I think he had planned to commit suicide then

The Beam yearbook


Today is Sunday but, we are flying and attending ground school just the same. Gosh! I wish they would give us a day of rest once in a while.

Dad asked how long a period in the air was. A period is an hour in length. The 20 hours checks are coming closer and closer. I’m scared to death. I wish I didn’t worry all the time about these checks.

Ralph Fleming, my roommate at Rankin, wrote me a letter the other day. It seems that one of my classmates from Rankin went completely out of his head when he washed out at Lemoore Basic field. Without permission he took off a new B.T. 13A with the intention of taking his last fling at flying.

He flew over Rankin Academy so low that the vibration from the motor shattered the plate glass windows in the control tower. Everybody at Rankin was scared to death. One of the flying officers went up and pleaded with him over the radio to land but, the kid just tried to ram him in midair. The West Coast interceptor command had orders to shoot him down on sight. The worst part of it is-some poor farmer riding on top of his load of cotton was scared into the ditch when the fool buzzed him. The cotton bales crushed him to death. Then when he decided to head back to Lemoore field, he climbed to 8000 feet and put it into a power dive, full throttle, low pitch. I think he had planned to commit suicide then. Evidently he chickened out and when he pulled out the rivets on the wings just popped out. I can’t see how he ever landed the plane. It was a complete wreck. He is court-martialed now. He must’ve been out of his mind.

Well, darlings, I must stop.

Miss you terribly,


I had the biggest scare of my life today

Jago near miss


Thanksgiving today-we carried on just the same as usual-flying in the morning and school in the afternoon. I am worried stiff about my flying. I think I flunked my instrument check today. I just can’t seem to fly anymore. I don’t know what’s the matter. I was going along fairly well for a while. Oh, well, let’s change the subject. All I want you to know is-if I do wash-I tried my darndest that’s all any guy could do. I don’t catch onto things quick enough I guess, gosh, I’m worried to death.

Well, darlings, this is the first time I have missed the big dinner at home. I’m telling you I really did miss it too. When I’m down in the dumps-like I have been lately-I think what a sap I was to join up.

I hope someday, I can prove otherwise. I am sending a picture of the basic trainer. It’s quite a jump from the training ship, isn’t it? Gosh! I wish you could see it. That’s impossible though.

I had the biggest scare of my life today. The cadet O.D. came running up to my room saying, I had a telephone call. I rushed like a madman to the office-dressing as I ran. When I answered the phone an unfamiliar voice told me to brace myself. Then they said my Dad was killed in an auto accident-Gosh! I darn near died when I heard it. Finally the voice asked me how I spelled my name. I told him and he said “I’m sorry the fellow we want is James Jargoe”-Gosh! What a relief-I feel bad enough about my flying-what a day I’ve had-well darlings, pray for me-I’ll need it-

your loving son,


Jack Patterson had something wrong with his engine so he had to make a forced landing



Your lovely letter arrived today. I certainly wish I could see the boys again. You might know Rolly wouldn’t be in the army-if he was going to college it would be different but, I figure you can learn a lot in this army. Are there many kids left, besides Rolly? I wonder what it is like in Minneapolis. Pretty dead I suppose.

The war news just sounds too good. Just my luck, this war will stop before I can see something.

No flying today-the weather was pretty foggy-I had quite an experience yesterday. My friend Jack Patterson had something wrong with his engine so he had to make a forced landing in a farmer’s field. I picked up his SOS call on my radio set, so I circled him until help arrived from the home field. He made a beautiful forced landing-we are taught how to make forced landings, right from the start. We are going to start formation flying-that is if I pass my 20 hour check.

Tell Jocie she can wear any of my shirts if she wants to. I remember when that was the rage with us-remember? It seems that khaki is the rage now-joke!!

That’s pretty rough-the fuel oil I mean. I can see the old heating pad will see plenty of use.

