Thursday, March 25, 2010

Advanced Training at Freeman Air Field in Seymour, Indiana

(Continuation of Captain Estes's Memoirs)

"I was sent to Indiana, Freeman Field, Seymour,
Indiana for my advanced training, and it was in
twin engines. It was an AT-10 advanced trainer.
It was built out of plywood, and it was a good
flying plane, and it was a good plane to learn in.
I had a good instructor and I was taught all
the things I should know to fly an advanced
trainer. And it was there that I graduated and
got my wings and my second lieutenant bars.
I graduated in the class of 44C; in other words,
that was 1944 and the month was March."

(To be continued.)

Letter Home from Seymour, Indiana - Advanced Training

The AT-10 was a small twin engined
aircraft that was used in training
student pilots in the multi-engined
retractable landing gear. The aircraft
was built primarily of plywood.

The second photo is a picture of AT-10s
over Freeman Field in the 1940s.

In preparation for this posting, I researched any
information regarding Freeman Army Air Field
in Seymour, IN. I discovered in my search
the Freeman Army Air Field Museum and
discovered Papa's graduating class. The next
morning I called the museum and a wonderful
couple, Pat and Larry Bothe, who manage the
museum, went to the museum and scanned
the program and then sent it to me via email.
I am so thrilled to have this piece of history
of my dad's. Our family will cherish it for years
to come. Thank you so much Pat and Larry.
Here is the website to the museum for those
who are interested:

Captain Charles H. Estes's graduation program
from Freeman Army Air Field Museum
Class 44C. Papa's name appears on the
seventh page down, Flight No. 4. He is
listed as a Flight Corporal.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Letter Home from Basic Training in Courtland, Alabama

Basic Training - Courtland, Alabama

(Continuation of Captain Charles Estes's Memoirs)

"After I had finished my primary training
and graduated from primary training, I was
sent to basic training and that was in
Courtland, Alabama; it wasn't 50 miles away.

And there I was introduced to a low wing
airplane; it was -- there was two types of
PT-13 -- a BT-13 -- excuse me-- basic trainer
and a BT-15. Now this plane had flaps on it and it was a terribly noisy plane, but soon I was able to solo in it and go on cross-countries and do things that I was required to do in basic training.

Well, each one of these places that I went like for primary training and for basic training I would imagine that I got about
30 hours, so I had about 60 hours of
flying time now. "

(To be Continued.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sixty-Five Years ago Today

It's hard to imagine, but 65 years ago, March 15th, 1945,
my father and the crew of their B-24 Bomber were shot
down over Yugoslavia after a successful bomb run on
the Schwechat Oil Refinery near Vienna, Austria;
a mission which will be written about in much greater
detail during the course of this blog.

It is a story my father retold many, many times, and
we as family members never grew tired of hearing.

Sadly, all of the members of his crew have passed
away, and with them their stories of this event as
well as a piece of our history.

So how do we continue to honor them and their
sacrifice? Perhaps Ronald Reagan said it best in
a speech he gave on the 4oth anniversary of D-Day:

"Let us make a vow to our dead. Let us
show them by our actions that we understand
what they died for. Let our actions say to
them the words for which General Matthew
Ridgeway listened: 'I will not fail thee nor
forsake thee.'

Strengthened by their courage, heartened
by their valor, and borne by their memory,
let us continue to stand for the ideals for
which they lived and died."

Ronald Reagan - June 6, 1984

God Bless.....Liz Bacher

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Off to Chattanooga, TN. and Decatur, AL. for more training.

(Continuation of Captain Estes's Memoirs)

"And then we were sent to what they call College Training
Detachment. They sent us up to -- we went to the University
of Chattanooga in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And we lived
together in a big ol' gymnasium, and I met a bunch of people,
I can't remember any of 'em now. But I don't know how it
happened, but John Taylor had gotten separated from me,
and I don't know where he went. But in any case, we stayed
in College Training Detachment for about three months, and
they taught us a little meteorology, and they took us up to the
airport, and let us fly around a little bit in a Piper Cub. They
didn't really teach us to fly; we were flying with an instructor,
and he was telling us something about how to fly, but we
were getting used to the idea of flying.

And then they sent us to our primary training. That happened
to be in Decatur, Alabama, and I was given a fine instructor.
And he taught me how to fly a PT-17. You're used to seeing
them fly around Yazoo City. They dust with these planes, and
it was a fine airplane; it would do all kinds of acrobatics as
long as you knew how to do them, it was willing. So I learned
how to slow roll, snap roll, barrel roll, loop; do all kinds of
acrobatics that was part of my training.

