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Kenneth Leudke video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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This is Suzette McCord Rogers and Peggy Stanton and we are interviewing Kenneth Luedke at his home in Troy, Kansas.

Suzette:  Um, Mr. Luedke, um, can you tell me where you were born?

Mr. Luedke:  In a city in Kansas in a sod house.(chuckle)

Suzette:  In a sod house?

Mr. Luedke: Yep.

Suzette: How unusual. Was your father a farmer?

Mr. Luedke:  He was at that time, yes. He more or less had been. He had been a truck driver but because of the dust bowl we moved. Uh, we were thinking of going to Oregon or to Missoura. We ended up goin to Missoura. So, of course, we had a lot of livestock. So he had ordered the livestock on the freight train, and my mom and older siblings, uh, came on the passenger train. And, uh, we went down the, we got on the Mederzine river bottoms in Base Town in Missoura. And we had a’course a lot of livestock: the dairy cows and horses mostly. And, uh, we were there for three or four years, uh, on the river bottoms. Then we had the flood.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke:  And we lost a lot of stock and ,uh. Luckily the house was on a hill so we didn’t have that problem. Uh, then we moved up on the prairie. Nice bungalow house with, uh, it had a lot of space in the yard, mulberry trees all around it (laughing).

Suzette: You like mulberries?

Mr. Luedke:  Yea we like mulberries. We put, uh, we put a big cheese cloth under the tree, and shake the tree and, uh

Suzette: Uh, Hum.

Mr. Luedke: Catch the berries, and we’d make all kinds of things out of mulberries. A’course the birds spotted up everything too, but

Suzette: So you made pies out of

Mr. Luedke: Oh them we had, yea. We had, uh, we had ‘stalk there also. My dad always liked horses. So we had some horses and uh I think at that time they traded some horses for the first tractor we ever had, a foremow (tape unclear) tractor.

Suzette: And about what year was that?

Mr. Luedke: Oh my, uh, lets, I don’t know if I can answer that question.

Suzette: Oh, that OK. I just missed, k, so now I’m getting that the tractor must have been a big deal

Mr. Luedke: yea.

Suzette: at that time.

Mr. Luedke: it was. I don’t know how many teams of horses he traded for it but, he, that’s how he got it. I suppose he had to make some payments to boot but.

Suzette: um, hum. Did you get to drive it?

Mr. Luedke: Uh, not that one I was too little. But we did get a first radio.

Suzette: Oh, you did.

Mr. Luedke: Yea, battery operated and the speaker area had a long cord on it where you sat a station you wanted to and had a box that was about this long and about that wide and Adkinwater Tenth was the name of the radio, because it sealed in water.

Suzette: Hum.

Mr. Luedke: But we enjoyed that and the neighbors would come in and my dad would like to listen to baseball, so he and the neighbors would listen to baseball and uh, patent social life. There I guess (laugh).

Suzette: Well I guess so. Now uh, what, what was your date of birth?

Mr. Luedke: November 19th, 1921.

Suzette: Well, it’s near your birthday then; near your birthday month.

Mr. Ledke: It’s comin up here the 19th.

Suzette: Yea. Well, happy birthday

Mr. Luedke: Well thank you.

Suzette: Um, did you go to high school? Where did you go to high school?

Mr. Luedke: Well I went elementary in a country school, not much of a’school, and my folks, uh, thought we older kids should get used to goin to school in a town school. So we walked, not drivin, but we, uh, did walk four and a half miles either way to school and that’s where I got to the seventh and eighth grade and, uh, in a, uh, Amsterdam. Amsterdam was a

Suz: Amsterdam Resort.

Mr. Luedke: Uh, hum. And then we moved to Amoret and that’s where I got my high school work except for my senior year.

Suz: Amoret?

Mr. Luedke: Uh, hum.

Suzette: Can you spell that?

Mr. Luedke: A-m-o-r-e-t

Suz: OK. And that’s where you went to high school?

Mr. Luedke: Well, I went, uh, yes that’s right I did but, in those days the high schools didn’t have anything equivalent so they just taught the main subjects.

Suz: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: We didn’t have ….(tape unclear) We did have outdoor basketball which at the time I participated in, and we did have baseball; it was great. And, some of us went together and took ol’Nathanson the ….. a big town. Anyway it didn’t cost as much then. So we built us, at a’school, a place we could level off and make a tennis court.

Suzette: Oh.

Mr. Luedke: And that’s where I, we, played tennis. I actually got pretty good (chuckle). I could move faster than I can now. (laughing).

Suzette: (laughing) Well, there’s nothing like a little practice.

Mr. Luedke: Yea.

Suzette: And when did you move to KS then? After living in Missoura?

Mr. Luedke: Well, …(tape unclear) I think it was 1948, uh, we moved to Colony, KS. My mother’s still down there and, uh, we got my senior in high school.

Suzette: You went to your senior year in high school.

Mr. Luedke: Uh, at Colony KS, Colony High School. Now it’s called Crest.

Suzette: OK.

Mr. Luedke: They got a new building and, uh, there’s we had, they taught music so I got in band.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: As well as play’n into a basket ball, and, uh, I didn’t go out for football. Our folks didn’t want any of us boys to go out for football.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: But at that time they didn’t have insurance like they have now. And, uh, we, uh, let, uh, we let our son make up his own mind what he wanted to do. (chuckle) But he got, he got hurt. Luckily they were able to find out what was the matter. A chiropractor took care of him. Uh, I had never gone to a chiropractor and I was skeptical.

Suzette: Uh, hum.

Mr. Luedke: But anyway, he had trouble breathing so they looked at his back and he had something out of place. So, eventually the chiropractor made him all right, so I’ve used him quite a bit; maybe it’s kept me goin a long time …. Shear’n sheep. And uh, do you remember those days like shear’n sheep?

Suzette: Yes, I do. (chuckling) I was probably shear’n a lot of sheep with you.

Mr. Luedke: (chuckling) Yep. -Who’s that?

Peggy: I don’t know.(muttering)

Suzette: …well, I was kinda listn’en there and I just kind’a caught on that story. Um, when did you graduate from high school?       

Mr. Luedke: It was in ’49. In the spring of ’49.

Suzette: In the spring of ’49? And what branch of service where you in?

Mr. Luedke: What branch?

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: Well, when I was, I was drafted and my brothers’d already gone and, uh, we’d figured we’d go when we was needed. So, we didn’t volunteer and so we waited till they called us. And a’course we went to Leavenworth and took a batting of tests and aptitude tests and all that kind’a stuff. And when they got, let’s see: I’ners tests, aptitude tests, and all three different tests and all those. Anyway when I was done they asked me if I’d have objections if they put me in air force as a …(tape unclear).

Suzette: Wow.

Mr. Luedke: Well that’s kinda what I’d wanted but I didn’t say, I didn’t … because I figured they might change their mind. (laughing)

Suzette: (laughing)

Mr. Luedke: Cause there is a lot of lugs (tape unclear)

Suzette: so they gave you a test before they decided what gr… (tape unclear) to put you in.

