November 1-22, 1943

San Diego

Arguing with Claire. Too damn many people have their noses in my life. Her old man seems to be this chief obstacle. I could marry her now if I go to Chicago (which is impossible) but they want me to wait if I can’t, as it doesn’t coincide with the family’s plans. And saddest of all, Claire doesn’t seem to have enough gumption to tell them to go to hell. 

Went to see Tom and Elly (Watson) MacMichael. Dinner with them several times with Elly massacring the food. Met (Mrs.) Katy Ellis there, living in the apartment under Elly’s with her mother in law and awaiting the return of her husband from the South Pacific, where he is gunnery officer on the destroyer Conway. (He is a rather drippy number from the class of ’42 — ex-’41 — at the Naval Academy: Lt.(j.g.) James W. Ellis, USN). Katy is very attractive and we had many very enjoyable evenings together till I left for the SoPac again. Her mother-in-law approved of me (?).

Met Admiral Fitch and his wife, both wonderful people.

Transferred for temporary duty to TLU (Transitional Landplane Unit) in which many former squadron members are instructors. Also VB-101 is reforming here. See Joe Hall and his bitch wife Betty quite often. Knudson also works around here. 

I’m supposed to get in a little instrument time with TLU, but from the SNAFU state of things, I’ll be doing very little work. 

Bill King, Admiral Fitch’s present Flag Pilot and Flag Lieutenant, has arrived, and I find him a most egotistical and disagreeable character to work with. Also, found out from King that I shall have to be the admiral’s Flag Lieutenant as Fitch always combines that job with Flag Pilot – not a bad idea. Hope I work out, though, as I’m no politician. 

Five planes are being fitted out here as Flag Planes. First, two PB4Y-1s are having cabins installed in the bomb bays. They are meant to be used by Admirals Fitch and Halsey in their tours of combat areas. The armament is being left on both so as to do away with the necessity of a fighter escort. (Very short of fighters still.) 

The next two planes are C-87s, or in Navy parlance, RY-1s. They are for Admirals Nimitz and Kincaid (SoWestPac). These two C-87s have not even left the factory yet, so the crews are amusing themselves raising hell and traveling around the country. 

The fifth and last plane is an R5D being fitted out for Frank Knox (and Admiral King, I presume).

In charge of outfitting and altering these planes is a civilian engineer named Joe Hume. He’s a very smart apple and is doing a beautiful job, despite the fact that every lame brain on the station is trying to put his finger in the pie. And of all the annoyances, King is the worst, and has succeeded in making himself astoundingly unpopular, including with me.

This Joe Hume is also working on the model of what the Navy intends the PB4Y-2 to be. This particular plane is merely a rebuilt PB4Y-1 but has the 4Y-2 armament installed — a pair of waist blister turrets which can fire forward, aft to reinforce the tail, down to protect the belly, and vertically. The nose of the 4Y-2 is to be 7 feet longer and rumor says it will have a single tail, though Hume says this is not yet been settled.

I have had big arguments with King on installing “toothpick props” and  removing the deicer boots. Next he’s going to be telling me how to fly these things.

My sinuses are killing me again. The Pacific is the only area I’ve ever lived where I seem completely healthy.

Claire McCahey he is insisting upon coming out here for a visit, despite my being set against it. Have too much to do without worrying about her and her mother, who is coming with her as a chaperone — what a medieval family! At times I’d like to call the whole thing off, it’s raising such a stew.

Admiral Fitch has departed for the SoPac again (Nov. 5th). Bill King and Joe Franek, my copilot, both have their wives here. King treats his like dirt.

Have been on several drunken brawls with VB-101 personnel. A bunch including Edgar, Bill Greene, Maury, Tip Tyler, Gris Forbes, Dave Carrol, Jug Adams, and “Little” Louis are living in a big house with a bunch of Navy wives, and having the time of their lives in typical VP-51 fashion. Edgar is juggling his girlfriend and his wife at the same time – quite a feat!

“I wanna get back to the islands and my fish and poi!”

Took Katy Ellis tea dancing at the Coronado. Much fun. Claire is on her way. I dread this.