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DALHART AAF 22-28


ARTICLE 22


Bill Fasking Trapped Muskrats Prior to Joining the US Army Air Corps in WWII

This is the 22nd article in a series on DALHART ARMY AIR FIELD during WWII.

John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

One of the many student glider pilots who trained at Dalhart AAF in WWII was William D. “Bill” Fasking.

Fasking was born in Chenoa Township, Illinois in February 1922.  He was a large baby weighing in at 13 pounds and 14 ounces.

He attended Crossroads School, a one-room school house, while the family lived on the farm in Chenoa Township north of Lexington until his eighth year of grade school.

After the family moved to another farm south of Lexington, Bill went to Horney School, also a one room school house, for the eighth grade.

In high school, he was involved in wrestling, football, and gym circus which consisted of trapeze catcher, rings, and the adagio act.

It was this latter talent that earned him a scholarship to Illinois State Normal University but he still could not afford to attend even with that financial support.

He graduated from Lexington Community High School on June 1, 1940, but continued working on the family farm with his Dad.

His usual work involved driving teams of mules and horses.

Other jobs he did included growing, harvesting, and putting up hay, corn, and soybeans.  He also did gardening, fed the chickens, and milked the cows.

He raised beef cattle and had a local champion steer but lost out in the advanced competition in Chicago.

One day, he approached his Dad about a pay raise, something more than just food and water and milk from the family cow as payment for his labor.

“I told my Dad that we were going to have to come to some sort of agreement with my working there.”

He replied, “Well, you’re fed, ain’t you?”

I said, “Yeah, but that’s not enough.”

His Dad replied, “Well then, by God, hit the road!”

“So I started out walking and he come after me.”

“I told him that I was figuring on joining the service, joining the army.  He didn’t have much to say about it and when I got ready to go over there, he said that he would take me.”

His Dad drove him to Rantoul, Illinois where Chanute Army Air Field was located.  He then joined the Army Air Corps on June 11, 1940.

Originally, he was paid $21 per month when he joined the service.

Although it would seem that this amount of money was much more than what he was earning working on his Dad’s farm, which was nothing, Fasking explained that he did have a source of income during that time while working on the family farm.

“I trapped rats and sold the hides to ‘Johnny Muskrat’ at Sears-Roebuck.”

By rats, Fasking explained that he meant muskrats although he trapped other animals for their furs, too.

When he mailed the muskrat hides, he addressed them to ‘Johnny Muskrat’.  He did this throughout high school.

“Well, most of the time I was in high school (I trapped muskrats).”

When asked about where he trapped these muskrats, Fasking replied, “Well, we had a creek running through the farm, there was a gravel pit in the middle of the creek.”

“If you don’t get them soon after they are trapped, they’ll chew off their leg.  They just take their teeth and chew it off.”

“If you got a good hide with no flaws or anything in it, why uh, you get about four bucks for it.  I made pretty good spending money.”

“Most of them, you only got about between two and three dollars for.  I would get up to about a half a dozen every day.”

“I made pretty good spending money through the winter.”

You only trapped muskrats during the wintertime so that their fur coats were thick enough to be used.  You did not trap them in warm weather because their coats were too thin, he explained.

“You didn’t trap them in the summertime; there pelts weren’t any good then.  The fur wasn’t thick enough.”

An online source called TeachingHistory.org, has a link under it written by historian John Buescher that describes who ‘Johnny Muskrat’ was.

In 1925, at the behest of their mail-order customers, Sears-Roebuck & Company, through its Sears Raw Fur Marketing Services, “began buying furs from independent, rural trappers.”

Buescher explained that ‘Johnny Muskrat’ was a fictitious character created by Sears-Roebuck to advertise their service of buying muskrat hides from independent trappers.

“Trappers would mail packages of their prepared muskrat, mink, otter, raccoon, fox, badger, beaver, weasel, skunk, and opossum pelts to a Sears depot.  At first there was only one in Chicago, but the company soon increased the number of depots around the country, including ones in Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, Memphis, Kansas City, Des Moines, Denver, and Minneapolis,” according to historian Dr. John Buescher of the University of Virginia.

“Sears would grade the pelts and either promptly send the trappers a check or give them credit toward purchases from its general merchandise catalog.”

The Sears catalog carried a complete line of traps, scents, and pelt stretchers, in addition to firearms, ammunition, and decoys.

“In this way, Sears Roebuck became one of the largest fur buying companies in the country,” said Buescher.

“The company had found a way to help their rural customers by giving them a market for their furs that was as close as their mailboxes.  Farmers trapped for sport and recreation, but also to control the wildlife population that threatened their crops.”

