Second World War: Aviation Metal-Smith on Pearl Harbor Ford Island

Veteran of the Second World War talks about being an aviation metal-smith, part of the U.S. Navy Reserve's support staff on Pearl Harbor's Ford Island Air Station.

| Good Old Days

As for the Second World War, I should be able to give you some sort of high adventure story. Such is not the case. There was a popular saying that it took eight men to be behind the man behind the gun. I was one of those eight in a supporting role as an aviation metal-smith in the U.S. Navy Reserve. The only enemy action I saw was a fistfight in the Pearl Harbor Ford Island Air Station beer hall! 

My job in the metal shop was much like the work I had been doing at Lockheed Aircraft, except for the management and training methods. Our work was pretty routine, with much boredom and waiting for something to happen. I think that this may well have been our last popular war. All the civilian population was supportive, saving empty aluminum toothpaste tubes and worn-out aluminum cookware as well as discarded kitchen grease as contributions to the war effort. People actually looked for an out-of-town soldier boy or sailor to take home for Sunday dinner.

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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