Broad Valley Orchard

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The Machine Rolls On

A week ago a small package from the Air Force History Institute arrived in the mail. Our son, Tobin (former US Army/ Air Force Space Command, and now Department of Defense) who now lives and works on Okinawa, ordered this gift for me.
These two small reels of 16mm microfilm contain the official unit history of the 21st Weather Squadron, of the Ninth US Air Force, from their creation in 1942 to their incorporation into another unit in 1945. The 9th’s history and documentation are about 500 pp. of the total of 4500 pp.
My first task was to learn how to load, operate, and copy with their fancy Minolta microfilm reader. Fortunately, I was trained how to use the a similar model at Old Economy’s Archives, and I learned how to read microfilm and microfische back in the 1960’s.
My second task was to scroll through the first 1900 pages, which were the 1947-1949 unit history of the 20th W/X Sqdr in post-war Japan, China, and Korea. I mused as I reeled through their routine, as they tried to keep morale up doing a boring and routine job. But then I remembered that hold-out Japanese forces will still fighting on isolated islands, Mao was winning China’s Red Revolution, and Korea was ticking away.
Well, I had to scroll the monthly reports of their weather detachments = not my story to tell!
Then I found the 21st’s records, and as I went page by page, creating a workable index, and scanning for mention of my father, Captain Art Dunn, I found 500 pp. of well written and complete unit history for this Mobile Weather Squadron, a state of the art military/scientific organization. I also found a lot of supporting documentation, including copies of official orders and unit commentations. I copied a few of the pertinant ones, but time was ticking by. In the last few pages I found a list of the Technical Publications by 21st W/X Sqdr ofrficers; at the top of the list was an article by Captain Lloyd G. Blanchard.
One of my students, Sara, is the grand daughter of this 92 year old retired school superintendent from New England. When she learned of our shared connection through having a former ‘combat meteorologist’ in our families, Sara helped me contact Lloyd. I have been corresponding with him for a year, and his memories of the war have really helped me feel what my father (who died in 1954) experienced. Lloyd’s memory, is of course becoming dim with old age. Some of my other “Weather War” contacts have recently passed away.
I am starting to really feel the need to get their story out. I believe that it was the Allies’ superior weather forecasting abilities that provided their victories over the German forces in the North Atlantic U-boat War, in the successful D-Day invasion, and in turning back Hitler’s “Last Gasp” at the Battle of the Ardennes (also called the Battle of the Bulge).
The last 1800 pp. of the reels were the history of the US Air Force Weather Wing that all the former US army Air Corps Weather Squadrons were combined into after WW2. Colonel (later promoted to General) Thomas Moorman had been the Commanding Officer of the 21st W/X Sqdr., and was pivotal in developing the concept of mobile weather observing stations.
I will be visiting the library each week in December, and will carefully read 100 pp. per visit. I learned my research skills back in the late 1960’s and I will take notes by hand. I find copies are great for critical documents, and maps, but for day-to-day narrative, note taking gets me more involved in the mind of the writer. This will also slow me down, so I can absorb this mass of information bit by bit. Also, I am turning 60, and must admit to eye strain from too much close-in work.
I will be writing my father’s story as I go. I will also be working on the stories of another dozen family veterans that I have discovered. Their story goes back to the war of 1812, and perhaps back to the American Revolution, and maybe before.
I guess I am doing this, because I am rather disgusted with our nation’s recent military ventures. If this book ever gets finished, and I do earn any income from it, I have decided to contribute any proceeds to my veteran’s organization.
Thom (Dunn) Marti
formerly USCG

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