PRE-WORLD WAR II TO DECEMBER 7, 1941
I would like to make mention of the fact, before
I get into this high adventure story and I mean "High"
as in altitude not in exploits and deeds, that before the war,
the highest perch I was ever on was the eighteenth floor of the
Equitable building in Des Moines looking over the parapet at
the street below. I was terrified of leaning on the parapet looking
side of the building. Even today I am very
uneasy leaning on a metal rail looking down into the Grand Canyon.
I had no idea how I would react to being several thousand feet
high in a plane. From the first flight I had, I was completely
at ease even when hanging upside down at all altitudes with nothing
but a safety belt between me and the ground several thousand
feet below. Im sure it was because of my faith in the belt,
but also the fact that I always had a parachute strapped to my
butt. The only times I flew without a parachute was when I was
riding in a passenger plane. Passenger planes never bothered
I am writing this story not because I think it will be of
Robert H. Allison
interest to any one but because I like playing with the computer.
If by chance any of my descendants might be inquisitive about
this particular time or area of history or what I experienced
during the war, they are welcome to wade through the following
eighty or so pages.
I know of only one other person who
has had the gall to sit down and write about himself. This other
guy wrote 176 pages on himself. I can only do about eighty. That
makes him twice as conceited as I am; but then, he might have
triple spaced his typing. I like to think that my experiences
are interesting but Im smart enough to know that no one
else is interested or even gives a damn. So Im doing it
because it is fun.
This is no attempt at being the author
of a best selling novel nor a high adventure fiction tale of
a brave and courageous hero but an actual and truthful accounting
of an average nineteen year old high school graduate caught up
between a rock and a hard place of a raging world war, who, if
he didnt choose into which service he was going to serve
his country, he would most likely be drafted in the Naval service
as a seaman second class or in the Army as a buck-ass private.
You may think as you read through this autobiography that
this guy lived a life of faux pax and was a disaster waiting
to happen. But if you take into consideration the total amount
of faux pas time as compared to the total amount of flying time,
the bad times and the hair raising times, whether due to pilot
error or not, probably did not account for more than about one
percent of my time in the air over this three year period. What
you will not read in this story is an accounting of my daily,
routine flights where nothing worthy of note happened even though
to me they were exciting experiences.
I dont believe at that time I even considered being
a marine. The thought never crossed my mind. Nor, for sure, did
I consider joining the Hooligan Navy (Coast Guard). It was my
opinion at that time anyone joining the Coast Guard was looking
for a soft spot in some comfortable seaport in the United States
where he was not likely to get his ass shot off. That might have
been true in some cases. But, in fact, they were very likely
to wind up piloting a landing craft onto some unknown beach in
the pacific in the face of withering gunfire.
The reasoning that was to be instrumental in influencing my
selection of the Navy as a branch of the service in which I was
most interested began several years before the United States
intervened in the World War II.
Sometime during my early teens my two brothers, Melvin and
Carl, and I were greatly interested in aeroplanes and the exploits
of World War I aviators and the adventures of radio heroes such
as "Jimmy Allen", "Jack Armstrong, and Curly,
Slim, and Tubby" and "Captain Midnight" and other
radio programs and movie serials. We spent many hours at the
Des Moines airport watching the small planes take off and land,
dreaming that we were one of those adventuresome souls at the
controls of those planes. Every summer we would go to the Iowa
State fair to watch the barnstorming pilots do acrobatics and
take up passengers. It was never our good fortune to be one of
those passengers. It was, at that time, a dream that we would
very likely not ever experience.
In my early years I made a vow that if the United States ever
got into another conflict and I were called upon to serve my
country, that the army would teach me to fly. I could well imagine
myself doing rolls, loops and being another Eddy Richenbacker.
But time passed and I grew away from these boyhood dreams and
began thinking about what I would be doing the rest of my boring
I was graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in January
1940. After a couple of uninteresting, temporary jobs I went
to work for Central National Bank in Des Moines in June 1940.
It was a job, which at that time, was not easy to come by and
was very low pay. I did not believe that this would be my life's
career. The only reason for mentioning this job is that it was
the connection between my civilian life and the military.