NEWSLETTER #43 - Summer 2010
A CHILDHOOD HISTORY LESSON REMEMBERED
Heroes of The Flying Circus
by Rosalyn Lim Kin (daughter of George Lim Poy, 531st)
As a child, I remember seeing a worn, leather album stuck way in the back of an old bureau chest that had a picture of a lion sitting on top of the world with the slogan "KING of the HEAVIES" on the cover and a patch of an angry Donald Duck waving one fist and holding a bomb in the other tucked inside it. I loved to sneak a peek at the aerial pictures of my dad's bombing runs and of the B-24s and their crews. He also had pictures of a few pretty girls in it and when asked who they are he would say that after meeting my mother, his memory of those other girls was "fuzzy" and that he couldn't remember their names. "Good answer," quipped my mother. Sometimes my dad would see me going through it and give me a brief history lesson. "This is where your grandparents used to live (Canton, Guang Dong Province, China)," he said. All around it were craters where the bombs hit, but, not near their house because my dad told everyone in his squadron not to bomb in this sector because his family lived there and that they are all US citizens.
He and his crew mates were determined to do their part to help end this terrible war. They were thrown into the thick of things and despite their different backgrounds they became as close to each other as if they had grown up in the same family. Their lives were connected by a common goal. Defeat the enemy and win this damn war.
It wasn't easy to get my father to talk about his part in the war. Like many of his generation, he just didn't talk about it much. He didn't talk about the camaraderie and loyalty that bound them together. He didn't talk about the hard work, perseverance and courage that it took to complete the bombing runs. He didn't talk about the danger that they all faced everyday of this war. What he didn't say, he demonstrated by showing unfailing loyalty to his family and friends. He demonstrated his hard work ethic every day and instilled it in all of his kids. He took nothing for granted and always gave back more than he received. It was drilled into us to always leave things in better shape than you found them. Own up to your responsibilities and accept them with pride. Do your part to help make things better; the world would be better for it. And with hard work and perseverance, nowhere on earth do you have the ability and the freedom to follow your dreams than here in America.
So, when my dad asked if my family could accompany them to one of his bomb group reunions in 2007, I gladly accepted. What a wonderful opportunity it was to get other perspectives and listen to other veterans recount little snippets of their experiences. I remembered my father's album and wondered if it was still intact. What a great piece of history that would be! (Provided that he still had it). This time I would view it with a greater appreciation and understanding of the intricacies that would bring our great nation into this world war. Not only did he still have it, he was able to add to it thanks to my cousin, Col. Joseph Chan (retired). Joe was able to request copies of documents from dad's career in the Air Force Base that were archived at Maxwell Air Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Joe was attending the War College at that time.
What a treasure trove of historical facts and notes he had amassed. These artifacts evoked memories in my father as if they had happened just yesterday. What had the greatest impact on me were many of my father's handwritten and typed personal mission logs. My father's narratives revealed a flair for writing that I was not often exposed to while growing up. His notes were so vivid that I could easily imagine being right there along side him. With my father's permission, I have transcribed his handwritten mission logs and would like to share them as well as his hand typed ones with you. (Please note: What my father wrote was from his perspective through the small window of the navigator. It may, and in some cases, be very different from that of other parts/windows and perspectives of his fellow crew members in the B-24.)
Mission Logs of
2nd Lt., George (G) Lim Poy, Navigator
531st Bomb Squadron
380th Bomb Group
310th Bomb Wing
V Bomber Command
Fifth Air Force, United States Army
4 March, 1945
Ground support job around Nawa Dam area, 9 miles from Manila.
Primary target: Jap artillery positions on both banks of the river.
Approximate 8/10s Stratus cumulus undercast over target at critical time of action. Circled target twice could not identify target through cloud coverage. Extreme turbulence.
Jettisoned bombs out at sea.
Buy more war bonds.
24 March, 1945
The bomb run was made from the Bay and our specified area of Lega(s)pai Port was easily identified. This was the second consecutive day of operations repeated on Jap installations & pill boxes along the shores of the port. A landing is expected.
Our bomb load was eight 1000 pounders. The first two dropped short of target line and exploded in the water. Poor fishes. The other six were direct hits and pulverized Jap defenses & Japs to smithereens. The concussion of explosions rebounded from the ground and jarred the plane slightly.
Japs are having a fish dinner tonight but there are going to be an awful lot of empty chairs.
Target -- Okayama A/D
My ETA for the I.P. (Initial Point) had expired and heavy cloud coverage enveloped the entire coastline. The lead ship was feeling the coast line for estuary of the river which lie between Tainan town, our secondary target, and Okayama A/D. I wasn't aware what they had decided in the spur of the moment and carried on my navigation following the formation still heading north. Then suddenly the clouds broke and revealed a shoreline and we headed towards the opening. When we were over land we had completed a 180
I was certainly dumbfounded with surprise.
1 April, 1945
Target: Legaspi port
Today is Easter Sunday. Last Friday evening I attended rehearsal with the choir and planned to support Church services this morning. A priority AAA job took precedence to my Sunday plans.