Sears also annually mailed more than 7 million copies of its 30-page publication, “Tips to Trappers” by ‘Johnny Muskrat’ and his trapper friends which provided information about trapping animals and preparing pelts as well as shipping tags for mailing packages to Sears, according to TeachingHistory.org.

Bill Fasking continued, “Hell, they made coats for women and fur collars and they wanted a good thick fur; so wintertime was the only time we trapped them.”

“You could send them up to Chicago; but we had a guy that paid you damn near as much and you didn’t have to ship them.  So I sold them to another guy that, he didn’t do trapping himself, but he handled the damn furs.”

Fasking also said that the fur buyer in town was also a bootlegger.  His name was Scott Hartman.

He either sold the muskrat furs to the fur buyer in town or shipped them to “Johnny Muskrat” in Chicago and paid the postage himself.

“I made enough to buy an automobile with them, not a new one.”

James “Jim” Witmer, a life-long trapper from Pennsylvania, provided more information about trapping and also provided the photos of the “Johnny Muskrat” catalogs for this article.

Witmer was born in March 1945 and began trapping animals when he was 12 years old.

He sold furs to “Johnny Muskrat” his first year but the grade sheet came back from Sears marked “poorly handled”, so he sold to other companies after that.

“After 34 years in the fur buying business, Sears Roebuck decided in 1958 to focus on urban customers and retail stores, and so discontinued, among other things, the Sears Raw Fur Marketing Services and the publication of Tips to Trappers,” stated John Buescher in TeachingHistory.org.

More about WWII glider pilot Bill Fasking and Dalhart AAF in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are encouraged to visit Silent Wings Museum on I-27 at Exit 9 just north of Lubbock to learn more about the glider program of WWII (www.silentwingsmuseum.com).

Readers are also asked to visit www.researchwars.org for more information about Dalhart AAF and call to John McCullough at (806)793-4448 if they can help with his research.


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ARTICLE 23


Stunt Pilot Mike Murphy Was Childhood Hero to Glider Pilot Bill Fasking


This is the 23rd article in a series on DALHART ARMY AIR FIELD during WWII.

John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

One of the many student glider pilots who trained at Dalhart AAF in WWII was William D. “Bill” Fasking.  In October 2015, he provided an interview about his time flying gliders in the war.

Fasking was born in Chenoa Township, Illinois in February 1922.

He never flew in an airplane prior to joining the military.

When asked about Charles Lindbergh, Fasking said that he was not particularly impressed by him.

However, Fasking did have another childhood hero whom he admired greatly due to his spectacular flying.

He first became interested in flying when he was around nine or ten years old when he saw an air show in which the pilot had additional wheels on top of his biplane.  He rolled the plane over and landed it upside down.

The stunt pilot who performed this aerial trick was named Mike Murphy and young Bill Fasking saw him perform this stunt and many other aerial acrobatics at an air show in Bloomington, Illinois that day.

According to findagrave.com website, Michael C. “Mike” Murphy was born on November 11, 1906 in Rossville, Ill.  In the 1920s, he began his barnstorming career by flying stunts in World War I-era aircraft at air shows and state fairs.

He was the first pilot to take off and land an aircraft from a moving automobile and also the first one to take off and land and aircraft upside down.

Murphy served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II and was on General Eisenhower’s staff.

He built the US glider program which was used for the transportation of troops, artillery, medical supplies, and other heavy cargo into combat zones.

He also flew the lead American glider into Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Major Leon Spencer, USAFR (ret.) wrote an extensive article about Mike Murphy on the Findagrave.com website, too.  Spencer was a glider pilot during WWII and trained at Dalhart AAF.

According to Spencer’s article, Lt. Col. Mike Murphy flew the lead U.S. glider into Normandy on D-Day, which was also the one in which Brigadier General Don Forester Pratt was killed when the glider crashed.

“In the copilot's seat beside Murphy was Second Lieutenant John M. Butler, attached to the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing.  Lashed-down behind them was General Pratt's jeep.  The vehicle carried the General's command radio equipment and several extra 5-gallon Jerry cans of gasoline.  The General's aide-de-camp was seated on the small glider jump seat behind the jeep,” explained Spencer.

“With this considerable extra weight, plus the additional weight of the jeep radios and extra gasoline, the glider was probably over the safe load limits, but of greater import was the fact that the center of gravity had been altered significantly.  Murphy said the glider was overloaded by 1,000 pounds, and handled like a freight train.”

“In view of the heavy load it was carrying, the final approach speed of the No. 1 glider was somewhat above the normal tactical speed of 70 mph.  Murphy said that he touched down on the first third of the field at 80 mph.  He immediately pushed the glider down on its nose and jumped on the brakes to stop the glider quickly.  To his astonishment the glider's forward speed didn't appear to diminish at all.”

