Imphal, The Hump and Beyond
U.S.A.A.F. Combat Cargo Groups of the Second World War
2nd Combat Cargo Group, 6th Combat Cargo Squadron
SOUVENIRS 1st Lt. Tilson King
Americans travel in foreign countries, it isnít unusual for them to seek
souvenirs to bring home to show to family and friends and to then keep as
a reminder of their visit.
During World War II, our American Troops also sought souvenirs, when time permitted. Our 6th Combat Cargo Squadron lived on a number of different islands in the Pacific and they flew in and out of numerous air fields. They would occasionally be approached by a young native of the islands or by a G.I. stationed on the island, who would have a souvenir for sale or trade.
One such experience took place at Zamboanga Air Base on Mindanao Island. Letís get a look at this air base. It was located far down in the southwestern part of the island; far removed from any other U.S. military base. It was a very important defensive position for the American war effort.
I remember my first flight in there. They told us that there were numerous Japanese still hiding in the nearby hillsides and mountains. On base, I saw them marching a number of Jap prisoners to or from the mess hall and I thought how lucky the prisoners were, to be "safely" out of the war.
Our 6th Combat Cargo Squadron didnít have many flights in to Zamboanga. As it turned out, Ernie Hodas was one of our lucky pilots to get a mission there and he came away with a souvenir. The local natives and the G.I.ís were always looking for American cigarettes -- and Ernie "worked" a deal!
He managed to trade American cigarettes for a ring that had a green gemstone! Now that is the type of souvenir that you keep hush hush; tuck it away; and get it home to your future bride. And that is what Ernie did.
As the years passed, Ernie decided to have the ring evaluated and learn the true value of his shrewd bargaining at Zamboanga. It was then that he learned that the gemstone was made from the handle of a toothbrush.
Written by Tilson King 2001. © 2001
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