George b.

us army sgt

George first enlisted in the US Army in September of 1943, on his 18th birthday but was sent home when the army discovered he did not yet have a high school diploma. He re-enlisted in January of 1944 when he finally had his high school diploma.

George wanted to be a pilot and spent the beginning of 1944 in a pilot training program, going so far as to participate in flight training exercises in Chicago at the Navy Pier and at Chanute Field in Champaign County, Illinois; however, in April of 1945, after completing a series of aptitude tests, he was removed from the flight program and was ordered to complete a series of intensive “operations” training schools such as Signal School, Survival School, Topographical School, and Operations School. 

George finished his training in late 1945 and sailed from San Diego, California to Calcutta, India to enter the war in the China-Burma-India theater. When he arrived in Calcutta in February of 1945, he was informed that he would be joining the 490th US Army Air Corps Bomb Squadron, known as the Burma Bridge Busters, which was part of the US 14th Air Force and fought in conjunction with General Claire Chennault’s “Flying Tigers”. 

The squadron consisted of Mitchell B-25 bombers and had developed a technique for dropping bombs in a manner such that they “skipped” into bridges and targets in a much more effective manner than being dropped onto the tops of these targets. The bomber group was being used to harass and disrupt the activities of Japanese forces in Burma and mainland China, thereby keeping them out of the war in other parts of the world.

George’s served as an operations planner for the bomber squadron. Essentially, he was given a target or series of targets for which he was responsible for making all the decisions regarding how many planes would be used, how much fuel was required, which crew members would fly, how many bombs were needed, which flight routes would be flown at which altitudes, etc. He then joined the missions and sat in a jump seat behind the pilot, providing mission corrections based on his communications with the base. George flew over 100 bombing missions in this capacity.

When he arrived in Calcutta, India, George’s ship was the first American warship into the harbor after it had been liberated from the Japanese and was escorted into the harbor by three British Spitfires.

When George departed the ship in Calcutta and reported for duty, his reporting commander could not tell him where the Bridge Busters squadron was located since it moved frequently. George was told their best guess was that it was somewhere in Burma so he set out up the Ganges River until he reached the Ledo Road, a snake-like road built by the US Army to transport supplies from India into China. He then hitched a ride on a series of supply trucks up the Ledo Road until eventually he found the squadron in Warzup, Burma.

George spent the next month or so in Burma before the squadron received orders to move up into China, which involved flying over the Burma Hump. George was in one of the first planes that headed over the hump so that he could arrive at their next location in order to begin planning for the rest of the squadron to arrive.

George, the squadron doctor, and a pilot boarded a C-47 loaded with medical supplies and communications equipment and headed up over the Hump. However, half-way over the Hump one of the engines cut out and they had to turn back. They ended up having to throw all of the supplies out of the plane to keep it in the air. George was eventually rewarded for his actions during this flight. They made it all the way back to Warzup but ended up missing the end of the runway and crashing in a patch of bamboo in the jungle just off the end of the runway.

The next morning, George boarded a C-46 and took another run at getting over the Hump. This time they made it without trouble and landed in Kunming, China to refuel before heading on to their next stop, Chunking, China. Unfortunately, the C-46 iced up after they left Kunming and they crashed hard in a rice paddy. George severely damaged his ribs and suffered what his family physician later told him was a torn valve in his heart.

They crashed not far from Chunking, so the next day they boarded another C-47 and flew the rest of the way to their final destination, which was Han Chung, China, a new base they were going to set up in Outer Mongolia. There they landed on a hard packed river bed and set up operations, which included the creation of a runway made of crushed rock. 

George would remain in Han Chung for the duration of the war, coordinating operations and participating in bombing missions organized to terrorize Japanese forces in China. The squadron, renowned for being ruthless killers, bombed bridges, trains, troop transports, supply convoys, factories, Japanese encampments, and any other thing they could find to slow down and otherwise engage the Japanese forces in China.

During his service in the war, he experienced a number of exciting events including being shot at on numerous missions, having a Bengal tiger kill one of his unit’s members just outside his tent, seeing a Japanese Zero fighter flying straight at their plane be disintegrated by the B-25’s eight 50mm nose machine guns right before it hit them (and flying straight through its debris field), taking off from a base just before it was overrun by Japanese forces, and landing at the airport in Shanghai while it was occupied by Japanese troops with no weapons on board as part of an agreement to be allowed into the city to establish the communications center so that the surrender of the Japanese could be coordinated.

In September of 1945, when the war in the Burma-China-India theater was over, George was first sent back to Chunking, China, to attend, as a representative of the 490th US Army Air Corps Bomb Squadron, a small lunch with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Commander in Chief of the National Revolutionary Army of China and leader of the Republic of China. During this lunch George was personally given a replica of a Chinese Shirt Tail coin by Chiang Kai-Shek and his wife as a reward for his service to China.

From there, George flew to Shanghai, China, on the first American plane to land at the airport after an agreement by the Japanese to surrender China to the Allied Forces. In Shanghai, George established and ran a Communications Center that was used to coordinate the surrender of Japanese forces in China to the US Seventh Fleet.

George entered the Army as a private and left as a Sergeant, a rank that never actually matched the level of responsibility that he had, either in coordinating the squadron’s missions or in establishing and running the Communications Center in Shanghai.

George stayed in Shanghai until early December of 1945, when he shipped out on a troop transport ship headed for Seattle, Washington. On the way, they sailed through the eye of a hurricane in the South China Sea and finally arrived in Seattle on New Year’s Day, 1946.

From there he made his way home to Mansfield, Pennsylvania, where he immediately enrolled in Mansfield University and proceeded to complete a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University in a total of four years, before entering the teaching profession where he worked as a high school math and biology teacher for the rest of his working years, the bulk of which he worked in the Corning, New York school system.

In addition to his work as a teacher and head of the Science Department, he also ran the school district’s Driver’s Education Program, the high school summer school program, and after his retirement, he worked well into his late eighties as the Pit Marshal for the Watkins Glen Road Racing track in Watkins Glen, New York, a historic American race track and home of the original US Formula One Grand Prix. George was also actively involved in his local church, serving in a variety of capacities, including as a church trustee.

George was born on September 17, 1925. He died on June 8, 2020.

Written by son, Dwight Myfelt