His glider crashed into hedgerow travelling at least 50 miles per hour, according to Murhpy.

“As his head cleared somewhat Murphy said he was alarmed to see several German vehicles that he said were tanks, poised just across the hedgerow, no more than fifteen feet or so away.  He froze for fear that they might shine a light on him.”

“The lead vehicle stopped in front of Murphy's glider and two soldiers jumped off. They entered his wrecked glider with flashlights, poked around for a few minutes, got back on their vehicle, and hastily departed.  Murphy, trapped in his seat, played dead, as did Lt. May,” said Spencer.

“As a precautionary measure, Murphy remained still for several minutes after the Germans had departed.  He then began to try and free his legs from the twisted metal tubing.”

Lt. May told Murphy that he feared that the general was dead because he had no pulse, stated Spencer.

So this was the man that Bill Fasking admired so much after seeing his flying stunts in Illinois back in the early 1930s.

After high school, when Fasking was still working on the family farm, he approached his Dad about a pay raise from nothing to something upon which he would have been capable of raising a family.  After an argument ensued, he found himself leaving home to join the army.

“I told him that I was figuring on joining the service, joining the army.  He didn’t have much to say about it and when I got ready to go over there, he said that he would take me.”

His Dad drove him to Rantoul, Illinois which is where Chanute Army Air Field was located.  He then joined the Army Air Forces on June 11, 1940.

He took his basic training at Chanute Field which was about 35 miles from his home.

The US Army Air Corps (USAAC) did not have a glider program established in 1940 when Bill Fasking joined the service.

He wanted to be a pilot like Mike Murphy; but according to Fasking, you had to receive a recommendation from a U.S. Representative for appointment the Military Academy at West Point in order to become an officer prior to becoming a pilot at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Tex.

So since the powered pilot program was not an option for Fasking in 1940, he considered some other programs, like air photography, but those were closed, too; so he signed up for radio training at Chanute Army Air Field.

More about Bill Fasking’s time in the service during WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are encouraged to visit Silent Wings Museum on I-27 at Exit 9 just north of Lubbock to learn more about the glider program of WWII (www.silentwingsmuseum.com).

Readers are also asked to visit www.researchwars.org for more information about Dalhart AAF and call to John McCullough at (806)793-4448 if they can help with his research.


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ARTICLE 24


Bill Fasking Switched from Radio Operator to Glider Pilot at Williams Field


This is the 24th article in a series on DALHART ARMY AIR FIELD during WWII.

John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

One of the many student glider pilots who trained at Dalhart AAF in WWII was William D. “Bill” Fasking.  In October 2015, he provided an interview about his time flying gliders in the war.

Originally, Fasking was paid $21 per month when he joined the service.

However, he had to spend $3 from each of his army paychecks on laundry service.

The base commander at Chanute Field made all of the men ship their laundry down to Danville, Illinois where his wife had half-interest in the local laundry.

“Hell, he was kind of forcing us to do that.  We could have gotten it done for a couple of bucks by local women there near Chanute.”

Although he did not remember the base commander’s name, he did recall that he died while on a prostitute at a house of ill-repute in Bloomington.  He read about it in the newspaper later on while stationed at another base.

So since the powered pilot program was not an option for Fasking in 1940, he considered some other programs, like air photography, but those were closed, too; so he signed up for radio training at Chanute Army Air Field.

Fasking recalled that Keith Corzine was one of his fellow soldiers at Chanute Army Air Field.  Corzine, who is now deceased, was later in the glider program, as well; but he lost his opportunity to continue training as a glider pilot because he took a color blindness exam for a fellow cadet who pressured him to do so.

Both men were caught and both were ejected from the glider program and received a sentence of six months in the brig.

Keith Corzine and Bill Fasking remained close friends until Corzine’s death a year or two ago.  Fasking said that Corzine was just too nice to refuse the request from the other glider pilot who needed help with his color blindness.

After he completed basic training, he moved south to Scott Field in Illinois which was about 11 miles outside of St. Louis, Missouri and continued his radio training there.

He was stationed there until about October 1940 for a total of about five months at Scott Field.

After completing his training at Scott Field, Illinois, he was posted to Santa Anna, Calif., but that was just a holding area where they waited to be sent to another outfit.

He drove from Illinois to California in a black, four-door 1936 Dodge.  He had already sold his 1934 Ford which he had purchased with money made from trapping muskrats.

He also was based at Stockton Army Air Field in California for a while.  While at Stockton, he attained the rank of corporal which included a six dollar-a-month raise.

At Mather Army Air Field outside of Sacramento, Calif., he led a radio ground team.