Well, darlings, I must study meteorology-darn it! I don’t know what I’ll do if they give us a free hour-keep your fingers crossed for my 20 hour check-

Your loving son,


we have been on a practice alert for three days now

gas mask


Your lovely letter arrived today-it’s fun to read mail from home.

I think that’s a wonderful idea of yours-putting my snaps in a scrapbook I mean. This last roll I sent back has too many bad pictures of myself in it. Just put the good ones in. It will be fun to look at some day. Seeing all the pictures of my instructors and friends.

So dad bought a new hat. I’ll bet it’s a honey-remember when I used to tell dad the correct way to wear his hat? Wish I could now-

Had a big day yesterday, we have been on a practice alert for three days now. We must carry our gas masks at all times. Mess, flight line, school-everywhere. While we were flying in the afternoon the alert signal sounded. All the ships in the air had strict instructions to land at A3 auxiliary field-Then disperse the ships across the field. What a job it was. Then to top it off-I had two hours in the link training scheduled after dinner-7:30 PM to 9:30 PM-when I hit the bed last night I didn’t waste any time falling asleep.

Well, darlings, I’m keeping up my diary every day-certainly miss you-the only thing I really want for Christmas is a chronograph watch but, they are pretty hard to get now. Maybe dad could get one-I don’t know. They’re great help to the airman-



I have about 17 hours now



Flew three periods today-I have about 17 hours now. Pretty close to the 20 hour check now. I certainly hope I can make it-

Tony got a break today-he is going to get liaison pilot. A Liaison pilot flies smaller ships but, still it’s a lot better than staying on the ground. When you begin to love flying-it’s quite a blow when they take it away from you. I’m so glad Tony’s getting a break. It looked pretty dark for a while. The government finally woke up I guess. Tony had 70 hours to his credit when he washed. They used to put them back in the ranks. I never could understand why they didn’t let the washouts fly the smaller ships.

Well, darlings, Christmas is getting closer every day-if we fly seven days a week, like we have lately-I don’t know what I’ll do. Gosh! I wish I could get home for Christmas. It almost makes tears come to my eyes when I think about it.

Did you know I’m keeping a diary. I have been keeping it for quite a while now. Don’t know why didn’t tell you before-just forgot I guess.

It will be nice to read some day-I am going to try to fill it in from the day I left Minneapolis. Pete has kept his all the way. He has lots of things we did together such as soloed-checks, etc. we have been together so much. I think it will be easy to fill it out entirely.

Well darlings, good night.

Your loving son,


Instrument flying is my bugaboo


Thank you for your letter Jocie-I love to hear from my little sister. Your penmanship is very good darling, please don’t compare your penmanship with your brothers because we haven’t much time to write our loved ones.

Dad-we can buy French-Shriner-Uarner shoes for eight dollars here. They regularly cost $13.


Thank you for your lovely letter. I also received a letter from Bobby Collard and Thelma. It’s so much fun to receive letters. You speak of Tony getting his commission as navigator or bombardier. His chances are pretty slim, I’m afraid. They don’t need them for a while. Poor Tony is destined for the ranks I believe. If I wash-I am going to apply for aerial gunnery. If I can’t fly a plane at least, I can ride in one.

The normal time for soloing this ship is about five hours. I soloed in four but, many soloed in less than four hours. If I can just be average-I won’t mind. Instrument flying is my bugaboo. I hope I progress a little faster but, you know me-I never did catch on to anything very fast.

I think dad will get his B ration book because he has a good excuse. Gas rationing hasn’t gone into effect out here yet but will, December 1. The boys are enduring athletics now-because of my knee, I am excused. It gives me some extra time to write my letters. Leisure time is hard to find here.

I’m glad you are wearing my clothes, Dad-I couldn’t wear them when I come back anyway. Somebody might as well benefit. Many times I have longed to wear my clothes again but, then I figure Uncle Sam’s uniform is pretty good at that. Say, mom, will you frame that graduation diploma from Rankin for me. Someday I will enjoy looking at my old memories. It would look pretty good hanging up in my room.