Mr. Luedke: Oh, lots and lots of tests.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And anyway, I then went to, uh, Sheppard Field, TX, and I got there twelve one and forty two.

Suzette: And forty two?

Mr. Luedke: Yea and then I, I finished my general mechanics course and then they set this, I wanted to be a power plant specialist, but they decided that since I could do fine work and soon be along with it all right and I was particular, they gave me insalous (tape unclear) specialist.

Suzette: (laughing)

Mr. Luedke: more like a ….(tape unclear)

Suzette: Ah.       

Mr.Luedke: But, that was at a Shinoot Field, IL.

Suzette: What kind of work was that, that you were doing?

Mr. Luedke: Well, you took care’a the octameters and the, uh, engine gauges and all those things and if they had a malfunction then they’d in…. in to test them

Suzette: Um, Hum.

Mr. Luedke: and make some adjustments on ‘em to get ‘um back to where we could use them again.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: So, I got there the first and twenty fifth in ’43.

Suzette: To Shinoot Field?

Mr. Luedke: Uh, Shinoot Field yea.

Suzette: OK

Mr. Ludke: And got there in the winter time on the train we, (chuckling) we thought we were goin to, to California, but that’s how shaky everything was we didn’t know where we were goin.

Suzette: You didn’t know.

Mr. Luedke: But, anyways, somebody woke up in the night and saw everything white outside well they thought we were in the Salt Flats. (laughing)

Suzette: (laughing)

Mr. Luedke: and so we found out it wasn’t salt it was cold cause we were dressed in what we were wearing in Texas. (chuckling)

Peggy: Bet that was chilly.

Mr. Luedke: Yea, it was chilly. But anyways we got there and then we,uh, finished that school. And then I went on an actual mechanic on the job, on the job in Denis Florida.

Peggy: Well I’ll bet that was a hard assignment.

Mr. Luedke: Well the only thing good about that was a nice, uh, nice, a nice beach we had some time off we could go swimming.

Peggy: I’ll bet. (chuckling)

Mr. Luedke: (chuckling)

Suzette: Did you get time off?   

Mr. Luedke: What?

Suzette: Did you get time off to go swimming?

Mr. Luedke: Oh, well, we worked pretty much we didn’t get much time off. But we had a little.

Suzette: Um, Hum.

Mr. Luedke: And then, uh, let’s see now, also that was very close to, we were at now Dill fields and, uh, we, I, uh, shouldn’t say it this way but we were at Dill field first. And then we were sent on down, after we got some training there, we went on down to Vinusfull …(tape unclear) with some P-40’s and, uh, B-25’s. And we u’d arrived there at, uh, five three and forty three. And then I was there quite a while. I wouldn’t say a whole long time, but anyway I got a letter from my brother. I hadn’t heard from him in a long time, but I finally got a letter from him and he said he was graduating from cadet school.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And, uh, course, I, he, uh, ‘ad, all this other training. I used to be afraid of airplanes but through all this training I learned what made ‘em fly and what you had to do and all this. So I thought well if you’s gonna do that then I think I will too. (chuckle) I think I’d like it. (chuckle)

Suzette: Uh, hum.

Mr. Luedke: So I went, uh, I told my superiors what I wan’ed to do and they said, and they uh, sent me a’fore a board and they said ok. So then while I was waiting for a training place to open up so that when they got rid of that class that they were in

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: they would start a new class. Then I went to Kiefer Fields in Biloxi Mississippi. An’ I was there about a month or six weeks.

Peggy: Where’s that?

Mr. Luedke: Biloxi Mississippi.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Peggy: Biloxi?

Mr. Luedke: Biloxi.

Suzette: yea

Mr. Luedke: It was down there where they’d all the hurricanes and stuff.

Peggy: mumble

Suzette: Oh.

Mr. Luedke: Out on the coast and it was, that was probably the most unpleasant month, or six weeks, I had.

Suzette: Because of the weather?

Mr. Luedke: It, the humidity, and it’s so light. You know here you perspire and, uh, and your body salt would get in your throat if you just turned your light.

Suzette: Really?

Mr. Luedke: Yea, so you had to wash your clothes more frequently and then, I don’t know, somethin’ about the moon, pretty moon, but it’d make you feel creepy. An I’d suppose it was the atmosphere something.

Suzette: Hmm.

Mr. Luedke: But we had, we had boss_s (tape unclear) huts didn’t have windows on ‘em just screen on ‘em.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And so I, I waited for my call to move on.

Suzette: And you hoped it was soon.

Mr. Luedke: yes.

Suzette: (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: Finally got the message and then I went ta I got Collegeville, Collegeville, uh, it was in Lincolnmolehead, Minnesota. 

Suzette: Ok.

Mr. Luedke: That’s where, I had only graduated from high school so to be an officer, if you graduated from cadet school you got to be an officer.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: So to be an officer you need, they wanted to be sure you could do public speaking, and they wanted you to have your math and your physics because what we were doing delt a lot with physics and meteorology and, uh, the behavior of an officer and all that (chuckle), behavior of conduct and what all the military rules were. Then anyways, we waited there, we waited there, we didn’t get to finish there but, uh,

Suzette: You didn’t get to finish cadet school there?

Mr. Luedke: No that was just the pre-cadet thing.

Suzette: Oh, ok.

Mr. Luedke: They call it college feinting detachment. And, uh, they were ready for a class that, well let’s see uh, Hemet California. And, uh, so they shipped us out there, and that was more preparatory work for more military and getting shots and all that kinda stuff. We got out there and I thought, you know I’d heard of California it was the land of the sunshine and all that, but we got there in the fall and it turned out to be drizzly and cold and, uh

Suzette: (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: We all got pneumonia. (chuckle)

Suzette: Having a golden time.

Mr. Luedke: …(tape unclear) behavior. But anyway we went through that and had a lot of inspections and, and, lets see, also, um, they, uh, I don’ know if this is exactly right or not but uh, Hemet also was where we got our primary fame, in air fame, it’s actually got to fly an airplane. Oh, I guess we got at Mole Head, we got a receding little private plane so we’ head’n out.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: We got ten hours of flight in, that mostly to see if we got air sick. (chuckle)

Suzette: Oh, really? (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: …(tape unclear) (laughing)

Suzette: Well, they wouldn’t want you in there if you did.

Mr. Luedke: Yea, (chuckle) well, but anyway tha’s about that and then we went to, we got in the habit of where we had primary trainings. I have a picture of us.

Suzette: Oh, ok. Now did you, uh, did you graduate from primary training?

Mr. Luedke: Oh yea. I got, I’ve got em’ all mixed up.

Suzette: Oh ok.

Mr. Luedke: You want the history I’ve got it here.

Suzette: Ok.

Peggy: (tape unclear)

Mr. Luedke: I’ll show, I’ll show you the picture later. Uh, then after we finished our primary training we got quite a bit of how to handle airplanes, learned maneuvers and everything that that plane would do, and then we went to Gardener, California, in Becker’s Field California. Gardener Field and Baker’s Field California and did our intermediate training. We called it basic training. Uh, first there was primary training, and this was called basic training; we got a bigger plane with more horse power. It was two hundred and fifty horse power engine. It was a little more extensive about what’cha did. You had to be careful with your cylinders and something you didn’t get into like stalls and spins and all that. (chuckle)So, anyway, I got through there, and all the way through every time you changed phase of training they ask you whether you want to be a single engine pilot or multi.

