Wayne

Staff Sargeant Wynne A GrayWayne’s Journal provides a rare look at the life of an enlisted airman in the South Pacific, his experiences, the people he knew, the places he visited, and how the war affected him. Wayne was my uncle, my father’s brother.

Wayne A. Gray served as a B-25 gunner/armorer with the 42nd Bombardment Group,* 13th Air Force in the South Pacific during WW II. He was stationed on Guadalcanal; Banika Island in the Russells; Stirling Island; Hollandia and Sansapor, New Guinea; Moratai Island; and Palawan Island. He twice went on leave to Sydney, Australia.

During his 14 months with the 42nd Bombardment Group, Wayne flew 63 combat missions, 38 at low level. His decorations and citations included the Good Conduct Medal, the Air Medal with four bronze oak leaf cluster and four bronze battle stars for the Southern Philippines, New Guinea, Northern Solomons and Bismarck Archipelago campaigns; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and two overseas service bars.

On Saturday, February 12, 1944, Wayne arrived at Hamilton Field, California after a four-day train trip from Hunter Field outside of Savannah, Georgia. He was on his way to the South Pacific with his flight crew. He was 24-years-old and a long way from home and his 18-year-old bride of four and a half months. The world was at war, and he was leaving everything he had always known. While at Hamilton Field, Wayne bought a notebook in which he recorded his experiences and sometimes those with whom he served during his tour of duty in the South Pacific. His experiences were like those of many other B-25 aircrew.

Wayne had an older brother and three younger brothers. His three younger brothers as well as other family members also served during World War II. Their stories and those of others, to the extent such information is available, are interwoven with Wayne’s. The war touched everyone and every family in one way or another.

As a genealogist and historian, I know that to understand the lives of individuals and their relationships one must know something of the history that swirls about them, the context of their lives. To that end, most posts have a “Notes & Commentary” section which provides context for the entries in Wayne’s journal.

Much of this information in the “Notes & Commentary” section is copied directly from microfilmed copies of the original records of the 42nd Bombardment Group and its subordinate squadrons.  The records consists of operations orders, mission reports, historical summaries and photographs.  This information, which is available from the Air Force Historical Research Agency, was classified prior to Executive Order 13526 issued on December 29, 2009. Additionally, links to information that may not be known generally to the reader are provided in the “Notes & Commentary”. In some instances, those links lead to unique video or audio recordings. Follow them if you would know more of the war in the South Pacific and in Europe.

Follow the comments of other readers of Wayne’s Journal. They may provide information about the men with which Wayne served. Enter your comments. Your comments and remembrances are very important. You may not recognize it as such, but this is your history. The War touched your life and that of your family and friends. It continues to touch our lives even today.

* Wayne flew with the 69th, 70th, 75th, and 100th Bombardment Squadrons while serving with the 42nd Bombardment Group. For a summary of the 42nd Bombardment Group, see J. Rickard’s 42nd Bombardment Group, (http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/42nd_Bombardment_Group.html : accessed 17 March 2014).

47 Responses to Wayne

  1. Mary Skinner says:

    So glad you are sharing my Uncle Wayne’s journal. This is so fascinating to read. I am the daughter of James and Arline (Gibbons) Castles. My mother was Louise’s sister. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • a gray says:

      Be sure to read the “Notes & Commentary” sections when they are present, and also be sure to follow the links that are there. The “Notes & Commentary” sections provide a context to that which about Wayne is writing. Also, Wayne writes in one entry that your father, James Castles, is in the infantry in North Africa. If you have information about your father and where he was when Wayne speaks of him, feel free to enter it in the Comments section of that day’s posting. Wayne’s Journal is about more than just Wayne. It is about those that he knew and their lives during the time of the Journal.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. gpcox says:

    It’s a pleasure to meet you. My father and your uncle sort of by-passed each other, but the Pacific is certainly interesting to learn about. I see you have done quite a bit of reading on my site and I hope to do the same on yours.

    Liked by 3 people

    • a gray says:

      Wayne’s early entries in his journal were made when he was new to the South Pacific. Not yet assigned to a combat squadron, he spends several hours each day in classes. He is living in a tent which is lit by candles at night. The average temperature is 85 degrees and it rains at least once everyday. He doesn’t know what the future holds and grasps rumors as they come along. He has little to do, and he spends a great deal of time writing in his journal. He flies his first combat mission on April 8.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Keeping this a liitle secret from little old moi GP…

    As a footnote my third cousin Joe gave me a genuine 5th Airforce patch a veteran gave him as well as other patches… something that looks like this.

    http://www.medalsofamerica.com/Item–i-P126

    Like

    • a gray says:

      Is this a suggestion that I should insert an image of a 13th Air Force shoulder patch. Even if it isn’t, it is something that I should do. Thank you.

