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My father Millard Earl Gooch, passed away in 2006, and my mother, Ann Francene Pomeroy Gooch, in 2003. I visited their graves in Claremont, California yesterday. Today, since it is Veteran’s Day, I would like to honor my father by posting a few pictures representing his military service in the Army Air Corp during World War II.
His license plate read “XP38FLR” because he flew P-38 aircraft in World War II. He always lamented the fact that he did not get to drop any bombs from his P-38, because he arrived in Germany at the close of the war.
The story goes that during his flight training in the U.S. he had to have his wisdom teeth pulled, and he developed an infection which caused a delay in his deployment. While he was recuperating, his flight training buddies got shipped out to the Pacific, while he had to stay behind. He was sorely disappointed, but later commented that that toothache had changed the course of his life. He finished his training course in April 1945 and was sent to the European Theater, but the war in Germany had ended in March.
Since he was among the last to arrive in Germany he would be one of the last to leave, and he got to witness post-war reconstruction in Germany and England. He actually served as the private pilot for the commanding General there, and had lots of stories about his adventures which he shared with us through the years.
Dad named his airplane Kathleen, after his mom, and his jeep was named after his girlfriend, Francene (my mom).
While in Berlin, he also was enrolled in the Army Education Program at the Berlin Consolidated School. Here is his certificate of completion for a drafting course. Notice the “superior” grade. Good job, Dad!
Dad was discharged in 1947 and went to University of Southern California on the GI Bill, graduating from the USC School of Architecture in 1953.
Fortunately, my father left a memoir of his WWII experiences. What a treasure!
[taken from his autobiographical sketch but is written in third person]:
He was a good student and in high school [and] was in a group of four boys who were at the head of their class and whose grades were above 95% for the four years. A teacher in High School kindled his ambition to become an architect and so he entered Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas. He completed one year and returned home to work for a year to save money for further college. He joined a company of the Arizona National Guard and went to camp that summer at Fort Huachuca. This started a military career that was to last over 38 years. That next spring his company was ordered into active duty on the Mexican border following the raid on Columbus, New Mexico by Pancho Villa and his _______. His regiment, the 1st Arizona Infantry, was not in Pershing’s Expeditionary force but was one of several units guarding the border. There was a lot of unrest among the Mexican people along the border many of whom looked at Pancho Villa as a hero and liberator and by the same token resented the expedition into Mexico that ended his threat against the U.S. By this time he had been promoted thru he enlisted ranks to the grade of platoon sergeant and when the 1st World War started in April 1917 his regiment was moved to Camp Kearney in California and became a member of the 40th NG ___. After a winter of training recruits he applied for and was accepted in Officers Training School where he earned a commission as 2nd Lieutenant Inf. U.S. Army. He was transferred to Camp P___, Ark. Briefly then thru a small arms school where he qualified as an instructor at Camp Perry, Ohio and then to Camp Taylor, Kentucky where he was in command of a company in a regiment of draftees training for overseas.
In Camp Taylor the 1918 flu epidemic struck with widespread effect as there were over 2000 deaths in the camp ____ he did not by some quirk of fate, get the flu.
He was recommended for promotion to 1st Lieutenant about Sept 1 and took physical exam-when October 15 came some of the officers were promoted but he was not included. A check was made and several sets of papers were discovered to have been lost in Brigade Surgeons Office by mistake. These were sent in but on Nov 11th all promotions were stopped. After the Armistice Nov 11 he was given three options: To remain in the regular army, to remain temporarily, and be discharged at once. He was a little disgusted with the promotion mix-up and elected to be discharged at once. He was separated on Dec 18, 1918 and returned to his home in Arizona.