He was stationed here on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“It was pretty hard to believe what the Japs did.”

“The radio come on with it (the news) and, of course, anybody who had a radio had it on.”

He was also posted at Moffett Army Air Field in California.  Fasking remembered an enormous hangar used to house dirigibles there.

After his training at various postings in California was complete, Fasking then drove his 1936 Dodge to his next assignment, Williams Field, Arizona.

At Williams Army Air Field, he landed in trouble for soldering a wire in an AT-6 Texan airplane and also witnessed a soldier killed by a propeller.

“Got in trouble with the Sub-depot, once,” Fasking began.

“AT-6’s were what they were flying mostly.  The radio was in the tail section of the AT-6.”

“We took them (the radios) out.  We usually checked them but weren’t supposed to work on them.  We sent them to sub-depot (if they needed repairs).”

“They found that the vibration had broken a ground wire on the back of the radio.  So they took a drop of solder, we gone ahead and re-soldered them; and man alive, the first one, of course they had red paint over it, if we had put some red paint back on it we’d probably would have gotten by with it; but the first one that we had to send into sub-depot, man we got a chewing for that!”

He ended up in trouble for doing the repairs himself instead of sending it into sub-depot to have them do the soldering repairs.  He soldered the grounding wire back to the frame of the AT-6 Texan and he ended up in trouble for that.

“Went to the darn school to learn how to do it and then couldn’t do it!”

Later at Williams Field, Fasking saw a soldier involved in a fatal accident.

“They were night flying at Williams Field and they had a plane sitting there idling and the pilot come out and got in it, and part of the crew was getting the chocks out from under the wings,” he said.

“Anyway, he didn’t walk far enough away from the damn prop after he pulled the chocks out and got hit with the propeller and took about half his scalp off.”

“He was still alive.  I checked on him later on and he lived about an hour after that, after they finally got him to the hospital; but there wasn’t anything they could do.  Hell, it broke his legs and everything after the prop hit him.”

When Fasking learned of the new glider program starting up in the spring of 1942, he decided to try that.  Later that spring, while at Williams Army Air Field near Phoenix, Arizona, Fasking decided to switch from being a radio operator to being a glider pilot.

He vividly recalled the exchange that took place when he told his section commander at Williams Field that he wanted to apply to the glider program.

“When I went in there to ask him for it, he went ahead and did it, but stood up and put both fists down on the desk and said, ‘You son-of-a-gun!  If I could do anything about it, you wouldn’t go!’”

“I had just been put in charge of the radio section in the squadron that he was the head of, and he lost me,” explained Fasking.

His next posting was Cutter-Carr Aerial Service in Clovis, New Mexico where he began training in a “dead stick” school, his first step in becoming a glider pilot.  He arrived there in June 1942.

More about the history of Dalhart AAF in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are encouraged to visit Silent Wings Museum on I-27 at Exit 9 just north of Lubbock to learn more about the glider program of WWII (www.silentwingsmuseum.com).

Readers are also asked to visit www.researchwars.org for more information about Dalhart AAF and call to John McCullough at (806)793-4448 if they can help with his research.


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ARTICLE 25


Fasking Started his Glider Pilot Training in ‘Dead Stick’ School at Clovis

This is the 25th article in a series on DALHART ARMY AIR FIELD during WWII.

John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

After switching from radio operator to student glider pilot, Bill Fasking drove his 1936 Dodge from Williams Army Air Field to Clovis Field in Clovis, New Mex., and arrived there in June 1942.

This was home to Cutter-Carr Aerial Service in Clovis where he began training in a “dead stick” school, his first step in becoming a glider pilot.

“We started out with Cubs, Aeroncas, and Taylorcraft.  I think we had one Stearman, but Aeronca was the one that I liked best.”

When asked about where he and his fellow glider pilots lived in Clovis, Fasking replied that they stayed in a downtown hotel.

“They had us billeted at a hotel.  They fed us there, too.  They probably went out and bought the cheapest damn crap they could get because we got moldy bacon there in the mornings.”

“They guys would pick them up and hold each end of them and flip it and moldy spots would pop out of there.”

However, he said that most of the food that was served to them at Clovis was pretty good.

The hotel was not over three stories tall, he recalled.

Every morning that the men trained, they would be sent by trucks to an airport outside of town.

“It was about six miles out there (to the airport).  They hauled us out there and brought us back at night.”

He even recalled that the name of his instructor was Mr. Warwick.

“The interesting thing about him was he was a retired alcoholic.  That’s what he told me; but he was a pretty good instructor,” Fasking chuckled.

Warwick had five students to train including Fasking.

He remembered a story that Mr. Warwick told him about one of the other students under his aegis.

