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Torpedo Squadron Four - A Cockpit View of World War II - Revised, Updated Edition, 2011

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Torpedo
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World War II

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Air Group 4 - Casablanca to Tokyo

Dedicated to those who
served in VT-4, VB-4, VF-4,
VMF-124 and VMF-213

Vertigo, the Expanding Square, and Combat Experiences--An Interview with Wilbur S. Souza, Torpedo 4 Pilot

This interview with Wilbur S. Souza (VT-4 pilot) was conducted by Gerald W. (Jerry) Thomas and Robert F. (Bob) Ruth (also of Torpedo 4) at the home of Will and Lyn Souza, Lake Tahoe, California, on September 8, 2001.

Lt(jg) Wilbur S. SouzaGT: Will, tell us where you were born, what happened before World War II, and how you became involved in the war.

WS: I was born in Santa Maria, California in 1921. I was the eldest child of two; I have a sister 3 years younger. Usual stuff, grammar school, went to high school, played football, sports and track. Then to further my education I went to Cal Poly (California State Polytechnic) in San Dimas, California, which is about 300 miles away from home. Went to school there for 2½ years until December of 1941 and my roommate and I were real enthused about going and fighting the Japanese. He said "Why don't we join the Navy and fly," and that sounded like a hell of a good idea. So we went down and took the preliminary exam. He didn't pass the eye test, but I passed. So that was the way it was, and I went home and they called me, I think it was in March of 1942, to go to Elimination Base, which was in Oakland, California on the bay (now the Oakland International Airport). They had a small naval reserve unit there. We flew N3Ns ("Yellow Perils") out of there. They had a small dirt practice field. I can't think of the name of the place, but that dirt field is where I soloed in an N3N, which was later replaced by the Steerman N2S.

Photo: N3N-3 "Yellow Peril" Trainer 

GT: Will, had you ever been in an airplane before?

WS: My only experience with an airplane was with my dad. Santa Maria has Hancock field and Hancock College of Aeronautics. Captain Hancock was a multi-millionaire in oil out of LA, and was very enthusiastic about aviation. He was the guy that sponsored Sir Kingsford-Smith's transpacific flight in what I think it was a Fokker Tri-Motor (like a Ford Tri-Motor). They had a couple of air shows there, and one day they were selling rides on a Ford Tri-motor and my dad and I went up. That was my first experience in an airplane.

GT: So your next experience was in the Navy?

WS: That's right. And my first flight in the Navy, well you know, you strap on a parachute and climb in the backseat. He didn't say a damn word and we took off and climbed slowly up to 6,000 feet. At 6,000 feet he says "It's colder than hell up here," and just I nod my head. Then he kicked it over and put it in a big tailspin, and we spin down to about 3,000 (feet), and he pulls it out.

BR: He wanted to see if you would get sick.

WS: I don't know what he was testing, but those wires on the wings were whistling and I thought, "I don't know about this, this big problem machine." Anyway I proceeded and soloed and went on to Corpus Christi, Texas for Basic, I guess the next step.

GT: You were a full-fledged Cadet at that point?

WS: Yes, the first 3 months in Elimination Base you were a Seaman Second Class. I think we got $23 a month or so.

GT: With no insurance.

WS: I don't know about insurance.

BR: But you got 3 squares a day?

WS: Yes, we got 3 squares a day.

BR: Didn't give you enough time to spend much money, did it?

WS: No, I think the lights went out about 9 or 10, and then from 5:30 or so you were in high gear all day. Going to classes and flying and washing down airplanes.

GT: As I recall a lot of people were dropped out in Elimination Bases.

WS: That was the name of the game, the theory was that they were going to lose 50%. I don't think they lost that many.

BR: About that time they wanted us, they needed pilots.

WS: Yes, they were desperate for aviators I guess, at that time. Then, later on, you would go to school at different colleges for 2 years before you ever saw an airplane.

GT: So we went through training pretty fast?

WS: Yes, the whole procedure I think was about 9 or 10 months.

