Monday, July 29, 2013

Looking for more information about training at Chanute Field, Illinois circa 1937

Dear Poppy,
How well I remember you showing us photographs that you had taken during your training at Chanute Field in the 1930s. I believe you stopped there when you drove back from attending my wedding in Annapolis in 1971. Peg found a box of old photographs yesterday, some that we never recall seeing before. They have raised lots of questions about the nature of your training.

Kenneth M. Branchflower at Chanute Field, Illinois circa 1937

There is not much information about the training that went on at Chanute Field between World War I and II. If I remember correctly, you were training as a combat photographer. We believe that you are pictured in each of these photographs. We certainly recognize your very precise script on the lower one.

After Chanute, I believe you went to March Field near Riverside, California. I know that you were released for the training to come home and assist your father on the farm. You appear in the photographs to be in uniform. So was there an enlistment in the fledgling Army Air Corps? Were things so bad in the U. S. Army, that they just let people out? This was the middle of the depression and still six years before Pearl Harbor. Did you have to apply for a hardship discharge?

Growing up, I had the impression that you were drafted during World War II, but I have found a record that shows you enlisted on 13 Sep 1943 in Portland, Oregon. Your enlistment papers mention one year of college as well as 'skilled photographic process occupations' but no previous service. The 1943 Portland City Directory lists you as a Machine Operator working for USAE and residing in Newberg. I believe that USAE is an abbreviation for U. S. Army Engineers.

Wishing we could talk to you about your training. Not much has been written about the technical training that went on between the wars.


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