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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dad and Enemy Planes

 I asked dad how the 90 mm anti-aircraft was operated. It was the weapon that dad was assigned in the Marshall Islands during World War II. My father stated that four men were needed to use the 90 mm. He was seated on the right side and was responsible for turning the machine to the left. The movement of the weapon began when corresponding bulbs were matched. The bulbs indicated that the approaching enemy plane had reached a certain altitude or height. The Battery Sargent would give a signal and then, reported my dad, the plane would burst, after entering gun fire.

Members of the 51st receiving training at Montford Point.

"Were you scared, Dad?" I asked, knowing the of history of Japanese fighter pilots. It was said that German soldiers were told to kill, but Japanese soldiers were told to die.

"Hell nawl," my Dad quickly replied. "We ain't see nothing, you're looking into a scope, you just saw dots. We shot at Mitsubishi planes."

Dad was twenty years old at this time. He was the same age if not older than many of the Japanese pilots that were members of the Japanese Navy and Army.

But these Japanese pilots by World War II's end were trained to do one thing--fly Mitsubishi A6M2 planes nicknamed the "Zero" and the "Personal Flying Coffin" into targets. As the word coffin implies, these were Suicide Missions.

In previous posts I talked about what events and people caused my father to join a segregated branch of the armed forces, that initially did not want Negroes. Now it is time to discuss the reasoning behind a Japanese man for joining their Imperial military.

A sign post in the Marshall Islands. Dad's two islands are on the bottom, left.


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