GT: What class were you in at Corpus Christi, do you remember? Bob Ruth and I were in Class 4A. You might have been in a different class.

WS: I don't know.

GT: So then from Corpus you went to...?

WS: From Corpus Christi we went down to Opa Locka, Florida, where we flew SBCs, a biplane (Curtis "Helldiver").

(Note: My records show that we completed Aviation Cadet training at Corpus Christi, Texas on November 23, 1942 and were ordered to Opa Locka, Florida for dive-bomber training. GWT)

BR: I landed one of those planes wheels up when I came back from the mission. One wheel would go down and one would stay up. I finally had to land it on the skids.

Photo: Curtiss SNC-1 Trainer 

GT: With the wheels up, I remember that.

WS: That was an SNC.

BR: It was the one with the little knuckles underneath. It was at Kingsville, Texas.

WS: That's an SNC.

GT: The one that Will's talking about is a biplane.

WS: Yes, a biplane, it had cranks to crank the wheels and the flaps.

GT: And we also flew OS2Us.

Photo: Vought-Sikorsky OS2U "Kingfisher" 

WS: Yes.

GT: The Vultee Vibrators.

Photo: Vultee SNV Trainer 

WS: Yes. The SNC was also a Curtis. Some of the South American countries, I think, used those as fighters at that time. Those SBCs were also, at one time, a fleet dive-bomber.

Photo: Curtiss SBC-4 Scout Bomber 

GT: Right.

WS: And they were now in the training program.

GT: As I recall in Opa Locka, you had an experience with vertigo, what was that?

WS: It was a helpful experience in later years. You know, everyone has to experience vertigo. It was at night over the swamps, blacker than an ace of spades. I got vertigo and started in a downward spiral toward the swamps. I thought I was flying straight and level. So, anyway, I finally got my act together and got straight through, and back to base safely.

GT: What is a vertigo experience like?

WS: Very frightening. You think you're in a steep spiral or something and you could be flat, straight and level. You have to get your act together and mindset. Get back to the instruments and believe them, put your life into the instrument's hands, instead of the seat of your pants.

BR: It's hard to do.

WS: Yes it is.

GT: Okay then, where did you go from Opa Locka? By this time we were all together weren't we?

WS: I believe so. Yes, down there in Opa Locka, well we did navigation hops, night flights and general training to transition, supposedly, into fleet airplanes. The fighters were flying Brewster Buffalos and had a lot of trouble with them. As I can remember, there were some English students down there too. I remember one particular incident, there was an Englishman, I don't know, he had to bail out over the swamps, out of a Brewster Buffalo. Then he came in and said, "that bloody Brewster," and he was all ticked off. Anyway, then from there, I think we went on a little leave, didn't we?

BR: Didn't we all get in a car and drive up to Norfolk?

WS: I thought I went by train, but maybe we did go by car, I don't know.

GT: I think I went by train.

WS: I think I went by train.

BR: I'm sure I drove up there with a few other guys.

WS: Anyway, we went to Norfolk to Aircraft Carrier Landing Qualifications. I don't think it was a CASU, was it?

GT: Yes, it was CASU-22 (Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 22).

WS: Well, it was for Carrier Landing Qualifications in which we did a lot of bounce drills out in the pine trees there, someplace on the East Coast.

GT: A lot of field carrier landings.

WS: Yes a lot of bounce drill, and this was in an SNJ. I qualified aboard the HMS Attacker, a British carrier in the Chesapeake Bay. I think we shot about 4-6 landings to qualify. Then we got a leave, because I went home. But it was a short leave.

Photo: Navy's SNJ-3 (AT-6) Trainer 

GT: So you went home on leave after Carrier Qualifications? I didn't go home at that time, because the Skipper said it was too far to go to Idaho.

WS: Well, I know I spent 5 days on a train each way, which was a long time. Then we returned to Norfolk and awaited orders.

BR: I thought we had our orders when we left there. We knew we were going to Torpedo 4. I know I went through dive-bomber training, and instead of that, I got assigned to a Torpedo Squadron.

