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About Our Post's Namesake - Eugene C. Yount
American Legion Arizona Post #145 is named in honor of Eugene C. Yount.
In 1996, the Oral History Program of the American Airpower Heritage Museum interviewed Gene Yount. He was a C-46 pilot in the Burma-India-China conflict and flew 77 missions over the Himalayas in 1945. The following brief synopsis is transcribed by his daughter, Kimberly Link from his words during the interview:
He enlisted in the Air Corps as a cadet in 1943 at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. After pre-flight, he was sent to Eagle Field in Dos Palos, CA for primary training to learn how to fly a Stearman bi-plane (he called it a ground-looping monster.) The next stop was Merced, CA just outside of Stockton for primary flight training flying the BT-13A Vultee aircraft. Advanced flight training was held in Chandler, Arizona at Williams flying the AT-6. After receiving his wings, he awaited an assignment, which was to report to Reno, Nevada to fly the C-46, “Old Dumbo” the largest cargo aircraft made at the time.
January 15, 1945, it took nearly two weeks to arrive in Calcutta, India at the Misamari base, his home base from which he flew to Kunming, China over “The Hump.” He recalled that the weather is the worst part of flying over the Himalayas with the icing and the tremendous thunderhead clouds which propel the plane as if you are going up in an express elevator and down the same way. When they would come down, they would hope for a cushion to lift the aircraft before they would run into a mountain. They would turn off all the power in the aircraft, drop the wheels, full flaps down, point the nose down toward the earth and the C-46 would still be going up 1,000 to 2,000 feet per second. And of course icing was a big problem. He would observe ice on the wings 4 feet long. My father’s quote after one of these missions, “It kept you awake.”
Their cargo was mostly gasoline: 50 – 55 gallon drums of 100 octane fuel flown to the Flying Tigers in China to keep them in operation. They also flew Chinese soldiers from Burma to Northern China. These soldiers were extremely fearful of flying and did not want to board the aircraft. The Americans lost 3 aircrafts and crew because these soldiers would try to escape the plane and all run to the door which would cause the C-46 to be tail heavy and crash. It would take some time to figure out why in the world the planes were crashing. Afterwards, they would station a radio operator just outside the cockpit with a .45 caliber gun pointing at the Chinese soldiers and an interpreter telling them if they moved, they would be shot. The operation was a success; consequently, my father was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He passed away in Phoenix in 2008, and is interred at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix.
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