In honor of Veterans Day we are posting the following article and photo’s  submitted by former  long time Imboden resident Doug Swink. We would like to express our sincere thanks to Doug for taking the time to share the information about his father, Bill Swink and his service in World War II with our readers.

Here are some excerpts from the journal my father Bill Swink kept during part of World War II  from July 3, 1942 – November 1944 from the time he was inducted until he was reassigned and was no longer able to keep writing in it.  During that time he managed to receive 6 Bronze Star medals.  We didn’t know about the medals until it was read from his discharge papers at his funeral in November 2003.  

The pictures were taken by him and of him.  He had never worked around airplanes until he was drafted.  He was trained for all this while afterwards.  He served as a crew chief, taking care of B-26 bombers ( ) in England and France during the time these excerpts were written.  He said they told him he could study hard or he could always carry a rifle.

July 3, 1942 was drafted into the Army at Camp Joe Roberson, Little Rock, AR

July 7, Received a furlough for a few days to go home and see about some of my affairs.

July 12, Shipped from Little Rock to Sheppard Field, Texas and was taken into the Air Force.  Here in 402nd Squadron, I took my basic training which only lasted seven days and was transferred to 318th School Squadron for training as an airplane mechanic.  Here I started out in my course in Barracks 634 and Flight 12 at that group later to be known as the “Platypus Platoon”,  “the Roaring Twelve” and the worst outfit on the field as far as the officers were concerned.  We were said to be the slinkiest outfit yet.  I made several friends here: Leo Lateen, Comfort, Texas, Elmer Thomas, Grave City, Minnesota, Garland Taylor, Texas (later an air cadet), Kelley Thompson, Baton Rouge, LA and many others.  Also, Pvt. Cleo Bottoms of Ravenden, Arkansas, a friend from my home community was in the same squadron.  We used to talk things over when we had the blues pretty bad.  Austin Chaplin one of my neighbors was in the same squadron but was transferred to another because he had to go to the hospital.  All through school I was in the upper group in grades, but was about the lowest from the military standpoint.  Twice while I was here my people visited me.  I graduated from school in the middle of Nov. 1942.

November 23, 1942 I arrived at the Glenn L Martin Plant Detachment and began the study of B-26 air planes.  Here it was very pleasant as we had a dorm with two men in each room and maid service, no restrictions and etc.  The food was excellent and the officers were the best I have had so far.

December 21 I was up for my Foreign Service physical exam.

December 24 I was informed that I failed the Foreign Service physical examination—I felt kindly good about it in a way.

December 25, 1942 Christmas, I spent this in Baltimore, Maryland.

December 26, 1942 I finished school at the Glen Martin Plant.

December 27, 1942 Tomorrow I ship out for somewhere.

December 28, 1942 Today we prepare for shipment to MacDill Field, Florida, at 8:00 PM we were on our way.

December 30, 1942 We arrived at MacDill Field, Florida, across the bay from Tampa around noon.  Here we stayed in “Boomtown” until Jan 1, 1943, and then we were assigned to the 398th Bomb Squadron, AF 21st Bomb Group.

Jan 3, 1943 First day I was actually on the line, I started work at midnight and worked until 8:00 AM

Jan 13, 14, 15 was my first kp.

Jan 25 I started my first guard duty and on Jan 27 most of the fellows that I came down with transferred to a shipping squadron.

Feb 9 I was moved into a combat unit from 21st Bomb Group 575th Bomb Squadron.  I believe this will be a better outfit.

Feb 10. Seems to be a jinx day for B-26 here as we have had three crack up within the last 24 hours.

Feb 11 We were told we would be here at MacDill until at least March 22, when we would get our equipment for further training.

Feb 24, I left on a 15 day furlough made possible by my friend Cpl. Steers who lived at Jefferson City, MO.  I went in home and was at Hoxie before I could notify my folks.  —Sunday my cousin Lawanda (Livingston) came and stayed with me—through the week. Mother, dad, Lawanda, and I had a grand time together last night.

Mar 11-12 was sent on the train traveling back to MacDill Field.

Mar 13 I went on duty

April 9 Was my day off after a 3 day tour of KP, also the day I left to go back home on emergency furlough to go back to court as a witness in a lawsuit against the firm I worked for.  My trip was nice, all but at Birmingham, we missed the train. I had to take a troop train into Memphis where I had to stay all night and finally got home Sunday at noon.

April 20 I arrived back in camp and found out we are to move to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina around May 23rd.

