Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Sgt. Bilko Reporting
In the Philippine Islands, immediately after the surrender of the Japanese, there was a period or a wave of "relief", "let down", "relaxation", or whatever the psychologists might call it. Discipline went AWOL. In the supply room, through the use of night forays to unprotected warehouses, we were able to obtain sheets for every bunk in the company. That was unheard of in the Infantry. We got a walk-in refrigerator and whiskey and gin to fill it. We decorated the interior of the day room, also borrowed, with colored parachute, glass brick, and sheet aluminum. It was a fun time in the Army. A time to frolic.
It was also the time for my first flight in an airplane. Several of us dressed in our finest and drove a jeep to the nearest airport. It was a common thing in that day to hitch rides on airplanes all over the South Pacific. For reasons which I forget, we wanted to go to Guam. But try as we might, we could not find a flight going that direction. In fact, we couldn't find a flight going anywhere exotic. We had to settle for a flight from our airport (Then Nichols Field, now Manila International) to nearby Clark Field ( which I believe is no more).
Seeing the plane that we were going to fly in, one of the fellows volunteered to drive the jeep to Clark Field and meet us there. He was wise. The plane was a very old, war-weary, C-3 ? cargo plane. There were no seats for passengers. We simply sat on the floor back in the cargo area. There was a window through which I could see the wings bend as the pilot gunned the engine on the ground. I lost all confidence then. But later in the air, when they flapped as we went through clouds, I approached a state of near-terror. Our flight lasted perhaps the longest 60 minutes of my life. Our driver picked us up and the defeated world-travelers drove home to our comfy bunks. I wasn't in a hurry to fly again. (But, of course, I did.)