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The Army Air Force, like all branches of the service, produced the best trained soldiers in the world. Training was long and thorough as the cadets went from base to base getting training in all aspects of the job. Most of the cadets who wanted to be pilots wanted to be fighter pilots. Those who did not make the cut for pilot, bombardier, or navigator were trained as flight engineers, radiomen, and gunners. The radioman and engineer doubled as gunners, the engineer operating the top turret and the radioman a waist gun. Tom's training tour was fairly typical.

   "On December 9, 1943 I reported for active duty to Fort George Meade, Maryland. At Ft. Meade I was subjected to the usual new recruit routine - hair cut, uniforms and the like. I was impressed with how much time they spent measuring and fitting shoes. Everything else was more or less thrown at you. They did not care how you looked but they wanted to keep you on your feet."

Matchbook cover from Miami

   "I passed the Air Cadet test and was sent to a classification center in Miami Beach, Florida. After this evaluation, on a scale of 10, I was rated 9 for pilot, 7 for bombardier and 5 for navigator."

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The Tides, Miami - Jan, 1944.
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Tom in Miami
The AAF commandeered the Tides resort
hotel for use as barracks during basic training.
"I was sent to a College Training Detachment (CTD) at Peabody College, Nashville, Tennessee for training in navigation, weather and other things."

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Tom with wife, Barbara, at Peabody He looks like he's ready to whip the Nazis single-handed. Go get 'em, tiger!

North Hall at Peabody College
   "About 3 weeks before graduation day the Army decided that they had enough pilots, closed the school, and shipped me to a gunnery school at Laredo, Texas."
There is a more in depth section on gunnery training in the GUNNERY section (link at top of page).

Students are timed as they assemble
.50 caliber machine guns blindfolded.

Students training at the range with
30 caliber Brownings.

Left: The Lareado
gunnery school patch.
Below: School news-
paper, The Gunners

A line of students practicing sighting from a moving turret. These are Martin top turret trainers without their Plexiglas bubbles.

Tail turret trainers mounted on trucks at the shooting range. The trainers have no Plexiglas.

   "When I completed gunnery school I was sent to Lincoln, Nebraska. This is where the aircrews were put together from students arriving from various training assignments around the country. The crews were assembled from ten separate groups of pilots, copilots, navigators, bombardiers, engineers, radio operators and four groups of gunners in a large hangar. A name was called from each of the ten groups. That person went to the center of the building where he met the others who would be the crew that he would be living with and flying with for the remainder of his tour. My crew was sent to an Overseas Training Unit at Pueblo, Colorado. Pueblo is where our crew flew together and trained together in a B-24 Liberator Bomber, trying to simulate some of the experiences that we may encounter when deployed." - Tom

LEFT: Matchbook covers from Pueblo.
ABOVE: AAF Gunnery School at Laredo
These photos were taken at Pueblo during training.
The B-24 pictured here is a J model. In Italy the men flew J & L model Liberators.

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Pueblo Army Air Base, Colorado - October 20, 1944
Back Row:
Lt. Frank Lee Jr.- Navigator, Lt. Dominic Traetta - Pilot, Lt. Feidler - Copilot Lt. Sislow, Bombardier
Middle Row:
Cpl. James "Red" Springer - Radioman/Waist Gunner, Cpl. Ross Vincent - Ball Turret Gunner, Cpl.Charles Laynor - Tail Gunner, Front Row:
Sgt. Zenas Plymale Jr.- Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Cpl. Thomas D. Moran Jr.- Nose Gunner, Cpl. Maurice Bell, Waist Gunner

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Pueblo Army Air Base, Colorado - October 20, 1944
B24J 5FO No. 42-51441 Crew 134
Lt. Sislow - Bombardier, Lt. Dominic Traetta - Pilot, Lt. William Frank Lee Jr. - Navigator, Lt. William C. Feidler - Copilot
Sgt. Zenas E. Plymore, Jr. - Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Cpl. James B. "Red" Springer - Radioman/Waist Gunner, Cpl. Thomas D. Moran Jr. - Nose Gunner, Cpl. Ross Vincent - Ball Turret Gunner, Cpl. Charles V. Laynor - Tail Gunner, Cpl. Maurice R. Bell - Waist Gunner