“Every time he’d fly out away from the airport, and for the most part, everything we perfect; but when he would come in, he would try to land about eight feet above the runway,” he recalled Mr. Warwick saying.

“I’m going to have to wash him out.  He can’t seem to tell when he’s getting close enough to the ground to cut the throttle,” Fasking recalled Warwick telling him.

“So he did.  He finally washed him out.  I never heard from him (the student) again,” Fasking recalled.

Fasking said that all of the instructors at Clovis were all civilians.

“They just wore civilian clothes,” he said.

Fasking thought that they were at a private airport and not the municipal airport; but since he referred to it as “Clovis Field”, this was probably the municipal airport which had been taken over by the military for pre-glider training.

Fasking never heard of Cutter-Carr Flying Service and he could not recall the names of any of the other instructors.

When asked about the names of other glider pilots in his group, he remembered Keith Corzine, who was from Assumption, Illinois.

“There was a double row of us (students) and we had reveille (in the morning).  He thinks that there were about two dozen students total in his class at Clovis.

Records show that Cutter-Carr Flying Service had a maximum capacity of 184 glider students.

“We didn’t have any calisthenics there.  They made a roll call in the morning, but that was about it before you went out to the airfield.”

He said that he and the other students wore military fatigues while training.

They went out to the airfield about eight o’clock in the morning.

They were out there most of the day if it was flying weather.

He switched training between the different types of airplanes but he thinks that he only flew the Piper Cub just once when he was being given a check ride.

Fasking said that they went up to about 2,000 to 3,000 feet in altitude before cutting the power to their airplanes.

This was a “dead stick” school at Clovis.  He explained that the student pilots would fly up to a given altitude and then turn off the engine and land the plane with no power, meaning “dead stick”.

“There was one guy there; I don’t know what the hell he was thinking.  Whether he turned the engine off too quick and it got him a little befuddled; but he crashed.

He wasn’t on his final approach, yet; but he was halfway out of the damned airplane when he crashed; killed him.  He couldn’t find out what the hell he was thinking.”

Fasking explained that the student pilot had climbed about halfway out of the airplane and looked like he was trying to jump but without a parachute.

“Well, it looked like he was going to; but he didn’t have his ‘chute on.”

He said that there was no instructor in the airplane with the student when the accident occurred.

“He was dead when he hit the ground.”

Fasking then remembered a humorous story about one of his buddies in Clovis named Patrus but he could not recall his first name.

“I had a good buddy there.”

“There was a little gal that worked one of the restaurants.  They called her ‘Peanut’.  He went balmy over her.”

“There was a sunken garden outside of town there, probably a good mile.  A good, brisk walk anyway out there.”

“He wanted me to go with him.  He said that he was going to ask her to marry him.”

“I said, shoot, you don’t want me around there when you’re going to do that.”

“Well, I don’t want you to go in there with me,” Patrus replied.

“Pretty soon, they come charging out just madder than hell,” Fasking recalled.

“I said, ‘What the heck happened?’”

“He wouldn’t talk to me at first.”

“I asked her to marry me and she just laughed at me,” Patrus finally replied to him.

So Fasking went into the sunken garden to check on Peanut.

“She was still sitting on a bench in the garden.  She said that she thought that he was kidding.”

“Well, come on out, and we’ll get it settled,” Fasking told her.

The two eventually married and Fasking said that he and his wife made a trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan to go visit Patrus and Peanut when the war was over.

However, when Fasking and Patrus transferred to their next glider training site, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., he recalled a fight between the newlyweds.

“He come storming out of the house and was cussing her to beat the devil.”

One other memory that Fasking has of Clovis was when a major Hollywood movie star was supposed to visit the city.

Something went awry and the motion picture icon could not make it to Clovis; so Fox Motion Picture Studios sent a young woman from the front office to try to pacify the luckless fans.

Bill Fasking’s son, Dennis, asked his dad for more details about this episode and then sent this information via email.

“It was at Clovis and he recalls that a big Hollywood star was supposed to be coming to put on a performance for the troops.”

“He can't recall who was supposed to arrive but the guy backed out and they brought someone else to entertain them.”

“This girl worked for the Fox Studios and was there to smooth over and handle the situation involving the change of performers for the troops,” Dennis Fasking wrote quoting his father.

The photograph shows two glider pilots, one named Anton, who is on the left, and another one named Randall on the right next to the automobiles.

The young woman from Fox Studios is between the men.  Her name is not known.

Some of the photos provided by Bill Fasking had August 12, 1942 marked on them which was the time-frame in which he was stationed at Clovis Field.

