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December 20, 2013
Continued from November 29th

A Post HS Autobiographical Sketch of Cecil R. Hall - When we got the word that the 2nd bomb had been dropped on Japan, all flying ceased. We grabbed our ‘jungle rations’(whiskey) and headed for the Club. The aircraft arriving back from China were shooting off their pyrotechnic flares as they came over the last mountain ridge on the approach to our airbase. The Club reverberated with singing, drinking and merriment. Our sister airbase, down river from us, set fire to their Club, as a memorial and no regrets. On the way back to our grass shacks, walking thru the moonlit tea patch the hyenas were howling their eerie screaming laughter (at us?) The time had come to pack up and go home. Calcutta was our departure point. One evening while waiting for space assignment I went to the British Club in down town Calcutta. As I was about to begin my evening meal a Brit burst into the dining room, stood up on a chair, and delivered a chilling warning. The natives were rioting on the streets of Calcutta! We were invited to remain in the Club overnight. (This pandemonium marked the beginning of the end of British Rule of India.) Next morning at first light I ventured out onto the street. It was quiet. Walking along the sidewalk in front of an apartment building I heard a ‘thud’ just behind me. Turning, I saw a boulder about the size of my head right where I had been. Glancing up I saw a Hindu duck back into his balcony. (I could tell he was Hindu because he was clean shaven. Muslims don’t shave) Dashing to the middle of the street and in a run began looking for a taxi to take me to safety of fort Dum Dum, my quarters. 24 November 1945 my ride home lifted off the runway at Barrackpore Air Base, Calcutta, India, destination Morrison Field Florida. We departed in a war weary 4 engine Douglas C-54 aircraft with the admonition that all legs of the flight plan were to be flown in daylight hours only. The passenger manifest listed 15 war weary pilots from many of the air bases in India and China. Our first stop would be Karachi, to top of our tanks before heading to Cairo. Passing over the northern end of the Persian Gulf #3 engine began running so rough it had to be shut down and prop feathered. Our pilot gave us a choice, declare an emergency and land at Abadan (on the southern coast of Iran) or continue on to Cairo with just three engines. The decision was unanimous, Cairo! There we spent we spent 10 luxurious days waiting for the engine parts to arrive from the States. No time was wasted while luxuriating in Cairo. Exotic food, museums and entertainment. (You’ve just gotta go to Cairo to see those authentic belly dancers!)

9 December 1945 our repaired bird headed westward across the North African Desert. We could still see remains of some of the desert battles. A rest stop at Casablanca offered us a chance to visit the Casbah. But the Gendarmes said no permits, no visit! We had no permits nor time to get them. There were no more episodes of terror to distract our home coming. Everyone on board arrived home in time for Christmas. Then came the Cold War period beginning with the Soviet Blockade of Berlin. In answer to Stalin President Truman slapped the top of his desk shouting, ‘Bust The Blockade!’

General Tunner, an executive of American Air Lines and the organizer of ‘Hump’ operation in India/China was recalled to apply his expertise to busting the Berlin blockade. Two Royal Air Force air fields in the British Zone of Occupation were leased to augment the two US bases in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden in the US Zone of Occupation. I was assigned to one of the Brit Bases, Gatow, in the British Sector of Berlin delivering my cargo at the Brit base, Gatow, in the British Sector of Berlin. I made three deliveries per duty shift, each load consisted of 20,000 pounds of coal packaged in gunny sacks weighing 100 pounds each. German crews unloaded the coal and we were airborne with in 15 minutes! Off the end of the runway was a small river then Russian Barracks. On takeoff our flight crews would hold our aircraft at rooftop level to buzz the Russian Barracks in retaliation for harassing us with their Yak Fighters. After 3 deliveries flight crews looked like coal miners. We had coal dust in our eye brows, nostrils, ears and collar line.(The Brit pilots delivered bulk fuels—wearing white shirts and ties! Our buddies flying out of the US Zone delivered food, medical supplies and other civilian commodities. The French, bless their romantic souls, delivered wine. By Easter 1949 the Soviet Blockade of Berlin was Busted but not without Soviet Fighter harassment. Frequently Yak Fighters would come at us and fly extremely tight formation and waggling their wings at us. A Very chilling experience.

Stu’s Notes:
Well, the work on our memorial parking lots is moving forward lots of concrete is being poured, the lights should go up before years end. Well just let’s say soon, sadly they probably will not be able to lay the asphalt until it warms up in spring. Our wondering bolder has found its final resting place up in front by the flag pole. We dug it up in the center of our site a few years ago. The man that put it there says it weights about 4 tons. Well it will be a good place to sit this spring in the warm sun and gaze out at the memorial close your eyes and reflect on just what this memorial means and the sacrifices that those named on the various walls out there made for our freedom. Heroes, All.