“I’m with the air force, not the infantry!!”
After forming the 432nd Fighter Squadron in the year 1943, the men of our group left on a ship from Amberly Field, Australia, heading towards Port Moresby, in New Guinea. When we arrived off the shore of Port Moresby, we got into an LCI, or Landing Craft. At that time, it was mid afternoon. The man driving the LCI told us all to make sure to duck down for the landing. He also said to make sure we were wearing our helmets, and that we were carrying our guns. We approached the sandy, golden beach, with coconut trees, and extremely thick shrubbery leading to the jungle. We could hear many loud, screaming voices, which we could not understand. We assumed it was the Japanese, and that we were in an invasion. I was trembling with fear, and I remember saying to a buddy standing next to me, ” Hey, we are in the air force, not the infantry!!”. We finally landed, and the front of the dull gray LCI dropped open for us to get out. Much to our surprise, we saw an estimated amount of 30-50 natives spread out across the beach. They were yelling loudly at us, waving their arms. It was their way of greeting us to their land. I asked a friend named Murray where the Japanese were, and I was told that they were about 20 miles inland. We passed by the natives, to load trucks to our destination of Dobodura Air Strip.
Close Call at Dobodura Air Strip
While at Dobodura Air Strip, we were bombed and strafed by the Japanese at least 2-3 times per week. I assumed that they had an Air Strip on the other side of the mountain towards the East, where the sun rose each morning at about 5:00 AM. I was crossing the strip to get to a P38 that I was assigned to work on that day. I was walking through the middle of the olive green, metal air strip, just as the sun was rising that day. I saw four of my buddies to the side of me hiding in shrubbery, farther to the side of the Air Strip. They waved to me to lay down, and were yelling to me to lay also. I followed their directions immediately. Right after I laid down on the Air Strip, something happened that was of great surprise to me. A Japanese Mitsubishi Zero, with it’s easily visible Rising Sun design painted on it, was shooting at me. The shooting lasted less than 30 seconds, but bullets had landed 2-3 feet on both sides of me. I got up and ran towards my four friends on the side after the zero had passed overhead. As I was running, I noticed that my knees were shaking. I felt so scared, yet happy to have come out alive, all at the same time. I thanked them with much gratitude, once I reached them. They told me that I was extremely lucky that I didn’t get hit, or even killed. I knew that this was very true, and I was ever so grateful.
Piss Call Charlie: A Pilot’s Fantasy
On the East side of Dobodura, about 10 miles or so, stood a mountain. This mountain could have been 8 miles high. Every single morning, we were strafed by a Mitsubishi Zero at around 5:00 AM. ( around sunrise ) It aimed at our planes, and also aimed at us. It was a big nuisance, and we called it Piss Call Charlie. One day, a pilot was fed up with this particular plane. He decided that he would shoot that zero, and stop it for good. I believe this pilot was Joe Forster. So, bright and early at 4:30 in the morning, he took off in one of our P38’s. It was a shiny, silver plane, which had yellow propeller noses. He bravely circled the skies above us, waiting for the Zero to arrive. We could see our P38 chasing the Japanese Zero. The P38’s guns were rapidly blasting at the Zero. They passed the Air Strip, and began to climb. Our pilot got a direct hit at it, and put an end to all of the future “Charlies”.
Stories as told by: Hugo Evarelli,
432nd Fighter Squadron
** Hydraulic Specialist **