Suzette: Hum.

Mr. Luedke: Well I always figured the more engines you had the better off you’d be.

Suzette: (laughing) Ya got a lot more power.

Mr. Luedke: (laughing) So I always asked for a multi engine. Well from Gardener I went to Pecos, Texas. And we got, uh, and took training in a twin engine plane.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And I wanna say it was 1817, but I’m not sure about that because I been tryin to get on the computer to find out

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: what they knew about it. I had all the pictures of the other planes except that one. Anyway it was unusual then that it was all made out a’ cloth and plywood.

Peggy. Hum.

Mr. Luedke: And, uh, it had a history of you know vibration’n the engine, vibrating loose. Course it didn’t happen to me but I expected it to. (laugh)

Suzette: Can you, …(tape unclear), uh, like while you were flying? Both of them or just one? (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: Well, ya didn’t know. Like I said we went up with each one, but I was fortunate in that, in that way.

Suzette: And you didn’t know? (chuckling)

Mr. Luedke: Anyway we got through that.

Suzette: They were gett’n you ready.

Mr. Luedke: And that was the end, that was called advanced training.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: Then, uh, at that time the war in Europe wasn’t decided yet, so they sent us to Hobbs, New Mexico. We trained in B-17’s. …(tape unclear) that was in multi-four engine planes. And, uh, we got through, learned all ‘bout it and how to handle it. And then, by the time I finished there they, uh, the war in Europe was decidedly going our way so I didn’t think they needed big Seventeen Hawks. So I went home for a week, and then, uh, then, uh, went to, uh, Lincoln, Lincoln Nebraska.

Suzette: To Lincoln, Nebraska?

Mr. Luedke: Uh, uh, to get a crew to fly B-29’s. And, so, that’s what we did our combat duty in, in B-29’s we went to South …(tape unclear) I don’t know if it was south or middle (chuckle). Anyways it’s over there close to Australia and all those.

Peggy: I’d say that’s pretty south.

Mr. Luedke: Yea.

Suzette: Yea, that’s got’ta be south.

Mr. Luedke: I was in, in the Marianas Islands. Which belonged with where our headquarters General Mayer__(tape unclear) and, uh, I think it was 60 miles up to Tinian where we saved a little section and that’s where we flew from and returned to, thank goodness, most the time. And, uh, the South Payen was about six miles across north but you couldn’t get from Tinian to South Payen as you flew over that …(chuckle)… house we made a lot of … over there (tape unclear).

Peggy: Oh.

Suzette: So you went from Lincoln straight over to, um, Guam?

Mr. Luedke: Well, we went, course they didn’t send you all at once. You, uh, we went to Sacramento first. They didn’t want you t’fly over water at night. However we had ditching, we learned the ditching process so if you had to land in water how to land it and, uh, if it didn’t break up, hopefully it wouldn’t, that you landed right, and you had about twenty minutes to get out and get ur life vest and so forth.

Suzette: So how many people were in a crew?

Mr. Luedke: Oh, thirteen of us it was.

Suzette: That’s quite a few today, uh, trained in…(tape unclear)

Mr. Luedke: Thirteen and, uh, they all worked together and we had the bombardier and the two pilots and the, uh, mechanical engineer which kept the pilots under control about not overdoing the engines (chuckle) and keeping track a’gas flow, gasoline. We hauled, uh, we had long missions.

Suzette: You did?

Mr. Luedke: Fourteen to eighteen hours in the air.

Peggy: Ooh.

Mr. Luedek: And we hauled, uh, we hauled, uh, the equivalent of, to a tank car full of fuel.

Peggy: Ooh. That’s a lot of gas.

Mr. Luedke: It was a lot of fuel.

Suzette: That’s heavy.

Mr. Luedke: Yea it’s heavy and then you had your bombs on top of that.

Suzette: And the fuel was for your plane?

Mr. Luedke: Yea.

Suzette: Oh, that’s why you could fly fourteen to eighteen hours.

Mr. Luedke: Yea, yea.

Suzette: And what was it you were flying, a B-29?

Mr. Luedke: Yea

Suzette: Were these advanced, you know like

Mr. Luedke: No this is in combat, training for combat.

Suzette: Train- this is training for combat?

Mr. Luedek: No, well no (chuckle) not training. We were in combat! (laughing)

Suzette: Oh, well that’s what I was thinking! (laughing)

Mr. Luedke: Yea, we didn’t get any training there. We took tests every, every so often uh to see if we were proficient

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: in what we were supposed to know about the plane.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And what emergency procedures and all that.

Suzette: Where did you fly?

Peggy: That’s what I was going to ask.

Suzette: Yea, where, where, where was some of your

Peggy: Where did you bomb?

Mr. Luedke: Well, I, I can’t, I got it listed here somewhere but, uh, Lagoria. .. and, uh, I could tell you others but mainly we were after, we had two kinds of raids: Insent air raids and Demolishen raids.

Suzette: What’s the difference?

Mr. Luedke: Well, I if you had to send in Insent air raids we were loaded with uh incendiary bombs. Little bombs about that long but they were in a whole, a big cluster.

Suzette: Ok.

Mr. Luedke: And we had, uh, I don’t know how many clusters we had. We had two bomb bays and if we needed any at all for fuel, uh, if we needed, we had, we had two bomb bays full of special bombs. And, uh, when they dropped them, on the way down, and, the cloaking device broke the band that held em’ together and they scattered all over the place. And Japan was very gullible to the fires we were setting to the buildings.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And, uh, they they’d merely set fire, there was a lot of planes dropping ‘em. So we always set the place on fire they had little water boats around the oh block by …(tape unclear).

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And, but that didn’t contain all as many bombs. They couldn’t keep up with so we did a lot of damage on that. And then, then if we made a Demolishin, we had five hundred pounds ‘a demolishen’ bombs, those are heavy and we didn’t, I think we had only three, three or six of those and they penetrated the adjustanel buildings and everything and, uh, submarine fields and all that.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: Uh, so, uh, if we did Insend air raids, we usually, we got ‘ta work hard about midnight, if we did a Demolishen Raid it was usually about noon when we got over a target, so.

Suzette: Hum.

Mr. Luedke: But, uh, we were in the B-29 which was supposed to fly, we were supposed to be able to fly about thirty thousand feet and we’d do our work from there but ….(tape unclear) found out it was more accurate at fourteen thousand and eight thousand feet. (ironic chuckle)

Suzette: (laugh)

Mr. Luedke: It was more available than any air craft.

Peggy: Well yea.

Suzette: Did ya, did you lose a lot of planes?