WS: Yes, that's right. Initially in our transitional training we were trained as dive-bombers. Then, when we got our orders, we went into torpedoes. That was about the same time they lost Torpedo 8, I think.

(Note: Out of 41 torpedo planes at Midway from 3 carriers, only 6 returned—VT-8 lost all planes, VT-3 lost 10 of 12, and VT-6 lost 10 of 14. GWT)

BR: I think that's the reason they changed us from dive-bombers to torpedo bombers.

WS: They were running short of torpedo pilots.

GT: I think Bob is right, we had orders to Torpedo 4 even though we didn't know where the carrier was.

WS: It seems to me, it's very vague, but I know I rode the Ranger, I believe, between Norfolk and Quonset at one time. Now, whether I was to report to the ship at that time, I don't know, or that we reported to Quonset.

GT: I just remember Quonset, I don't know.

BR: That's my memory of it, too. The first time I met the Skipper, the squadron was at Quonset Point.

WS: I know they put me in a room with some ship's officer, and they had GQ (General Quarters) at 4 o'clock in the morning. Hell, I was green as grass, I didn't know what to do. He said, "You're a passenger, you just stay here." So next thing I know, they're batting down all the hatches, screwing the doors closed and shutting off the ventilation system, and I said, "Man, what kind of a deal is this, am I in a submarine or what?" Anyway, we reported to Quonset Point, Rhode Island to VT-4 (Torpedo Squadron 4). At that time, they were about to put to sea, and we weren't Carrier Qualified in a torpedo plane.

BR: That's the first time we ever saw the airplane.

WS: So we were useless to them. They attached 4 of us to CASU-22 at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and they just shoved off and left us there without a CO or anything.

BR: They gave us a TBF handbook and said, "Study this and learn to fly it."

Photo: Grumman "Avenger" (TBF or TBM) Torpedo Bomber 

GT: But also, while we were attached to CASU, we were able to check out some other airplanes.

WS: Yes, right. I think we had 4 airplanes for our use that they left behind. They had some SNJs, SBD, and an F4F. And they left behind Cravens, who was a waiter. Kind of a busboy, a Stewart. He took care of our rooms, laundry, and served meals. We had a driver, too, and a car.

GT: About this time we took a couple of ferry trips to Argentia, Newfoundland.

BR: That was after we had learned to fly the airplanes and we thought we were qualified.

WS: When did we qualify in a TBF? Who clued us in on that? Did we just read the book?

BR: I think so.

GT: Oh sure, you just read the book and got right in the plane.

BR: We were supposed to be aviators.

GT: The TBF was an easy plane to fly.

WS: Yes, it was. It was a monster, a big heavy devil, but it was very stable and a good platform. In the meantime, the ship went up to Argentia and was on the hook-up there for a couple months, just training. They decided they wanted the airplanes they had left behind at Quonset, so the senior ship's officers could qualify for flight pay, so we ferried 4 from Quonset Point to Argentia.

GT: I lead the group in a Grumman Duck, you flew an SNJ, and Dondero had the SBD.

Photo: "Cross-Country Circus" 

WS: Anyway we flew up to Argentia and took a look around, and they had a nice "O" club. I was happy to go back to Quonset, because we had a pretty soft birth down there. So we came back in a transport, a DC-3, I guess. They transported us back to Quonset. After we got back there, they decided those guys have a pretty soft spot, we better get them back to Argentia.

GT: That's where we joined the carrier (USS Ranger).

WS: That's where we joined the carrier, and I guess that's where we qualified.

BR: We did a lot of field carrier landings before they tried us on the carrier.

(Note: To clarify some of the confusion about dates, I have listed below a summary of my Navy orders. Orders for Souza and Ruth should be similar. GWT)

  • Orders to Pre-Operational Training, Miami, FL -- Nov 27, 1942.
  • Orders to Torpedo Squadron 4 -- Feb 27, 1943.
  • Orders to CASU-22 (Carrier Aircraft Service Unit) -- Mar 11, 1943.
  • Orders to Ferry SBD aircraft to Base Roger (Argentia) -- Mar 25, 1943.
  • Orders to Ferry J2F Grumman Duck to Base Roger (Argentia) -- Apr 28, 1943.
  • Revised orders to Torpedo 4 -- May 26, 1943.

