I joined the Navy in 1942 and was sent to boot camp in San Diego, California. From there I went to radio school in Moscow, Idaho. This was ship-borne radio. While there I heard about aviation radio. I thought that sounded pretty good, so I signed up. This took me to Memphis, Tennessee for aviation radio (voice instead of CWO and radar, which was highly secretive at the time). Then it was off to gunnery school at Hollywood, Florida. From there, I went to operational flight training at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where I had a choice of flying in PBYs or TBFs, and that was how I ended up in Torpedo Bombers.
The Navy thought I had enough training by then, I guess, so I was detailed to go into action. We sailed across the Atlantic to join Torpedo Squadron 4, which was attached to the USS Ranger, then in Scapa Flow, Scotland. It was assumed at the time that we were going to make another strike on Norway. I was one of 13 sent to replace personnel lost in the first raid on Norway.
It turned out (I guess) another strike on Norway wasn't feasible and our Air Group was sent back to the States. Our next station was Quonset Point, Rhode Island. For a while we went through more operational training between the Ranger and NAS. I remember one exciting experience I had. One night, while flying with Don A. Henry practicing night carrier landings aboard the Ranger, we took 9 "wave-offs" before we landed safely on deck. A few nights later, Don Henry was doing night carrier landings, but wasn't so lucky--he crashed on the deck. He wasn't hurt badly, but the plane was. I wasn't flying with him that night.
We left Quonset Point and the Ranger for a trip across the United States on a train. We were headed for Brown Field in Southern California. Our whole squadron and Air Group 4 were sent out to sea. First we stopped at Hawaii, Guam, and then Saipan. There we were assigned to the USS Bunker Hill. I don't remember how many strikes we made off the Bunker Hill, but our first strike was on Manila Bay, Philippines. I believe this was a pretty successful strike. We were not on the Bunker Hill very long when we were transferred to the USS Essex for further action.
Thomas´ book Torpedo Squadron Four: A Cockpit View of World War II tells the story of the rest of our war days against the Japanese in the Pacific, from the Philippines to Okinawa, with our last strike being on Tokyo, Japan.
Back in the States, after an exciting return, I transferred out of VT-4 to the Naval Air Station in Hutchinson, Kansas. I went into an Air Group flying in PB4Y2s, which was a four-engine plane and land-based.
I loved flying in TBMs and making carrier landings. I had the honor of flying with one of the Navy's best pilots, Will S. Souza. Tom R. Sims and I took turns operating the turret gun for Souza during combat in the Pacific.
My tour in PB4Y2s was a short fulfillment, for I was soon up for discharge from the Navy. This was in February 1945.
That wasn't the end of my Navy career, however, as in 1950 I was called back into the Navy. (I was in the Reserves.) At that time, I was sent to the "Korean Police Action." I served 16 months and spent 11 of those months as a radioman on a fleet going tug. This was a quite different experience from being on a carrier in WWII.
After I got out of the service that time, the most I have joined is the Boy Scouts!
Photo: David Huston, Will Souza and Tom Sims aboard the USS Essex.
Photo: David and Shirley Huston at VT-4 Reunion, September 2000.