Went to flight surgeon and gave him my story. He grounded me.1 Said he might 127 me home. My nerves are really on the jump and am in a constant turmoil of fear or indecision of thought. Have had several days of rest, but still can’t forget the ugly moments. Have had numerous kidney pains, which often double me up. Was prepared for and took x-rays today. Will know the results tomorrow. Am hoping for the best.
Stan2 went to Guadalcanal and brought back stationery, candy, cigarettes and magazines. Sold all the stuff. Ended up with 250 sheets of stationery and 100 air mail envelopes. The nut Hersheys3 really were good, believe me. The PX also got some stuff after so long a time.4 Five Hersheys were allotted each. Also bought a flashlight. The first I’ve seen in any Army PX since coming overseas.
Have written several letters the past week and will soon be on top again if another flood doesn’t arrive today or tomorrow.
If x-rays turn out OK, will go back on flying status tomorrow. Rather dread it; but I’m hoping for the best. Lt. Fincham was finally made lead pilot. We hope to return to his crew in the near future. That has been our desire since coming overseas. He’s been the best pilot I’ve ever flown with and have flown with a lot.
Well, it’s time to go over and see the results of my x-rays. So long for a while.
Well the x-rays didn’t show much, except there are defects in my kidneys. Especially my left one. Guess I’ll have to take more x-rays and I hate that. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so very tired these past couple of years. Am hoping they prove to be OK. Bad kidneys are miserable things to have, believe me, and I for one don’t want to have them. Will see what Doc Avakian, our flight surgeon, has to say about the whole deal. He’s on line duty5 today; unfortunately. We shall all see what we shall see. Now to get on with my letter writing. I’ll see this back again tomorrow, or the next day.
Notes & Commentary
1 It appears that the Flight Surgeon, Dr. Avakian, took Wayne off flying status for a week since he comments in this entry that he “. . . will go back on flying status tomorrow.”
2 Stanley LeVelle Seehorn.
3 The reference to “nut Hersheys” could be either to the Hershey Almond Bar introduced in 1908 or to the Mr . Goodbar, a Hershey bar with peanusts, introduced in 1925. “Our Story”. The Hershey Company. (http://www.hersheys.com/ : accessed 07 December 2014).
4 With the invasion of the Philippines and its associated material demands, PX items and supplies appear to be in limited availability at Sansapor. This was definitely not the case when Wayne was stationed on Banika and Stirling Islands nor at Hollandia.
5 “Line duty” – on the flight line in order to render immediate medical care to those coming back from missions wounded or in the event of an accident during takeoffs and landings.
Each entry makes my day…
Went to flight surgeon and gave him my story. He grounded me.1 Said he might 127 me home.
What’s the meaning of 127?
I have searched, without success, for the meaning of “127”. I suspect that “127” was a section or paragraph in a manual that applied to those suffering from psychological stress or breakdown. It probably was something similar to the RAF’s “lack of moral fiber”.
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I hope it was not a lack of moral fiber even though it looks he was suffering a lot… nightmares and all. What I learned about LOMF what that it was better to get killed then go through the humiliation
I am sure the reaction was the same among the U.S. forces. The low-level strafing missions flown by the B-25s and other medium and light bombers had to have been incredibly frightening for the radio operators and tail gunners. Neither could see where they were going and the tail gunner could only see where they had been. There are a number of stories of planes flying at well over 200 mph and only 60 or 70 feet over the ground and hitting trees. For example, a Douglas A-20 Havoc of 389th Bombardment Squadron, 312th Bombardment Group in March 1944 “piloted by Lt. Hedges crashed into a tree, tore off the bomb bay doors, loosened a wing from the fuselage, ripped up the tail assembly and still brought his plane home.” That same month, another plane from the same squadron “hit a tree, crashed to the ground and exploded.” Moving at tree top height at 200 mph (293 feet per second), while facing backwards, with people shooting at you, would give any sane person pause for concern.
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Do you think that tail gunners would get used to not seeing what was going on behind them?
Was the story of Lt. Hedges fresh in your mind from our post about him or did you find it recently elsewhere?
My impression is that a tail gunner on a light or medium bomber during a low-level strafing mission would have experienced the same sensations that someone seated backwards and riding on a roller coaster might experience, only worse.
As for the story about Lt. Hedges, it comes from the following two documents: (1) “Unit History for March 1944.” 389th Bombardment Squadron (L). 7 April 1944, microfilm A0598, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 11-14, and from (2) “Activities of 389th Bombardment Squadron (L) during month of March, 1944.” 389th Bombardment Squadron (L). 7 April 1944, microfilm A0598, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 15-17. The latter report was written by 2nd Lt. Norman E. Scherstrom, Assistant S-2 Officer, and besides the account of Lt. Hedges hitting the tree contains an account of Lt. Karsnia hitting a tree. Lt. Karsnia’s plane, crashed to the ground and exploded killing both him and his gunner, Cpl. Caldwell. There are other equally wild reports associated with this unit. I can’t remember the pilot’s name just now, but one of them hit the ground with the tail of his plane during a strafing mission and was able to quickly recover and kept on flying. Hollywood cannot compete with stories such as found in the reports from these units. If I had not read them in the actual reports from that time, I am not sure that I would believe them myself.
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Hedges’ story was retold on our blog not too long ago too.
The deaths of Karsnia and his gunner were hard for the Squadron to take. In less than ten days, the 389th lost 1/4 of their strength (those two being the most recent part of that tally). That’s a lot to deal with all at once. The stories are covered pretty well in our book, Rampage of the Roarin’ 20’s.
What constant stress these men endured, even when not on a mission they dealt with so many issues and deprivations.
I went to the US Army Medical Dept. and typed in a search for 127 a number of different ways and it kept coming up with neuropsychiatric answers, Allen. So, I suppose your guess is quite right.
Were you able to find a Section 127 or a paragraph 127 in your search?
No, that’s what I was specifically looking for. When I would type in 127 with any other reference or by itself, the suggested areas came up medical.
I suppose simple “Stress” was just not a thing back then but I think it’s probable that many, many health issues could be attributed to stress, particularly in Wayne’s position.
I believe that “LOMF” is one of the most amazing proofs that the top brass had no idea what the front line warriors had to go through.
LOMF is actually LMF. I found that out after posting.
One thing I would like to add: even the bravest and strongest men exposed to combat for a long enough period would break down. Your uncle was definitely on the stronger side…and that’s not to say if one was not as strong, he was “lacking in moral fiber”. It is fear.
Reading these entries puts my own personal problems into perspective. I can only begin to imagine what Wayne and his colleagues went through!