Wayne’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).