Saturday, April 30, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: Training

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. From left to right: Henry, Garret, John, Peter.

I made my decision to enlist in the Army Air Corps on October 14, 1942 and went to Ft. Sheridan, Illinois and then on to Nashville, Tenn. for more testing. I recall the test for depth perception was crucial for pilot training.

After passing all physical and mental exams I began basic flying at Lakeland, Florida, then Courtland, Alabama and twin engine school at Columbus, Mississippi where I received my wings and Lieutenant bars on August 30, 1943. My orders read: Heavy Bombardment, Mountain Home, Idaho, where our flight crew was put together. We practiced bombing in a B-24 Liberator at Muroc Dry Lake, California (Note: Today is is known as Edwards Air Force Base where the astronauts land occasionally in the Space Program). This training took place in October and November of 1943. We left the States from Florida on December 24th, just before Christmas. I missed my fiance and family so very much. We spent Christmas in Natal, Brazil and then flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Dakar, Africa, on to Marrakech, Morocco and landing for the night at an air field in Tunisia. The next morning our pilot, George Rawley, was walking along the edge of the air field and picked up an odd piece of metal which proved to be an anti-personnel bomb leftover from combat with the Germans in North Africa. It blew up, killing the pilot and injuring two crew members (gunners). It was a sad experience for a crew just starting out. I flew the rest of the crew to our base at Cerignola, Italy. I had never landed the plane from the left seat (pilot's seat) before, flew across the Mediterranean Sea near a combat area . . . but God was my Co-Pilot. From there we were part of the 15th Air Force, flying in formation to gargets in Italy, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

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