Mr. Luedke: Well, unfortunately we didn’t get where we had planned to land. We had to land in by Evendeven, that’s another place that cost a lot of lives to get a hold of that. But that’s where we had to land because, uh, we got an explosive bolt in our cabin … most of the crew were gunners, uh, they exploded in the cabin so the bombardier suffered the most and, uh, come back and got the powers up and, uh, radio operator and navigator and the guy’s laying there but it didn’t kill ‘em. It was most serious with the bombardier. I think I was in the hospital in Enforgenia for a week, and the bombardier stayed there for a month and I don’t, it was a long time before he got back with the crew, but anyway, uh

Suzette: So you were hit, you were hit by

Mr. Luedke: Yea by a fighter.

Suzette: Did, did you crash or were you able to continue flying?

Mr. Luedke: Oh, no, we were able to keep going. But while I did, you know those bullets would go here and there and they touched your electrical system and the hydrolics system were in capacitation ability based on the things you wanted to do.

 Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: If it hits the fuel system then it’s either the electricity that runs the pumps or it’s the, uh, typing that transfers the fuel from one tank to the other

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: So you got to keep it level and aqueous. And keep it balanced from one wing to the other, so we had wing tanks as well as bomb bay tanks. So, uh, the wing tanks is where the engine got the fuel so I had to pump fuel from the bomb bay in to the wing tanks and the engine got, got the fuel from there. So if it cut the electric wires or if it cut a tubing, why then we were incapacitated to some degree quite a bit.

Suzette: I would think so I mean, you were going to crash if you don’t have any gas.

Mr. Luedke: (chuckle) Yea, yea we had several on there but we could get to Amagema and still have a little fuel left. We was afraid we wouldn’t have enough to get back there, but we did. We got there and there was a light, uh light … out on the Pacific, uh, because the when the …(tape unclear) higher and higher the air has to rise then condensation takes place and ya have clouds

Suzette: Ok.

Mr. Luedke: So when we got there we had to circle a little bit, it wasn’t, I dunno, we had to circle some before the clouds cleared away so we could land because all those places didn’t have all the instruments for instant landing at the Rimera.

Suzette: Uh, so this was like, they checked Umageama kind a light in the war and they took it as, one of the reasons was for the uh, for the air craft.  

Mr. Ludke: That’s basically for the air craft, yes.

Suzette: So when you were first starting in your flight patterns and your missions, were you stationed further out in the Pacific. You said you were at Guam. Were you bombing Japan at that time or?

Mr. Luedke: We were, we were east of uh Emagema, Emagema’s about, Emagema’s about half way home, uh, so, uh, let’s see, probably close to fifteen hundred miles from Japan but we

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: had to go another fifteen hundred to get back to the base see.

Suzette: Yes.

Mr. Luedke: And we didn’t, we didn’t have supersonic planes like they have now, but we did have perdometers for the speed, the.. and the wind a’course but, uh, uh sometimes because the wind is downspeed a’course it always lessens your air speed. But uh the air speed is what indicated on the, on the air speed meter in the cabin,

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: and then we had to figure, we had to figure out which way the wind was blowing, and how fast, so we know how our ground speed was, over the ground. So, see if you fly, ordinarily in the united states, if you fly east to west you’re going to have head winds, so it’s, uh, you’re going over the ground whatever the wind speed is, say the wind speed it sixteen miles an hour, and you’re actual cruising speed is, uh, maybe, oh, this is slow for planes now days, but suppose it’s a hundred fifty miles an hour, and a’ course you had the head wind of ten miles an hour then you’re only covering the ground at a hundred and forty miles an hour. If you have a tail wind when you’re going from the west coast to east coast the jet steams going that way ( chuckle) and the wind’s usually blowing to the east, so then you have a tail wind, so then you, your ground speed is faster than your’, uh, in air, air speed.

Suzette: That’s like if you’re flying south today. That, that north wind doesn’t help you. (chuckle)

Peggy: (chuckle)

Suzette: You’re flying pretty slow. (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: Well, uh, there’s something to be said about cold air. It gives ya a lot more lifting power ‘cause it’s more condensed, it’s heavier, than the warm air.

Suzette: Hmm.

Mr. Luedke: so you’re plane will perform better in cold air than in hot weather.

Suzette: Well, so you, you were a pilot you had trained to be a pilot and, um, I was just trying to understand, for some reason I’m not understanding. The first base that you were flying out of was, was where? Where was that?

Mr. Luedke: You mean for combat?

Suzette: Yes, yes for your flights.

Mr. Luedke: We flew from Sacramento to, uh, we got somewhere we stopped along the way over night, and then we, we were, we had to land on a little island called Kwajulane, and that was another battle for that, big battle and, uh, that’s where, and then from there we went on to Tinian.

Suzette: Tinian, now was that you’re permanent base then for a while.

Mr. Luedke: Yes. Yes, but that’s along the islands of the Marienas group.

Suzette: Ok. Tinian, all right and can you spell Tinian?

Mr. Luedke: T-I-N-I-A-N and it didn’t have any tin on it.

Suzette: K

Mr. Luedke: It didn’t have any tin on it.

 Suzette: Oh it didn’t?

Mr. Luedke: (chuckles)

Suzette: Was it pretty big? Or was it pretty small?

Mr. Luedke: Ya it’s a, it had room enough for several fighters bases there.  Uh, but of course, bomber liner ships had to be longer.  Uh, at Kwajulane you had to be careful how you landed because you had to plan it very carefully because the landed, uh, ship was at one end of the Allen and the take of spot, and on the other end of the landing ship was the … because you had water about 6 feet.

Suzette: You had to be take off. (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: It wasn’t very high out of the water.

Suzette: Uh huh.  So, how long were you stationed there?

Mr. Luedke: Tijoint?

Suzette: Ya, no… at Tinian?

Mr. Luedke: We just stopped there, we just stopped there for a stop over because they didn’t want us to fly at night over the water.

Suzette: How long were you at Tinian?

Mr. Luedke: Oh,

Suzette: 6 months or? Or were you continually moving?

Mr. Luedke: Somewhere around that

Suzette: Or were you continually moving forward with the lines?

Mr. Luedke: Uh.  I think that’s about right, 6 months or so because, uh, we were there when Japan finally surrendered, uh, we, uh, and the custom and I so we had to go over, fly over to Japan to see if any fighters came up, see, they thought they might trick us. 

Suzette: Mhm.

Mr. Luedke:  So we loaded up with a lot of armor and gasoline and flew around to see if any fighters came up, see.

Suzette: Hmm.

Mr. Luedke: And then, uh, when they got serious and, uh,  actually signed the, uh, surrender documents on the Battle Ship  Missoura which I hated to see be put away. (chuckle)  And, so it doesn’t exist anymore as far as service is concerned, the museum now I think, uh.  Anyway, then we had, uh, signed to fly a, what they called, a power display.  A lot of the air force was flying around it, ‘course you had to keep your eye out for the planes but it was clear day and we flew close enough to see the fairs all about in the… parade rest their attention.  And ‘course the pilot was on the deck and, uh,

Suzette: Oh.

Mr. Luedke:  But we could see, we couldn’t see that part of it, we could see the sailors on the air plane in the white.

Suzette: Oh, how interesting.

Peggy:  How many mountain raids did you make?

Mr. Luedke: How many what?

Peggy: How many raids?

