| In March of 1942, all the military
dependents on the islands were evacuated to the mainland. The pilots of
the 45th FS helped clean up Wheeler Field, dispersed planes into
revetments, etc. They then moved to an airstrip near Kaena Point, at
first flying constant daytime patrols, which quickly wore out both men
and machines. They received new planes, P-40E's and Bell P-39
Airacobra, both of which had their drawbacks. The Model E Warhawk was
even heavier and more sluggish than its pre- decessors, and the
Airacobras had an unfortunate tendency to tumble. Throughout the summer
of 1942, the 45th FS pilots led a fairly dull life: gunnery practice
and flying patrols.
This is where Merril Sheckler maintained planes from
1942 thru 1945.
His nephew LaVerne made a paper model of the P40E while he lived at Merril's parents.
During the first wave of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 25 dive-bombers dropped approximately 35 bombs on the hangars at Wheeler Field.
|The Japanese airplanes returned to strafe the fight line, turning it into a river of fire. Four fighters from the 46th Pursuit Squadron were able to take to the air and attack the Japanese over southeastern Oahu. The second Japanese wave arrived and strafed the field, but caused little more damage before the attack ended at 9:45am. Eighty-three aircraft had been destroyed, 38 enlisted men were killed and 59 men were wounded. Wheeler Field quickly recovered and played an important role in World War II. The Seventh Air Service Command was established at Wheeler in 1944 to provide service and support for the B-29 bombers in the Marianas which began massive raids against Japan that fall. Placed in care-taking status in 1949, Wheeler Field was reactivated during the Korean War and houses Army helicopters today., http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/aviation/whe.htm|
A view of the modern Main Gate
v BELOW v
CENTRAL PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Seventh Air Force) The 371st Bombardment Squadron , 307th Bombardment Group with B-24s and based at Wheeler Field, Territory of Hawaii
"Look more like Martin A30 Baltimores to me".
before a Curtiss P-36 fighter, one of the few that survived, five USAAF
pilots who shot down one or more enemy aircraft pose for a photograph.
From left to right: 1st Lt. Lewis M. Sanders (1 victory), 2nd Lt.
Phillip M. Rasmussen (1 victory), 2nd Lt. Kenneth M. Taylor (2
victories), 2nd Lt. George S. Welch (4 victories) and 2nd Lt. Harry W.
Brown (1 victory). Together, these 5 pilots shot down nine Japanese
aircraft confirmed, with 4 probables and two damaged. This amounts to
nearly 1/3 of all Japanese aircraft lost during the Pearl Harbor
attack. Three of the men are wearing sidearms, indicating that they
were probably on duty when this photo was taken.
From: Curtiss P40 Warhawk
"The war's started!"
Mattausch and six other men were given Army commendations for establishing machine gun firing positions in the midst of the bomb attack. And days later, a Movietone newsreel crew shot some footage of Bill Bayham. "Bill's sister wrote that she was at a theater in Dayton, Ohio, and all of a sudden there's his picture on the screen," Mattausch said. "She yelled, 'That's my brother!' Everybody clapped and they stopped it and ran it back through a few times."
Taking to the air
indicates how different the battle would have been if we'd been able to
get all our planes into the air," Mattausch said. After the bombing,
the Army feared the Japanese would be sending in paratroops, so the
soldiers stayed up for three days guarding the air field, Mattausch
said. No one was allowed back in barracks, he said. "We were just dead
exhausted after that three days," he said. Mattausch remained at
Wheeler until 1942. Later he joined an outfit that traveled to the
Gilbert Islands and set up an airfield on Makin after the Army infantry
landing in 1943.