One Man's War



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 down the
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. I’m 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 me.

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 I’m smart enough to know that no one else is interested or even gives a damn. So I’m 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 didn’t 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 don’t 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 life.

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.


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This page was last updated on 24 Oct 99


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