Jul

03

Retired pilot recalls WWII service

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 3, 2013

Courtesy Photo/Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell The crew of an ill-fated B-24 that ran out of fuel and had to make an emergency landing and lived on the beach at Regio, Italy for three weeks while waiting transport. The crew included pilot D.J. Burcham (center left in white T-shirt, having recently taken a dip in the ocean to clean up).

Courtesy Photo
The crew of an ill-fated B-24 that ran out of fuel and had to make an emergency landing and lived on the beach at Regio, Italy for three weeks while waiting transport. The crew included pilot D.J. Burcham (center left in white T-shirt, having recently taken a dip in the ocean to clean up).

J.D. Burcham had rough start as B-24 pilot

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–This weekend local residents will be partaking in activities to commemorate Independence Day. One of the big events here is the Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake air show set for Saturday evening off shore at the Pinnacle Club. During it, spectators on shore and in boats will marvel to see military aircraft recalling the air battles of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. What follows are the memories of a B24 bomber pilot from WWII, John Dwight Burcham, now 90 and a resident of the Cedar Creek Country Club.
Burcham was a freshman in college when he joined the Army Air Corps in 1942, shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He has been a local resident since his retirement from the aviation/travel industry in 1980 and has become a prolific artist. His memory of the training he received and challenges he faced as a member of the 782nd Bomb Squadron, 465th Bomb Group, a part of the 55th Wing in the 15th Air Force from 1942-45 are fresh and vivid, as only a young man’s can be.
Like many bright young men of his generation, he applied for flight school, but there were so many applicants, they transferred him from the University of Texas at Austin to the University of Tulsa (Oklahoma), where he continued his course work, with additional studies in weather and aviation, until a vacancy opened up. He began ground school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. His advance was set back an entire semester due to his observation of an illegal dice game, he said.
Read more about this in the July 4, 2013 issue of The Monitor.

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