Mr. Luedke: 15, uh, when I was over in Japan, 16 of ‘em.

Suzette: Now, did you make rigs on other islands, other than Japan?

Mr. Luedke: No, no. Just, let’s see, Japan is made up ‘a two or three, three islands, I think.  And, uh, that determined how many hours we were in the air.  Maybe 14 hours, maybe 18 hours, depending on which end of the sand we bombed. 

Suzette: So how, how often did you go out on a mission?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, uh, it’s just, all we did was eat, sleep and fly.  So, we would come home and, uh,

Peggy: You had a long flight.

Suzette: (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: Uh, I think we had over night, then we’d leave, uh, we’d leave the next evening. 

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: To get enough time to, get over, most of time, we parted at midnight, if we made an Insend air raid.

Suzette: So, you were bombing, like factory towns in Japan and

Mr. Luedke: Yes, all industrial, anything that had to do, that produced equipment.

Suzette: And, uh, so you didn’t really have a lot of leave time. You were busy?

Mr. Luedke: Ya, we were busy all the time.  You know, there wasn’t any place to go if you had leave time.

Suzette: Did you form some tight bonds and friendships with the, uh, the men in your crew?

Mr. Luedke: No, not really.  We all worked as team, we knew each other, but, you know, in military, the officers have to separated from the non-commissioned officer and, uh, so they had their place, they had their ________ stand, and we officers had our guarded huts. Of course we all got together, and, uh, just before, enough time, before we left, to get organized and know what everything was going, what we were gonna do.

Suzette: So, did you form bonds then with the officers? You know, with other officers that were serving?

Mr. Luedke: Uh, not really strong, because there, all of ‘em, some of ‘em were back east and they had a different philosophy and ethics, and, uh, some of Midwest and so forth.  (chuckle) We were hard work, we worked well as a team. 

Suzette: Mhm.

Mr. Luedke: And, uh, we didn’t have any animosity toward any of them, but as far as getting real close, uh, I would say no.  I did see my navigator, after I got teaching down at Dekab.  I went to, we play Smithville and my navigator, Billy Jones, was there with them, because his kids were playing.  So, we got to talk to him a little bit. But, then I got his, uh, he worked, uh, I think, I think he worked for a ford motor company, but anyway he retired, but I got his phone number, but I don’t know whether he’s in a nursing home now or not, but anyway, I couldn’t get a hold of him when I tried to call him.  So I don’t know whether he lives in a nursing home or where his home was or what.  Both the others, both the others have passed away.

Suzette: So there were cultural differences that you noticed between eastern and midwesterns _______.

Mr. Luedke: Oh, yes, oh yes.

Suzette: What were some of the distinct things that you remember.

Mr. Luedke: Well, these aren’t important really, but, in, back east, a woman was a broad.  (chuckle)  And that had a wrong connotation.

Suzette: Oh.  (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke:  The idea in the Midwest.  And either a woman or a lady, or, maybe some of them didn’t deserve to be a lady, but, anyway, it was a woman or a lady or female. Back there, they had other, lots of terms that we weren’t used to using.

Suzette: Uh, huh.

Mr. Luedke:  Then they talked, having different accents.  You know different part of United States have different accents. Texas had a different accent than what we have here.  And the ones I really liked the best, uh, were the people from Georgia.  They have a rhythm, and, uh, they tell good stories.  (chuckle).  And there nice to listen too.

Suzette:  Yes.  So you flew 15 missions.  Was that an average number of missions to fly during that time?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, uh, we’d ha’ flown more, but, they, a, surrendered and so there wasn’t any need for it anymore.  So, then they sent us home, we flew home.  Uh, my brother was in France, General Patton, and, uh, that part Normandy and all that, he came home by ship.

Suzette: Uh, hum.

Mr. Luedke:  He was in the armored division.  Uh, I wanna call it mechanized, uh, something, anyway they were putting up.  And, uh, so he came home by ship, I came home by air, and somebody asked my dad about what he’d do, he said, ‘well,’ he said, ‘I think I’d just get out an’ walk.’ (chuckle)

Suzette: He didn’t like to fly? 

Mr. Luedke: Uh, he didn’t like either one of ‘em.

Peggy: He didn’t want to get out on the water either.

Mr. Luedke:  No, he, a, grew up in the Midwest here in Illinois and Kansas and Missoura. 

Suzette:  Did you receive any special medals? 

Mr. Luedke:  Well, I do have, I didn’t collect ‘em all.  But I didn’t go after ‘em, but I have a Purple Heart, an Air Medal of the Cluster, and so it’s all ribbons… I don’t know where I put that sheet, I’ll tell you later and get ‘em off of that.  Uh, Yea, I’ll tell you later what medals I earned.

Suzette:  Okay, uh, when you, uh, got hit by the, um, it wasn’t plack, it was another pilot that actually shot you, did you experience that only that one time?

Mr. Luedke:  Ya, that’s all I had.  It wasn’t, it wasn’t, I didn’t think I should get a Purple Heart, but anybody that got wounded got one.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke:  So it wasn’t as serious as a lot of the guys had.

Suzette: But, was it pretty dangerous to fly a lot of plack with the pilot, the government pilot?  Kind of like kamikazes? 

Mr. Luedke:  Well, ya we had a lot of black, you could see stuff burning all around ya.  You just hoped it didn’t burst at your altitude and your position.  (chuckle)  But, you could look out and see the stuff, you know.

Suzette: Mhm. 

Mr. Luedke:  See, that was the way that aircraft stuff worked,  it sends that shell up there and then it bursts.  So you know the airplane just had aluminum walls you might say and, uh, it pretty easy to puncture.

Suzette:  Well, I would think so.  So, um, so when you were injured, did you, you went to a hospital for a period of time?

Mr. Luedke:  Ya, I stayed there ‘bout a week, I think, at Hibagema. 

Suzette:  About a week, huh, then you went right back in to being a pilot again?

Mr. Luedke.  Ya, yes, yes.

Suzette:  What was the highest rank that you had?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, Second Lieutenant I guess.

Suzette:  And, you know what I didn’t ask you what your division, or your, your, your division or regiment or what was it?

Mr. Luedke:  Well… 444th Bomb Group and the 20th Air Force. It was called Around the World Unit because they started, they started when they had their flag at atop the Amori Mountains and the plane was so new, the only people that could take care of it was the crew itself.  They did their own mechanic work and everything ‘cause nobody else knew how to do it.

Suzette:  Really.

Mr. Luedke:  But, I was ‘course the replacement pilot, uh, replacement plane, and it flew, uh, across the Himalayas.  And they, they went on around and they got to these islands and they cruised around the world, they basically took off from Florida when they first started.

Suzette: Hmm.

Mr. Luedke:  But anyway, they called around the world win so if, its 20th Air Force and they got that patch with the around the world design.

Suzette:  Oh, I always think those are interesting cause each one is so different.  Ya.

Mr. Luedke:  Ya, each one is different.

Suzette:  So, where you in the Army Air Core when you got drafted?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, they called it the Army Air Core at that time, but now it’s the Air Force.  I, uh, did some work on the computer, and found that they were going to picture B17.

