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U.S.A.A.F. Combat Cargo Groups of the Second World War

 

3rd Combat Cargo Group, 10th Combat Cargo Squadron

 

My Observations of Captain Duch,

Commanding Officer of the 10th Squadron

    Captain Duch was a hard driving C.O. who was an excellent leader of our squadron.  He had a lot of leadership capability and it resulted in a squadron which produced more than any other in the 3rd Group.  We had the highest tonnage carried month after month.  In fact the Pentagon back in Washington DC. kept sending Colonels out to study our records to see if we were cooking the books.  They could not believe it.

     One of his methods was to have a Monday evening meeting of the pilots at the officer’s club at Dinjan.  Captain Duch had the manner of a football player.  He would get up in front of the meeting and tell us to get that cargo out.  His eyes would bug out and his short-cropped hair stood straight up.   If you shut your eyes you would think Knute Rockne was up there exhorting his football players to go out and slaughter them.  However it got results.  He expected us to go out there and do it.

     However, once we took off in the morning we were on our own.   We had our destination and we had our cargo loaded and we took off about 7 AM.   It didn’t matter what the weather or whether you could even see half way down the runway.

     Many mornings in the winter we took off when it was still dark and the ground fog kept the pilots from seeing half way down the runway.  We just lined the aircraft up with the runway with the gyro compass and the pilot kept his eye on that gyro and the copilot told him when he had 55 mph and he started pressure back on the yoke.  Fortunately we broke out of the fog very soon. Many mornings the low lying telephone lines strung across the runway at the end were cleaned out.  We knew very well that we would have to have a very good reason to abort a mission.  We never did because we knew someone was expecting us.

     One Monday meeting Captain Duch told us we must not let the crew chiefs sleep while we were on a mission.  We were in the habit of letting them sleep sometimes because they needed it. They flew all day with us and then maintained the planes when we got back which was usually after dark.  That order went in one ear and out the other.  Captain Duch couldn’t do much about it once we took off.

     My room mates Bob Montana, T.S. Atkins and to some extent Herb Ochs figured they were on Captain Duch’s list.  They complained about this quite often.  I was their roommate, who had recently joined the squadron, so I figured I better just lay low.  I don’t think Captain Duch knew I existed.  Anyway I never heard from him all the time I was in the squadron.  I have no complaint.

     Listening to other members of the squadron, I found out that Captain really stuck up for his men.  That is a laudable trait.  Every time he got a complaint from some Colonel for instance that one of his pilots buzzed the Air Transport Command tower over at Chabua, he just told the Colonel to stick it in his ear.

     When we moved from Dinjan to Mytkina we moved all our squadron furniture, files and everything.  In the process one of our pilots put a jeep in his plane that just happened to be handy. It turned out to belong to some C.O. of a fighter outfit that moved into Dinjan as we left.  The Fighter Colonel called Captain Duch and wanted his jeep back.  We sent the jeep back but nobody got disciplined.

     We did not have a good supply system for spare parts for our aircraft. Most parts were procured by removal from downed planes in the forward airfields in Burma.  Many planes flew without parts when possible.  I remember a C-47 from some troop carrier outfit undershot the strip at Momauk.  We were standing at the other end of the strip when he went into the creek about 50 feet short of the strip.   It drove the landing gear up through the wings.  Before the dust had settled there were at least 5 crew chiefs running down the strip not to rescue but to get parts off that plane. N o one was hurt on the plane.

     Another ploy to get parts was to send one of his aircraft to Chabua where the Air Transport Command operated.  They had a good supply system.   Our crew chief would look for an airplane over there that was being repaired and he would note the tail number (serial number).  He would then go to their supply and order the part they needed using that serial number.  After a while they caught on. I’m sure Captain Duch knew or heard from ATC but he backed up his men.  As time went on the 10th Sqd. and Captain Duch were known as Ali Baba and the 40 thieves.

Calvin F. Bannon 2000


    Cal had a great hobby while with the 10th ComCar Sqd.   He managed to take a great many color images on Kodak 35mm slide film.  Some of these images are being displayed here thanks to Cal Bannon.  (Bill B.)

 


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    I am looking for former members of the 3rd Combat Cargo Group,  1st, Combat Cargo Group, 2nd Combat Cargo Group and the 4th Combat Cargo Group.  In fact I would like to hear from anyone who flew over the Hump during WW II, or flew any Combat Cargo Missions at any time (Berlin Air-Lift, Korea, etc) 

Please e-mail comment, suggestions, corrections,etc to: bill@comcar.org

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