"Now, when I came to Nebraska [to the Fairmont Airbase from Iowa], I came here from Lincoln after a long period of training… We came to York by way of what they called the Lincoln Zephyr at that time. And they let us out at Fairmont, and everybody thought, 'My goodness, where are we now?' And, we got on the old truck and headed south and east. It was raining, naturally. And when they let us out, it was nothing but in the middle of a corn field. And in order to get to our barracks, there was some wood planking that we walked on. But, generally it was nothing but a mud hole…
   "What we were getting involved in, what I was getting involved in, was a complete new airplane. A large airplane… And the end result was that I became an electrician and a gunnery instructor on the B-29. The B-29 wasn't even talked about… I remember the first day the first one came in to Fairmont, everybody rushed out. It was a big deal…
   "It [Farimont] was a very secretive base. They came out and told us what we were doing there and what we would eventually be asked to do… Well, they said that we were there to build and get together as part of the 504th Bomb Group. Most groups in that day had four squadrons in it. Well, the 504th had three. The 421st was the one that I was part of. And then we had the 398th, and then we had the 393rd. Now, the 393rd, it played a big history…
   "We had gunnery training, and the air base at Bruning had P51s in it. And they would take off, and we would take off, and in our gunnery systems we had cameras, you know, like they do. And so did the fighters. So here we are, we're up there playing around trying to shoot down these other airplanes, the fighters, and they were trying to shoot us down. And the only way you could tell, there was no bullets flying around, just cameras…
   "And then one morning we woke up and the 393rd was gone. It disappeared during the night. They had loaded up and had went to Wendover Field, Utah. And that's where they took their training – started their training on the nuclear bomb, and so on."
   Question: "This was Colonel Paul Tibbetts?"
   "Yes, he was at Fairmont quite often. Nobody really knew him, or what it was all about at that time. But, it was evident that things were going to happen…"
   Question: "Where did you guys go? Where did the other two squadrons go?"
   "We stayed here for a short period of time. And we had our choice of either flying over or taking a boat. And I made the mistake of choosing a boat… We picked up a convoy in San Francisco and then headed west"
   Question: "To Tinian [Island]?"
   "To Tinian, and that's where most of us got awfully sick from the ship. But, we were on that ship 40 days and 40 nights… Keep in mind that the 393rd, a lot of those boys we knew because we had grown up with them and been with them in schools, and what have you. And we ran onto them. But you couldn't get anything out of them. Nothing… You see, although we were flying, we knew that the Japanese were training every man, woman and child in guns and everything like that. And mines. That entire island was just one big bomb, really… And we knew how many of our boys would be lost if it became that point in time… When the original bomb, atomic bomb, left Tinian, no one knew. And we did not know until it came over the wire what had happened."
   Question: "And what did you think when you first heard?"
   "Oh, I was just elated because the damage that was reported was amazing. And that was the first one. That was Enola Gay."

Don Geery’s War Experience


Other Excerpts from Don Geery's Interview:

Pearl Harbor
Enlisting Before his 18th Birthday
Rural Nebraska's Contribution
America's Industrial War Machine
Rounding Up Japanese-Americans
The GI Bill
Drive-In Movie Theaters
Hooking Up Electricity on Christmas Eve
A Young Boy's Love of Baseball
Baseball on Tinian Island
Semi-Pro Baseball back Home
Digging Holes for Electric Poles by Hand
Feeding the World