Suzette:  Did you fly B17’s?

Mr. Luedke:  Uh, ya, I didn’t fly in combat.  Here is the plane I flew, the crew flew, the team, that’s the one B29. 

Suzette:  Super Fort.

Mr. Luedke:  I see in the paper, the guy that flew the Nobagay, you know.

Peggy:  He passed away.

Mr. Luedke:  He passed away.  And I got it on down on that somewhere.  

Suzette:  Um, do you have any memories, uh, you know, that you’d like to share with us from the time that you were being a pilot?

Mr. Luedke: OH, uh, not really.  Um, of course, we all hoped and prayed we wouldn’t get hit and if we got hit, that we always got back. 

Suzette:  You didn’t have an opportunity to interact with other native people down, from where.

Mr. Luedke:  Oh, we were busy.  We had combat, we didn’t have much time to do much.  Um, I think when we were at Hiawaii, uh, I think they took us to town once and I didn’t think too much of it.  You don’t like night life without… And I didn’t to have time to travel to the Phoenix part.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke:  Because I was.  Here is, somebody preserved these things, and that’s a picture of the primary training.

Suzette:  Oh, look how sweet they are when you’re really looking at them.

Mr. Luedke:  Here is a basic trainer here, picture of basic trainer.  But I don’t have a picture of the, I’ve been trying to get a picture of this other plane, but I haven’t been able to yet. 

Suzette:  After the Japanese signed, um, the, the surrender, what did you do?  Were you still stationed in…

Mr. Luedke:  We didn’t stay there very long, they thought, of course, they wanted people to get out of the service, so there wasn’t any need to have that many people.

Suzette:  Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke:  So, I had a choice, I could stay there and do high altitude research for police work, that would have been interesting.

Suzette:  Ya!

Mr. Luedke:  Or, gone to more nuclear testing, nuclear bomb testing at Pecane Island.

Suzette:  They were dropping A bombs on this island? 

Mr. Luedke: Huh?

Suzette:  They were dropping A bombs…

Mr. Luedke:  They kept it at test sites. 

Suzette:  Oh, see, I didn’t realize that. 

Peggy:  Ya, ya, they moved all the inhabitants off of the island.

Suzette:  They didn’t think about the radiation around the world.  OH, is this you?  Is that you?

Mr. Luedke:  That’s the crew. 

Suzette:  That’s your crew?  Now how many officers are in a crew?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, they’re all on the front row there.

Suzette:  You, so, you had several officers to choose from.  (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke:  Oh ya, navigator, radar officer, bad weather, you know, he kept us away from other planes, other planes away from us. 

Suzette:  Okay.

Mr. Luedke:  We flew in all kinds of weather, so we had to have radar.

Mr. Luedke:  Here’s some more B17, different picture.

Suzette:  Um, so, so you got out of the service then, pretty much after the 7th.

Mr. Luedke:  Ya, they, we went out, they, they, ‘course I had time coming from referral.  So, uh, I think it was December ‘45, when I got out, I think so. 

Suzette:  Now, where you tempted to stay and do further research? 

Mr. Luedke:  Well, I, I questioned it and I thought it might be interesting, but I thought I had had enough regimentation (chuckle). So I thought I’d try for a main life again.

Suzette:  Um, did, did being a pilot in turn prepare you for civilian life?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, it did, it would of, uh, well, I guess I’ll say it this way, when I got out I thought I would be an air line pilot.

Suzette:  An air line pilot?

Mr. Luedke:  That’s what I, I thought I wanted to be one.  So, I had, uh, to be an air line pilot, you had to have an inspectors license for what air plane you flew and I didn’t have.  Uh, so I went back, I came back, to Colony, which was about 14 miles from Iola where there’s a small airport. 

Suzette:  Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke:  So, I took flight lessons in the little planes again, and, uh, but then towards the time I was about, well, I was threw that phase to move up, the demand for air line pilots seemed to go down, so I thought I better go back and get college education.  And I liked to work with young people, so I chose teaching, which I’ve had a lot of good luck with.

Suzette:  And, uh, did you take advantage of a GI bill to go to school?

Mr. Luedke:  OH, yes!  Yes, if it hadn’t been for that then I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. (chuckle)

Suzette:  And, so you went to college using a GI bill?

Mr. Luedke: I went to, uh, junior college in Allen County, called Iowa Community College, now its Allen Community College, and, uh, then I went, I went there two year, and graduated from there.  And then I debated on whether to go to Pittsburg or KU.

Suzette:  Is that your plane?

Mr. Luedke:  That’s the plane.  Uh, uh, the transportation to Pittsburg was such a, took more time, so I went down there, had a bus change and all that, and farther away from home, and so I ended up going on to KU, ‘cause I could get on the bus and in a matter of an hour, or a little over, I could be at KU. 

Suzette:  Mhm.  So you rode _______ to college?

Mr. Luedke:  Ya, I went to KU and graduated from there.

Suzette:  Mhm.  And what did you, you got your degree in teaching or?

Mr. Luedke:  Uh,

Mr. Luedke:  Uh, Mr. Mitchel called me up and told me about it and wanted to know if I was interested and I said, we’d have to see.  So, we ended at the beginning, uh, I was there for 6 years as principal, teaching principal.

Suzette:  Oh, were you?  How long was your, what subject did you teach? 

Mr. Luedke:  Amazing mathematics and modern physics and later on, I got into computer science, so I did some more work with, uh, Marybell, who I grew up with and worked with computer programming. 

Suzette:  Well, I noticed you’ve been, you mentioning computers and things, not all the veterans are computer savvy.

Mr. Luedke:  Now, I don’t know much about them, I wouldn’t try to program them, 2 or 3 different languages. 

Suzette:  Is that a picture of you there, down there, at the bottom? 

Mr. Luedke:  Well, I don’t know.

Suzette:  Right there, sticking out to the side, under your hand, on the bottom, right, right over there.  Mr. Luedke, its right there under your hand. 

Mr. Luedke:  The picture of my primary tank, all of my seats getting fulling on, because it was open cockpit.

Suzette:  Oh, they were? 

Mr. Luedke: Ya.

Suzette:  Now, this plane of yours, has its pictures, you know, all those planes, all those bombers, had these very attractive young ladies, um, painted on them.

Mr. Luedke:  Oh, well, some of them do, most of them do. 

Suzette:  Yours says what, high and mighty? 

Mr. Luedke:  ‘The High and The Mighty’ is right. 

Suzette:  ‘The High and The Mighty’. Do you have a story about your siginalia there on your plane? 

Mr. Luedke:  Ya, the other pilot had a lot of input on that and I think he, uh, he conferred with the rest of the crew. I didn’t have any objection to it, but, uh, uh.  See in Nobagay, that was the guy that the pilot watch maid.

Suzette:  Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke:  That’s why, how that got its name.  And, uh, I don’t know just how that, chose that, but there is a movie The High and the Mighty.

Suzette:  I thought that was familiar name. 

Mr. Luedke: And, uh.

Suzette:  When did you enter the service? 

