The Picture on the next page is the one that best represents the fact that I didn't do my thing alone. My crew and I were together for over a year.

I entered the service in February 1943 and 14 months later (without an overnight pass the entire time!) and received my wings at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas in the Class of 44-D. After B-24 transition training in Fort Worth, I picked up my crew at a staging area in Lincoln Nebraska, before starting the Heavy Bombardment Program at Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Arizona.

At the end of that program all crews in the class except for four were sent to the European Theater.  I and my crew were one of the four held back, though we didn't know why. A few days later we got orders to report to Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City for photo-recon training.

By early spring we were sent to the Pacific Theater where we joined the 20th Photo Recon Squadron on the island of Mindoro. We were on Okinawa at the end of the war. I stayed on with the squadron after the war to begin an ambitious program of precision mapping of the Far East working out of Tachikawa, a base about 25 miles southwest of Tokyo.   I stayed with the program until the following June when I returned to the U.S. and was separated from the service.

So there you have it: 43 months of excitement and trepidation, of being swept up by forces of good and evil, and loving every minute of it.

That grand experience changed my life forever!

Bob Essig, B-24, Class of 44-D