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lessonslearned Generator Raid


When members of a World War II B-29 crew help themselves to a generator, it’s an instance of “midnight requisitioning” that has repercussions decades down the line.


I


t was the summer of 1995 in California, and my wife and I were hosting a luncheon so our immediate neighbors could meet a couple, recently arrived from out of town, who would be staying in the area for the summer. While my wife was busy introducing the wife to some friends, I was talking with the husband and one of our neigh- bors from across the street. Both men could be described as perfect gentlemen, both were in their 70s, and we all were wearing jackets and ties. Because that year marked the 50th


anniversary of the end of World War II, the conversation soon drifted to, “Where were you in 1945?” My new friend began to explain that he had been part of the crew of a B-29 whose group was to begin the bombing of the Japanese mainland. At that time, they were landing on the Pacific island of Tinian, in the Mariana Islands. At this point my neighbor quickly in- terrupted to say, “I was there watching you all land! My Seabee crews had just finished building the runway on which you were landing.” My new friend went on to tell how, after his crew had landed and located their quarters — newly constructed “tent- platforms,” complete with electric wiring and even light bulbs — they discovered their new quarters were not hooked up to any source of electricity. There was no generator to provide power.


82 MILITARY OFFICER AUGUST 2016 But, he went on to say, one of the other


sergeants said he’d seen a generator on the other side of the field as they were landing. So that night, they solved the problem by commandeering a truck and helping themselves to that lonely genera- tor, which they immediately repainted in Army Air Corps colors and appropriate identification numbers. As my new friend reached that point in his story, my neigh- bor grabbed him by both lapels and, shaking him, yelled, “That was my gen- erator! I looked all over that island for that generator! You stole my generator!” Unfortunately,


there was no video camera on hand to record these two seemingly mild-mannered “perfect gentlemen” as they reacted to this particular incident of interservice “midnight requisitioning.” I’m sure similar incidents


Tell Your Story Military Officer seeks service-related anec- dotes that left an im- pression. See Directory on page 4 for submis- sion information. All submissions will be con- sidered for publication.


At this point, my neighbor quickly


interrupted to say, “I was there watching you all land!”


occurred many times during World War II, committed by the dedicated members of the “greatest gen- eration” whose only goal was to claim absolute victory over the enemy.


MO


— John Morse is a retired Air Force captain living in Colorado Springs, Colo. For submission information, see page 4.


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