• Image of four aviators at leisure, playing cribbage

    Aleutian World War II

    National Historic Area Alaska

Hale Burge

Hale was inducted in the Army Air Corp in 1942, assigned to aircraft supply and later served as aircraft mechanic - a job he loved and in which he excelled. He arrived in Alaska in March 1943 and was on shore as the Battle of Attu raged in the hills. In total, he served for more than two years in the Aleutians where he observed, first-hand, the dangers of flight, having to rebuild wrecked aircraft from pieces and parts.

With aircraft in his blood, at war's end he elected to remain in the Air Force serving as crew chief/flight engineer on a variety of aircraft including the C-45, B-25, C-47 and F-100. He continued to fly with his son after he retired and still enjoys getting up in the air.

 
Hale Burge, in the 1940s and 2000s
Hale Burge, in the 1940s and 2000s
photos courtesy hale burge
 
  • Complete transcript, no audio or images (90 KB)

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Transcript summary

  1. Introduction, learning to work on cars at an early age; working in the CC camps at 17 and later on a farm and the railroad; getting drafted at 20 years old; induction into the Air Corp audio / transcript
  2. Being assigned as an aircraft mechanic; landing on Shemya; description of Shemya; building the runway at Shemya; Tokyo Rose threatens bombing of Shemya, story of the crash of a P-40 off Shemya; assignment to work at aircraft supply; missing out on returning to the States; the blessing of having had to stay on Shemya audio / transcript
  3. Reassignment to the flight line as a mechanic; types of aircraft worked on and some of the work involved in; experience of mechanics worked with audio / transcript
  4. Fixing a Navy C-45 when others couldn't, finding a valve problem audio / transcript
  5. Lack of Air Corp recognition of good work; individual commitment to the job; waiting for a B-24 that never returned; sadness at losing crews; a B-24 out for 24 hours returns safely piloted by the flight engineer audio / transcript
  6. Commanders on Shemya; R and R in Anchorage and Mt. McKinley National Park audio / transcript
  7. Meeting nurses at the hospital in Anchorage; bringing milk back from Anchorage for friends; fear of flying on a B-24 from Attu to Shemya audio / transcript
  8. A B-24 hits a shack on the end of the runway killing the navigator; putting out the fire on the aircraft after the crash audio / transcript
  9. Problems with a UC-64; rebuilding wrecked airplanes; photography as a means of recreation on Shemya audio / transcript
  10. Making friends on Shemya; ranking mechanics abilities; doing day to day maintenance after the war; repairing wrecked aircraft during WWII audio / transcript
  11. Nearly dying trying to fix a B-24 fuel tank; young man working on an F-89 dies working on a fuel tank audio / transcript
  12. Danger of working on aircraft; crash of a P-40 after maintenance had been done on it; P-40 wrecks after brake locks up; rescue of the pilot from the wreckage; celebrating the pilots good fortune; pride in doing good work audio / transcript
  13. Man dies while moving a box in the wind with a D-6 cat; saving a friends life with appendicitis; re-enlisting in the service in 1946; learning to fly; suffering an engine out audio / transcript
  14. Flying the C-45; helping a Lieutenant Colonel find Langley Field, close call: running low on fuel on a cross-country B-25 trip; fuel starvation while taxiing on the ramp audio / transcript
  15. Near miss over New York between two aircraft; landing at a civilian airport in bad weather; showing off the B-25 for locals audio / transcript
  16. Letting pilot's license lapse; flying with son in rental airplanes; looking forward to flying on 90th birthday; evaluating his experience level as a mechanic audio / transcript
  17. Inadequacy of training in military mechanics school; types of aircraft worked on after WWII; working on F-100s in North Africa; losing a talented young pilot in the Mediterranean Sea; losing pilots due to being unprepared for emergencies audio / transcript

 

Did You Know?

USFWS photo of a pair of whiskered auklets on Unalaska Island

The waters around Unalaska Island are one of the few places in the world to find the rare whiskered auklet.