May 1, 1943 promoted from private to corporal at MacDill Field—with 575 Bomb Sqdn, 391 Group

May 23, 1943 Today we moved out of MacDill Field—after working all day and night Sat. we fell out around to move at 7:30 AM stood and waited and boarded the train about 9:45 Am—finally leaving at 10:00 AM. We arrived at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina about 10:00 AM Monday morning

July 1, 1943 Today I made Sgt. and our Assistant Crew Chief on a B-26-B4 bomber #41-18087 at last I got as high as I want to be

July 24, 1943 Received a recording of my cousins voice( Lawanda Livingston) who is visiting out in California—I’m anxious to hear it

Sept 6, 1943  We left Myrtle Beach and headed for Ft. Knox, Kentucky by way of Greenville SC, Atlanta, Georgia and Louisville, Kentucky arriving at Ft. Knox 5:45 AM Wednesday, September 8

Sept 14 Left for Camp Campbell

December 31, 1943 about midnight we left Kentucky for points unknown on sleepers.

Jan 1, 1944 We traveled by train to Cincinnati- Cleveland- Buffalo and down the Hudson River past West Point Military Academy. Saw Lake Erie for second time.  We went down the river past Sing Sing prison and several large estates.  The river was full of ice as was Lake Erie. Had fair train ride, Lynn Spencer was my buddy on the whole trip.  I  enjoyed it all but one thing, it meant we are going over seas.

Jan 2, 1944 Sunday arrived at Camp Shanks NY about 20 miles of  New York City. Like hell only with ice instead of fire.

Jan 6 1944 My first time in New York City.  I took my first ride on the Subway, saw George Washington Bridge for the first time, the Empire State building then went to Radio City at Rockefeller Center and saw Henry Aldrich Broadcast and Fred Waring – then to Radio City Music Hall – then a tour of night clubs, Diamond Jim Brady’ Turf Club, Jack Dempsey’s Hurricane Club, Tony Pastors and saw floor shows in most of them.  Of course I went by Times Square and to the Stage Door Canteen.

Jan 8, 1944  Back to NYC for a while.  This time we went back Radio City but were unable to get into the broadcast we wanted so we went down 5th Ave & 53rd Street and then decided we must see the Bowery, so in a taxi we leave and go – really cover it from one end to the other.  In it we saw McSorley Ale House, a famous old bar of old New York during the Gay 90’s.  It was founded in 1854 and still has the original gas lights and fixtures and character as it did at its opening, a worthwhile sight to see.  From there to Chinatown at night, not for me anymore, then to Greenwich Village & covered it from one end the other then back to the Latin Quarter Club and then the Turf Club where we ate, then to Times Square and back home.

Jan 13, 1944 Alerted for shipment.

Jan 16, 1944 move from Camp Shanks by ferry to pier where we boarded the Ile De France a former French luxury liner taken over by the English.  The ship had been torpedoed three times and reported sunk by the Germans seven times.  We did this early on Jan 17th and left port that day.  I wanted very badly to see New York Harbor but didn’t get to.  I was lucky enough to have a top bunk with two fellows under me.  I was really glad to get rid of that darn pack.  We are making a wild dash across the Atlantic with no escort –  kindly shaky business!  Most of today when we were on deck we had air ships for escort.  We had boat drill the first day out.

Jan 18, 1944 Went out on deck early this morning.  The sea was calm and actually the ocean is really blue.  The weather was nice and warm out today.  I really enjoyed being on deck.  We had a plane escort for a while today.  It was really lonesome looking out here, nothing but water everywhere.  No ship or nothing in sight.  I bought a box of candy bars today on the boat.  You could buy as many as you pleased.

Jan 20, 1944 I wrote Wanda and my folks today.  The sea was still calm.  I read my third book today and also set my watch up an hour.

Jan 21, 1944 Still at sea, it got sorta rough today but settled down before dark.  A few got sick.  I read my fourth and fifth books.

January 22nd 1944 Today and tonight has been our roughest time at sea.  Several are sick. You could hardly eat for sliding back and forth on your seat at the table it was either you or your mess kit.  I didn’t sleep at all and had to sleep on my stomach or back and hold on to my bunk.  Today we sighted several birds also had a little snow.

January 23rd Sunday 1944 this is to all free rough I read three more books today we didn’t have a EVO drills today still nothing but water everywhere and its a lot colder.

January 26, 1944 We landed at Gorack, Scotland, a very beautiful seaport.  We went out on the lower deck and day was really beautiful the harbor was full of every type of ship imaginable the air craft carriers, tenders (tugboats), and battleships of all types, both English and American.  We were carried to Gorack by a tender.  The harbor was surrounded by snow capped mountains and among them in the background several little inlets of the sea. There were several fishing villages surrounding the whole harbor.  Also today we boarded a train for England.  The Red Cross gave us donuts, coffee, candy & gum several places in route.
We came through several places Glasglow, Edinburgh, Newcastle,York, Manchester, Derby, Birmingham, Cambridge, Stratford to White Rading and arrive here on January 26 1944.  En route through Scotland we saw some really beautiful country castles, large country estates, and beautiful countryside.
January 27th 1944 I experienced my first air raid and not sorry to say I  was quite scared and I wasn’t the least bit afraid to hit the ditch.

