Contributed Short Stories

Page 6

Songs of the Airmen

The stress and strains of wartime service have brought forth various forms of artistic expression down through the ages. These expressions, in our own lifetimes, have included varieties of two-dimensional art and music.

This drawing of Army Air Corps B-25s attacking a Japanese seagoing war wagon, illustrated by artist Gil Walker, places the viewer in a “you are there” viewing position in WW II.

This collage of images, rendered by illustrator
Gil Walker, presents a variety of visual cues to an aviators perspective as a participant in the Korean War.

This unknown artist renders the view of a waist-gunner on a B-17 searching for Nazi planes in the early morning sky.

You are there!

Most W.W.II era officers and airmen, who participated in technical training, will remember our friend “Luke the Spook.” We encountered him again and again while crawling into or under some complex training aid for a better view of the mechanism. Who first created this image is anyone's guess; but there were many copycat artists
to follow.
Humor and art have always
been good friends.

And then there was, and will always remain, “music.” Not the kind you hear at a symphonic concert or hear about on the charts as being # 1; but, the music heard in the clubs and bars on and off military bases, particularly in wartime.

Here are two songs that were sung on many a bleary night at many air bases that supported the Korean War effort. The words you see printed here represent the best of recollected versions, suitable for public hearing, as contributed by Earl E. Myers.

The Itazuki Tower Song

The song “Itazuki Tower” is sung to the tune of the Wabash Cannon Ball and was presented by Arthur Godfrey at a gathering celebrating the formation of the independent United States Air Force in 1947 along with a multitude of additional pilot's ballads. The original Itazuki Tower sign was about 20' by 40'. Someone had the foresight to have it removed from the tower after the Korean Conflict and have it sent to the A.F. Museum at Wright Patterson in its original condition. It is mounted on a wall next to an F-86.

Lt. William McCrystal, assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, Itazuki AB, Japan, composed the song. His assigned aircraft was P-51D, # 44-73801. I know of no verses that cannot be sung in mixed company.

Right & Below: Photos of
related exhibits at USAF
Museum, WPAFB, Ohio.


Itazuki Tower this is AF 801,
I'm turning on the downwind
and my prop is overrun.

My coolant's overheated,
the gage reads 121.
You'd better call the crash crew
and get them on the run.

A.F. 801, this is Itazuki Tower,
we cannot call the crash crew
as this is coffee hour.
You're not cleared in the pattern
now that is plain to see,
Just take her around again,
cuz we got us a VIP.

Itazuki Tower this is A.F. 801,
I'm turning on the final
and I'm running on one lung.
I'm going to land this Mustang
No matter what you say,
I'm going to get my charts cleared up,
before that judgment day.

A.F. 801, this is Itazuki Tower,
we'd like to let you in right now
but we haven't got the power,
We'll send a note through channels
and wait for their reply.
Until we get permission back,
just chase around the sky.

Itazuki Tower this is A.F. 801,
I'm calling you from heaven
and my flying days are done,
I'm sorry that I blew up,
I didn't make the grade,
I guess I should have waited
until the landing was OK'ed.

There are many more verses to it but I think these are the best.

The Okinawa Song

It was rough in old Manila,
It was rough in Tokyo,
But this Isle of Okinawa, Nawa, Nawa,
is the roughest place I know,

You can go to Naha Airstrip,
any time of night or day,
You can see the 46s, 6s, 6s
as they crash in Naha Bay.

You can take these coral beaches,
You can take this Isle of grass,
You can take this Okinawa, Nawa, Nawa
and to this I’ll raise my glass.

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