Paul entered the US Army in 1942 after his second year at the University of Michigan. His first assignment was at San Antonio, TX  for basic training and then on to Sikeston, MO where he learned to fly small single engine aircraft He promised Florence that they would get married after he completed 12-hours of dual training and soloed. According to Paul after he had logged 11 hours and 59 minutes the instructor got out of the aircraft and stated "you can kill yourself but not me" and Paul proceeded to make his first solo flight and a perfect landing. From there he was assigned to a base in Wichita, Kansas for more training on larger single-engine aircraft Four-engine aircraft training was at Waco, TX and Paul tells the story that he and a friend stopped to help a person with a flat tire on a truck full of watermelons. The owner said the melons were too old to take to the market so they could help them selves,. For a while they ate watermelons while flying and dumped the rinds and seeds all over Texas.

Training on the B-24 was at March Field outside of Riverside, CA and then on to more training at a field outside of Oakland, CA. At the conclusion of that training they were told to send the wives home, which of course no one did. Paul told that  Florence you would know when to go when the Captain arrives with the tickets home, which occurred on New Years Eve that year.

His first duty was at Shemya, (Sim-i-ya ) Alaska one of the furthermost islands on the Aleutian Chain. To understand how remote this island is, the distance from Juneau, Alaska to Shemya (Sim-i-ya) is about the same as from Savanna, Georgia, to Los Angeles, California.

It was a long way over the ocean and hundreds of unpopulated islands to the 5 square mile Shemya (Sim-i-ya) not much bigger than Garden Island. Yellow drums floating in the water guided the approach to the landing strip with a red light at the top of the cliff to mark the  runway. A crew in a boat was stationed in the water below to help any pilot who went in the water on the approach.

Shemya was one of the islands occupied by the Japanese at the beginning of the war. I posted a picture of the island and planes from Paul’s squadron on the Forum and it looks like a cold, dreary and foggy place to operate from. To get to from the base to their targets took 10-hours of over the water flying with no chance of rescue. The pilots were told if they had to ditch or were injured they should go to Russia. On one mission Paul’s plane lost an engine but rather than go to Russia he flew back at 10,000 feet above the water with no hydraulics and low on fuel as Florence was pregnant and he knew that if he flew to Russia it would take 2-years to return to the USA.

In May of 1944 Paul’s outfit, the 404th Bomb Squadron, consisting of a dozen B-24s initiated bombing runs on the island of Paramushiro (PARA-MUSH-HIRO) which was part of Japan at that time over 1,000 miles away; the squadron lost two aircraft. As a result of those missions Paul was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

During the Korean War Paul was called up and stationed at Great Falls, MT as an Aide to the Commanding General.

Paul’s commendations include the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, The American Theater Ribbon and the Victory Medal.

Paul received his Honorable Discharge from the United States Air force on 1 April 1953.

Paul was one those men who served his country in times of need and for that we are very proud and thankful. Paul you will be missed.

Bob Tidmore