Contributed Short Stories

Page 5

“The Saudi Sojourn” by Earl E. Myers

Editors Note

What is happening
in this picture?

Earl Myers has been a major and invaluable contributor to this RB-29 memorial web site. Here is a story, well worth your time, set in the time-frame between the end of WW II and the outbreak of the Korean War.

Read and enjoy!

Chuck Stone
Web Site Manager

Yes! What is happening in this picture?

While we were pulling a TDY tour at Furstenfeldbruck Air Base, near Munich, Germany, we had a long weekend at the Zugspitze Ski resort up on the Zugspitze Mountain in Bavaria, Southern Germany. You can access this area in one of three ways — by cable car through the mountain, by climbing the mountain, or by helicopter, and they did not have helicopter's in service then. It was so beautiful up there. The air was so clear and fresh and you can see France, Italy, Germany and Austria. "Nearer Thy God to Thee, Easter Sunday."

That morning I went out as a seasoned skier and went almost to the top. I was going to ski down to the Zugspitze Lodge and show my buddies what an expert skier I was. It was about my third or forth time on skies. Well, the snow was so hard packed from yesterdays traffic that there was no control of the skis. So, like a feather in a vacuum, I was out of control. I crashed into a dugout pit that the Germans use for sunbathing, NUDE!

It wasn’t occupied because it was in the early morning about 0700. I buried myself all the way in head first . All that was showing was my feet with one ski gone and the other still on my foot. I could wiggle both feet so I knew I hadn't broke anything but my pride. It was damned cold and dark in there and I was having a tough time breathing. I held my "cool" and wiggled my hands and arms enough to let the snow drop below me a little. I could see daylight above a little now — Remember I AM FACE DOWN.

[Editor’s Note: If you are interested, there are two pages of attached photos that will illustrate the Garmish, Obberammergau, Zugspitze environment attached to this story. You may access them by clicking on them here (Attachment # 1 and Attachment # 2) with an easy return to this story. ]

It then started to get warm from the body heat. I had a hot bod for sure as I was scheduled for departure the next morning at 0500 hrs. I calmed myself down and it seemed like it was hours before anyone found me. Actually I was afraid the snow worms would get me, but it was only a few minutes and the ski safety patrol was there to dig and pull me out. Yes there was a Saint. Bernard Dog with a cask around his neck, just in case of snow snakes. I could not walk. I had hurt both my legs and knees. I was put in a wheel chair and taken inside of the mountain to the cable car station for decent.. I was hurting. I went directly to the dispensary. They treated my legs in a cold tub of ice water and then a steam bath. I went to the Banhoff for the train ride back to the Air Base.

Monday morning the departure time was on schedule, 0500 hrs. for Daharan, Saudi, Arabia. I was going to make that schedule one way or the other. I completed the pre-flight outside inspection and struggled to climb the eight-rung ladder in the nose wheel well of the B-29. I made it and plopped down in the left seat and continued the check list. Start engines check list complete, we taxied out and off we went to Daharan. Or so we thought.

There were two B-29s on this mission and we both ran into extremely high head winds. The other B-29 landed at Cairo. We started a decent into Haifa, Israel by the Sea. We had radio contact with the tower but were being fired on by ???? ground troops. Tracers yet. I don't know who did not get the word, but we were their target for their morning exercise. We had the gear down, landing lights on and were making a very rapid decent with a rapid rate of S turns back and forth until we entered the base leg for landing. We had no choice because of lack of fuel. Dodging tracers before lunch is a no fun situation.

We landed O.K. and were met by a follow-me Jeep, just like back at Carsewell A.F.B. in Ft. Worth. We taxied up and stopped. Two fuel trucks pulled up and asked how much fuel we wanted. “Fill it up was the reply.” They did just that, and with 140 octane fuel. I asked the guy how we paid for the fuel and he stated “In your Form 1, there was a Form 15 for fuel.” I knew that, but how did he know about it????.

We had 2 bird eggs and a pita bread for breakfast. $1.95. That was a bundle in those days for breakfast. No salt or pepper or catchup. The damned eggs looked like quail eggs and most likely were pigeon eggs. Oh well, such is life and one must move on. Live while you can. I asked where the war was between the Arabs and the Jews? One of these guys was an Arab, obvious because his head-dress was different from the little scull cap guy that the other refueler was wearing. The Arab stated that if he caught the Jew away from the airport, he would kill him. The Jew replied that same way only he added S.O.B...

