March 13, 1943 (Saturday)

“Cactus,” Guadalcanal

Last of squadron departed this morning leaving me as sole Guadalcanal representative.

Made a repeat trip on yesterday this morning. I feel like selling tickets for “Nolan’s tour of the Japanese airfields.”

Passengers today were General Mulcahy, Lt.Col. Roosevelt, two more Lt.Cols. and a Captain (another paratrooper). Roosevelt manned the interphone for the group. Weather good, with many cumulus clouds. Passed by Munda at 6,000 feet accompanied by my escort of 8 P-40s (Capt. Little again) and 7 F4Us. AA light but fairly accurate. Passed by Vila at 3,500 feet. A minute or so later Little called out that he saw “25 bogeys (from Bougainville”) at 8 o’clock at 12,000 feet. I recognized them as our own SBDs accompanied by F4Fs, making a dive-bombing attack on Vila field. Saw the bomb explosions in the dump, revetment, and AA areas. Fire at south end of runway. Passed back over Vila and around Kolombangara. Spotted seven Zeros at 10,000 feet above us, but due to my escort, they left me alone. I suppose they were hoping for someone to have engine trouble, so that they could jump him like a pack of coyotes they are.

On the way home along the north coast of New Georgia the P-40s found a Jap barge in a cove and had themselves a grand time strafing it.

The staff again seemed well pleased with my coverage of the area. They liked the low altitudes, as it gave it gave them a much better view of beaches and coconut groves. While rounding Kolombangara we spotted a heretofore unknown Jap encampment on the north shore.

High winds in the afternoon blew down a few tents of the “Hotel De Gink.” While I was out on my hop the goddamn Marines from down in the gully stripped our part of the hotel. Stolen from me were my .45 automatic, two bottles of liquor, pillow, soap, canned goods, and magazines. Nice fellows.

While down on the field in the afternoon I witnessed one hell of a crash. A Hudson (New Zealanders) trying to land in the strong crosswinds (30 to 35 kn) groundlooped into the rear end of an Army B-24, which lost everything from the rear of the wing on aft. The Hudson pilot was badly torn up about the face, but will live. His crew was only cut up. Some poor mech working on the B-24, had his back broken. Seemed so futile to see the poor Hudson pilot lying on the ground, writhing in pain, his tanned athletic body flecked with blood from his smashed face. The very best of our generation is being destroyed.

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