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20th Air Force Patch: click for full-size image (81K)

 

My father, Walter H. Lobinske Sr. (April 13, 1923-February 12, 1977), was stationed at Isley Field, Saipan from September 1944 to October 1945. He was assigned to fuel maintenance with the Ground Echelon, 479th Bombardment Squadron, 499th Bombardment Group, 73rd Bombardment Wing (VH). Overall command was the 21st Bomber Command, 20th Air Force. These pages are dedicated to him and all those who served with the 20th Air Force. Walter Lobinske: click for larger image (49K)

Personal Documents
Not only did my father keep a number of photographs of his service, he also kept a number of important and/or interesting papers. Among these were his draft card and classification.

Marriage Documents
After basic training, he was assigned to the 58th Bomb Wing (VH), in training at Smokey Hill Army Air Field, near Salinas, Kansas. The 58th was oversized during training and my father was part of the group that stayed behind to form the core of the 73rd BW when the 58th was deployed to China. It was there that he met and married my mother, Ingred Irene Petersen. Even in marriage, the army has forms to fill out.

Early Accommodations
My father was among the first of the USAAF personnel to arrive on Saipan. The initial accommodations were in tents since little had been built in the three months since the island was invaded by the U.S. Army and Marines.


Over time, better accommodations were built and the men were able to start making some improvement to their lives, including pets such as these monkeys, named Tojo and Hirohito.

Walter Lobinske with Tojo and Hirohito: click for larger image (46K)


Even with the island declared "secure", many Japanese troops were still on the island. One of the measures used to induce their surrender was the use of leaflets.

English version of surrender leaflet: click for larger image (77K)

Japanese version of surrender leaflet: click for larger image (62K)


Improvements of Life
Further improvements in the quality of life included the inter-faith chapel built by volunteer labor by the 499th BG. The first photo shows the chapel soon after completion, the latter shows the chapel near the end of the war. This official photo seems to have been very popular, appearing in many of the histories I have seen involving the 73rd on Saipan.

Compatriots
This series of photos shows some of the men my father worked with on Saipan. Unfortunately, the names of these men have been lost. If any can be identified, please let me know.

Fuel Trucks
B-29 Superfortresses used a large amount of fuel for the 3000 mile round trip to Japan. Tractor-trailer fuel carriers were used to fuel the aircraft.

Nose Art
Two of the Superforts my father worked with are shown on this page. The second photo shows the "official" nose art for the 73rd after the unofficial art was ordered removed about March or April, 1945. The stories of how this came about varies, but all of them boiled down to the extremely "risqué" art that had appeared on a number of Superforts.


Hardstands for the bombers covered a large area, as seen in this early photo of the groups area.

Bomber Hardstands: click for larger image (92K)


Warning Leaflets
Toward the end of the war, warning leaflets were dropped on Japanese cities prior to bombing. Many of these appear to have gone home with 20th AF members as mementos.

POW Supplies
With the conclusion of hostilities, Superforts were used to airdrop emergency supplies to the allied POW's in Japan. The following packing list was dropped ahead to inform the POW's of what was coming.

Victory Booklet
The end of the war also resulted in the printing of the following congratulatory booklet for members of the 73rd BW.


All scanned documents on this site have been donated to the Institute of WWII and the Human Experience at the Florida State University, who holds the rights to those images.

My thanks to my wife Louise for editing and proofreading the text,
and to Allen Robinson for redesigning the site. Allen passed away on June 7, 2001.

Links to other sites:
B-29 Superfortress Then and Now
Commemorative AF Homepage


Last update: October 6, 2013
Richard Lobinske

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