Altogether, he was in Clovis for two and a half months.  His records show that he left Clovis on August 18, 1942 for his next training stop, Dalhart Army Air Field.

More about the history of Dalhart AAF in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are encouraged to visit Silent Wings Museum on I-27 at Exit 9 just north of Lubbock to learn more about the glider program of WWII (www.silentwingsmuseum.com).

Readers are also asked to visit www.researchwars.org for more information about Dalhart AAF and call to John McCullough at (806)793-4448 if they can help with his research.


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ARTICLE 26


Fasking Flew Sailplanes at Twenty-Nine Palms Before Arriving at Dalhart AAF

This is the 26th article in a series on DALHART ARMY AIR FIELD during WWII.

John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

After switching from radio operator to student glider pilot, Bill Fasking drove his 1936 Dodge from Williams Army Air Field to Clovis Field in Clovis, New Mex., and arrived there in June 1942.

This was home to Cutter-Carr Aerial Service in Clovis where he began training in a “dead stick” primary glider school, his first step in becoming a glider pilot.

In a primary glider school, the student pilot takes himself and the instructor up to a given altitude, usually between 2,000 feet and 3,000 feet, cuts off power to the engine, and then glides the aircraft back to the ground, “dead stick”.

Taylorcraft L-2’s, Aeronca L-3’s, and Piper L-4’s were the usual aircraft employed to teach the glider students in these “dead stick” schools.

Fasking said that training at Clovis Field finished around 6:00 p.m.  The students would then be taken back into town.  Although they observed reveille outside the hotel in Clovis in the morning, they did not observe the ceremony of retreat in the evening.

Warwick was the name of Fasking’s instructor at Clovis.  He was a civilian instructor.  There were five students in each instructor’s group.

While at Clovis Field, he had a total of 20 hours and 7 minutes of training according to his records.  He spent 6 hours and 2 minutes in dual instruction and 11 hours and 35 minutes flying solo.  He also had 2 hours and 30 minutes of nighttime training.

Evenings were free time for Fasking and his fellow glider pilots at Clovis.

“Clovis didn’t have much there; but if they wanted a drink or something, they had to go, well, I wouldn’t know exactly how far it was, about six miles.  Muleshoe, Texas was right across the border from it, I know that.”

The hotel where they stayed was pretty much in the center of town, he recalled.

He never went to church or a movie theater in Clovis.

When asked about the climate and land in eastern New Mexico compared to his home state, he replied that Clovis was very hot and not nearly as wet as Illinois and that there was a lot of ranching around Clovis.

Summing up his time in Clovis, he said, “Pretty much uneventful, except, I don’t think there was any crisis, other than that guy who cut his engine too soon.  I don’t know what he was trying to do.”

The pilot to whom Fasking referred was the one who powered off his engine while trying to land.  Even though the student pilot had no parachute on, he tried to climb out of the airplane but it crashed before he could do so.

Altogether, Fasking was in Clovis for two and a half months.

His records show that he left Clovis on August 18, 1942 for his next training stop, the basic glider school at Twenty-Nine Palms, California.

Two-place sailplanes were used primarily at Twenty-Nine Palms but Fasking did not remember what kind of tow planed pulled the sailplanes into the air.

At Twenty-Nine Palms, he first trained in sailplanes and later modified Aeronca L-3’s and Piper Cub L-4’s.  The modified Aeronca’s and Cub’s had had their noses elongated to make them three-place sailplanes.

“Later on, they took some Cubs and Aeronca’s and took the engines out and extended the cockpit forward and made gliders out of them.  Of course, just for landing, more or less, because they didn’t have a thermal to lift them.”

His records of glider pilot training show that he trained in the following aircraft at Twenty-Nine Palms:  L-3A’s, L-3F’s, L-4F’s, L-4A’s, L-2A’s, and L-4’s.

When speaking of the glider program in general, Fasking said, “I don’t think that the people running this program really knew much about what they was doing neither.  It was all new to most people.”

“There’s some flew gliders for sport, I mean, individuals; but the military, this was all just starting as far as the military was concerned.”

He had a total of 12 hours and 15 minutes of dual instruction and 7 hours in solo flying.

He was at Twenty-Nine Palms for two weeks according to his records.  He trained there from August 18 until September 1, 1942.

There would be a few other stops before he reached the advanced glider school at Dalhart Army Air Field in November.

One of those stops was a trip back home to Lexington, Illinois where he and married his sweetheart, Barbara, in October of 1942.  She was two years younger than he was and they had attended the same high school.

Fasking arrived alone at Dalhart AAF in early November of 1942.  He drove his 1936 Dodge to Dalhart and his wife, Barbara, arrived by train soon after.