      Like

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        I just thought he was with the 5th Airforce, but adding pictures will add a new dimension to your posts. This is what I do.

        When I have pictures taken from a veteran’s personal collection then it is much more interesting to readers.

        Adding pictures of planes and airfields is also a good idea like a C-87 picture.

        Like

      • a gray says:

        Good idea. Links in the “Notes & Commentary” sections of the individual posts will often take you to extensive articles with photographs of planes, airfields, etc.

        Like

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        If you add a link open them in a new window so we can go back to the original post. Same with pictures… open in a new window.

        Like

  4. Pingback: Wayne’s Journal | Lest We Forget

  5. Mustang.Koji says:

    The paths of many descendants of those who took part in that violent war now cross. Many descendants have lost relatives from that time, in a most horrific way. Now, we coexist. Perhaps that was the ultimate goal of those brave men like your uncle. And I must say… he was an awfully lucky guy to have come back… I never served and with that, I thank him for his bravery in action.

    Liked by 1 person

    • a gray says:

      Wayne’s journal progresses from the naiveté of a young man fresh from the States to Guadalcanal, from sleeping in a normal room to sleeping on a cot in a tent. His life is transformed as the reality of war grows ever more present. All he wants is to go home to his wife and family. Eventually, he does, but he leaves friends behind who will never come home. The life he describes is that of anyone who served as an aircrew member in the South Pacific, and as such, it is the history of anyone who also served there in that capacity.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Karen Evans says:

    We should all continue to honor and preserve the service of our veterans for future generations, as you are doing so. Thank you for all your “likes” on my Tribute to Veterans blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. suchled says:

    I wonder how many Journals have been buried in cupboards by mothers who kissed their sons goodbye and never saw them again. And she never let anyone read the journal. It’s a history that must be read, because the one fact that history teaches us is that we never learn from history. And if we come to realize that such and such a war was one we should never had been in, it does not detract one little bit from the heroism and pain of those who were there. Thanks for the opportunity to become a ‘member’ of your family.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      I am told that Wayne’s journal/diary was found on the floor of his garage around 2000 or so. Apparently it was under a number of boxes that had been there for over 25 years. I think it is an interesting document since it is about what happened to him–what happened to a lot of young men. I am pleased to have you aboard. If you feel it is worthwhile, please recommend it to others. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Su Leslie says:

    This is a wonderful project you are undertaking to share your uncle’s journal. Allowing the voices of the past to speak now is the best tribute we can pay to those who gave service, health and sometimes their lives. I’m fascinated by your uncle’s experiences — which were in “my neck of the woods” — although I’m a relative newcomer to the Pacific and my relatives mainly fought in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. alesiablogs says:

    Thx for the recent view of my site. It is great to have folks like you read my posts. I am also a veteran so I get it! Looks like you have a cool blog going on here.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. you asked why the canadian govt was so wary of allowing 2ppcli to accept a u.s. presidential citation after the battle of kapyong in korea … there were at least two reasons … canada itself had not yet (nor planned to) give the unit any special recognition; but the official reason was apparently the u.s. hadnt followed protocol by first asking ottawa’s permissiont. technically the cdn govt had a point, but a ridiculous one. australia for example — also a member of the british commonwealth and also fought at kapyong — also got a citation and wasnt concerned the protocol rules werent precisely followed.
    finally, lady mountbatten, honorary c.o. of the unit and daughter of lord louis mountbatten) raised a stink and canada finally gave permission FIVE years after the battle. the u.s. ambassador presented the honor at a ceremony at 2ppcli’s home base in alberta. it was an believable position for the cdn govt to have taken.
    history repeated itself … in afghanistan three cdn snipers were attached to an american unit, and saved it … the u.s. wanted to award them medals. ottawa refused because canada itself hadnt honored them (and hadnt planned on doing so) and also the govt didnt want the cdn public to be so bluntly aware cdn soldiers were actually killing people, finally after the press raised a stink the men were allowed to be given their u.s. medals … all three have since left the mlitary. (the snipers also broke the record for distance, previousy held by a u.s. marine sniper in vietnam).
    hope that makes it clearer for you. shows what a ridiculous govt we can have sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I just found your blog, I really look forward to reading it as I’m just in the process of transcribing my Grandfather’s WW2 diary and blogging it myself.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      I have been reading your grandfather’s World War II diary, and I find it very interesting. Both your grandfather and my uncle noted the movies that they had seen. To be able to see those same movies today, some 70 odd years later, it to share the experiences of these men.