On our departure from Haifa, the climb to altitude was normal and about one hour out from Daharan we were scheduled to descend to 1000' and continue on to destination. I just couldn't help it. I saw a herd of camels in front. Somehow we lost altitude and we were flying close above the sand dunes. They were beautiful. There is beauty in the desert if you appreciate God's way of things. About 199 camels were in front of us and at about 100 feet the camels started looking bigger. So did the camel herder who was waving his staff at us. Not a hello staff either. O.K. so we did it. I was ready to be repremanded.

Thank the "Dear Lord", they did not have cell phones then. We continued on and had an uneventful landing.. Seeing all the oil wells was a real surprise. It was something that you might see in the National Geographic magazine. There were hundreds of them. They reminded me of Pyote, Texas, where I did my B-29 training.

We had an uneventful landing and were in the process of parking on the steel matting. Almost at once, there was a staff car that pulled up. A major got out and as we were deplaning. He demanded that we open the bomb bay doors, and I mean he ordered it in no uncertain terms. He reminded me of the Flight Officer at Maxwell Air Base on the B-17 hurricane evacuation. I asked for his ID, as I was instructed that only one person had the correct code word to gain access to our cargo. He ranted and raved and said he was going to court martial us. We went about our post-flight checks. He attempted to climb in the nose wheel entrance hatch, but the F.E., Sparkey Sparks, had locked it with a padlock, as he was instructed to do. Along came another staff car with an L/C in it. He saw what was taking place and told the Major to get lost. His ID was O.K. Soon after, two big 6 x 6s drove up with a crew and the off-loading began We had two bomb bay loads of booze. Most likely one bomb bay to the Arabs and one to the O-Club and NCO Club as they were one and the the same.The Major returned and found a case that had one broken bottle in it and he accused us of drinking it. He was in bad bad shape for a KICK.. He damn near did get shot as the L/C was really p----- at him The poor devil was in the wrong place at the wrong time as he was a cut and dried booze hound.

O. K. for now, and on to the quonset hut for clean up and then to the club for dinner. It wasn't much but under the circumstances, it was doggone fine and the food was excellent, "Camel steaks" Naw! I mean a big T-bone and everything that goes with it. The G.Is were there also as there was only one club. The management would not let us pay for anything. We had a group around us asking all kinds of questions about what was going on back home and all that stuff. The poor guy's were really isolated. Incidentally the other B-29 landed and that crew went thru the same scenario as we did with the major.

Ok, now for a shopping trip into town. Small and I mean small compared to today’s demography. There were small buildings in the city and most likely about 300 Saudies lived there with a herd of about 700 camels. But ARAMCO had about 3000 oil workers. Most from Texas, where it was almost like home to them. Daharan now is a sprawling city of large sky scrapers and ultra-modern facilities . Two McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut.

We were scheduled to return to “Furstey” after a one day stand-down. We saw smoke dens with people laying around on a camel blanket puffing on a long rope-like thing from a pot in the center of a circle of about 8 Arabs. A peace pipe I guess. Back to the barracks after shopping for some trinkets to take back. I bought an Arab scull hat and some other goodies as did the others. Quite a change from Saipan. and Germany but not to much different than Pyote.

The next morning, with the wind and sand blowing all night, we were "Sanded In". It took the civil engineer crew about an hour to dig us out. Fortunately, the wind just blew through the wheels. The runways were O.K. so off we went. We were asked to make a pass over the runway as they had very little traffic then, which we did and we did at about 310 knots indicated at about 250 feet. We did not look for the camel herder on the way out. The return trip to Furstenfeldbruck was uneventful and we thanked the "Good Lord" for a safe return, once again.

This photograh was taken at Furstenfeldbruck, A.B. near Munich, Germany on our return from Daharan, Saudi Arabia It was takin four days after Easter, 1948.

The items we are showing in front of the B-29 were from purchases made in the Souk, Dhahran. I had on a scull cap. The fellow with the towel-like drape is wearing an Arabic headdress. We are displaying rugs that were purchased as we were sorting out the loot.

The logo on the side of the aircraft was the 9th Bomb Wing logo, 7th Squadron. based at Carsewell AFB, Ft.Worth,Texas.

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