GT: We were in and out of Argentia in training operations. Then our major assignment was anti-sub patrol in the Atlantic.

WS: Right, then we went to Scapa Flow, north of Scotland in the Orkney Islands, and were attached to the British Home Fleet.

BR: We had our first combat over Bodų, Norway (Oct 4, 1943).

Photo: Strike on German Shipping, Bodų, Norway 

WS: I was not on that Bodų strike.

GT: Yes, I remember well that I had been seasick the night before, and Hutcheson (1) said that you were going to go on that strike. At the last minute they put me on the strike and left you home, for some reason. We had 12 pilots and only needed 9, because we had only 9 torpedo planes. Buck, Bob and I were on that strike on German shipping. (See Norway: A Grateful Nation Remembers.)

GT: Okay then, the tour of duty in the Atlantic was mostly anti-sub patrol.

WS: That's correct, and lots of training flights. We put in dry dock into Furth of Forth in Scotland. Took a train to London for a short leave.

BR: We also escorted the Queen Mary with Winston Churchill aboard.

WS: We went out to meet her halfway across the Atlantic. The Queen Mary went into Halifax. That's when Churchill and Roosevelt met at the "Quadrant" conference in Quebec, Canada (August 10, 1943). Anyway, we turned around a day ahead of the Queen Mary, and she passed us the next day.

GT: So we had to launch long flights to cover her for anti-sub patrol.

WS: The land-based B24s, and the Canadian Air force finished the coverage. Anyway, we returned to the States, we reorganized at Ayer, Massachusetts.

GT: Now, about this time, you and Lynn got married.

WS: That's right, when I returned.

Photo: Lyn and Wilbur“s Wedding 

Photo: Wedding Cartoon 

BR: We got 2 weeks leave didn't we?

WS: We got married December 6, a day or two after we returned. It took that long to get the license lined up and so forth. Then we were at Quonset for a while, right after we were married.

BR: Yeah, I caught that bug and we, Clara Mae and I, got married on the 8th. My mother was sick on the West Coast in Los Angeles and they gave me leave to go. I flew to LA and I called up Clara Mae, she came down there, and we got married. Then I flew back.

GT: Felix Ward also got married at that time.

BR: It was a bug that was going through the Squadron.

GT: When we came back, the Squadron reformed and enlarged.

WS: That's right. We went from 9 planes to 18.

GT: The fighters increased their numbers and the dive-bombers went from SBDs to SB2Cs. When I went to Photo Recognizance Training (May 8, 1944), the dive-bombers were flying SB2Cs. So then, how did we get from the East Coast to the West Coast?

WS: Well, then the Squadron was transferred to the West Cost, to San Diego, and Bob and his wife had a car right?

BR: I bought a car. I bought a Hudson Terreplane. My wife was very pregnant, so we drove back and I dropped her off in South Dakota.

WS: I went with you. Lynn was also pregnant and you dropped me off in Chicago. I had a priority for the train and of course she didn't. In order to get a birth on a train, you had to have priority. So we got one single birth across the country to LA. Togetherness! We reported to San Diego. We were there at Brown Field for a few days, and then they put us aboard the USS Barnes for Hawaii (July 13, 1944). The jeep carrier hauled us out and dumped us off in Pearl Harbor, at which time they transferred us down to Hilo. We were there for quite some time, at which time the guys had that mid-air, and we lost 9 guys (see Tragedy Strikes Night Operations in Torpedo Squadron Four: A Cockpit View of World War II). From there, we transferred on the Long Island to Saipan. They put us off in Saipan for a few days. I remember the Japanese bombed us while were on Saipan.

GT: Yes, we had an air raid.

WS: I was in a tent on a cot and it was hot and, man, "boom," the air switched through there! I said, "Whoa, man, what the hell is this!"

GT: I rolled out of my canvas cot and rolled under it for safety.