And of course finally I was given the opportunity to solo and
that was quite an experience to have the instructor pull up,
jump out of the airplane and say, 'All right Estes, take it off,
it's yours.' Well, it's a scary experience when you know you
can do it, but you never have done it before; and so now you
got to show what you have been taught. And so I took the
plane off, flew it around the field a few times and came back
and landed, and he patted me on the back and he said, 'Well,
from now on out you're going to be flying this plane by
yourself quite a bit so get used to it.' And I would be given
assignments of go up and do this, that and the other. And
when I had finished my exercises to come back and land and
get out and go back to my quarters and rest and go to chow,
and eat and go to ground school and be taught meteorology
and things of that nature; things that I would later have to
know more about."

(To be continued.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm off to Basic Training


"So after graduating from high school I was fortunate enough
my father could send me to Mississippi State and I went up
there until 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
And when I came home I went over to Jackson and volunteered
my services to the United States Air Force. Well, they were in
a hell of a mess then. They didn't have enough training facilities.
They were building 'em as fast as they could, but there was no
place to send me; so they said, 'You go home and we'll call you
when there's a place for you.' And I did. I went home and I went
bird hunting, and I did a bunch of things. I couldn't go back to
school because I didn't know when they might call me so I
enjoyed my time at home.

And then in 19 -- well, it was just after January of 1943,
they gave me a call and said you're to report to Miami Beach,
Florida. Well, there were quite a group from Yazoo City. There
was Bobby Thompson, James Coleman, Thomas Oakes and
John Taylor. We all went over to Jackson and got on
a train and headed out to Florida.

Well, as it happened, John Taylor and I were roommates
at the Miami Beach. And they had taken this fine hotel and
just stripped everything if it was worth anything off of it right
down to the bare walls almost. And we lived there, ate there,
slept there, and it was not too bad. We had drill exercises.
They taught us how to march and we enjoyed ourselves.

I remember John Taylor and I were on KP duty together.
And we had taken all of the trays that were stacked up
there one at a time, and we were washing 'em. He'd hand
me one and I would dry it off, and put it in a new stack.
And the ol' sergeant came by and said, 'Man, y'all are doing
a fine job. How many of these have you wiped dry?'
And we smiled and said, 'Everyone of them sergeant,
and they're all as slick as they can be.' And he said,
'Well, I'm sorry to tell you boys, but you gonna have
to wash 'em all over again. The Army says that there is
something in the water that we give you to wash 'em
with that sterilizes 'em, and then you go and contaminate
'em with a drying cloth. So you have to wash 'em again
and you got to stack 'em up and let 'em air dry themselves.'
Well, that was a first grade lesson I guess I learned, and that
was, don't do anything you don't have to; so I guess that
stayed with me a little while anyway, but that about
concluded our stay in Florida."

(To be continued)

Letter Home from Basic Training in Miami, FL.

Friday, March 5, 2010

My WWII Memoirs: By Charles H. Estes, Jr.

"Elizabeth, I'm going to try and chronicle my life to you
and my war experiences in hopes that you can
make something out of it, and possibly fill in
in a little few places and write us a book.

I suppose the first place that I should start is
when I was born. I was born on Jefferson
Street in Yazoo City, Mississippi. The year
was 1922. It was a cold night, the stars were
bright. My father recalls when I first came into
the world screaming and scratching and kicking
that the Roman Catholics were making their
way home from the midnight service at the
church, so that would indicate that I was born
on Christmas Day, 1922.

My father was Charles Henry Estes, Sr. My
mother was Annie Calvert Estes, and she came
from the Payne family, P-a-y-n-e. She was real
great with a needle and thread so her little boy
never failed to have cute little gowns and clothes,
and I looked like a young king most of the time
growing up because she just lavished all her
love on me.

Well, I wasn't a good student in school. I was
average I suppose, but never above average.
I made it through high school and graduated
with my class in the Class of 1940. I think that
there were about 60 of us then."
(To be continued.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To Honor His Memory

This is the beginning of a personal and detailed account
of my father, Captain Charles H. Estes, Jr.'s war
memoirs, and the last mission of his B-24 Bomber crew.

My father was like so many young men of his era who
left their homes to answer "the call to arms" to defend
our nation's freedom. These men were from all walks
of life - some just graduating high school, others in the
midst of their college years, while others married and
embarking on a career.

It is my sincere hope that this blog will in some way
pay tribute to their memory and to their sacrifice and
service that allows us to enjoy the freedoms of our