      Like

  12. JF says:

    I am convinced that everyone must know history of American wars in Europe, Pacific, Korea and people who fought them. We must be proud of those real heroes and about what America did after victory (Berlin airlift, etc.).
    Knowledge of history can help to decide what must be done today.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Janine says:

    You are so lucky to have his journal. What I would give to have a journal from either of my grandfathers who both served in WWII (one in the German Army and the other in the US Marines in the Pacific). I look forward to learning about the Pacific theatre through your blog. Thanks for sharing, and thank you for “liking” my posts about my German grandfather.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      Knowledge of World War II and its myriad experiences is subject to exponential decay. What is being lost is filled in by television, the movies, books and articles frequently written by those who weren’t there and who have, at best, second hand information. Too often, that which is presented is the product of “presentism”.

      According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presentism), “Presentism is a mode of literary or historical analysis in which present-day ideas and perspectives are anachronistically introduced into depictions or interpretations of the past. Some modern historians seek to avoid presentism in their work because they believe it creates a distorted understanding of their subject matter.” Notice statement that only “some modern historians seek to avoid presentism . . . “

      Your posts regarding your German grandfather should be of particular interest to anyone interested in the history of World War II. His is a history that needs to be told, as is that of your grandmother’s life in post-World War II Germany. Keep up the good work, Janine. You are filling a niche that needs to be filled.

      As to understanding the experiences of your grandfather who was a Marine, I would strongly recommend E. B. Sledges’s

        With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

      and

        China Marine: An Infantryman’s Life after World War II

      . Sledge was a Marine. He was there and he writes of what he did and saw. Read Sledge, and then read William Manchester’s

        Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War

      . Manchester was also a Marine. The works of both authors have been around for many years and are highly recommended.

      Wayne’s Journal speaks to the experiences of an aircrewman. His is a different war than that experienced by an infantryman or a Marine. Nonetheless, it speaks to the time. I hope you will find it interesting. If you do, please share it with your friends.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Janine says:

        Thank you for this wealth of information. Especially about “presentism”. I have not heard that word before. It is extremely useful in thinking about genres and where my grandfather’s story should fall. I too worry about distortion of events because up until I learned, from you, about “presentism” I worried about taking advice from relatives who think I should write an historical fiction book, but I keep saying “no” because I don’t want to blur fact and fiction. But presentism is something I have not looked at yet. So thank you.

        Like

  14. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks. This is a really fascinating story to follow. Regards Thom

    Liked by 1 person

  15. vinnieh says:

    Fascinating blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sammy D. says:

    Thank you so much for reading my Marine Birthday and Veterans’ Day tribute today. You are so right that this is our history.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      The utter scale of World War II was such that it affected all of us in one way or another. Memory fades over time, but those who are family historians or genealogists know you cannot go but a generation or two back and not find someone who was involved.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. TheLastWord says:

    This is an absolutely wonderful blog. I am delighted that you came by and liked my piece on my trip to Ste Mere Eglise and the Normandy beaches because it led me to this journal.

    My trip to France was as much about WWII as it was about the rest of French history and I’ve been slowly writing about it. However, I’m not fully focused on the WWII side of it, because I really don’t have the knowledge to do so. I have tried to put the liberation of Paris in the context of my trip, but this journal is such a beautiful tribute.

    Thank you for taking the effort to bring it to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Capt Jill says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad you liked it. I like history a lot and I think what you’re doing- telling it from an ordinary persons perspective is really great! I never really paid all that much attention to WWII until I spent some time working out of Honiara (Guadalcanal) and Tarawa. There are still a lot of reminders of the war in a lot of those places.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Have just read ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand, which wetted my historical appetite for sites such as yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thanks for an excellent blog. I especially appreciate the way in which you add context to the entries in Wayne’s journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Lynn says:

    Wayne’s experiences mirror those of my Dad. He was a B-25J Pilot, 13th Air Force, 75th Bomb Squadron, 42nd Bombardment Group. Dad was stationed at Sansapor, Morotai and Palawan from December 1944 until the War’s end. I wonder if they knew each other?? Really enjoy your website, and look forward to reading more…thanks.

    Like

  22. Rick Newlon says:

    Our dad, 1st Lt. William D. Newlon flew B25s in the South Pacific with the 42nd… spoke very little about it…Reading the post (“Oct. 25,1944”; plane #105) was very revealing. Would like to find out more. Upon his passing we did find his medals & some pictures from the places he was stationed..but little else..

    would like to hear from anyone who might have any other documentation about him…we understand he may have been known by the nickname “Red”. He was from Montana & mentioned his tail gunner was from NY… His plane had nose artwork “Thor, God of Thunder”…

    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Opening Sentences in Fiction | Cindy Bruchman

  24. Glenda Ryning says:

    I am Wayne’s niece and find his journal fascinating.

    Like

  25. Pingback: Skagit Valley Genealogical Society: 19 September 2015 | Jill's Genealogy Presentations

  26. Pingback: Wayne | Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s