During the period from Jan 26, 1944 to April 26, 1944, I experienced 29 air raids.  All but one while on pass in London where Rocket guns scared me more than the bombs.  The longest raid was one hour and forty-five minutes, this was the worst one I can remember March 14, 1944.  The first raid was the second night after arriving in England and that was on Thursday.  For the next four weeks Jerry came almost every night Thursday through Sunday as regular as the days come and go.    February being the worst month of which a few times I mastered the art of saying prayers.  As far as the sights were concerned it was all beautiful and quite a sight to see – but still you thought twice while watching.

March 1 1944 I took over airplane 4295 950 better known as B Baby belonging to Maj. Stalnaker CO of 575 Bomb Squad 394 Group my CO. I was crew chief.  I am quite proud to be picked to his ship to cover his personal ship.  Several big wheels flew it.  Col. GE Williams, CO of 391st  Group.  The ship made 35 combat missions with a perfect record on all but the 36th.  It served as Lead ship of the Group each mission.  It crash landed on May 12 1944 approximately 19:30 o’clock single engine operation because of internal oil trouble beyond my control. It made a perfect landing but due to feeling of no brakes the air bottle was pulled in break and broke right main strut washing out the whole airplane The plane crew received no injuries.

March 3 1944 It is my 23rd birthday, it hardly seems possible I can be that old but I guess I am.  This is the first birthday I have spent on foreign soil.

March 17 1944 My father’s birthday, dear old St Patrick’s Day.  This reminded me of my friends at the University of Arkansas as this was always quite a day there.
May 19 1944 Today I received a silver job for an airplane 4217-620 already has a sour lemon history ha ha.

March 20th 1944:  I made my first trip to London, England.  I traveled by train from Bishop Stratford.  With me were Master Sgt Rosenberger, Cpl. J.O. Smith, and Cpl Archer.  We arrived at Liverpool Station and from there caught a taxi to 12 Mandeville Place.  Some of the places we visited were House of Parliament, Lombeth Bridge Walk and Park, Westminster Abbey and saw Big Ben Clock here.  At Westminster Abbey got a piece of glass from one of it’s windows which was over 500 years old.  The glass came out of Charles II private chapel.  Then we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, here we saw where many famous people were buried.  We visited the crypt, Whispering Galley.  Then

to the top of the Dome where you could really get a real idea of how the city was bombed.  It seems they eliminated everything for three or four blocks deep from the building.  The rest of the city it was mostly just two or three blocks here and there.  Then we went to the Tower of London and London Bridge, by Waterloo Bridge where it was bombed.  Next was Buckingham Palace where the King and Queen live.  There we saw the changing of the guard which was a very colorful sight.  Then was St. James Palace and homes of the high lords and etc.  The ministry of  Air, Navy, Army and all that.  Then of course to Piccadilly Circus both at night and day, which was a sight I’ll never forget.  And finally Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus and God knows what all else.
June 6 1944 Well this morning I rolled out of bed at 12:30 am or rather 00:30. I was called for immediate preflight of my airplane.  I had breakfast then got the plane ready and at 3:30 it pulled out of hard stand.  We knew this must be it!  Well we then found out at 03:50 about an hour earlier paratroops had landed in France.  Our ships came back in at 06:30 and so this was the invasion!  They about they told us the boats in the channel, hundreds of them they said. It was quite some story they told us.  This is the biggest day yet.  I work until midnight but didn’t seem tired at all.  We would just soon as live on the line. Our planes have had a lot to do with the invasion!

June 16 – 17 1944 Today and especially tonight we had some of our biggest and longest air raids since I’ve been in the ETO (Eastern Theater of Operations) On the16th we had three air raids in one night, one lasting from midnight until early morning on the 17th. We had first day light raids with Jerry sending over his pilotless planes.  One hit near our post.  Today and tonight we had 5 different air raids in day and night. A few times I admit I was pretty scared, Jerry is sorta getting brave.

July 2 1944 Today marks my second year in this man’s army – much to my regret.

