 hrs)."
  • September 30, 1944 - Dad at Dodge City, flight log entry - "AT-23 1 ROL, Hi alt. oxygen 2 hrs - 22,000 (3.50 hrs)."
  • December 1, 1944 - Dad at Dodge City, flight log entry - "Test Hop - copilot (1.00 hrs)."
  • April 6, 1945 - Dad at Dodge City, flight log entries - "High Alt. (1.20 hrs), Low Level (3.30 hrs)."
  • April 16, 1945 - Dad arrives at Frederick Army Air Field in Frederick, OK.
  • April 28, 1945 - Mussolini captured and executed.
  • April 30, 1945 - Hitler commits suicide.
  • May 7, 1945 - Germany surrenders.
  • July 31, 1945 - Dodge City Army Airfield closed & placed on reserve status. Learn more
  • August 6, 1945 - Hiroshima, Japan - US atomic bomb dropped.
  • August 9, 1945 - Nagasaki, Japan - US atomic bomb dropped at.
  • August 15, 1945 - Emperor Hirohito announces Japan will accept the Potsdam Declaration and surrender unconditionally.
  • August 17, 1945 - Dad arrives at Kearns Army Air Base Learn more , Salt Lake City, UT with his 12 buddies (transferred together after Dodge City closed down) then waits for orders to go overseas.
  • August 23, 1945 - Atsugi, Japan - After holding Atsugi Naval Air Base captive for seven days Learn more, Captain Yasuna Kozono and his pilots leave in 33 planes.
  • August 30, 1945 - Atsugi, Japan - MacArthur arrives to accept Japan's surrender. Learn more
  • August 30, 1945 - Dad shipped to San Francisco, CA then leaves for Philippines/Japan.
  • September 2, 1945 - Japan formally surrenders to MacArthur.
  • September 20, 1945 - Dad arrives in Philippines. Learn more
  • September 27, 1945 - Dad arrives at Irumagawa, Japan Learn more replacement depot, receives new orders Learn more , then arrives at Atsugi Japan.
  • October 26, 1945 - Dad at Atsugi, flight log entry - "B-25J/R-2600 - Local Irumagawa Japan - gunner time (2.30 hrs)."
  • October 29, 1945 - Dad at Atsugi, flight log entry - "B-25J/R-2600 - Buzz Rice paddies (2.30 hrs)."
  • November 2, 1945 - Dad at Atsugi, flight log entry - "B-25J/R-2600 - Upset Fish boat in bay (2.30 hrs)."
  • November 7, 1945 - Dad at Atsugi, flight log entry - "B-25J/R-2600 - Slow rolled over Mt. Fuji (1.40 hrs)."
  • December 13, 1945 - Dad at Atsugi, flight log entry - "B-25J/R-2600 - RR (Round Robin) over Hiroshima for RKO/ Pathé News (4.55 hrs) - photo."
  • December 29, 1945 - Dad at Atsugi, appointed to Corporal by Carter C. Speed, C.O. Major Air Corps, HQ Fifth Air Force APO 710.
  • January 12, 1946 - Dad at Atsugi - last USAAF flight log entry - "L-5 - Chofu-Irish (0.20 hrs) - Total Flying time with USAFF = 532.30 hrs."
  • January 23, 1946 - Dad departs Atsugi for US.
  • February 4, 1946 - Dad arrives in US.
  • February 12, 1946 - Dad at Fort Leavenworth, KS, receives Honorable Discharge as "Corporal, Aerial Engineer 2750" from US Army.
  • From February 1941 through March 1945 the Glenn L. Martin Company built 5,288 B-26s. In 1947 the B-26 was retired from active service. As of 2023, less than 10 remain.
  • In 1948, Dodge City Army Airfield was re-designated as Dodge City Air Force Base. In 1949 it became unmanned and targeted for disposition.
  • Kearns Army Air Base is seven miles southwest of Salt Lake City, UT. The base provided basic military training and technical training for the Army. The odd thing is - it had no runways and was only accessible via railroad service.
  • During this time, Captain Yasuna Kozono and his group of 83 officers printed - and dropped over Tokyo, Yokohama, & Yokosuka - leaflets accusing surrenders of treason and urging the mainland to defend Japan "to the end."
  • By day's end - 4,200 US troops in 123 planes arrive from Okinawa.
  • Not sure where in the Philippines Dad arrived at, but he was enroute from San Francisco to Japan.
  • Dad and his 12 buddies were headed to Tachikawa AFB (outside Tokyo) as their permanent base to be crew chiefs and aerial engineers on C-46 and C-47 transport planes for a troop carrier squadron. To his dismay, Dad was re-directed to Squadron Headquarters at Atsugi (outside Tokyo) to be a clerk. At Atsugi, he met Frank Keefe who had him reassigned as the crew chief and aerial engineer for General Whitehead's personal B-25 Mitchell.
  • Virginia Carlson - she and Dad dated in high school and were married on May 31, 1975. They remained married until she passed away on January 12, 2006.
  • Claude 'Shorty' Jones - he was 3 years older than Dad. He was married to my step-mom (Dolly Virginia 'Gin' Carlson)'s aunt Violiet 'Aunt Vi' Flemming.
  • Dad once told me he & a buddy would pack a lunch and take the trolley to downtown Omaha for the day. (No parents; not something you'd do these days. It was different back then.) Did he see a rerun of Hell's Angels at the State movie theater on some Saturday afternoon? If he did I bet he didn't tell his mom!
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Category: Stories
Topics: People
Tags: B-25, B-26, Lowell Foster

4 Comments

  1. Mike Dilio on 2024-06-20 at 4:25 pm

    Doug, this is fantastic. What a great tribute to your Dad, his time during WWII, and his life as an aviator. I love all the details, photos, and stories you included, which made this come alive in many ways. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Doug on 2024-06-21 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks Mike! It was great spending time with Dad again ;-). Seem’s you & I are due for a Red Bowl lunch again, aren’t we?

  2. Larry McManus on 2024-06-21 at 3:08 pm

    Incredible stories and what a great guy. I always loved hearing Lowell’s stoies and this brings those back. Great guy – nice work Doug!

    • Doug on 2024-06-21 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks Larry. He was a quite a guy wasn’t he?

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