This was "D" day for the invasion of Port Legaspi. Our mission today was supposed to be the ultimate pulverization prior to the landings. Approx. 30 vessels were standing by in the bay waiting for "H" hour. Some of the landing barges were circling in wide arcs to gather the landing formation. A couple of the bolder crafts came within a few hundred yards of the shore line and let go a barrage of rocket fire. They shot out like roman candles, hitting straight & true. It seemed more like the night before 4th of July than the prelude to an invasion.
Our job was to knock out the artillery positions on a hill due south of the port & critical time was 0915 to 0930. The aiming points were visible but the clouds below closed in and prevented us from noting the results.
"H" hour was 0940 and first reports hailed the landing as successful with little or no opposition.
Hell, there shouldn't be any opposition left after we disposed 127 tons of bombs on Port Legaspi & vicinity.
3 April, 1945
TARGET: TOYOHARA A/D FORMOSA
Flew with Lt. Fowler & crew today because his navigator was in the hospital. I enjoyed flying with them and they all were regular fellows.
I was 2 points behind the rest of my crew, but this was a 3 points mission and now I'm one ahead of the boys.
7 April, 1945
TARGET: TOYOHARA A/D FORMOSA
We had to change planes because the bomb bay doors wouldn't close. During the rush, two members of the crew forgot their parachutes and we did not realize it until we were airborne. Bombs were jettisoned out the bay and we returned to the field.
A bomber of the 529th which followed us on take off exploded before it reached the end of the runway. No survivors.
Frank Wescot was on that plane.
15 April, 1945
PLANE -- DRUNKARDS DREAM
TARGET: SHINSHUCHI A/D, FORMOSA
In all our previous 7 missions this one was the hottest one yet. The weather was ideal and we flew contact all the way. We entered the coast to reach our I.P. (Initial Point) and turned according to our briefing. In spite of the ingenious job of camouflaging the airdrome & its facilities (they) stood out sharply against the reflection of the bright sun. We went square over the target without disposing our bombs and it still remains to be a dispute whether the lead pilot or bombardier was at fault. Nevertheless we had to make a second run over the target. There was only a few scattered bursts of flak the first time around & by the time we came in to make the second run, the Jap gunners had our alt., air speed & direction all calculated. Ack ack was leading us on course, coming up at a greater intensity and bursting within the formation. It still remains to be a mystery why the lead pilot, a certain Maj. Van Pelt of Group, remained at the same alt., used identical evasion tactics, same breakaway (pattern) as we did the 1st time over target. This was just inviting danger not only to himself but to 23 other crews of B-24s.
After bombs away I crawled back up to the flight deck to peer out of the side blisters. I first noticed slim stringy trails of black smoke leading to the ground. I followed the trail of smoke down only to see an object aflame as it plummeted to earth. A horrible thought shot through my mind. Someone must have been hit! Just then two fully blossomed white parachutes passed within my view. Then a wing section of the B-24 fluttered downward in flames like an autumn leaf descending to its grave.
The nose gunner witnessed the tragic incident. One of our bombers was loosing altitude fast. It dropped out of formation and peeled off in a steep bank to the left as if trying to regain control. Then two chutes popped open. The bomber swerved around again and exploded in mid air. Almost simultaneously 4 more chutes blossomed out, 3 went clean of the flaming wreckage, and as the inferno fuselage went spinning down, its death claws reached out and snatched the 4th chute out of the air. The momentum of the spinning created a centrifugal force which threw the human beings out in a wide arc. It was all over in a matter of seconds. It was a grim sight for all of us and chills creeped up my spine.
We returned to the field and the landing was delayed because a plane of the 529th cracked up at the end of the runway. Later we learned that the plane which exploded over target also belonged to the 529th.
Someone added that we encountered fighter interception which could be entirely possible because we didn't have any fighter cover at the time. Fighter cover began at 1300 to 1400 hrs and we were over target at 1230.
It was in 2007 at my first 380th bomb group reunion that I attended that I first heard a story about my father almost getting shot by "friendly fire." A couple years ago at one of the first reunions that my parents attended, one of the other veterans approached my mother and said, "We nearly killed your husband!" With that statement they recounted the story of how he was almost mistaken for a Japanese straggler.
They had just landed on Mindoro in the Philippines. The men had pitched their tents. He was assigned "Officer of the Day" and was doing night checks to secure the encampment. He pulled open the flap of one of the tents, stuck his head in and asked if everything was all right. He knew they (the men) could see his officer's cap and bars on his shoulders and black arm band that the designated "Officer of the Day" wore. Dad could see the men immediately reach behind them for their guns because they thought he might have been a Japanese straggler impersonating an American officer. They soon recognized that he was a "friendly." You see, my father was the only Asian in a group of 10,000 men so it was understandable that not everyone knew of this Chinese American officer. What an eye opener!
Every time I look at this album, I am reminded of the quiet courage and bravery that is embodied in my father. I am reminded of the sacrifices that were made to insure the freedoms we sometimes take for granted and am grateful beyond measure. I am so very proud that he, George Lim Poy, is my father. It is our great honor to be able to attend another 5th AF, 380th Bomb Group Reunion with my father and mother this November 2008 in Tucson, Arizona. We hope to attend many more to come! ~~ October 29, 2008 - Rosalyn Lim Kin ~~
Poy & Kin Families
George and Jessie Poy
Poy Family at the 2008 Reunion
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Last updated: 08/30/2010 12:40 PM