John Tenney’ Letter Home in WWII
“Dear Mother and Dad: I was over Japan on V-J day! It was some ride, some 3,000 miles in a B-29 from our Saipan field to Osaka. I was lucky to go on a mission dropping “Prisoner of War” supplies. We left Saipan about three in the morning. I took a little nap right away. When I awakened it was just sunrise time and the clouds were beautiful floating along below us. We flew over Iwo and didn’t see much for sometime. Another catnap and woke up to find it foggy out. I decided to play tail gunner and crawled back in the tail and sat there for an hour or so. I had on earphones and told the pilot I was back there. I was a bit nervous when I heard the pilot and the navigator discuss the rough weather and when the order came to give the navigator my name, rank, and serial number, I was beginning to wish someone else had made the trip. Finally the fog opened up and we dove down through a break. We flew pretty low over the water and were ordered to wear our Mae West’s in case we crash landed. Next I tried sitting on the waist gunner’s seat and from there I saw the Japanese coastline. The radar man was busy now trying to adjust our radar set which is invaluable in showing the height of mountains. We followed the coastline to Osaka. The terrain was similar to Oregon, rocky and covered with pines. Occasionally one would see very nice homes snuggled in the hills. We passed over many small fishing boats or “sampans” as they say out here. When we finally reached Osaka we saw numbers of sunken ships in the harbor. We circled over the city until we saw our American Prisoner of War Camp, all well marked with big white P. W’s on the road. We buzzed over once and how they all waved! Again we circled back and really came in low. The supplies were dropped and all the red and green chutes landed right in the field by the camp. We buzzed over again and away went another load. The first bunch had already been picked up. The boys below all waved very happily and I bet they were plenty glad to get the food and other necessities. Then away on a little joy ride around Osaka and viewing the great damage done there by our bombers. Many blocks were burned level, factories completely wrecked and harbor installations ruined. I was quite amazed to see modern hotels, streetcars and theatres. It made me almost homesick to see a city even in Japan, which had a resemblance to those back in the U.S.A., which I haven’t seen for such a long time. The pilot meanwhile was very kindly talking like a guide on a tour. I think he was enjoying it also and he would say, “look off to your left at that Jap castle,” or some other scenic object. I attempted to take pictures but it was dark from a recent rain and I fear they will not be successful. The Jap civilians don’t seem overly excited at our appearance, at least they did not run. However groups of them were looking up and traffic stopped for a mile back. Probably a bomber without bombs was a real novelty. When we passed over a train low, I could see people’s heads out of the windows. We then climbed high and took off for Iwo. The cabin was pressurized. We all wore our chutes as it was plenty foggy but before we hit Iwo the fog cleared. I had been sleeping but now the waist gunner wanted a rest so I took his seat and got quite a kick out of saying “Waist gunner to pilot there’s another 29 at 3 o’clock” and the pilot answered, “Roger.” Iwo was a barren looking Island. It was quite flat and with little of the green foliage that Saipan and most of the islands have. We had just enough gas to reach home so we didn’t stop. We had radioed in earlier that we would but now the weather was clear with smooth flying, so we kept right on to our Marianna base high up over the clouds. A few ships below looked like rowboats. We landed very smoothly at our home field in Saipan just at sunset. I am very glad I could make this trip. I feel amazed that such intricate and “Buck Roigerish” type instruments can actually be made and controlled by man. You needn’t start worrying; I probably will never be able to take another ride. There were only two of us from the communications group who made it. We were just lucky that our names were the ones drawn from the hat and also that the plan wasn’t scratched at the last minute as many were. So now I can always remember a wonderful experience on this day of Victory. Good night, John.”
John Tenney, son of Mark and Amelia Tenney of Colon, died recently in Florida.