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Douglas A/B-26 Invader

The Bill Todd page














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Bill Todd wrote:

 

Hi, I was stationed at Yuma County Airport the name of the base at Yuma before it became Yuma AFB, then Vincent AFB.

I arrived in June '56, and the Drone Squadron was already up & running. The USMC took over the base in '58 (?) and it became Yuma Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Station (YMCAAS), it's still under Marine control as Yuma Marine Air Station I believe.

Sometime in 1957 (?) the USAF went to what was called Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance concept ("CAMRON") moving all the specialists and like AFSC’s together.  They formed an all jet squadron from the B-57E tow target aircraft, and all the jet chase planes from what was called "Air Defense Squadron." All the technicians went to the CAMRON, which was in effect the Field Maintenance Squadron. I was assigned to 4750th FMS "Base Flight," which took over all recip aircraft.

The DB-26C's & the H-21's came over to Base Flight area later, there being not a lot of parking space for the B-26’s. The aircraft stayed for a while at the far East end of the ramp where they had always been.

 

All units at Vincent were designated 4750th, not 4756th. I believe the units at Tyndall had the numerical 4756th designation. We were all part of the 4750 Air Defense Wing, headquartered at Moody AFB, Valdosta, GA. I'm still in contact with two members of Drone Squadron, including Jim Brink unit CO who gave me some insights into the white DB-26's. If you've ever been to Yuma in the summer, you know why they were pained white at Jim's request. Base Flight & all the recips stayed together as a part of 4750th Field Maint SQ. I was discharged from (my DD214 says May 1959,) prior to the base moving all units to Tyndall or McDill AFB.

 

 Base Structure of flying units:

         Base Flight 4750th FMS

         Air Defense Sq.  4750th ADS

         17th Tow Target Sq.

         4750th Test Sq.

         4750th Drone Squadron

 

I was assigned Base Flight as an Instrument & Autopilot Tech. There was little to do, so I asked my BF Maint. Officer, Lt. Billy Rose if he would get me cross-trained as an aircraft mechanic. I did an O-J-T program and was later awarded an AFSC of 43151A, Single Engine Aircraft Mechanic.

 

We had a lot of old timers in the unit. Several of which had been at Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec ’41.

Almost all the B-26 crew had combat time in Korea. The old guys were all sergeants, which KO'd much chance for upward mobility.

I'd come into BF from "Transient Alert," which was part of BF. When we first went to my unit, (FMS/BF) we had to do 90 days parking & fueling aircraft at Transient Alert. I really enjoyed it. I worked for a shift chief named S/Sgt. Danny Figueroa. He was a C-119 mechanic and a spot came open for him to takeover one of the early C-119C's we had, #0161. He arranged for me to come along. Our 119C’s had the P&W R-4360's. Later we got three C-119G's with the Wright 3350's (or Wrong's, depending if you viewed working on them as a job or punishment. I viewed them in the latter!) I hated working on them, and fortunately didn't have to very often.

 

Our aircraft assigned when I shipped over to Base Flight:

L-20 (2)

H-19A (2)

C-119C (2)

T-33A (2)

C-119G (3) sometime before consolidating into CAMRON (Consolidated Aircraft Maint. Sq)

 

When we consolidated we added the Drone Squadron aircraft:

DB-26C (3)

H-21A (3)

 

We lost the "T-birds" to the jet squadron, and the crew chiefs were anything but happy!

 

When I arrived at Yuma in 6/'56:

B-29A's were towing targets.

All left late in 1956 to be overhauled & converted to WB-29's we heard. B-45C's were a real dog at Yuma with the high temps in summer. Not at all unusual for 116-120 degrees.

Severely underpowered with 4 jet engines out of a F-86A. NAA's only real failure.

**************

 

Not much to write about me. I was a grunt and was never promoted because of the heavy NCO level above me. I had like 39 months time-in-grade for A/1C, excellent record and had no major marks against me. SAC was taking all the spots for NCO's and we in ADC got the left-overs which were damn slim. I couldn't get outta there fast enough and immediately went to work at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, CA.

With the base breaking up, about 60 of us went to work there. I roomed with a H-21 mechanic from Base Flight, and a bunch of us lived together in a double duplex.

 

I went back in the military in 1961. I wound up as a flight engineer on a DeHavilland Otter in Alaska. Did 2 1/2 years at the old Ladd AFB in Fairbanks. I made Specialist 5 and was converted to a buck sergeant E-5 just before discharge. A far cry from the USAF & all their restrictive & punishing policies.

 

Quite a different trip than USAF

Best,

Bill
















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