Well, darlings, I must end my letter now-I have to shine my shoes before I go to the flightline. My instructor is very strict when it comes to personal cleanliness. He certainly has an immaculate uniform.

Your loving son,


don’t forget me will you?


Hello Jocie-how are you darling? Your big brother certainly misses his little sister-don’t forget me will you?


Your letter arrived today-gosh! I love to read them-mom and dad tell me all the latest news.

Gosh! Dad, I hope you get your B ration book. I am happy for mother though-maybe she will see more of you now, and, it really isn’t any worse for you than anyone else. Your customers still need hats so they will probably have them mailed.

I have about 16 hours in the B.T. now. That gives given me quite a few all totaled. My knee has been bothering me a little lately-probably due to the change in weather. Winter is setting in now. The flight surgeon gave me some shortwave treatments, it’s the newest thing out. It costs $6.50 for 10 minutes. I get 14 treatments from Uncle Sam for nothing. We cadets are treated in the officers hospital. They seem to think we will be officers someday. If I don’t catch on to the instrument flying a little faster I have no hope for the bars. I have never had so much thrown at me before. Besides instrument flying-we must do night flying, navigation, meteorology-oh gosh! If I ever get through I will know I have something even better than a college education. Of course that’s if I make it. We are starting night landings now. The field is lit up with small side lights. Won’t that be something if Jago misses the field.

Did you know your son is the youngest cadet at Chico Field? If I get wings-I will still be only 19. It doesn’t seem so near though-I’m just hoping and praying.

Well darlings, take care of yourselves-we have school classes in a few minutes-

Your loving son,


Poor Tony got it today.


Yesterday was Armistice Day but, we carried on-just the same-Uncle Sam needs pilots.


Your letter arrived today-I certainly hope dad can procure a class B ration book. I think he can too, seeing it’s so necessary.

I’m glad to hear little Jocie (maybe she’s a grown-up young lady now) is feeling better. Gosh! How I’d like to see all of you again. I have so many things to tell you. We could have so much to talk about after dinner now. The food here is good but, it can’t compare with my darling mother’s home cooking. If I could get my hands on one of your pasties again-oh boy!

Dad’s letter was very interesting. All my roommates said “gosh! And we are kicking-your dad spent five Christmas days away from home” then I go on and brag about the exploits of my dad. Where he was wounded, how many years in the front line-et cetera. They really prick up their ears.

Another thing, darlings, don’t be so sure of your son. He can wash out just the same as anyone else. Poor Tony got it today. He’s heartbroken poor guy. Tony was always such a cheery kid. He can speak Italian fluently. He is very bright in ground school too but, he can’t land the B.T. so he’s gone.

Well, darlings, I am just about finished with my navigation problem-it is due tomorrow.

Your loving son and brother,


I’d give anything to get a furlough for Christmas but, that’s impossible I guess.



I am waiting anxiously for your letters now. Gosh! I hate these days when I don’t get any mail. I am becoming accustomed to the post now.

I wonder if I will ever learn to fly that airplane. Everything is so complicated. If I could show you a picture of that instrument panel I think you would realize how much they are pounding into our heads. They say if we can make it through basic, we are set-now all I have to do is make it through basic. I wish I didn’t worry so much.

Our instructor is not the jovial type, he’s all business. I hope he can teach me a few things. I’m trying my darnedest anyway.

How are all of you feeling-okay I hope. My knee is much better now. It gets a little tired once in a while but, that’s to be expected. The flight surgeon told me not to compete in athletics for a while.

Our school is much tougher than our primary school. Navigation is the sticker for me. I think if I keep plodding I’ll get it though.

Well, darlings, taps will be sounded soon. Let me know how you are. I miss you terribly-

I’d give anything to get a furlough for Christmas but, that’s impossible I guess. Don’t work too hard mother and dad-

Your loving son,