“We had a room there in town.  Usually, people rented rooms out.  Generally, had to hunt a house before my wife got there.”

Fasking lived off-base with his wife.  They rented a room from a woman who owned a house in Dalhart.

“Tobrey was the last name and I think that woman, her husband had died already.”

He said that the rent was very reasonable but he did not recall the exact amount he paid for renting the room.

“She just had one room she rented out.  We had a bathroom of our own.  We didn’t have to share it anyway.”

Mrs. Tobrey did not provide any meals for them, just a room.

When asked about what his wife did during the daytime in town while he was at the air field training, Fasking replied, “Well, I guess she just enjoyed herself.  She was at the bowling alley.  That (Lou) Yost was out there and she had been friends with her.”

Fasking and his wife were good friends with Chuck Yost, another glider pilot, and his wife Lou.

Another glider pilot, however, a man by the name of Longbottom, was not a good friend of the Fasking’s.  Longbottom saw Lou, Penny, and Barbara at the bowling alley one day.  He started becoming romantic with Barbara and she later told her husband about it.

“There was some gal named Penny and they used to get together.  Penny was from the east side of Chicago.  She was little bit rougher than Barbara was, or Lou (Yost), for that matter.

When he was through training each day at Dalhart, Fasking said that he and his wife did the usual things that newlyweds did but also enjoyed some of the nightlife that Dalhart offered.

Although he never went bowling with his wife, he did enjoy dining out with her.

“There was a little restaurant up there in Dalhart.  Hell, it was a buck a meal.  That was pretty reasonable, I thought.”

“I wasn’t much of a dancer.  I did dance, but my wife was very good.  We run into this man, Longbottom, again.  He asked her for a dance and then he asked me if he could, but then he started romancing her, or trying to, so I went over and broke it up and said that that was about enough.”

Fasking said that Longbottom had a peachy job.  He trained as a glider pilot but he primarily assembled gliders and worked on them.  Fasking never knew of him flying a glider into combat.

He said that the gliders had two big wings in a crate and the empty crates made nice living quarters for the glider pilots when they were in the United Kingdom.

More about the history of Dalhart AAF in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are encouraged to visit Silent Wings Museum on I-27 at Exit 9 just north of Lubbock to learn more about the glider program of WWII (www.silentwingsmuseum.com).

Readers are also asked to visit www.researchwars.org for more information about Dalhart AAF and call to John McCullough at (806)793-4448 if they can help with his research.


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ARTICLE 27


Fasking and Wife Saw Glider Crash Site at Dalhart AAF in January 1943


This is the 27th article in a series on DALHART ARMY AIR FIELD during WWII.

John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

Bill Fasking arrived alone at Dalhart AAF in early November of 1942.  He drove his black 1936 Dodge to Dalhart and his wife, Barbara, arrived by train soon after.

Before he began training in gliders at Dalhart, Fasking found himself training recruits in basic drilling routines such as marching.

“I probably wouldn’t have to do that, but they found out how much time I had in the service already and they put me over drilling recruits.”

“They had a commander out at that base; I think must have been ‘old army’ because he staged a battalion review.  I had been drilling those recruits so I got in on that.”

“There was one guy there who had been drafted in 1918 and he was drafted again in ’42, or ’39, I guess it was, when they first started the draft.”

“He would always screw up the dog-gone company of guys, recruits that I was drilling because it was just that ‘monkey drill’ they used in 1918.”

“Our steps were 30-inch.  I think in 1918 they used just 28-inch steps.”

“He would get screwed up and I’d have him go over and sit down for a while and see if he couldn’t get it through his head what he was supposed to be doing; and pretty soon he would be back in there with the rest of them.”

When asked about the glider training that he eventually received at Dalhart AAF, Fasking replied, “Unless it was pre-arranged, [we] usually headed out there about eight o’clock.”

They did not have enough gliders for all of the students to fly at the same time so this caused a wait-time for them.

“A lot of times you’re sitting there waiting for your turn to come around,” said Fasking.

The instructor went up with the student pilots at first.  A light aircraft towed the Waco gliders into the air.  Fasking did not remember a C-47 towing them to altitude and was not sure what kind of powered aircraft was used to tow the gliders.

“Those CG-4A’s, gliders, when they finally got one built, Mike Murphy looped one of them.  CG-4A was red-lined at 150mph.”

“I tried to loop one of them (at Dalhart AAF) and I was afraid to go over 150mph because I figured the wing might come off.  So if Mike Murphy looped one of them son-of-a-guns, he had to be going way past the red line on it.”

“There wasn’t much chance of keeping them up very long anyway.  You’re limited to 30 minutes.”