A few months later he was offered an appointment to the U.S. Army Reserve as a 1st Lieutenant and accepted. A few months later the Arizona National Guard was authorized to be reactivated and he was active in the organization of a National Guard Battery of French 75 guns which was federally recognized in April 1920 at Mesa as the 1st Arizona Field Artillery Battery A in which he was a 1st Lieutenant…
…He was promoted to Captain and Battery Commander of the National Guard unit and ordered to attend the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill Oklahoma in 1926. Following this he was offered a commission in the Regular Army, but did not accept preferring to raise their family in a different atmosphere than the nomadic life of the army…
…In 1932 he was employed by the Military Department of Arizona as a member of the Adjutant General’s staff of the National Guard. He was also transferred to the Infantry regiment as a battalion commander of 1st Brigade 158 Infantry. In 1934 he was ordered into active duty with a NG detachment and sent up to Parker where a large dam was being projected on the Colorado River. Arizona was quarreling with California about the allocation of water for irrigation and could not agree on this so the Governor of Arizona decided to not permit construction of the dam on Arizona soil until the matter was settled. This resulted about six months later in the mobilizing of two NG units under the command of Pomeroy to prevent any further encroachment and this in turn caused the state of California taking the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court for settlement, which was the intent of the Governor of Arizona. This matter was not settled until years later when the Central Arizona Project was authorized by Congress. Maj. Pomeroy was again promoted to Lt. Col and attended the Staff and Command Course for NG Officers at Fort Sam Houston. In 1940 the Arizona National Guard was mobilized and ordered to Fort Sill Oklahoma for training as the 2nd World War was about to begin and it was certain the U.S. would be drawn into it. They had built a much larger home in Mesa and had only lived in it a few months when this event occurred. The family accompanied him to Lawton, Oklahoma and had barely settled down to the new life when he was ordered to the Reg and Staff Officers Advanced Infantry Officers school in Fort Benning, Georgia. His family took this in stride and moved with him to Columbus, Georgia for three months while he finished the school, after which he rejoined the 45 Div. of which his regiment was a part, which had moved to a Division Camp Barkley near Abilene, Texas. There ensued. [?] The family found suitable house in Abilene and the next 9 months were spent in a succession ofmaneuvers and training exercises during which the troops became proficient in their training and the use of motor vehicles which had just been issued. On Dec 7, 1940 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. was in WWII. As a result of reorganization the 45th Division from a “Square” Division to a Triangular Division, the 158 Infantry and one battalion of the 158 Field Artillery became surplus and were organized into a combat team and ordered to Panama to protect the Panama Canal which had become an important link in the route to the far east. So the combat team was shipped via New Orleans to Panama in January 1942, where they became part of the Mobile Force. The 158th Infantry was spread across from the Atlantic to the Pacific in several battalion sized groups and went into intensive training in jungle warfare…
…Ann and the children remained in Abilene until the end of school and then drove back to Mesa. Gasoline, tires, and many food articles were now scarce and rationed. …this was a very bad time indeed for Ann to be alone but she was equal to the occasion. In fact she was a tower of strength to the younger wives of the 158 Infantry whose husbands were away and they often came to her with their problems and worries.
His battalion was rotated to several posts in turn on both sides of the Isthmus and I was assigned as Regt Ex Officer and Second in Command of the regiment after about 6 months. The Regiment had become a most efficient and well trained unit and participated in extensive jungle operations. In the latter part of the year a new organization table was received and the regiment brought up to full war strength. He was picked to command Fort Clayton, a large area post on the Pacific side and promoted to Full Colonel. The Regiment was ordered to the far East and departed for Australia in a convoy. He was very busy in the new duties which included the administration of and supply of twenty or more smaller posts scattered thru the area. The next year was occupied in improvements to the post including the creation of a new Commissioned Officers’ Club and an Enlisted Men’s Club to provide rest and recreation to the personnel of the post. He was permitted to return to the U.S. on leave twice during the next three years which was by air flight and in August 1945 the war having ended, families were allowed to return to Panama and Ann and his two younger children who were teenagers came to Panama to stay until his transfer back to the U.S. He was assigned to a replacement officer’s pool in Camp Pike Arkansas and remained there three months until he requested and received relief from active duty in April 1946 and returned to Arizona. He helped reorganized the Arizona Nation a Guard regiment and was employed as an Adm. Assistant to the U.S. Property and Disbursing Officer and also assigned as a staff member of the State Adjutant Gen. a position which he occupied as a Colonel until his retirement (at age 60) in Feb 1954. He continued as administrative assistant to the USPXDO until 1961 when he reached mandatory retirement age. [Note: He was later promoted to Brigadier General]