WS: I remember we ran out and got into a pillbox there, someplace. It was a Japanese pillbox, and it was all full of trash. A heck of a mess in there, and I just stayed in there. Man, that was a nice spot during the air raid. I remember they had a chow line and everybody was scared to get in the chow line, because there were Japanese snipers taking them out of the chow line. Scared to eat, but we got by, and then along came Bunker Hill. (We were loaded aboard and underway on Nov 5, 1944. GWT) We left there, and the rest is, I've forgotten the sequence of all the strikes and that stuff, which Jerry knows. I'd have to look at a logbook. Yeah, we zigzagged over the South Pacific, starting in the Philippines, and wound up with our last strikes on Tokyo, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. We were at the landings at Iwo Jima and at the pre-strikes on Okinawa, at which time I lost my roommate Scott Vogt.

Lt(jg) C. N. W. "Scott" Vogt

Lt(jg) C. N. W. "Scott" Vogt

(Note: Air Group 4 was transferred from the USS Bunker Hill to the USS Essex at Ulithi on Nov 18, 1944. Some of the combat actions that Lt(jg) Wilbur S. Souza was involved in on these 2 aircraft carriers are summarized below:

  • Attacks on Japanese destroyers and cargo ships.
  • Torpedo drops around Luzon and in Saigon Harbor, French Indochina.
  • Attacks on Japanese convoys and airfields in the Philippines.
  • Strikes on Formosa and Tokuno Shima.
  • Support for D-Day at Iwo Jima.
  • Strikes on Okinawa, Tokyo, and the Japanese mainland.

In an earlier interview, I asked Will Souza where he was when the Japanese Kamikaze hit the Essex. Will was scheduled for launch on the flight deck. He said, "All I could think of as the Japanese bore in was, 'I'm sitting on top of this 2000-pound torpedo. Let's get the hell out of here!' So I cut the gun, climbed out of the cockpit, and ran forward on the flight deck. I slid under an F6F. When the smoke cleared, I raised my head and bumped against a 1000-pound bomb loaded on the Hellcat. If that bomb had shaken loose I would have been a goner-- even if the bomb didn't explode." GWT)

GT: Did you ever get hit with anti-aircraft fire?

WS: No, but my wingman, Cozy Cole (2) got hit (see A Radioman Becomes a Torpedo Pilot).

BR: I got hit over Cavite, right after I dropped my bombs, went right up through the bomb bay. Didn't hurt the airplane too much.

WS: They were rugged airplanes, I remember. I don't know who it was, but I remember one of the guys, they lost the whole elevator and stabilizer on one side. It was like a bonanza, you know, it just had a "V" left, but it came in and landed. Made a good landing. I don't know who the pilot was. It was a rugged airplane. At that time, we were flying TBMs, which was a General Motor's version. Grumman was the original builder and they devoted all their energies later towards fighters, I guess. They were building the F6F and later the F8F. So after strikes in the Pacific, we returned to the States.

GT: Now, before you get into that, who were your crew members?

WS: Huston (3) and Sims (4).

Photo: David Huston, Will Souza and Tom Sims aboard the USS Essex. 

GT: The same crew, they were most of the time?

WS: Yes. Toward the end there, you remember, we were flying with just one crewman, and they would take turns, so we were not sticking everyone's neck out.

BR: We took out that 30-caliber, too, didn't we?

WS: I don't know. It was pretty useless.

GT: I carried a second crewman as a photographer nearly all the time. (G. D.) Makibbin and I, since we had been through photography school, carried the photographers.

WS: Anyway, we returned to the States. Four of us were transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas as advanced instructors. At that time, there was quite a few British and French cadets, and we were instructing them how to fly.

GT: Boy, some of those French cadets were wild.