Mr. Luedke:  Well, I guess, I started at Leavenworth.

Suzette:  But what year, what year did you enter the service?  Was it 42?

Mr. Luedke:  Yea, it was 42.  I think it was December 42. 

Suzette:  And when, when were you discharged?

Mr. Luedke:  In December 45, so about 3 years.

Suzette:  And, did you want to come home to Kansas?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, that’s where my whole family was.  Ya, that was home to me. (chuckle)

Suzette:  Okay, and even though you were tempted a little bit, you still wanted to come home to Kansas.

Mr. Luedke:  Yea, there’s no place like home.

Suzette:  So, when you came back, did you join the American Legion?

Mr. Luedke:  Oh, I tried, but it was… but I did join the reserve in St. Joe over here at Rosecrans.   

Suzette:  And what, what was that, the National Guard Reserve or what?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, they called it Air Force Reserve.

Suzette:  Oh, the Air Force Reserve.

Mr. Luedke:  That’s what I did there and I, I should have stayed in but at that time, they weren’t getting things they get now, Rosecrans is quite the place anymore.  It’s recognized all over the nation and the world.  So, we, they train crews from all over the world now, on how to handle these hurculies planes.

Suzette:  Oh, I didn’t know that.

Mr. Luedke:  They carry cargo, and they learn air tactics, so they aren’t armed, but they learned basic tactics.  And right now, there’s a crew from Japan, they said that if they flew low enough, they might see the red insignia on the back of it.

Suzette:  Oh, wouldn’t that be strange to see that.

Mr. Luedke:  Anyway, they’re here now getting their training.

Suzette:  Huh.  So, um, did you also take advantage of the GI bill to buy like buy a house or to get a loan?

Mr. Luedke:  No, I didn’t get one of those.  Uh, I was able to, to, lucky to be at the right time and the right place.  The lady that owned the house, we’d rented from her for a long time, and she was ready to get rid of it and wasn’t in too good of health, and she said well, I’d like to sell it to ya.  And, I said, well, I’m interested in buying it and she told me what she wanted.  So, uh, I said if you’re not in any hurry, I said, uh, I won’t buy it because, the bank, I talked to the bank about it who said if you can get the down payment then we’ll finance you there.  So, uh, I got interested in the program about Excellence for Education and if you did certain things you got a bonus, you know. 

Suzette:  Oh, that’s gorgeous!  Look at that!  You look like one of those ace pilots. 

Mr. Luedke:  (chuckle)

Peggy:  Oh, yes.

Peggy: (tape unclear)

Suzette:  We want to borrow these pictures and we’ll bring them back.  We’re going to scan them in my computer. 

Mr. Luedke: Well, don’t go away yet.

Suzette: Look at him, he’s an ace pilot.  Look at him!  It’s so cute!

Suzette:  And you came back and you related more to the Air Force Reserve.   Was this type of people that were also air force people?

Mr. Luedke:  Ya, they were all air force people.  I had one friend, one neighbor, that I used to take sweet corn, and he went over there and he stayed out there till he was tired.  So, that was good.  Oh, I had an article about Hemagema here I wanted to, oh there it is.  See if that.

Suzette:  What this one?

Mr. Luedke:  That newspaper article.  There, it’s down by the Phoenix pictures around Tinian. 

Suzette:  Was anybody stationed at Hemagema?  Or was that just a landing place?

Mr. Luedke:  Here’s the nose of the B29 with the other pilots there. 

Suzette:  Uh, huh.  Let’s see.  Which picture do you think is better Peggy?  I actually like them both.

Mr. Luedke:  I’ve got ‘n article I want to show you.

Suzette:  K, now did you.

Mr. Luedke:  It’s a big story on Hemagema.  That’s why I kept it.

Suzette:  Did you, uh, do you take advantage of the, the veteran’s benefits, medical benefits or anything?

Mr. Luedke:  No, uh, I have Medicare and I have Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance and so far it’s been good enough to take care of all my needs.  Of course, I still get VA prescription, perscription drugs.  Uh, I was trying to find that article about the paper here somewhere.

Suzette:  So, you get, get prescription drugs from the Veterans Administration.

Mr. Luedke:  Yea, I get them from the VA in Leavenworth.

Suzette:  Do you have anything else that you would like to share with us?

Mr. Luedke:  Well, I’ve got another picture I’ll show you.

Suzette:  Okay.  Any other memories that, that come to mind?

Mr. Luedke:  Oh, it kind of funny (chuckle).  But again, it was an experience.  I was flying planes in the mass tran machines, and, uh, ‘course we had a map to go by and we had our flight plan all made and, and marked off on the map.  And, uh, somehow, I wasn’t thinking or something, but anyway, these planes and aircraft had windows on them and you slide them back, like a car window, you know.

Suzette:  Um, hum. 

Mr. Luedke:  Well, I guess I got warm or something and I slid it back.  And I had the map laying at my feet, you know.  And ‘course, it sucked it out.  So, fortunately I was familiar enough with the territory (chuckle), I got where I wanted to go and back again. 

Suzette:  Wow!  You’d be in trouble.  (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke:  But anyway, I learned to keep my windows shut when I was flying.  (chuckle)

Suzette:  (chuckle)Or else sit on your map. 

Mr. Luedke:  I’m going to get that other picture down there…  I’ve got to get all this together, my son wants it.

Suzette:  Oh, yes.  I can see why.  I mean you’ve got, actually, a lot of really interesting photos here and, uh, letters and documents.

Mr. Luedke: (tape unclear)

Peggy and Suzette: muttering together

Suzette:  Oh, is that your son?

Mr. Luedke:  No, that me.

Suzette:  That’s you?!

Mr. Luedke:  (chuckle)

Suzette:  Well, look at you little cutie!

Mr. Luedke:  That’s when I graduated from pilot training.

Suzette:  Oh, look at him.  The first Lieutenant.

Peggy: mumble

Suzette: Look at that little railroad track there just one.

Mr. Luedke: I was gonna talk to ya about those medals but I haven’t dug ‘em out yet. There in here somewhere.

Suzette: Um, hum. Would, did you receive any special service medals?

Mr. Luedke: Well, that’s what you asked and I said I’d dig em’ out

Suzette: other than, than that

Mr. Luedke: and I’ve got to dig em’ out because

Susette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: I don’t remember.

Suzette: Oh, Ok. Well you know what, you can, you can always give us a call and we can come back and uh record that

Mr. Luedke: Well their inhere somewhere. You don’t need to run that thing all the time over there, if it’s running. I think it’ll probably … see if it hasn’t got an elemental Olympic cluster on it.

Suzette: Ok, here’s, here’s one paper that says “awarded the purple heart” and there were three people that received the Purple Heart along with you. Wounded in action on June 4, 1945 and

Peggy: So if they offered you a job would you still go back in the service with your family air plane, your carrier plane?

Mr. Luedke: Yea, it was all right.

Suzette: They would give you a new plane?

Mr. Luedke: Hu?

Suzette: That would give you a new plane?

