Biographical Notes re

Charles A. (Chuck) Stone

Page 1 of 2 Pages, of Chapter 3,


In early February, 1945, a lengthy train ride to Minneapolis and a bus trip on to Park Rapids, Minnesota, brought me home on this short leave with mixed feelings. I was thankful to have successfully made it through the pilot training program while watching people I often believed to be stronger and/or more talented than I, wash out and disappear from the scene. My parents and sisters were very welcoming and I found the girls I knew in town to be as lonesome as I had been for so many months on end. While attending church, I had a fleeting introduction to a young woman by the name of Nellie Anderson. Little did I know that on October 7, 1946, she would become my wife. Four days leave, plus travel time to a new assignment flew by pretty fast.

After another extended train ride, I arrived at Amarillo Air Base, checked in, arranged my stuff, met my new class and bunkmates, finding them to be friendly, but a somewhat disgruntled lot. I had lots of company for the feelings of disappointment I had been trying to hide. I noted that our marginal quarters were all wired to the ground with cables and the coal fired stoves really came in handy.

New 2nd Lt. Chuck Stone with Mother and Dad, known as Mom and Pop Stone to the local community, the MN Forest Service and hotel/resort guests around the country.

There was lots of snow and ice, making our travel from quarters, to mess hall, to school, and return, somewhat of a challenge. Of all things, I encountered the 1st Lieutenant that had been our Flight Commander at Basic Flight School at Independence, Kansas.

He had been a stern and tough task master. He had 1,500 flying hours to his credit, no small accumulation at that time. I discovered that he too was to become a B-29 Flight Engineer. It occurred to me, “What was I really complaining about with only about 250 hours in my log book?” While at Amarillo, I strived mightily to move forward with a good attitude and worked my way through the training. We were reminded that we would emerge from this process with something not many pilots possessed — a dual rating, including that of both pilot and observer. Somehow we just didn’t get any kind of a thrill from that news. Worse yet, we learned that the rules of the game would not permit us to draw hazard pay as a Flight Engineer. We would have to do this by logging pilot time. To pacify our feelings of neglect and get in those pilot hours, we were periodically taken aloft in a B-17 and even allowed to touch the controls a time or two. This did qualify us for our monthly hazard pay.

There was some realism involved in the ground training program, and we were even, on rare occasions, given the opportunity to start up a B-29 engine on a static mount (not connected to the actual aircraft) to see if we could get it up and running without causing it to catch on fire. It was beginning to sink in that all was not well with B-29 engine operation, cooling, etc. We learned that the induction system was made of magnesium and when conditions were such that, with a serious carburetor fire, the magnesium might catch fire and could not be quenched with the normal foam fire retardant system. The good news was that an engine on fire might just burn itself right off the airplane and fall away. Then again, it might just burn through the wing root or cause the prop to come churning its way through the cockpit area. Runaway electric props that could spin right off their overheated drive shafts,on the early models, had some similar attributes. We continued to search for reasons to be optimistic during this three month introduction so we could look forward to moving on to Advanced Flight Engineer Training at Lowery AFB, Denver, Colorado. Good news was hard to find.

Arriving at Lowery, we again went through a rapid settling in process, much like at Amarillo. Quarters were better and it was spring once again. School processes were much the same and I was still fighting my attitude problem. We got our flying time by taking periodic flights in a B-24, by pilots that again, for all too brief time periods, gave us permission to sit in the co-pilots seat while they buzzed Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, or some other adventure, and had a good old time. There was never any training involved in these experiences. I developed a friendship with a fellow student whose attitude was more flippant than my own which did not prove productive to my progress. We had some gay old times in the Denver nightlife, but my professional skill level development was more or less at a standstill. On short notice news was passed down that Army Air Corps regulations would now permit us to draw hazard pay as flight engineers. We did that for our final two months at that school. Would you believe that after I had been released from active duty in the spring of 1946, and was operating the Hotel Resort business back in Park Rapids, Minnesota — The Army Air Corps Finance Office sent me a bill for those two months of hazard pay, asking for that money back.

Finishing up the training in about June, I found myself with a flight engineer rating and on my way to a combat crew training assignment at El Paso Army Air Base, Texas. Naturally there was a period of leave, enroute, enabling me to make a few passes through my home town and check out some local night life. I did get to solo a Taylorcraft lightplane while at home, little realizing that I would be part owner of a Taylorcraft beginning in the summer of 1946 as a civilian. Whatever, it was off to El Paso. I found a C-47 leaving Minneapolis for Dallas/Fort Worth and hitched a ride, then caught a bus to El Paso. After checking in at the base, I was notified that I should not unpack as I was being immediately transferred to Pyote, Texas (better known as Rattlesnake Air Base), also a B-29 combat crew training facility. As I have become more familiar with the history of Earl Myers, I believe he was ready to depart the Pyote Air Base, combat ready, just before I arrived. The living quarters were very primitive and one had to dump out one’s shoes in the morning to be sure there were no scorpions sacked out in their interior.

I was soon crewed up with what was scheduled to be a Very Long Range RB-29 Reconnaissance crew (Possibly an F--13?). We began our academic training and then participated in our first orientation flight. On this flight, I was allowed to observe the instructor flight engineer at work in his position and my A/C, a very nice guy, got his first taste of the B-29’s low level capabilities by having his instructor give a fake position report and then go down on the deck and buzz his home to impress his wife. This was early August, 1945. Was it the smell of “peace” in the air that was intoxicating everyone? Who knows. Soon they dropped the first Atomic Bomb. All flying at Pyote literally came to a screeching halt. Nothing flew. You could not even hear engines being run up down on the flight line. When the other shoe dropped, the second atomic bomb, airborne activity really stopped. The night after news of the peace treaty was announced, for some unknown reason, I stayed away from the Officers Club. Going over for breakfast the next morning, it was obvious that there had been some kind of a party there the night before. Someone had drawn a bulls-eye target on the wall and they had thrown every glass in the house against the wall. There was just a mountain of glass below the target. We drank out of paper cups for some time.

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