WS: Yeah, they were kind of reaching to the bottom of their manpower barrel, and they were pretty erratic, some of them. I remember taking a flight of French guys, it was a navigation flight. I was the chase plane and there were 6 of them, I think. They'd fly and change lead and fly the next leg, and there were 5 or 6 legs, or whatever. And when they finished the prowl, they were a couple hundred miles away from where they were supposed to be. Of course, I didn't speak French, and they didn't speak English, and by the time they had 1 or 2 of them lead, they'd translate to the next guy, and by the time it got to him, it was all screwed up. I lead them back to base. We landed and I said, "Geez, what the hell happened? You were 200 miles off." He said, "I don't know, the wind, he change." Then, I had to show them that you may have to change about 180 degrees at 200 miles per hour.

GT: As I recall, in the North Atlantic, you had kind of an interesting experience, what was that?

WS: They launched me on an anti-sub patrol mission about 8 o'clock at night. Of course, the sun up there at that latitude didn't go down until, I don't know, 10:30 or so. Before I took off, Taylor, our Skipper, was showing me how to figure headings. Instead of figuring the wind leg-by-leg, you fly the legs on a compass, and do the correction on the third leg.

GT: Because the carrier's not going to be there, unless you correct that last leg.

WS: Anyway, the weather was kind of foul. Visibility was not very good, probably a mile. I flew the 3 legs, and coming in on the third leg, Sims was in the backseat and he says, "I got it (the Ranger) at two miles." you know, on the radar. I kept flying and flying and two miles was up. He says, "I lost it," you know, and "I don't have it anymore," and man, you can't see the ship, so where do you go?

BR: So did you have Y.E. (homing beacon)?

WS: No we didn't have Y.E., and there was radio silence. Anyway, I did my best with an "expanding square search' and, you know, by the time you made about 3 or 4 of those legs, you don't know where the hell you are.

GT: That's when the ship's radar picked you up, I think.

WS: Well, I think they had me all the time. I never got very far away from the ship, maybe 30-40 miles at the most. I kept flying and flying and it wasn't doing any good at all. I had 4 depth charges and quite a bit of gas. They had instructed us they'd only give you about 3-4 minutes in the water to live. I just had a summer flight suit on, and I wasn't a strong swimmer anyway, so I decided I'd better get south, at least where it's warmer, and maybe I'd stand a chance to live. So I debated. If I headed due east, Norway was 400 or 500 miles.

GT: Bear Island was the closest place.

WS: Yeah, but Bear Island was a rock out there and it was 200 miles out when I took off, so who knows where that is now. It's like going to the moon. So I had the choice. Norway was German occupied. I knew that if I could fly over Norway and get into Sweden it would be dark and night. Maybe I could bail out and, you know, maybe be interned there, and could stay there in the war. So I thought about that seriously. Then I decided, well, maybe I can fly as far as Scotland or something. So I headed southeast. In a little bit I dropped the depth charges. Just dropped them in the water and started heading southeast, hoping to hit Scotland or some land. In the meantime, the ship's CIC (Command Information Center) had me on radar and they said, "Well, that dummy's lost!" At first they thought I had a submarine and was pulling a hold down tactic or something. Then they finally figured, well that dummy's lost. So what they did is, they launched 2 fighters and vectored them out after me. I was on a southerly course already and they got on that course. They saw the explosions in the water and lined up with those and overtook me. I looked out and saw those planes.

BR: Oh thank God!

WS: That was the most pleasant sight in the whole world. Just like going to heaven, you know. So that was that.

GT: So they guided you back to the ship?

WS: Yeah, we made a U-turn, and we came back in.

GT: You would have never made it to Scotland. You did not have enough gas to get half way there, you were North of the Arctic Circle.

WS: I don't know how far away we were, it was up by Bear Island. At least we would have gotten over warmer water, I figured. I didn't want to go down in the North Atlantic. But anyway, it was a very frightening experience. Oh yeah, 4 of us went down to Corpus Christi as flight instructors, and we spent the rest of the war down there.

(Note: In a letter of commendation to VT-4 personnel, Cdr D. W. (Woot) Taylor   summarized part of our activities: "During the week of 15-22 October [1943], this squadron flew a total of 22 patrols, providing exclusive antisubmarine coverage for units of the British Home Fleet, operating in the Greenland and Norwegian seas. Two-thirds of these flights were made between the Arctic Circle and the 76th parallel, in conditions of poor visibility and sea-level icing. In spite of the unfavorable weather, the freezing seas, the wet and icy flight deck, and the full load of depth bombs carried, these operations were completed ...with such precision and dispatch as to earn a `Well Done“ from both VA 2 and CTF 121.")

