February 20th, 1943

Still sick or rather sea sick.  “What a salt”, hanger deck watch 00-0400.

February 21st, 1943

Went to church services aboard ship.  Sea sickness condition a lot better.  Slept on top flight deck – Terrific tropical storm during the night.

February 22nd, 1943

Crossed the Equator 1430.  Became a shellback.  All my hair cut off.  Turkey dinner, oh man.

Shellback Certificate
Aboard USS Altamaha

February 24th, 1943

Our Destroyer escort came along side for refueling.  Sighted two islands on the horizon.

February 25th, 1943

Sighted more islands.  Three fighters and eight scout bombers took off flight deck for the Fiji Islands.  Three planes damaged.  Hanger deck watch.  International date line – Skip a day.

March 1st, 1943

Fiji Islands.  Rest of planes took off.  Dropped anchor in bay – no harbors or piers – unloaded all gear into landing barges.  Landed on island 1500.  Many natives.  Traveled fifteen miles to our camp, Army style – cots, mess kits, and pitched camp.  Islands are very beautiful, natives still wear primitive clothing, but speak English very well.  All cars and trucks drive on the opposite side of the road.  No blackout rules.

March 3rd, 1943

Secured flying in the morning.  Went down to the river for some swimming, but it was too dirty.  Attended Army show.

March 4th, 1943

Flight 1300.  Searched for Subs – no results.  Pilots and flight crew flew in from Canton Island.  Lost one T.B.F. in takeoff – Crew OK.

March 6th, 1943

Morning flight for Subs – no results.  U.S.S. Long Island arrived with Fighting Eleven.  F4F crashed into S.B.D. on ground – no one hurt.

March 7th, 1943

Light duties.  Sent mother and Dottie uncensored letters by a fellow returning to the States.

March 9th, 1943

Two T.B.F.’s wrecked in air!  Both planes returned safely – no one hurt.  Went up on a test hop in my plane and flew all around the island.  VG5-16 flew in from Guadalcanal with battered up planes.

March 15th, 1943

Pay day: $13.00.  Night flying – Lost an S.B.D.  Crashed in the Ocean – Crew saved.

March 16th, 1943

Collected $500.00 from the entire Air Group Eleven for a Trust fund for Mike O’Malley’s baby girl – Diane Shannon.  VG5-11 flew in with a few boys from 9/24 class.  Lost an F4F in the Sea – Pilot was killed.  Went night flying.

March 17th, 1943

T-8 crashed on take-off when pilot pulled up landing gears before he was off the ground.  Plane a complete wreck – no one hurt.

March 18th, 1943

Group Commander ordered all beards shaved off and to wear hats and shirts.  I wonder if he thinks we’re in Hollywood.

March 20th, 1943

Dress white inspection – What a joke.  I was recommended for examination as Aviation Machinist Mate Second Class.