July 16 1944 Six months ago today we pulled out of New York City harbor for England.
July 16 – 17 1944  I’m on pass to London the train was quite loaded.  We arrived there late took a ‘tube’ to Band Street and went to Mandeville. I got myself a nice room to sleep and then to eat at Yankee Doodles. I had a real nice meal, then walk down by Oxford Circus and down to Piccadilly Circus.  All through this area the flying bombs had hit at the Regent Palace Hotel across the street.  All the shops windows were broken out.  There was still good display in the windows.  There was broken glass was everywhere.  It was some kind of a mess.  I then walked on down into the mall, fooled around, and went back to my room and went to bed.  During the night they were three or four flying bombs landed close enough to break my windows and almost threw me out of bed.  I got up at 7 a.m. the 17th and ate breakfast and caught the tube down Trafalgar Square. I went down by Westminster Abbey I took few pictures then crossed Lambert bridge and took pictures of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament.  From here I took the tube to St Paul’s and took pictures there while I was on top of the dome an air raid alert sounded.  Here came a flying bomb (doodle bug), Headless Horseman over St Paul and across the River Thames and landed about 3 or 4 blocks on the other side.  It was peculiar looking thing look more or less like a Spitfire only smaller they say they have about 16 feet wingspan and are propelled by small engine and flight mechanism. The first one, I remember started falling as soon as engine cut it out this time in London.  You didn’t feel safe until they had already exploded.
July 20 1944 Tonight I went to a lecture at Sad Sack Snack Shack at Aero Club to hear did Ted Malone make an informative talk on the battlefront in France.  It was very interesting and I enjoyed it very much.

July 21st and 22nd 1944 Today and tonight has been our worst week of Buzz Bombs or pilotless planes, Headless Horseman that we have had to date. It seemed for sure once or twice we were almost in for a direct hit. I was slightly on the worried side myself!

July 27, 1944  I went to Cambridge which is about 40 miles north of here really had quite a nice trip.  I saw all the famous colleges and chapels.  I also went boating. This was one of the most pleasant passes I’ve spent.  It had only been bombed once since the beginning of the war.   No buzz bombs ever go that far.  It really is a nice to be out of their range for a day or so.

August 19 1944 We started printing and developing our own films at Station 1 66 White Rading, England.  For a dark room we had GI tents, four lonely,  GI paper and chemicals. It was very crude but quite successful.

September 5th and 6th 1944 These two days I was at London on a pass again.  I took several pictures while there and also went to the stage show “Peek-A-Boo” starring to Phyllis Dixey.  When I came back I noticed the air was full of cargo ships pulling gliders. They went on over five or six hours continuously. On the 5th and 6th it was all day long until dark.  The boys hit Brest twice today.
Sept 17 – 20, 1944 During this period, we witnessed one of the biggest aerial displays I’ve ever seen. On the 17th (transports, troop, and gliders) started coming over the field about 12:15 p.m. They continued for about three hours in fact the sky was almost completely black.  I saw over 80 planes in one group.  This continued throughout the next 4 days. I’d hate to be on the receiving
end of that. They struck Holland near the Rhine River.  One glider crashed here on the field that day and another made an emergency landing.

September 24th 1944 Today we sent four planes out to ferry men to France. And what a day for planes to be in the air. You could hardly see 10 feet ahead of you on the ground let alone in the air. Trying to land coming back that night we lost two planes #853 crashed into three houses at Hatfield Heath killing two people in the house and the crew of the airplane.
September 22, 1944 Buzz bombs are still coming over in pretty heavy waves.  The last 3 weeks been extremely so, almost as bad as at first, tonight especially.
September 26, 1944  Well, exactly 8 months ago today I landed in Scotland. Now here I am today going to France in a C47 transport. my first flight in France from England landed at a  former German jet 88 field  near Raye, France. The field is in one more mess.  What part of it wasn’t damaged by our bombers, the Germans blew up themselves.  The first night in France I slept in a former German beer hall, that is what was left of it anyway. The next few days I slept in former German officers’ quarters.  Finally I moved into a very open room in a hut for our flight, real nice.  It has 5 rooms downstairs and three rooms upstairs, all plastered.  I have three large French windows, closets two tables, shelves, a stove, and all sorts of conveniences.  It is really fixed up special. My roommates are CR Neady, CM Smith, R Smeltzer, all really swell fellows.

October 4 1944 had dinner with French family.

October 29, 1944 Today I was in on a small detail where we went to a German warehouse to get cement.  We went to a place in about 10 miles from the base to an underground tunnel two miles long which was an ammunition dump.   This was built during the last war by the Germans. They also built a brick lined canal which leads from some point a great distance away where supplies could be carried right into the underground tunnel really quite a masterpiece.

November 15, 1944 today I went to St. Quentin’s about 35 or 40 miles from here parked by very beautiful cathedral of which later I bought a few postcards. The two outstanding things there to me were the cathedral in Hotel de Ville with the flying buttresses and gargoyles. Here about one day bottle of ‘Mistire’ perfume which is very expensive back home. I had to get something extra nice for Lawanda, my cousin.  Here I had my first ice cream since I’ve been overseas it tasted darn swell. I am still crazy about France myself.