Aviation Artist and Historian, John Mollison, hosts this entertaining and informational video series of interviews with combat aviators. This is Part 3 of 7 of Old Guys & Their Airplanes which features Claude Hone, World War II Marine fighter pilot who flew the Chase Vought F4U-1 Corsair “696” in the Pacific Theatre.
Claude: We just shipped us on an old freighter. There were probably, uh, two or three hundred pilots on this old freighter. Took us 21 days of pitchin' and goin' through the ocean, goin' through the ocean. Everybody's gettin' seasick until you've got your sea legs, and we didn't, they didn't tell ya where you're goin' in those days. In fact, when they issued me, uh, the leather fleece-lined coat, leather fleece-lined pants, leather fleece-lined hat, leather fleece-lined boots, they issued those to me and put me on a ship. What would you think? I thought I was goin' to Alaska.
Claude: They unloaded us at Guam, and Guam –
Claude: – was half occupied. The, the line, uh, was probably 2 miles up the island, and the rest is still controlled by Japanese, and they were working up ****. And so we were takin' offa Guam and strafing, uh, Saipan. See, Guam, Rota and Saipan, three little islands in a row, uh, we had to capture those, so we were, they were, uh, on Saipan, lotta cliffs, and they dug in the caves of their machine guns, so we'd have to go along the water and strafe and try to, as close as we can, then we had to pull up because we hit the cliffs, see?
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Claude: And we hadn't learned to skip bomb yet. We hadn't learned that, so all we were doin' is we had six Caliber 50s that we'd shoot into those caves where they were. So whether you call that combat or not, I don't know. That's just beginning and then, uh, –
Claude: We got into Iwo Jima, and all we did was kinda patrol and strafe a little bit on, uh, the, the, uh, the, uh, if you look at the map, –
Claude: – from Saipan to Tokyo, 'bout halfway is an island called Iwo Jima, and if the bombers flew over Iwo Jima, they'd radio hey, watch out, they're comin'.
Claude: Get your fighters up there. So that's why we had to take out Iwo Jima.
Claude: So that's why there was, I forget how many casualties there were, thousands of Marine casualties. I think 26,000 casualties, and I don't know, hundred thousand of Japanese.