Second World War: Quiet Duty Station Fixing Spotter Planes

Navy aviation metal smith recalls his quiet duty station fixing SOSU planes during the Second World War.

| Good Old Days

My first duty station in the Second World War was as an aviation metal smith with Scout Observation Service Unit No. 1. This was before there was electronic fire control. Battle Wagons and Cruisers had spotter planes, which flew over the battle area at a high enough altitude to escape most enemy fire and low enough for good visibility of the action. It was their job to direct the artillery via radio for target location. 

It was SOSU's job to maintain these aircraft: the major repairs, modifications and overhauls were done on shore by SOSU. The Navy liked to have at least two men for each real job in case of emergency, so there was a comfortable surplus of personnel.

I really had very quiet war - frequently quite boring – the ame as many of my shipmates. Several of our shipmates did, however, have stories of heroism and trauma - from having their buddies cut in two by shells, to having two or three ships shot out from under them and being afloat in oil-covered water for hours.

In a somewhat lighter vein, there was a young aircraft painter in our unit whose wife wrote him 11 months after she had last seen him to announce the birth of a brand new son!

Rex O. Wonnell
San Jose, California

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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