Mr. Luedke: Oh, no. (chuckle)

Suzette: (laughter)

Mr. Luedke: The new coos got the old planes and the old coos got the, the, the ones with experience got the new planes. We flew a new one over, but we, we didn’t get to keep it. We didn’t get

Suzette: Ohh.

Mr. Luedke: World war planes they don’t, they ‘been through so much action an’ so forth, they don’t fly as fast as the new ones. All right, here it is: Air medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Adriatic Pacific Service Medal.

Suzette: So, the Pacific Service Medal

Mr. Luedke: Adriatic Pacific Service Medal. American Service Medal. World War Two Victory Medal.

Suzette: You know, that’s one of the few wars where we can really say that we had a victory. (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: Do what?

Suzette: World War Two is one of the few wars where you can actually have a victory medal (chuckle)

Mr. Luedke: Yea. That’s the medals. I didn’t get anything, we didn’t do anything, we did get a Presidential Citation for accuracy in bombing.

Peggy: Wow

Suzette: Well, now see, this is the kind of thing we want to hear. A Presidential Citation, wow.

Peggy: That must mean you hit your targets.

Mr. Luedke: yea, I think it’s the little purple things that little brass frame and then the purple hands you put on your uniform.  

Suzette: Wow. Was that while you were, you were out bombing?

Mr. Luedke: Well, we didn’t get the medals till we got back. You know they didn’t hand us medals over there.

Suzette: Um, hum

Mr. Luedke: But, yea, we got, that’s what we. Yea we had uh, I remember one incident where we had, we got 95% of the targets but, uh,

Peggy: What’s the average?

Mr. Luedke: Well some times it was about 50% (chuckle)

Peggy: Oh, that’s good.

Suzette: Phew. It says “Presidential Citation for accuracy in flying

Peggy: Bombing

Mr. Luedke: Bombing.

Suzette: And you’ve got 90%? Wow

Peggy: mumble

Suzette: That’s incredible.

Mr. Luedke: 95% I think it was. Anyway, there wasn’t much left when we got through.

Peggy: Is that so?

Suzette: Um, this is to, um, this letter. Is this your discharge letter here? 

Mr. Luedke: Well, let me see.

Suzette: Cause it says the seventh day of July 1947 on it.

Mr. Luedke: I think that’s a discharge from the uh, it says 47. Lets’ see how… this is not signed by the president is it?

Suzette: What if it’s from the president

Mr. Luedke: That’s, that’s, it’s just a minute. There’s another I got one from the president… duplicated thing, but.

Suzette: This says from, this says by the president and it’s signed by the major.

Mr. Luedke: here’s a

Suzette: General, Adgadent General.

Mr. Luedke: here’s a, here’s an honorable discharge

Suzette: Oh, so you were discharged on August 3rd 1944.

Mr. Luedke: Now wait a minute, don’t copy that down because when you go

Suzette: got you back

Mr. Luedke: what I gave you the first was the right because this didn’t include

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: when I first went in. Shepard Field didn’t see. Every time you changed majors you got discharged from that.

Suzette: Oh you did? I din’t know that. Then you probably have tons of discharge.

Mr. Luedke: Well I don’t have tons, but I got three or four.

Suzette: Ok. Well, Mr. Luedke, do you have anything else you just wanna add. Well, uh, thank you very much for your time.

Mr. Luedke: Yea, well I hope does help somebody who hears it.

Peggy: mumble

Mr. Luedke: Just history.

Suzette: Thank you very much

Peggy: Thank You.(laughing)

Mr. Luedke: You bet…

Suzette: Um, how did you meet your wife? Did you meet her before the war or after?

Mr. Luedke: Well, before, before…I worked for her dad. I did farm work

Suzette: You did farm work while you were in high school and you, so you were high school sweet hearts?

Mr. Luedke: I wouldn’t say that buy, uh, anyway she was a year older than I was so I wasn’t in any of her classes but, uh, she went to the same college I went.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And I got to know her and I figured she was what I wanted for a wife… but we didn’t get married until after the service. ‘Cause I didn’t want to get married and leave, leave somebody … a family. So I waited, we waited.

Suzette: Did you go to, were you married while you were in college, while you were students, or did you wait until after you graduated?

Mr. Luedke: what?

Suzette: Did you wait until after you graduated from college before you got married or?

Mr. Luedke: Oh, uh, out ‘a the service, just out ‘a the service.

Suzette: Oh, ok.

Mr. Luedke: I wasn’t married for like eight years

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And the …we didn’t spend the money on weddings that they do now. (chuckle)

Suzette: Uh, hum.

Mr. Luedke:any way uh it was a very simple wedding but it was nice and … so we performed the ceremony and so we, we, we, uh, we passed our 60th wedding anniversary on the 25th…  the 50th was …

Suzette: Do you have any children?

Mr. Luedke: Oh, yes. We got three girls and a boy.

Suzette: Wow I guess you do, and he knows all about weddings. (laughter)

Mr. Luedke: Yea, I knew Gerald was goin for a white weddings and uh and I got in some weddings for some of the grandkids

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: And, uh, kind’a funny, humorous I guess I should say is my son. We had three girls and a boy and he turns around and has three boys and one girl.

Suzette: Wow. (laughter) Did the reverse of what you did.

Mr. Luedke: And their all out ‘a school now. 

Suzette: Yea, I bet they are.

Mr. Luedke: My daughter’s working, she’s been working for Bi-Op Regency in Chicago for a long time and she does a lot of things. She goes down to colleges and recruits people that think they’ll be interested, gives ‘em more information about gett’n training for the job.

Suzette: Hm.

Mr. Luedke: and uh, my son is in the air conditioning business. He’s got a lot of three boys. The youngest and oldest are working for him, and the other boy is uh a …

Suzette: So they all got in

Mr. Luedke: so he’s busy all the time.

Suzette: I’ll bet they are

Mr. luedke: My oldest daughter, no not my oldest daughter I should say, my middle daughter has been a beautician for a long time. She was here in Troy then she

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: … but she had a lot of good clients… (laughter)

Suzette: Oh, that’s sounds good. So,

Mr. Luedke: And she’s still down there and her son is down there  working for some big company. I don’t know what all he’s got to do, sell some’n but uh, he’s pretty high up. And their daughter got her master’s degree in business administration.

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: So they’ve got a family, a boy and a girl, and her husband … kinda, like, programs things.

Suzette: Um, hum

Mr. Luedke: And his salary’s more than hers right now. But anyways, she’s got her teaching certificate so once in a while she’ll substitute; teach a semester at Missoura, uh, KCM…

Suzette: Oh

Mr. Luedke: KCmmm MO or whatever it is

Suzette: they call it KCMO

Mr. Luedke: Somewhere in … Kansas, yea.

Suzette: Yea, Oh, ok, well.

Mr. Luedke: So, she teaches there sometimes … local schools so, she’s probably…

Suzette: It sounds like your proud, a family to be proud of. So,

Mr. Luedke: I’m blessed. That all the kids were born healthy

Suzette: Um, hum.

Mr. Luedke: and they all got a good education and all of ‘em are active and have good jobs if not, if not professional jobs then skill trades and right now skill trades pay more than a college graduate.







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