Warren Neal: Pilot Pool at Lincoln, Nebraska

Warren had just logged 143 hours in training in B-17 Flying Fortresses at Yuma, Arizona.

As enough B-29 Superfortresses rolled off the assembly lines in Wichita KS, Renton WA, and Omaha NE, pilots with four engine training were pooled in Lincoln, Nebraska, for their next assignments–75 years ago this week, June of 1945.

Families could go with them, so Doris and year-old Joy spent three weeks with Warren in Lincoln.

Lincoln

Warren got orders for Biggs Field, Texas, to train in the B-29. The pilots herded onto a train, “like a bunch of cattle,” headed to El Paso.

His folks at Dexter hired a taxi to take them to Lincoln so they could drive Doris and Joy back to Dexter in the “C-39,” their 1939 Chevy.

At Biggs Field, Warren didn’t yet have a desk so he “scribbled a letter” to Doris on his knee. Training had speeded up, he reported, and they were scheduled to leave for staging for combat on September 18.

By the next day, he’d been assigned a copilot (F/O William Noack, seemed like a pretty good kid), bombardier (2nd Lt. Tommy Owen, also seemed like a good kid, had been ready to go over in B-17s when VE-Day came), and an engineer–whom he hadn’t seen yet.

Their navigator was still in school in Florida, and would join them later along with their radar man. He’d met his three gunners, seemed like good eager kids, he said. But they still lacked a radio man. He would eventually end up with a crew of ten. 

Warren wished the war would end, and all the boys, including Dale and Danny would get back home again. He told Doris to let him know about their “prospects for another bundle from Heaven.” 

He said he hoped Doris would start Joy’s shots, and would “drive the wheels off the Chev.”

A few days later, he’d been to a banquet where the Colonel “and all the big cogs on the base” gave them talks and let them ask questions. The Colonel gave them the “hot poop” that they were in a new outfit with a little differently equipped B-29s. They would push them to the limit to try to get in as much training as quickly as possible. Their schedules were made up right until they were to leave there. 

Warren expected to be “across” before the first of October.

Saipan.

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