Fasking did not recall his instructor’s name at Dalhart.  He never visited either of the two auxiliary airfields at Dalhart.  He only recalled two nighttime glider-training missions.  He was a Staff Sergeant while at Dalhart.

His log of pilot training shows that he flew for 12 hours and 15 minutes in November 1942 while stationed at Dalhart.  He also put in 7 hours of flight training in December.  He flew these single-engine aircraft in that time:  L-3A, L-3F, L-4F, L-4A, L-2A, and the L-4.

He then flew for 19 hours and 20 minutes in January 1943.  He flew the following aircraft that month:  L-2A, L-3C, L-4A, and the L-4E; in addition, his log also showed that he flew 21 flights in the WACO CG-4A Assault Glider that month at Dalhart.

In February, he trained for 2 hours and 25 minutes and had five more flights in the CG-4A glider.

He graduated from Dalhart on February 8, 1943 earning his “G-wings”.

One of Fasking’s buddies, Keith Corzine, ended up in trouble and was dropped from the glider program.

“Keith Corzine, he was the guy that couldn’t say no hardly to anybody.  There was a guy named Hackett that had a buddy with him all the time.  He (Hackett’s buddy) was colorblind and this buddy was always taking the colorblind tests for him.”

For some unexplained reason, Hackett’s buddy was not available to take the colorblind test for him at Dalhart AAF.

”He (Hackett) tried to get me to take it and I told him that he shouldn’t even be flying.”

“He asked several of them; of course, they turned him down.  Then he got Corzine and he just couldn’t say no.”

When taking the test, the instructor asked Corzine if his name was Hackett and he replied “no”.

As a result, both Corzine and Hackett received ten months in the brig and were washed out of the glider program.  They were incarcerated at the stockade there at Dalhart AAF according to Fasking.

One of the more memorable events for Bill Fasking and his wife, Barbara, while at Dalhart was when they saw the aftermath of the infamous glider crash of January 1943, known as the ‘slaughterhouse crash’.

Fasking said that he was in Dalhart in the early morning hours just past midnight on January 26, 1943 when the ill-fated WACO CG-4A glider crashed into the slaughterhouse.

“In the first place, they had some guys that were getting their ‘nighttime’ [training] in out there and rather than stand around and wait, they were riding in that glider.  That’s the reason so many of them were killed,” Fasking explained.

He said that he had seen the cement slaughterhouse from the air many times prior to the crash and said that you could clearly see it during the daytime.  He said that since the other glider pilot students were flying at night, it might have been too difficult to see the slaughterhouse.

“They might not have known where they were when they were up there flying.”

He said that the slaughterhouse was located on the northwest side of the main airfield at Dalhart.

The next morning, while flying his own Waco glider on a training mission, he saw the deadly wreck of the other Waco glider from the air.

The men who died at the slaughterhouse that night were Flight / Officer Bradford K. Root, 25 years old, instructor; Staff Sgt. Claude C. Bruce, 34; Staff Sgt. James E. Hyatt, no age listed; Staff Sgt. Ernest J. Forbes, 25; and Staff Sgt. Philo N. French, 24 years old.

Two other glider pilots were seriously injured in the crash.  They were Staff Sgt. Bernando Fernandez and Staff Sgt. Harold Kolom, both 23 years old.  Fernandez later died from his injuries but Kolom made improvements and eventually recovered.

Fasking never did travel out to the slaughterhouse crash site; but his wife, Barbara, and her two friends, Lou Yost, a woman from Des Moines, Iowa, and Penny, from Chicago, did.  They took several photographs while at the glider crash site.

Lou Yost’s and Penny’s boyfriends were both glider pilots, too.  Lou’s husband was Chuck Yost.

Barbara talked about the glider crash to her husband for many days afterwards.

“Oh, she talked about it off and on for hours.  She thought it was a big deal.”

Fasking enjoyed playing baseball while training at various training bases.

“Just in athletics, I had a ball game going.  I was going to pitch into home plate there and some guy’s over there screaming ‘slide, slide, slide!’”

“Then I changed my mind and thought I would go in feet first – sprained my ankle there.  If he’d have kept his mouth shut I’d a pitched into home plate.”

When discussing the development of Dalhart AAF, Fasking said, “The base wasn’t built up.  If you wanted anything church-wise, you had to pick one in town to go to.”

He also did not recall any hangars at Dalhart while he was stationed there.

More about the history of Dalhart AAF in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are encouraged to visit Silent Wings Museum on I-27 at Exit 9 just north of Lubbock to learn more about the glider program of WWII (www.silentwingsmuseum.com).

Readers are also asked to visit www.researchwars.org for more information about Dalhart AAF and call to John McCullough at (806)793-4448 if they can help with his research.



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ARTICLE 28










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