BR: Remember VJ Day?

WS: Yeah, VJ Day. When I heard about it, I was flying an SNJ. I had a flight of Limey (English) students. I had the radio tuned in, and they announced it on the radio.

GT: Yeah, I was in the air when they announced it too.

WS: I had had enough flying. I wanted to go home and get the hell out of there. Had enough military and I got out as soon as I could, I had enough points to get out.

GT: Enough decorations too.

WS: The points, they all added together, I've forgotten the system, but I had plenty to be one of the first ones off. Yeah, we all did, and I got out pretty soon.

GT: I got out in September, and I had one month's leave coming.

WS: Well I had leave coming, too, I suppose. Anyway, I went home, I was born and raised on a farm in Santa Maria, CA. I returned there and went on board because my father was running the operation. Soon after that, my brother-in-law, who married my oldest sister (I didn't have any brothers), joined me as a partner, and we bought my dad out and have operated the farm since 1945. My partner retired when he turned 62. He was always looking forward to retirement. I continued to farm until I was 80.

GT: So your main business was vegetables?

WS: Yeah, the original company, Souza and Boster was the name of it, Boster was my brother-in-law's name. He's since passed away. Anyway, I made money with produce. Conventional produce—lettuce, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, the main vegetables. Then I made a trip to Europe and I was over in France in some of the supermarkets over there and I saw these salads that they were doing over there, and putting them in cellophane bags. I thought, "Gee, this is pretty nice." So, I came home and got involved in that on a small scale, and we did that for quite a while. When I first started, I was using a washing machine and dryer as a centrifuge to dry the product, and then later we got commercial centrifuges to wash and dry.

GT: That was a great idea though wasn't it? You saw that up in Europe?

WS: Yeah, and I was kind of a pioneer here in the States. Then there are very, very many new ones, big ones. I remained relatively small, as compared to the big, big ones. The business is still going, we call that Babe Farms, and we had a caricature of my granddaughter as a logo, which was very successful. As a matter of fact, I had a call from the guy in France that was doing it over there, he was the number one guy in France, and he wanted to meet me. We met in New Orleans, we went to dinner, and he wanted me to use his techniques and his equipment. I don't know, supposedly it was the secret stuff, you know, that he'd developed. It was his techniques and his theories in marketing. He didn't speak English, either. He had a very well educated guy, I think he was a Stanford graduate, doing his translation and so forth. But, he wanted to get me involved to develop the whole thing for the US. His mindset is France, which is much smaller than the US. He had France and he wanted to give me about half of California and I said no, I don't want that. So that was the end of that. But, he did make deals with a guy in Southern California, Ready-Pack is the name of it. I don't know if they're still tied together.

GT: Well, now I turn to the family, how many children did you end up with?

WS: Well, we had 2 daughters and that's the extent of it. I have 3 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren as of today. Anyway, one daughter lives in Massachusetts, her daughter is a sophomore this year, and my grandson is in the 7th grade. The 2 great-grandchildren, one of them is in the 2nd grade, and the other is in nursery school, and they live in Portland. My other daughter lives outside of Monterrey, CA. Her husband is in the middle of graduate school out there.

GT: Your family goes way back to what country?

WS: Well, my origin is Portuguese in the Azores, which are islands off the middle of the Atlantic, very poor islands. Over populated, and living's tough. There's a lot of immigration from there to the East Coast, New Binford. My ancestors were fishermen, whalers, and they stick pretty close to the sea.

Photo: Torpedo 4 Pilots Get Together Again 

Footnotes

1. Lt Cdr H. H. (Hutch) Hutcheson
2. Ens L. A. (Cozy) Cole
3. David L. Houston, ARM2c
4. Tom R. Sims, AOM1c


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